MONROVIA – Opinion polls and surveys conducted relative to national elections are cardinal means to not only gauge public perception about key policies that affect the public good, as well as the electability of a particular candidate, but they also serve to inform policy makers on how best to adjust the governance sail in order to capture the attention of the voters. Against this backdrop, with a few months running into the last leg of his first term, President George Weah has come under the scorching spotlight of an online survey conducted by renowned Liberian elections expert, Mr. Josiah F. Joekai, Jr., former Executive Director of the Liberia National Elections Commission (NEC), now resident in the United States of America where is pursuing a Doctorate Degree in Industrial-Organizational Psychology at the Adler University. As Mr. Joekai has presented, the survey which was conducted to gauge the extent of Liberians’ approval of President Weah’s performance after more than five years into his first term shows that respondents are unwilling to give President Weah a second chance because they feel he has failed miserably for the five years he spent in office.
According to the Survey Result which is in the possession of this paper, Liberians are not impressed by the performance of the Weah administration as it relates to his government’s handling of the Economy, Education, Healthcare, Security, Transportation (land, air, water), Road (bridges and railways), Telecommunications (internet connectivity and broadband access), Media (broadcasting, publishing, and the internet), Water and Sewage, Jobs Creation, and Electricity.
The online survey, which included 15 questions and generated 457 responses, also showed that Liberians are generally not proud or happy of Mr. George Weah being their president; and that it is highly unlikely that they will give Mr. Weah any opportunity for a second term.
Summary/Analysis of Weah’s Governance Performance
The survey was conducted online and the responses were directly analyzed by the Thematic Analysis Tool which sorted through responses, question by question, using bar and pie charts to graphically illustrate responses captured during the survey. The Thematic Tool is driven by artificial intelligence (AI) which has visualization capabilities.
Economy: Regarding how citizens feel about President Weah’s handling of the economy, the survey results showed that 349 respondents, representing 80 percent of the total 457 responses received, disapproved of how President Weah has handled the economy during the five years of his six-year first term. However, 76 respondents representing 17.4 percent of the total 457 responses received, approved of the Weah administration’s management of the economy.
The highest percentage of the respondents’ disapproval of President Weah’s handling of the economy is mirrored by the galloping dire straits that Liberians continue to face under the current administration, despite glowing reports of growth from the country’s financial development partners.
Education: With respect to how citizens feel about how the Weah administration has handled the education sector in the country, 324 respondents, representing 74.1 percent of the 457 responses received, disapproved of President Weah’s management of education. On the other hand, 87 respondents representing 19.9 percent of the total 457 responses received approved how President Weah continues to handle the education sector.
At the time of the publication of this survey report, the Ministry of Education, Liberia’s chief regulator for all things education, is embroiled in a serious issue of conflict with the National Commission on Higher Education regarding presidents of tertiary institutions whose terminal degrees were found to be falsified and not commensurate with their portfolios. Moreover, the sector is bedeviled by infrastructural and human capacity deficits, which the government believes can be solved by outsourcing primary education to external actors.
Healthcare: As for healthcare, 346 respondents, representing 79 percent of the 457 responses received disapproved of how the Weah government has handled healthcare. However, 73 respondents, representing 17 percent of the total 457 responses received approved how the Weah administration had managed healthcare in the country.
The Report’s high percentage of disapproval also mirrors the terrible state of the health sector, wherein Liberians, including government officials, continue to seek medical attention outside of the country for health issues that could be treated locally once the appropriate mechanisms are put in place. At the publication of this survey report, major hospitals around the country lack drugs, electricity and trained personnel who are gravitating to private practices to make ends meet.
Security: Regarding the issue of security, 361 respondents, representing 81.8 percent of the 457 responses received, disapproved of how the Weah administration is managing security in the country. However, 66 respondents, representing 14.9 percent of the total 457 responses received, approved of how the Weah government is managing security in the country.
The high disapproval of President Weah’s handling of the security sector appears to be evident in the fluid security situation in the country, occasioned by the spate of unexplained high-profile killings related to audits, among others.
Transportation: When it came to how citizens viewed the Weah administration’s management of land, air and water transportation systems, 325 respondents disapproved, representing 73 percent of the 457 responses received. Meanwhile, 76 respondents representing 17 percent approved how President Weah has managed transportation in the country.
The respondents’ disapproval of the Weah government’s management of the transportation sector is evident by the deplorable road conditions in the hinterland, as well as within inner cities. Liberia’s airport remains a topic of concern, with the main international airport still without a manager; while internal transport by water remains hazardous, evident by the mounting issues of deaths caused by faulty carriers and boats.
Roads, Bridges, Railways: Within this sector, 269 respondents disapproved of how the Weah Government has managed the sector during the period under review. The disapproval rating represents 59.9 percent of the total 457 responses received. On the other hand, 120 respondents representing 26.7 percent of the total 457 responses received approved how President Weah is handling the sector.
