As the re-election bid of President George Manneh Weah gathers momentum since the official commencement of the campaign where he has been engaging the citizens and laying before them his quantum of achievements during his first term and making the compelling case for a second term, a major Nigerian news Magazine, THE NEWS, in its independent assessment on his chances, has catalogued several reasons why he will eventually win the race ahead of other contenders in the ensuing October 10, 2023 general elections.
In its Tuesday, August 8, 2023 edition, a well- respected independent Nigerian weekly magazine, THE NEWS, credited for its incisive and deep perspective look at trending issues, has listed 7 key reasons why President Weah will be re-elected which are anchored on his deliverables since his ascendency to power on January 22, 2018, despite some pressing challenges. See FULL TEXT OF THE ARTICLE BELOW.
“7 Reasons Weah Will Win”
Tuesday, August 8, 2023
Culled from THE NEWS MAGAZINE, Nigeria
Liberian Presidential elections will hold on 10 October 2023. Just like other countries, Liberia too has its own challenges. Despite these, there are 7 reasons that President Weah will win again.
Having spent several years in Liberia, commencing from the Presidency of Madam Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, when the United Nations Mission In Liberia, UNMIL, was having the World’s largest troop deployment in Liberia, to the current Presidency of George Manneh Weah, Liberia has undergone series of transformation, from the 14 year old brutal war.
The methodology used in establishing these 7 salient facts why the incumbent president will scale through to win the elections in October, despite challenges, is a thorough, empirical, well-researched, sampling survey, in all the 16 counties, coopting all shades of opinions: employed and unemployed youths, working class, market women and primary, secondary and tertiary students.
The responses from these categories of Liberians are a mixed bag of pluses and minuses, on the governance style of President Weah. The pendulum, however, swings toward the pluses of the Weah government’s 2nd term bid in office. The current tasks, no doubt, before his government are enormous, amid domestic and external challenges.
The 7 facts are hereby rolled out, in the midst of severe challenges, like COVID-19 that globally devastated all countries, the on-going Russia/Ukraine War, with its negative economic impacts on all countries and some internal challenges. These challenges are compounded by limited international financial support to the Weah government, a far-cry from the massive inflows the past government had benefited.
7 Reasons Weah Will Win Again
*Security, Peace and Stability
The Government of President Weah has maintained a peaceful and stabled society for the past 6 years in governance. Liberia was on the brink of calamity as a result of the 14 year-old civil war, with uncountable lives lost. President Weah has built a stabled society, making Liberia, as declared by the UN Secretary General, Antony Guterres, as the “most peaceful country in West Africa”.
From the survey, Liberians expressed delight on the sustained peace and tranquility being enjoyed today. Many expressed full appreciation and willingness to vote the Weah government to continue maintaining the peace and stability in Liberia.
For instance, many who were interviewed, mentioned the expansion of courts throughout the country. There have been zero political prisoners since assumption of office in 2018. There is now the dual citizenship law, allowing acquisition of two nationalities at the same time.
Security has been sustained through increasing the budget of the army by USD 4 million in 2020, with increase in soldiers’ pay by 20% and repayment of soldiers’ money stolen by Unity Party officials. To further improve the welfare of soldiers and the police, housing facilities at the barracks have been improved.
There has been increase in the budget of the Liberia Police, LNP, by more than 3 million dollars in 2022, leading to increase in the size of the police force. There was also investment in additional logistics and uniforms for the LNP to combat crime, thereby increasing the visibility and effectiveness of the force.
In fighting fire outbreaks, the government has procured 10 fire trucks, with equipment and trained personnel.
In the entire West Africa zone, Liberia is classified as the most peaceful country, judging from what obtains in neighboring countries, like Nigeria, Mali, Burkina Faso, Sudan, Niger and Libya.
The survey indicates that sustenance of peace remains the crucial ingredient for a continuity of governance and key indices for a possible 2nd term of President Weah’s government
The survey reveals massive infrastructure, ongoing, particularly roads, by the Weah government. Many Liberians, from the survey conducted, term President Weah as “Mr. Construction”, as he has turned the country, particularly the capital city of Monrovia, as a “Construction Works Yard”.
The Weah government has built more than 233 km of primary roads since 2018. The Ganta- Harper Highway has been paved, that has been abandoned for many years. The government has paved more than 116 km of urban community roads. It has commenced construction of the Roberts International Airport RIA Highway.
There is ongoing construction of 620 km of primary and urban roads littered in all communities, to connect houses and offices.
