Promise of ‘Safe & Sound’ Liberia Fulfilled -Weah’s 2022 SONA On National Stability Came True

MONROVIA – That Liberia’s peace and stability remains intact for five straight years uninterrupted. This is strange for Liberia because upheavals, whether nationally or isolated, would crop up here or there every other year since 1977 until George Weah took the national leadership five years ago. Some pundits say this must be both an act of God and a credit to the man in the top seat of the nation. Whatever his secret, it is known in this country that intolerance, the act of closing up or restricting the political space, allergy to dissent, had often given troublemakers grounds and alibis to get even with the establishment, causing commotion and at times insurrection. But the current President’s tendency of “yor leave them let them talk anything they want to, insult and provoke” and his listening and inclusive political style has saved the day, according to pundits. In 2022, when he delivered his state of the nation address (SONA), he bragged keeping the peace amid tensions and vowed to keep it in the coming years. On Monday, January 30, when he takes the SONA podium again, much will certainly be heard from him. The Analyst looks back at what the President said then regarding peace and stability in the country. 

One big media refrain from President George Manneh Weah’s State of the Nation Address last year as consummated in the headline, “State of the Nation is Peaceful and Strong”, which many media organizations dovetailed into their own angles of reporting.

When President Weah had reefed through a haze of achievements and transformation made in the year, 2021, he forcefully declared: “Based on the Report that I have just made to you, I can state categorically, and with confidence, that the State of our Economy is Stable and Growing, and that the State of the Nation is Peaceful and Strong!”

He continued: “Let me assure you that as President of Liberia, working in close collaboration with you, I will do all that is in my power to ensure that our Nation will remain peaceful, stable and strong, and that our economy will continue on a trajectory of sustainable growth and development. Together, we can – and will – succeed!”

As his way of planting the cornerstone of peace and stability, the President reported to the nation that he had explored countless avenues, including participating in the 4th Edition of the Paris Peace Forum in November 2021 to tackle global problems and strengthen multilateral cooperation and collective action for a peaceful world.

Dr. Weah then told the nation that “pursuant to our strong commitment to peace, security, stability and democracy, particularly in the Mano River Basin, with special emphasis on the political situation in the Republic of Guinea, Liberia took the initiative to invite our neighboring Sister Republics – Côte d’Ivoire and Sierra Leone – to convene the ‘Mano River Union Diplomatic, Peace, Security and Democracy Conference’, which was held at Farmington Hotel in Margibi County in November 2021.”

He said to protect it is his core task and mission to peace and strengthen national security in the wake of the departure of the United Nations peace keeping troops.

According to the President, it because of his prime focus to “protect the peace and security of our people, that we continue to build more roads, transform electricity, build new hospitals and improve the quality of care, transform the challenging situation in education, build more markets for our market women around the country, and work toward improving governance and accountability for public resources.”

“As we go from this place today,” he said then last year, “let us continue to walk in unity and peace. I want to thank you, wholeheartedly and sincerely, for maintaining the peace. Let us continue to do so,” the Liberian leader stressed.

He added: “For without peace, there can be no development. In the words of Nelson Mandela, and I quote: ‘Peace is the greatest weapon for development that any person can have. It is so easy to break down and destroy. The heroes are those who make peace and build.’ Unquote.”

President exalted the Almighty God who, he said, has endowed and blessed the Liberian people with a beautiful country, then he lamented poetically: “Let us embrace each other with love, and Let Peace Reign throughout Our Land! From the Heights of Wologisi, to the Peaks of Mount Nimba: Let Peace Reign!! From the Slopes of Putu Mountain, to the Top of Mount Gibi; Let Peace Reign!! From the Golden Sunset of River Gee, to the Savanna of Grand Kru: Let Peace Reign!! From the Sunset Beaches of Grand Bassa, to the Golden Beaches of Rivercess!! LET PEACE REIGN!! From Cape Palmas to Cape Mount!! LET PEACE REIGN!! From the Belleh Forest of Gbapolu, to the Sapo Forest of Sinoe; LET PEACE REIGN!! From the Blue Lake of Bomi, to the Kpatawee Waterfalls of Bong; Let Peace Reign!! And from the Providence Island of Montserrado; Let Peace Reign!!”

