Monday, July 26, 2021 marked Liberia’s 174th Independence Anniversary, and Liberians are still locked into a frenzy of debate over whether or not there is any reason to celebrate. Meanwhile, the traditional formalities germane to official celebration were tacitly observed principally because of the ragging impact of the Coronavirus pandemic. There were no indoor gatherings as a result of the pandemic, as official statements, including the Independent Oration, were prerecorded and broadcasted on several radio stations across country. President George Manneh, made a number of rounds in the city at which time he dedicated the New Japanese Broadway formerly Somalia Drive. But before then the Liberian Chief Executive had delivered a national address to commemorate the day, focusing largely on national unity, peace and reconciliation amid so much noise about a war and economic crimes court and the deadly COVID-19 pandemic. He sent out clarion calls to all Liberians at home and abroad, as The Analyst reports.
The President of Liberia, Dr. George Manneh Weah, says sustainable development can only be achieved if there is sustainable peace, and is therefore calling on all citizens and those residing the borders of Liberia to work collectively to maintain the peace being enjoyed in the country.
The President said no matter how polarizing Liberia’s democratic discourse may become, citizens should never again resort to violence to resolve their differences.
In a prerecorded statement released from the Executive Mansion Monday, July 26, 2021, to coincide with the celebration of this year’s Independence Anniversary ceremonies, President Weah said: “We are all one people, irrespective of our political, ethnic or religious persuasions. Let me call on those religious leaders who are using their platforms to predict religious war, to instead use their influence to preach peace, prosperity and development.”
The President’s Independence Anniversary statement and other official orations were prerecorded consistent with government regulations banning large gatherings of people due the coronavirus disease which is taking its toll in the country in recent months.
The Chief Executive pleaded with citizens, saying: “Today, Liberia is a nation that is at peace with itself, and with its neighbors. Let us all play our part to ensure that there will be no war again in our beloved country.”
He averred that his Government will therefore continue to create the conditions necessary for the rights of every Liberian to be fully respected, regardless of political background, religion or ethnicity.
“Each and every one of us has a stake in the future of our beloved country,” the President stressed. “We should therefore play our part in ensuring that we do not engage in acts that could derail the hard-earned peace that we now enjoy. We have reached this far as a Nation through the toil and tears of our forefathers.”
He said it because of the foregoing that his administrating is making sure that maintaining peace remains the foundation of the Pro-poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development.
It is a responsibility for which we must all be held collectively accountable, he said.
Reflecting on the nation’s Independence Day, the President said: “On this day 174 years ago, our forefathers laid the bedrock for what was to become the Lone Star on the African continent. Our rich and shared history is filled with tales of triumphs and tribulations.”
On July 26, 1847, the Founding Fathers of this Nation announced to the world the birth of a new country, to be called “Liberia”, and declared its independence from the rule of any power, to stand on its own among the comity of nations.
Since that momentous day, the Declaration of Independence has been commemorated as an important national milestone in the history of our Country.
He said: “Today, through the grace and blessings of the Almighty God, we are proud to celebrate the 174th anniversary of Liberia’s founding as the first and oldest African Republic. On behalf of the Government of Liberia, and in my own name, along with my darling wife, Madam Clar Marie Decontee Weah, I would like to congratulate all Liberians, both at home and abroad, on this auspicious occasion, and to wish you a joyous Independence Day celebration – even as we as a Nation and as a People struggle with the negative impact of the global coronavirus pandemic.”
He said despite the many trials the nation has faced throughout the course of its history, “we have remained resilient, realizing that this nation is our common patrimony.”
“My fellow citizens, our unity in diversity and our resilience as a Nation has set the foundation for us to deliver peace and prosperity for generations yet unborn,” he said and added: “Let us be encouraged and inspired by the immortal words of our beloved National Anthem, which I now quote: In union strong success is sure. We cannot fail! With God above. Our rights to prove. We will o’er all prevail.”
