Takeaway From Weah’s Last year SONA: ‘I KNOW YOUR PAINS’ -I who Grew Up in the Slum Will Not Forget You

MONROVIA – When President George Manneh Weah was in opposition, from 2005 to 2017, the refrain amongst his supporters was “He’s got a good heart for the country and its people” and if elected, that he was most suited to be President because he would give back to the long-marginalized ordinary. That was not said from the clear blue sky. In his professional soccer carrier, he used his personal wealth to sustain the national team, to care for displaced persons and refugees, and ran school scholarship programs and vocation institutions for young people. He beat his opponents on those refrains and the actions. And when he took the Presidential office in 2018, he made his national development plan to be coined “pro-poor agenda for prosperity and development” by and through which he continues to prioritize the impoverished majority of Liberians. Delivering his Annual Message last year January, he reassured Liberians in his inaugural promise, “I will not let you down”, emphasizing that “I know your pains”. The Analyst reflects on those words as the President is slated to report to the nation next Monday, January 30, 2022.  

When the 24th President of the Republic of Liberia took the mantle of political authority in January 2018, he promised the citizenry he would not let them down. The vow was made from both the point of strengthen as a consummate humanitarian since the defeated poverty as a football icon and also from comparative advantage as survivor of poverty and then as the new head of state.

President George Manneh Weah has never since swayed from that vow, taking much of state resources and critical social services targeting the impoverished majority.

Speaking to the nation January 24, 2022, while delivering his Annual State of the Nation Address, the President made a reassuring statement that, despite huge resource challenges facing his government owing to circumstances not his making, he would live up to his promise never to let Liberians down.

“I, George Manneh Weah, who grew up in the slums of Gibraltar, will never forget my roots and will always continue to seek the welfare of the people,” the Head of State declared.

“We intend to continue to lend our support as a Government to the expansion of educational opportunities to our citizens.  We are encouraged by the impact of our free tuition policy for state-owned universities and colleges.  For example, since the implementation of this policy, we have seen enrolment at the University of Liberia more than doubled, from 8,000 students to 18,000 students.”

He added: “We realized that the payment of WASSCE fee had become a huge burden for parents and students alike. This was causing a negative impact on the learning environment. We therefore put into place a policy whereby the government would assume the responsibility of paying WASSCE fees for all students.”

Divulging further what he had done over the last fiscal period, President Weah reported that his Government has developed a recovery plan, and some aspects of this plan are in motion.

“The key focus is to continue infrastructure development, and continue policy reforms in sectors such as tourism and agriculture. In agriculture, the goal is to empower small-holder farmers with resources, inputs and markets. In infrastructure, such as roads and electricity, the goal is to continue delivering on major projects.”

Those interventions, including developments and investments, he said, would sustain the positive growth outlook for the medium term.

“We will continue our reforms in 2021 and push to achieve growth and grow jobs across key sectors of our economy,” the President reassured Liberians.

“I, too, have felt the pain of hunger and poverty,” the President recalled, stressing that he has mandated the entire machinery of his administration to recalibrate and enhance the focus on finding lasting solutions to the bread and better issues facing our people.”

“No Room for Error”

Because of his commitment to ensuring that he does not let the people, and as a demonstration of faith in future of all Liberians, the President, while delivering his State of the Nation Address last year warned members of this administration to buckle up or buckle out.

Then he said emphatically: “Therefore, there will be no room for error, no room for laxity. All ministers and officials. TAKE NOTE!”

Dr. Weah continued at the time: “My Administration’s commitment remains unwavering when it comes to the transformational development of Liberia within the framework of an accountable and functional democracy. This is not only my ambition; this is my determination.”

He however said in order achieve his goal and address the felt need of Liberians, it would require that all citizens rally to the cause, and make their own personal commitment to national development. 

“This is our country,” he said. “Just as it belongs to all of us, it will require the collective effort of all of us to improve it.  No one person can do it for us, and we must not expect any one from outside to do it for us.”

“As I have often said, I have my vision, and I will fulfill my mission.   That vision is fully set out and captured in the Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development, and my mission is to fulfill that vision through the development of this country and the betterment of the lives of the Liberian people.”

In spite of the daunting challenges that his administration is faced with, President Weah said “our development drive has not been derailed. We understand some of the personal and collective challenges you face in your lives. We feel the pain you feel on a day-to-day basis as you seek to put bread on your table.”

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