By Stephen G. Fellajuah
MONROVIA – One of the newest political parties in the country the Economic Freedom Fighters of Liberia (EFFL) is calling on Liberians to reject the second term bid of President George Manneh Weah on the basis of unrealistic and failed promises to the Liberian people as the party considered the President’s final State of the Nation Address as a unrealistic expression of a disjointed logic authored at a “State Style Funeral Service of a man who committed Genocide”.
Addressing the press on Wednesday, February 1 2023, at its national headquarters in Congo Town to respond the President Weah’s 6th SONA, EFFL said in an overly charged and exciting environment on Capitol Hill, the President made a statement on the 25% reduction in his salary and benefits and called on all elected officials to do the same. “But unfortunately, throughout his tenure of six years, Liberians have not seen any legislation or practical action that reduces the President’s benefits. Regrettably, the Liberian leader will be remembered for taking steps to reduce the salaries of his Civil Servants and not paying them in time”, Emmanuel Gonquoi, Chairman of the party said.
Touching on corruption and the rule of law, Gonqoui said throughout President Weah tenure, he showed no interest in fighting corruption, “evidence by the broad day butchering of the Constitution to weaken the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC)”.
“President Weah lacks moral standing to brag about fighting corruption or protecting human rights when under his administration, Liberia has become a state of terror, lack of hope and uncertainty.
“The blatant refusal of his government’s officials to declare their assets in accordance with our existing laws has simply dashed his promise to stop making corruption a way of life in our country”, the Chairman of the EFFL pinpointed
He noted that the President’s refusal to take legal decision against sanctioned former Government officials, including his right hand man Nathaniel McGill whose senatorial bid is heavily financed by the government in order to prevent him from indicting other officials, is just another classic example of the President’s lack of moral and political independence to deal with corruption and other forms of abuses in Liberia.
On reconciliation and the fight against impunity, Gonquoi mentioned that many of those who supported the President considered him the best person to implement the TRC reports and to create the anti-corruption Court before the elections that brought him to power.
“Following the inauguration of the CDC-led government, the EFFL joined many Liberians in protesting and demanding the implementation of the TRC report and the creation of an anti-corruption Court to demonstrate the government’s commitment to fighting corruption and ending the culture of impunity in Liberia.
“Unfortunately, the President, throughout his entire time in office, has shown total disrespect for those who have painfully lost family members in the Liberian civil war with no interest in healing the beloved Republic..
“If the President is to be seen as a reconciler as he said, he must take concrete steps to implement the TRC report and stop accommodating warlords within his government. A good leader will not think about future elections, but will always think about his or her legacy, and that is the path Liberians expect the President to take as a nation, Gonquoi added.
Commenting on the Economy, he observed that Iron ore and rubber prices are even more attractive than before, but the Weah’s Government has failed to introduce any policy that will provide room for domestic sector growth as a means of enhancing our economy. “Yet, as millions of Liberians often go to bed with hunger, the EFFL is left to wonder what realistic economic data that the President is using to project growth.
In short, according to him, the President’s pronouncement about economic growth is devilish and unpatriotic”, he said.
He explained that although it was poised to reinvent the economy and create jobs for millions of the citizens, the agriculture sector received little or no attention under President Weah’s leadership.
Interestingly, Gonqoui furthered that the economic management team that should be the driving force in searching for solutions to our economic crisis is busy celebrating the IMF’s growth projections that are based on western style imperialist data without respect for internalized economic theory.
“Where is the investment to support the IMF’s growth projections that the Government is celebrating”, he wondered.
In his subsequent statement, Gonguoi averred that the health sector has suffered major shocks over the last six years due to insufficient budget support, poor administration and rampant corruption. In 2020, health workers organized more than three separate protests to denounce the backlog of salaries and benefits. This resulted in health workers abandoning their jobs, thus causing the deaths of many Liberians seeking medical care in their assigned facilities.
“In 2019, President Weah declared all public tertiary institutions Free, adding that the result is calamitous today. To improve the sector, enrollment growth must be accompanied by an improved learning environment, which is not the case. Often, scholarship recipients, university administrators and professors are not paid for months, while creating an incentive for fraud. Our system is polluted and in need of a massive global overhaul of the sector”, he said.
He also stated that the EFFL is aware that the Governor of the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) will begin his official functions at the CDC headquarters to bankroll the so-called one million man rally when in the first place the ATS cannot host 35,000 persons, least of all to talk about the Samuel Doe Sports Complex. He therefore called on all our citizens to boycott the rally in protest to the poor living standard they are facing in Liberia.
He emphasized, saying, “The President needs to be told that we are collecting data and that few months from now, as a former President, he will be arrested and prosecuted for rendering our country useless in the eyes of the international community.”