Lingering Infrastructure Deficit
The Liberian leader lamented Liberia’s intractable infrastructure program that has lingered since 174 years of national existence. He promised to reverse the situation under his leadership.
He noted: “One of the recurring themes, which remained prominent and consistent throughout my revealing journeys, was the large infrastructural deficit. Liberia cannot boast of being the first independent African nation when, up to today, we lack the proper health, educational, governance and infrastructure systems befitting such a status.”
He said that is why since his incumbency, his Administration has endeavored to tackle roads and other basic infrastructure requirements so as to bring improvement to the lives of our people, as well as ensuring that there is adequate access to services.
The Chief Executive continued: “In spite of many challenges, we have rehabilitated thousands of kilometers of roads across the country, built hundreds of housing units, constructed and rehabilitated many schools, hospitals and several market buildings.”
He said his administration will continue its infrastructure drive, in keeping with the Pro-Poor Agenda, until they can begin to reduce the infrastructural deficit because, the very existence of this deficit at this time in our national development trajectory can be regarded as a major historical failure.
Dr. Weah asserted that in spite of the negative impact of the Covid-19 Pandemic, “we have ensured that the national development agenda is not derailed. With the firm and prudent fiscal and monetary policy measures we have instituted, inflation has return to single digit. There is also greater stability in the monetary sector and marginal GDP growth is projected.”
Progress in Fighting COVID-19
The President also reported progress being made in tackling the deadly Coronavirus disease, despite the rigidity with which the latest wave of the pandemic hit Liberia.
Providing a snapshot of progress made so far, President Weah said: “As we are all aware, since early last year, the entire world has been ravished by this deadly disease, which has infected almost 200 million persons so far, and resulted in the deaths of more than 4 million citizens of our various countries. Liberia has not been spared the scourge of this pestilence, and we have also suffered our share of infections and deaths. However, through strong leadership and effective implementation of health policies and protocols, as well as the sacrifices and dedication of our health workers, these have been kept to a minimum.”
He continued: “Last month, the country experienced an aggressive upsurge of the COVID-19 pandemic as opposed to the situation seen early this year and last year. Over a period of 3 weeks, the daily number of people testing positive for Corona virus increased from less than 10 to almost 100 per day and the proportion of people testing positive was as high as 20% over the same period. In the same month, new COVID-19 infections expanded to 14 of the 15 counties. There was also high hospitalization at the Star base COVID-19 treatment center with nearly all beds occupied.”
“I am informed by the Minister of Health that, as of July 24, 2021, Liberia has recorded a cumulative number of 5,433 confirmed cases after 141,077 tests. Nearly 38.5% or 2,094 of these cases were reported last month. The Minister further reports that there have been 226 deaths since the onset of the pandemic in Liberia; with 140 of those deaths occurring since the recent upsurge of the disease.
“The number of people vaccinated to date is 95,867; of which 86,288 persons have received the first dose of AstraZeneca vaccines, and 9,579 have been fully vaccinated.”
Despite the gloomy situation, the President spoke highly of a significant decline in the number of confirmed cases since the beginning of July, and for the past week the number of confirmed cases has been less than 10.”
He promised that his Government will continue to strengthen the strategic interventions that will urgently interrupt any chains of COVID-19 infections.
“As your President, I am determined to continue to exert my best efforts to ensure that we halt the further spread of coronavirus in Liberia,” the president said, adding: “In this regard, I have asked the National Legislature to allocate an additional $2 million dollars of our own resources to enable us to obtain critical supplies for our treatment centers and to assist in general case management and infection control.
He also revealed that $8 million dollars was recently approved for Liberia by our development partners to help finance the acquisition of much-needed vaccines and supplies.
I am encouraged to see that many more Liberians are now heeding our advice to wear masks, wash their hands often, and observe social distancing. If we are to be successful in this battle, we will need the collective support and cooperation of all citizens and residents alike, to strictly adhere to the published health protocols.”