Hope to Restore Locusts-Eaten Years -Boakai Vows End of Business As Usual as He Takes Oath of Office
MONROVIA: Liberia once again has witnessed the official change of guards, as ex-President George Manneh Weah effectively turned over presidential powers to Ambassador Joseph N. Boakai at a colorful inaugural program yesterday, January 22, 2024. The new president, delivering his inaugural address on the ground of the Capitol Building, reflected on a horde of socioeconomic nemeses that have kept the country backward, reaffirming his campaign promise to end business as usual so as, in his words, “restore those years that locusts have eaten”. The Analyst reports.
Unity Party’s Standard Bearer, Joseph Nyumah Boakai, has officially finally taken hold of the baton of Liberia’s Chief Magistracy, having been sworn into office by the Chief Justice of Liberia, Her Honor Cllr. Sie-A-Nyene Yuoh at exactly 12:00pm January 22, 2024.
He has been an old hand in Liberian politics and public service and therefore obviously familiar with strings that have long pulled this oldest African republic backward socially, economically and politically.
The former Vice President of the country and former Minister of Agriculture used his induction speech to recharge the hope of Liberians who have long been subject of neglect and bad governance, stating that his administration will end business as usual which is the underpinning of the country’s woes.
“I have come to rekindle hope, to reposition us on our national pathway,” the Liberian Chief Executive averred. “I have come to remind us that though the accident of our births has made of us a diverse people, we must employ our citizenship, our Liberian citizenship to make of us a united people, for only a United people can build a nation.”
“Let us now recalibrate, let us restore the years the locusts have eaten by accentuating the positive about our country and about our fellow citizens,” he said amid applauses at the inauguration ceremonies.
“As we think, love, and build Liberia, let us take this state of mind to the business of national healing and reconciliation, both the old and new emerging social cleavages. Let us restore inclusivity, transparency, and accountability to governance at all levels of our society, including government.”
He assured Liberians that his administration would discourage the culture of unfinished business, doing things in a haphazard and unserious manner.
“We must restore hope to ourselves, individually, and as a collectivity,” he implored Liberians, adding: “We must also restore dignity and integrity to public service – livable remuneration and pension schemes to civil servants and foreign service government workers. We must restore respect for the rule of law, and respect for officers of the law across our three branches of government.”
He acknowledged that 25 presidents before him made their contributions to the common patrimony, stating that “we must build upon their strengths and correct their shortcomings.”
He told the jam-packed ceremony that his government is poised not only to address the immediate challenges the people of Liberia have faced over the years but will also be tackling head-on, the foundational problems that may militate against the government’s agenda and undermine the change deeply being craved for.
“Our agenda sets broad goals for improved governance and institutional capacity,” he declared further. “It will prepare us to make bold decisions for economic development and sustained growth, including increased productivity.
“It will ensure we rebuild the broken infrastructure and improve the delivery of health and social services such as combating the drug epidemic ravaging our youth and eating away the future of this country. It will address crimes and security, and the empowerment of the people in the decision-making process affecting their welfare.”
President Boakai was however quick to note that while “we look to the future with hope, it is also important that we view that future, including the aspiration and the attending agenda, from the prism of our past; the historical foundations, which for better or worse have influenced and shaped our society in the nearly 200 years of statehood”.
Fight Against Corruption
On ending the years the locusts have eaten, President Boakai said his administration will fight corruption and graft which he said is in high and low place.
Corruption is a menace and a drawback, he said, adding that commitment to the application of the rule of law be essential in the fight against corruption, as halting the tide of public corruption is an important part of our development agenda for the transformation of our country.
He emphasized: “We can build a capable and responsive state, halt the tide of corruption, develop a productive economy with increasing/significant participation of Liberians, remove structural barriers, stem the tide of rural neglect especially in the Southeast, and eventually win the fight against the drug epidemic.”
“We must, accordingly, reset the fight against corruption and impunity to demonstrate firmness and resolve,” he continued. “We have decided to set up an office to explore the feasibility for the establishment of the War and Economic Crimes Court (WECC) to provide an opportunity for those who bear the greatest responsibility for war crimes and crimes against humanity to account for their actions in court.”
With an estimated quarter of a million of Liberians who perished in the civil conflict, the President said, “We cannot forever remain unmoved by this searing national tragedy without closure.”
“We shall seek advice and assistance from the Office of the United Nations Secretary General to ensure that the court, if found feasible, will be in compliance with the highest standards of similar courts everywhere. The Legislature will have its say appropriately in this matter in order to avoid any appearance of vendetta or witch-hunt.”
He also stressed that predictable business practices, including contractual certainty and public safety as enforced under the rule of law will establish a better investment climate as his administration will seek to expand the private sector and create jobs that best serve the people.
The president said he believes that the success of Liberia also depends on “the examination of the national situation in its historical context, in addition to our strengths, our system-wide weaknesses, the existential threats we faced as a country, the potential we have been endowed, and the opportunities we must seize to build a great country”.
“How we confront these more proactively will help drive the transformative process required,” he noted.