Several new government offices have been built, like National Port Authority NPA, Liberia Petroleum Refining Company LPRC, Liberia Maritime Authority LMA and National Fisheries Aquaculture Authority NaFAA, to name a few.
Education, Health & Youth Empowerment
The former government of Madam Sirleaf, once refered to the education sector as a ‘’mess’’.
There has been dramatic improvement in educational and heath activities in the country. 3,500 teachers are now on regular pay roll, with 2,000 undergoing training. There is also the Teachers Licenses Infrastructure TLI, to eradicate ghost teachers that have been rampant.
There is free tuition fees in all public colleges, universities, benefitting more than 10,000 Liberians every year. Free WASSCE that benefits 40,000 students yearly. Building of 28 high schools and 18 early childhood schools in the country. This has led to massive school enrolment in Liberia.
In the health sector, construction works are ongoing at the 14 military hospital in Margibi and 8 other hospitals in the South East. There is now a 100 bed Emirate hospital at Gbarpolu and a newly constructed hospital at Rivercess. There is also increase in doctors salaries from 700 dollars to 2,000, adding 2,500 health workers to payroll even after donor health fund dried up, with specialist training for 19 doctors.
Liberia fought a bitter 14 year old civil war due to total neglect of its teaming youth, who constitute about 60 percent of the population. Locally called “Zoggos”, they formed a core segment of the voting bloc in the country.
Several pro-poor youth empowerment programs by the Liberia Agency for Community Empowerment, LACE, are on-going by the Weah government. The President, himself, is championing the program, as his history, from childhood, is penciled from a slum, who had felt the bitter taste of poverty and knows fully well, the pulse of the poor. Since he came to power in 2018, he has vigorously embarked on a Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development, PAPD.
The PAPD is a program supported by the increased revenue basket by the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA). His government has spent the highest allocation of $154 million Dollars, about 19.% of the 2023 budget for people – oriented development programs litter around the country.
There have investment in at least 1 million ‘’ at risk’’ youth in the country, with corresponding investment in Sexual and Gender- based Violence SBGV roadmap, with the establishment of a task force and call center to improve report on rape cases. Female Genital Mutilation FGM has been reduced through constant trust building mechanism by routine engagement with traditional rulers.
The Samuel Kayon Doe SKD stadium has been renovated, up to international FIFA standards for under 3 million dollars.
* Economic Stability
- a) Revenue Mobilization
The survey conducted reveals a sustained increase in domestic revenue mobilization by LRA which has improved fiscal balances, domestic debt management and ultimately strengthened public accountability. The increase in domestic revenue by LRA, has stabilized the economy.
Domestic revenues increased in 2022 from $646 million in 2021 to $740 million. These include international trade and taxes on incomes and profits. Domestic Revenues got a boost in 2022, under President Weah’s Watch, the highest level of domestic performance since the end of the 14 year old war. This development is reflected in economic recovery and macro-economic stability. Liberians are now engaged in productive activities in a sustained manner.
There has been the highest quantum of revenues raised and budgetary allocations made in the history of Liberia, with 695 million in domestic revenues and 641 million in fiscal 2020/2022.
There was a hidden discovery of debts to the Central Bank of Liberia, left by the Unity Party Government. There was rationalization of total government of Liberia debt obligation.
There has been fiscal prudence and transparency in governance. This has increased credit worthiness by the Weah government by domestic and foreign partners. There was a resolve of all legacy debts owed to the Central Bank of more than 107 million dollars and more than 66 million dollars to commercial banks by the former Unity Party Government.
This led to an abrupt end to borrowing from the Central Bank of Liberia by overdrafts to pay government salaries, ultimately leading to no more credit from the Central Bank.
There has been a reform in a broken civil service wage structure, thereby saving the government of Liberia more than 32 million dollars annually. There was also increase in pay of over 15,000 government workers during the harmonization process to rationalize government wage bill. After the harmonization process, there has been increase in salary of over 13,000 government workers
Revenue mobilization has increased the pace of business activities and incomes of Liberians. Responses from the survey indicate that more people are willing to vote for the Weah government because they are more economically active today
There has also been price stability of rice and fuel, until the war in Ukraine and other factors, necessitating increases. The government let go 10 million dollars annually in revenues from fuel taxes, to stabilize the price of petroleum in the market.
The government spent 14 million dollars, over 2 budget years, to support the import of rice due to COVID-19 and the Ukraine war.
The Weah government has also improved and reformed the governance structure at the Central Bank, adding credibility to monetary policies. Net International Reserves NIR has been rebuilt from the lows of the Unity Party Government.
