President George Manneh Weah’s first tour of the country not only brings him face to face with the masses of the people in spirited exchanges regarding developmental problems and solutions; it also allows him to, in real time and at firsthand, see and appreciate how the ordinary people of the country are faring. As he moves from place to place, he takes instant actions to address some of the critical issues facing Liberians. One terrain the President is particularly familiar with is the Southeast of the Country whence he hails and where he grew up in the 1970s as a child. Returning to the Southeast as part of his current tour, the President is having some time to process comparatively how things have fared in that region since his departure over forty years ago. When he touched down in River Gee on Sunday, February 21, he was not pleased with what he saw: River Gee or at least communities he had known decades ago, including Kanweaken, nearly remain the same. He was raged and took aim at elite of the area who, according to him without calling names, failed the county. The Analyst reports.
Rounds that President George Manneh Weah is making in the countryside, by all count, supposed to be joyous and smiling moments not only for the people for whom he continues to dedicate or conclude countless projects and to initiate many new ones, but also for light moments with the people. But there have been moments during the visit when he nearly shed tears and/or facially show bitterness and rage over the deplorable conditions locals live in.
Two particular areas come out as points at which the Liberian leader voiced openly his disgust and disappointment. The first recorded was in Bahn, Nimba County, where a school that the President visited, escorted by students, was, in his words, not fit for a pig pan. The second was Kanweaken and other communities in River Gee where living conditions he had known forty years ago still appear to exist in the country.
The president did not hide his outrage. He did not pamper those who are probable culprits in the destitution of the people of Liberia, particularly of those communities.
In two separate town hall meetings, one in Kanweaken and other in Fish Town, President Weah lamented the horrible living conditions of the people and the general backwardness of River Gee County.
While other communities and counties are scrambling to compete in terms of infrastructure development, and improving the living conditions of the people, River Gee appears to be backpedaling as far as concrete development is concerned.
The first easily visible point of backwardness in the county is the absence of workable internet connectivity—thousands of guests who converged on River Gee communities could not browse the internet. Journalists were unable to file their reports and various private and public workers could not communicate via the internet. It is a complete “Zero G” situation in the county.
But President Weah was particularly concerned about infrastructure development—the lack of modern facilities including city halls, town halls, decent guest houses, amongst other things. Several guests slept in their vehicles, and there was nowhere with a roof for citizens and guests to converge for the large meetings that were held.
Worse of hall, the River Gee county seat, Fish Town’s “Presidential Palace”—a guest house normally intended for Presidents and other VIPs to stay in while visiting counties—lacks every nicety of civilized housing.
That thing they call presidential palace does not worth it, the President said during a jam-packed hall meeting. He lamented how leaders of the county would treat their own citizens, clearly demonstrating unconcern and recklessness for the people.
“That thing called palace in Fish Town is not a palace,” he said further, averring that Government would break it down and build a better one.
“What if any of my colleagues, having heard of my tours, had joined me to come to River Gee,” the President lamented further. “I was going to be a big disgrace for Liberia.”
He promised to build a decent presidential palace and it will be used as model to build in other counties.
Without calling names, the President growled, to the effect saying, ‘how can we say we are book people and yet we don’t know and care about the value and dignity of our people.’
He said education and the brag for it is not what the poor people of Liberia need. When one is educated and claims to be a civilized person, they must show it in deed and actions reflected in the living condition of their people.
Apparently, President Weah had travelled through communities while trekking the forest path in the 1970s from Grand Cess and Barclayville in Grand Kru County to go the Monrovia, and he still remembers how they people lived.
To further demonstrate the point, he loudly, during the meeting, called his senior brother’s attention and said, “Brother, do you remember that we used to pass in these communities, mainly Kanweaken in the late 1970s, and you remember the huts these people were living in. Are these not the same kinds of hut they are still living in today?”
The President say most elites have failed the people, despite their drag about education, experience and exposure.
River Gee has a swarm of educated people, long ago and now, some serving high positions in all three Branches of Government. Some do have decent homes of their own in Monrovia, abroad and other places.
“This is the message I have for the people of River Gee. To begin with, I am ordering the building of the first 200 housing units. We will take out people from those huts they have lived in for centuries and we will build modern units for their comfort.”
He said the people of River Gee, like other impoverished Liberians, are citizens with equal rights to decent living.
Access to decent housing is a universal right agreed upon by many nations, including Liberia, to be jealously protected and availed to them.
Why say we know book and allow our people of suffer like this, the President said.
According to him, Liberia’s poor deserve better, and that anyone working in his government must endeavor to help people of our communities, counties and regions.