MONROVIA: As key government officials continue to give the scorecard of President George Manneh Weah at the end of his first tenure and use his stewardship in the past six years as the yardstick to justify his re-election bid, the Minister of Finance and Development Planning, Samuel D. Tweah, Jr says given the bold steps President Weah has taken to address the major challenges in Liberia’s most critical sectors of roads, electricity and health in 176 years, President Weah is the greatest of all the leaders.
Minister Tweah came up with his grading when he spoke in District # 3 of Montserrado County when he joined the campaign train of President Weah yesterday, Thursday, August 17, 2023 to catalogue the achievements of the president and promote his re-election bid in the presence of thousands of citizens and residents of the district who had turned up in their numbers to listen to the President as he solicited their votes for a second term.
“So, President Weah will be the first president in 176 years to confront head on three of the most critical sectors of our country – roads, electricity and health. And with what he has been able to achieve, he is the greatest of all presidents.
“It is President George Manneh Weah that is solving Liberia’s electricity problem. Mr President, you will be the first president to solve Liberia’s electricity problem. George Manneh Weah will be the only president to solve Liberia’s roads problem. He has fixed 350 kilometers of roads. George Manneh Weah has secured the resources to fix all the Southeastern roads; the only problem right now is time, not money; and that is why he needs to be re-elected”, Minister Tweah said.
The tough-talking Finance Minister said this “unprecedented feat” has created fear in the opposition, mainly the Unity Party (UP), because they are convinced that if the President is allowed to have 12 years in power, what he will achieve will be far above what the UP did in the 12 years they were in power.
“So, this is their fear and it says when you allow the man to have 12 years, you will make the man very powerful because he will bring development that will be more than ours. That is why they are fighting him, that is why they are distorting the facts, that is why they are not telling you the truth”, he said.
He said the six years of President Weah has changed the narrative of what was trending when Weah decided to contest the Presidency in 2005 where he was written off as not having the requisite education, knowledge, experience and the capability to lead the nation which was just coming out of a protracted civil war.
“What was the issue during that debate? People came to this district and said people should not vote for President Weah because he will not lead the country in the right direction. That was the argument, yet, the Liberian people said no, we have seen many people before. They came with all kinds of degrees and all kinds of sophistications, yet we still see abject poverty in our country, right? So, the people asked, why George Weah should not be a different person that we can’t trust him. You went ahead to elect him as your President and after 6 years the story has changed because he has done far above what they could not do”, he said.
Minister Tweah said based on President Weah’s performance for the first term, President Weah has decided to return to the people to seek their support for the second term and many citizens and residents of district have openly attested to these achievements but in order to deflate the issues, the opposition have embarked on disinformation and misinformation campaign to discredit him that he has not done anything.
“What this means from these people is that they are selective, they are saying only certain people can be president. They are saying whether you do great things or not, people like George Weah are not supposed to be president. That is what the debate is about.
“This is because when this man took over the country, the whole country was broke, all the money that came here by the time he took office, all of it dried up. We were living on free money in the past. The development partners brought in money in this country and what you need to ask the UP people is to ask them what they did with the money that ended during President Weah’s time?” he said.
To buttress his argument about free money that came from the donor community, Minister Tweah said the 2,300 health workers in the employ of the government were being paid by the development partners, which included but not limited to the US and German governments, the European Union, the World Bank, among others on an annual budget of USD 12m which translated to USD144m.
“You should ask the UP people, the independent people in this district who said they do not know who to vote for yet. You should ask Joseph Boakai the $144m you did not spend on the health workers, what did you spend it on? Ask him, is it the USD144 million you squandered you are talking about or why you squandered the USD144m for what and you want to come back after 12 years?”, he asked rhetorically.
In contrast, Tweah said President Weah has been able to spend USD72m from the national budget in six years on the salaries of the health workers who were before then paid by Liberia’s development partners.
“That is not free money ooo, we are talking about hard earned money that he has taken to put it in the pockets of the Liberian health workers. If you put money in the pocket of Liberians, then it is the bread-and-butter issue, ehn you can hear that debate?
“We will tell the UP people that nothing is like a bread-and-butter issue than putting people on payroll and giving them salaries. You did not do it; you were depending on the American people to pay the health workers on your behalf. You have to talk about the story”, he said.
Speaking further to buttress his submission that the government of President Weah has spent significantly from the national budget to support education, specifically to make it accessible and affordable to the young people of Liberia, Tweah said he has all reasons to believe the calculation from a young lady who while enumerating the achievement of President Weah in the education sector said the government for the past 6 years has spent about USD20m on WASSCE fees for 12 graders and still intends to spend more as the number continues to grow.
He also spoke about the tuition free initiatives of the government in tertiary institutions in the country and put the number of beneficiaries to 27,000 Liberians who now have access to higher education because of the free tuition policy.
“Twelve years ago, when they were in office, no 27,000 people had access to higher education until you got into office, Mr. President. You have changed the future of not just the 27,000 but their generations because it only took you to bring them free higher education. So, you should clap for the president, so the president has fixed all the economic things here which include but not limited to government workers’ salaries, increase the pay of medical doctors, the Health Minister said the President has also increased the salaries of Southeast health workers too.
“This is the man they are trying to destroy, so you District # 3 people, who are listening and still yet to decide, please make your decision for President Weah; for indeed, he has delivered beyond expectation and will do more in his second term”, Tweah concluded.