Captured under the transportation sector, roads, bridges and railways have the same perennial problems that made the majority of the respondents to disapprove of President Weah’s handling of the sector. As for the railway system, the sector is yet to be operationalized due to glitches from competing investment forces and greed from state actors who continue to circumvent key Mineral Development Agreements (MDAs) for personal benefits.
Telecommunications: Within this sector which covers internet connectivity and broadband access, the survey showed that 312 respondents, representing 69.3 percent of the total 457 responses received, disapproved of how the Weah administration has handled telecommunications in the country. On the other hand, 97 respondents, representing 21.5 percent of the total 457 responses received, approved of how President Weah and his government have handled telecommunications in the country.
The respondents’ high disapproval of President Weah’s management of the telecommunications sector is cushioned against how the sector has been seen to be ripping off poor Liberians when it comes to the imposition of tariffs, especially regarding the 3-days free call. Moreover, internet service providers, without prior notice to the consumers, have increased tariffs even as their services continue to fall far beyond standard.
Media: With regards to the media, which includes broadcasting, publishing and the internet, 305 respondents, representing 67.6 percent of the total 457 responses received disapproved President Weah’s management of the media; while on the other hand, 103 respondents, representing 22.8 percent of the total 457 responses received approved of the Weah government’s handling of the media.
The high disapproval rating of the respondents could be self-evident in how the government has been perceived to favor and “weaponize” “friendly-forces” media, while stifling those seen as “anti-government”. Up to the point of the publication of the survey report, some media institutions continue to plead to the government to pay arrears owed them.
Water and Sewage: On this particular question, 347 respondents, representing 77.2 percent of the total 457 responses received, disapproved of how the Weah government is managing water and sewage. On the other hand, 67 respondents, representing 14.9 percent of the total 457 responses received, said they approved of how President Weah and his government are managing water and sewage.
The high disapproval from respondents for this sector is self-evident by the government’s dismal provision of water to its customers. As for the sewage situation in the country, especially the capital city, the issue is a national disgrace.
Jobs Creation: Here, 358 respondents, representing 79.3 percent of the total 457 responses, disapproved of the Weah Government’s management of jobs creation; while 71 respondents, representing 15.7 percent of the total 457 responses, approved of how the Weah Government is creating jobs in the country.
When it comes to the issue of jobs creation, the high disapproval rating of the 457 respondents is defined by the near-lack of new investment opportunities that will absorb Liberians into the job market since President Weah took office in 2018, especially given the government’s indecision to ratify the ArcelorMittal Liberia Mineral Development Agreement (MDA). The issue of the Western region’s Western Cluster MDA remains a grievous concern that affects jobs creation for Liberians who are fighting to avoid being spectators in their own economy.
Electricity: Within this important sector that also hinges on security, 264 respondents, representing 58.2 percent of the total 457 responses received, disapproved of how President Weah is handling the issue of electrical supply throughout the country. On the other hand, 119 respondents, representing 26.2 percent of the total 457 responses received, said they approved of the Weah Government handling of electricity in the country.
Electricity is national security. While the government along with its international development partners can be seen to be making efforts in some parts of the country with regards to providing electricity to Liberians, citizens remain critical that more needs to be done to make electricity available, accessible, and affordable through the length and breadth of Liberia. But the reality is otherwise. The respondents’ high disapproval of the Weah Government’s handling of electricity should be of serious concern to policy makers and managers of the CLSG arrangement.
National Pride and happiness: With regards to how proud Liberians felt about Mr. Weah being their president, the survey results showed that 342 respondents, representing 75.4 of the total 457 responses received said they were not proud about Weah being their president; while on the other hand, 81 respondents, representing 17.8 percent of the total 457 responses received said they are proud of Weah as President.
In the same vein, 335 respondents, representing 76 percent of the total 457 responses received said they were not happy under the Weah administration. However, 67 respondents, representing 16 percent of the total 457 responses received said they were happy under the Weah administration.
In a summation of the myriad of responses from the perception survey, especially as it relates to how the citizens will vote in the upcoming October 10, 2023 elections when it comes to retaining President Weah for the second term, 340 respondents, representing 77 percent of the 457 responses received said it is unlikely they will vote for President Weah in the 2023 Presidential Election. On the other hand, 91 respondents representing 21 percent of the total 457 responses received said come hell or high water, they will vote for President Weah in the 2023 Presidential Election.
Regarding how Liberians feel living under President Weah, especially as it relates to their pride and happiness, and whether they are willing to vote him into office for a second term, the dismal showing of the survey report is evidenced by outcomes of the recent by-elections which saw Weah’s Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) being outboxed by the opposition camp. In summary, the survey showed that Liberians are not generally happy with President Weah, and will not reelect him.
Meanwhile, the survey did not include demographics on respondents’ education, gender, location, ethnicity and age. The final survey, according to Joekai, will be conducted in late August 2023. See full Text of Mr. Joekai’s Survey on pages 6, 7 & 9 of this edition.