Feature Written & Contributed By: Bill Reuben Gongo
On Wednesday, February 28th, 2018, President George Manneh Weah finally took ownership and control of the Liberian economy, after rejecting and accepting same on Monday, January 29th, 2018, with heavy heart, when he appeared at the National Legislature to deliver his “First State of the Nation Address” following his inauguration on Monday, January 22nd, 2018; noting that “the government was broke, the economy was broke and Liberia was also broke.”
With this premised laid, President Weah said due to prolonged litigations which delayed the transitional period, before his taking over on Monday, January 22nd, 2018; there was nothing for him to report about to the Liberian people, without him knowing exactly what the outgoing government left in the budget of the former administration, since Fiscal Year 2017/2018 Budget of the outgoing administration was expected to elapsed on June 30th, 2018, as well as not knowing what is in the Liberian Economy for the incoming government to managed.
However, to get a clearer picture of what the Liberian leader was talking about, according to the Constitutional and the Electoral Laws of the Republic of Liberia, after every six-years, “Democratic Legislative & Presidential Elections are supposed to take place in Liberia.
Following that, those elections supposed to be followed by Chieftaincy & Municipal Elections for “Town, Clan, Paramount and City Mayors, respectively, in a bid to elect new breed of leaders to replace those who have served their respective elected tenures for 6 & 12—years on the basis of “First & Second Terms,” respectively.
These elections are expected to take places on the 2nd Tuesday of October of after every Six—years, with a constitutional mandate that both Legislative & Presidential candidates should obtain at least 50%–Plus—1, to win such elections out rightly.
Hereafter conducts of those elections, it is supposed to be accompanied by conducts of the Chieftaincy & Municipal Elections for Traditional Chiefs, Elder and Zoes, also known as local leaders of the country on the basis of “Simple Majority.”
Anything short of acquiring these constitutional requirements for those contesting for the Liberian Senate, House of Representatives and the Liberian Presidency; following the conduct of such elections, any two of the candidates who obtain the highest percentage, will wait.
Those candidates with the two highest percentage will wait, until they are announced by the National Elections Commission (NEC) for a “Run—Off Elections,” after which a winner is identified, following conducts of the run-off to ensure that the person who obtained the 50%–Plus 1 Constitutional Mandate, is declared the winner.
This is how the Liberian Electoral Laws were before, coming from the 1985 Legislative & Presidential Elections, since the revised 1847/1986 amended Constitution came into existence, beginning from 1984.
As a result, during the 1985 Elections, there were four political parties which were certified by the then Special Elections Commission (SECOM) to contest those elections.
The four parties included the Liberia Action Party (LAP), Liberia Unification PARTY (LUP), the Unity Party (UP) and the National Democratic Party of Liberia (NDPL).
The elections were set for Tuesday, October 11th, 1985, and following conducts of those elections, there were disagreements regarding proclaiming Head of State Doe as the winner, without even going for a 2nd Rounds, like Liberians are seeing today.
No run—off election was conducted for any member of the National Legislature, as all those who contested, acquired the constitutional requirements of obtaining the 50%–Plus–1 across the country, respectively.
With this result, it was perceived that Jackson Fiah Doe, a Candidate of the Liberia Action Party (LAP) was the true winner of the Liberian Presidency, but he was reportedly robbed of the victory and surrendered to Head of State Doe.
To satisfy their quests, the three opposition Political parties, the Liberia Action Party (LAP), the Liberia Unification Party (LUP) and the Unity Party (UP) formed a “Grand Coalition” to challenge the elections’ results in a court of competent jurisdictions.
On pursuing the court’s actions, not much credence was given them as the aggrieved parties were labelled as “trouble makers bent on trying to destabilize the Liberian Nation.’
Because of this perceive notions about the aggrieved parties, the case was dangling at the Supreme Court, without judges there giving it credence.
But despite that, on Tuesday, November 12th, 1985, exactly three weeks following the declaration of Head of State Doe by the Emmet A. Harmon led Special Elections Commission (SECOM), as winner of the Liberian Presidency on October 25th, 1985, Brig/Gen. Thomas G. Quiwonkpah, former Commanding General of the Armed Forces of Liberia led what was called an “Abortive Invasion” in a bid to prevent President Doe from being inaugurated on Monday, January 16th, 1986.
The coup failed on the same day, and Gen. Quiwonkpah died in the process, thereby paving the way for the inauguration of President Doe on Monday, January 16th, 1986.
Following that, heads of the three political parties who filed complaints in the court, including Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf were arrested and detained at the Monrovia Central Prison for their alleged involvements into the coup plots to topple Head of State Doe.
They were charged with “Sedition,” and later transferred at the camp Belleh Yallah Maximum Prison in Bopolu District, then Lower Lofa County, but now Gbarpolu County.
However, before the inauguration of President Elect Samuel Kanyon Doe, “A Transitional Committee was set—up by him to work with Members of the Interim National Assembly (INA), which was put into place by he, Head of State Doe, after he step aside as Head of State & Commander—In—Chief of the Armed Forces of Liberia to contest the elections, as a Civilian Candidate.
The (INA) was comprised of both military and civilians members, led by Candidate Doe himself, to oversee affairs of the country, until elections are held.