What He Said About Youth?

During last year SONA, the President took some time to underscore achievements he made in bettering the condition of the nation’s young populace believed to be more than 60 percent of the entire national population.

According to the President, during the period under review, his government and its partners implemented several programs intended to improve the lives of the country’s youths.

The youth sector, he noted, is central to every program meant to empower ordinary people. The young people of Liberia have already gone through quite a lot, he said, adding, “While many have advanced to the next stage of their lives, others need our push. Amongst the many programs we have initiated to improve living condition for young people is the Youth Entrepreneurship and Empowerment Program (YEEP), a $2.4 million US dollar initiative funded by the African Development Bank, to get graduating students work-ready.”

The President said at the time of his report, his administration was implementing the Entrepreneurship Development program; the Liberian Employment and Entrepreneurship Program (LEEP) and the recently launched Recovery of Economic Activities for Liberia Informal Sector Employment (REALISE), which will provide short-term employment opportunities to a much wider demographic, including young people.

“The government also wholly sponsors a National Youth Literacy program and a National Cadet Program. The Monrovia Vocational Training Center (MVTC) continues to provide vocational and technical skills to youths of diverse backgrounds. The Center offers a variety of training courses, including Heavy Duty and Auto Mechanic; Welding & Fabrication; Auto Electricity and Electricity; Electronics; Refrigeration & Air Condition; Masonry, Plumbing, Architectural Drafting, Carpentry; and Graphic Arts.”

He also reported that the European Union (EU) has approved additional 26 million Euros to cover the cost of establishing state-of-the-art TVET schools in the rest of the 8 Counties that do not have them. This is in fulfilment of our vision to have TVET Institutions in all 15 Counties.

He continued: “These initiatives are targeted at all Liberian youth, regardless of which county they may reside in. Thousands have already benefitted. Over the ensuing period, the government will dedicate more resources in order to tackle the growing menace of disadvantaged Youth, otherwise referred to as Zogos. As we are focused on the youth, let me highlight an activity that keeps them physically and mentally strong: Sports.”

He asserted that despite the challenges the country’s sports program has faced, it has been improving years, with the County Meet being a major highlight.

“Once again, I would like to congratulate Nimba County for clinching this year’s soccer category.”
What He Say About Agriculture Last Year

Regarding efforts of his administration to improve agriculture economy, the President admitted in his last year SONA that a key part of the transformation of Liberian agriculture involves the engagement with the Private Sector, mainly in Agriculture.

To this end, he said, in 2021, the Nimba Rubber Corporation began exporting processed rubber from Liberia, including processing rubber from private farms for export markets.

This, he said, represented a fundamental shift towards industrializing Liberia’s oldest commercial agricultural sector.

“Also in 2021, the Atlantic Cocoa Corporation exported the first containers of certified organic cocoa from Liberia. While Liberia’s cocoa production lags behind production giants in the region, Liberian cocoa continues to win awards and prizes in international competitions for its exceptional quality,” the President said further.

“My administration is therefore promoting and working to provide the enabling environment for high quality production of cash and food crops. The Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) industry in Liberia is growing exponentially, especially with the establishment and growth of light industries. In this regard, the award-winning J-Palm Corporation with its Kernel Fresh products made from Liberian palm kernels stands out as an example of Liberian entrepreneurship excellence.”

He told the nation that several companies and agro-processors in the cassava sector, arguably Liberia’s largest agriculture sector, also stand out for their outstanding supply of gari and fufu flour to national food reserves for re-distribution during the COVID-19 emergency.

The promised then to increase “our efforts to ensure value addition to our agricultural products, provide for access to our farmers and enhance support to expand mechanized farming throughout the country.”

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