There is now an improved audit of government revenue account, with better financial records than in the past administration.
- b) Exchange Rate
The government printed 48 billion dollars in Liberian currency without inflation.
Liberia, today, has the most stabled exchange rate in West Africa. In other West African countries, like Ghana, the exchange rates plummet on daily, or weekly basis, with an inflation rate of 54% in 2022. Liberia has maintained an exchange rate of 160, 170 to 180 Liberia Dollar to 1 USD for months, a far-cry from the volatile exchange rates in other West Arica countries. The country has a dual currency, with the USD locally used alongside for transactions.
There has been the largest drop in inflation rates from 40% to the current 6.9%, considered to be the fastest and most spectacular drop in inflation in economic history.
- c) Relative Electricity
Stability The Liberia Electricity Corporation (LEC) is currently undertaking massive transformation in electricity supply, a major requirement for economic prosperity and development.
There have been 130,000 households or 780,000 individuals to the LEC grid since 2018, increasing Liberia’s electricity access to more than 30%, the highest in post war period.
The government has invested more than 65 million dollars to bring electricity from La Cote D’Ivoire through CLSG project. There has been substantial reduction of kilowatt per hour of electricity from 35 cents to between 19.21 cents on average.
- d) Basic Commodities Availability
Liberia, like neighbouring Africa countries, is basically an import-dependent economy. Its basic consumable commodity and staple food is rice. Basic commodities are relatively available. In the local markets, according to survey, commodities are measured in quantities according to the purchasing power of Liberians. Prices are relatively stable. The economic strategy goes a long way in providing basic commodities affordable to every cadre of Liberians and non-Liberians resident in the country.
There has been provision of agricultural grants to up to 60,000 farmers to improve food security, with ongoing works of more than 200 km of feeder roads to support agribusiness.
This has decrease poverty rate in the country and has increased life expectancy to 64 years, the highest in the Mano River Union MRU countries, according to world development indicators, 2020., reduction of extreme poverty by more than 8%, according to world poverty lab, reduction in multiple dimensions of poverty as one of the 20 fastest countries that saw a dramatic decline in 2022, according to Global Multi-Dimensional Poverty Index 2022. These indices have led to Liberia rated as one of the 10 countries that saw an increase in HDI in 2022, according to UNDP Human Development Report.
There has been construction of more than 20 new market buildings across the country, with construction of more than 1,000 pro poor homes across 15 counties.
Recognition of Weah government by the International Community
The United Nations Mission In Liberia UNMIL troop deployment, the largest in the world, attracted huge chunk of foreign investments and monetary supply into the Liberia economy. When UNMIL departed the shores of Liberia, foreign flows depleted and thinned out. The government of President Weah inherited this scenario but remained resolute, as astute attention was geared onto massive domestic revenue mobilization for economic development, while maintaining friendly relations with ECOWAS, AU, EU and the United States.
The government, however, maintained special relations with the United States and Nigeria, its two key allies and development partners. Its relations with Federal Reoublic of Nigeria is very special as revealed by Ambassador Godgery Odudigbo, Nigeria’s Ambassador to Liberia. Despite massive contribution to end the war, Nigeria provides development assistance in various sectors. The country’s relations with other countries in the ECOWAS, AU, Europe and Asia also remain cordial.
It is the continued recognition by the international community of the Weah’s government, despite paucity of funds emanating from foreign entities, from surveys conducted, is the foreign impetus to Weah’s victory and regime stability in the October polls.
Liberia has a vibrant press, derived from a people known for their expressive and oratorical prowess. There is absolute freedom of the press, so much, that no journalist has been imprisoned or died on duty during the Weah Presidency. The Press Freedom enjoyed by Journalist in Liberia is unprecedented. From the survey, the freedom to Journalists expanded exponentially when Weah came to power in 2018 and has sustained till date. More so, there has been no journalist imprisoned; neither there has been any political prisoner. This posture is a major impetus to the government’s press tolerance and a plus to imminent victory in the October polls, according to survey.
Gender Equality & Women Empowerment
Liberia has seen one of the highest increases in feminist mobilization on the globe. There has been improved parity and social equity for women, according to UNDP Human Development Report 2022.
There are now women foundations, like the Jewel Girl – Child Foundation, that promotes women empowerment in various enterprises.
Women now occupy key positions in Government, Departments and Agencies MDAs.
From these detailed survey, President George Manneh Weah’s first term in office is a multi-layered achievements, though with some challenges the government encountered, domestic and external, since 2018.