The Transitional Committee set—up by President Elect Doe worked with members of the (INA) closely, extracting from them how much money the military government left into the coffers of the Liberian treasury, following conducts of the Tuesday, October 11th, 1985 Elections.
After comparing notes on so many things, the day came for the inauguration of President Doe, and following that, during the 3rd—working Mondays of January, 1986, President Doe appeared at the National Legislature on Capitol Hill, to deliver his “First State of the Nation Addressed,” as the 20th President Elect of the Republic of Liberia.
In that’s addressed, President Doe amongst other things, touched on wide range of issues, including conduct of the 1985 elections, candidates who participated into the process, outcome of the elections, status of the complaints of the aggrieved parties; the Quiwonkpah’s Abortive Invasion, fates of members of the opposition politicians who were charged with “Seditions” and sent to prisons at Camp Belleh Yallah, and finally, the “State of the Liberian Nation’s Economy.”
Following that, the dust settled, and Liberians begin to move on with their lives, while President Doe was leading the country.
Following that’s elections, the Liberian Constitutional and Electoral Laws remained in full forced, until during the 1997 Proportional Representation Style of Elections to end the 14—years civil war, which was started by Taylor and others, to removed President Doe from power.
During that’s elections, which because the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the African Union (AU), the European Union (EU), America, Liberia’s traditional friend and others said there was no money to conduct elections, according to the laws of Liberia, “A Special Elections should be conducted to resolve the crisis,” saw Taylor popularly winning that’s election one round convincingly.
Following conducts of that’s election on Tuesday, July 19th, 2997, Taylor was declared the winner; and Monday, August 2nd, 1997 was set aside as his inauguration date.
But before his inauguration, a “Transitional Team” was set up by President Elect Taylor to work with outgoing Transitional Government Chairperson, Madam Ruth Sando Perry and her team to know how much money she was leaving into the nation’s treasury, as well as cars, including bilateral & multilateral agreements that she signed on behalf of Liberia that could help the nation in the future during his administration.
After the government was inaugurated, along with members of the National Legislature, few weeks later on, Taylor appear at the 51st National Legislature to deliver his “State of the Nation Addressed.”
There, he said nothing much was left into the coffers of the nation’s treasury; thereby emphasizing that the government was broke; and the economy was under very serious stressed, because of this, according to him, Liberia was beset with enormous problems; and with very high expectations in every sectors of the Liberian Society, but with a broke government and a broken economy that he was taking over, respectively. Remember that at that’s time, there were more than 100—One Hundred Thousand ex—combatants already disarmed, demobilized, resettled and reintegrated into the Liberian Society, without jobs for these people.
However, after two—years in power, on Saturday, April 29th, 1999, the war returned to the country, thereby interrupting smooth running of the Taylor’s led government, up to Monday, August 11th, 2003, before resigning to go into exiled in the Nigerian State of Calabar, to pave the way for inductions of the Charles Gyude Bryant led National Transitional Government of Liberia (NTGL).
The mandate of the National Transitional Government of Liberia (NTGL) was for two—years, to ensure that all fighters who participated into the civil war are disarmed, demobilized, rehabilitated, resettled and reintegrated into the Liberian Society.
After all of these conditions have been met, before the conduct of a “free, fair, credible and transparent democratic Legislative & Presidential Elections are held,” according to the Constitutional and Electoral Laws of Liberia in 2005, to select a new leader to govern the country.
During that’s elections, there were closed to 1,500 candidates for the Liberian Senate & the House of Representatives; while at the same time, there were 22—candidates vying for the Liberian Presidency.
Following conducts of those elections on Tuesday, October 11th, 2005, some of those who were aspiring to go into the Liberian Senate and the House of Representatives, as well as those who were eyeing the Liberian Presidency could not obtained the Constitutional Requirements of 50%–plus—1, and so because of this, run—off elections were held in some of the 73—Electoral Districts of Liberia to meet the constitutional requirements.
At the same time, 20—of the presidential candidates who were canvassing for the Liberian Presidency could not obtained the Constitutional & Electoral Laws requirements of 50%–Plus—1.
Because of this reason, two of the candidates who got 38% & 28%, as the highest, respectively, were short listed by the National Elections Commission (NEC), then headed by Cllr. Frances Johnson Morris Allison to go for a “Run—Off Presidential Election,” to enable anyone of them obtain the 50%–Plus—1, before declaring said person a winner.
On the basis of this, Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of the Unity Party (UP) and Ambassador George Manneh Weah of the then Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) were short listed by the National Elections Commission (NEC), and declared candidates with the highest percentages to go for a “Run—Off Election on Tuesday, November 7th, 2005,” to obtain the 50%—Plus—1, before they can be declared the winner.
Following conducts of that’s run—off election, Madam Sirleaf was declared the winner and certificated, as President Elect of the Republic of Liberia, and while she was preparing for her inauguration on Monday, January 16th, 2006, she set—up a “Transitional Team” to work with Members of the outgoing Liberia National Transitional Government of Businessman Charles Gyude Bryant.
The “Transitional Team’s” mandates was to closely work with the outgoing regime in assessing and knowing about all of the activities of the interim government, in terms of how much money they were leaving behind into the coffers of the Liberian Treasury, since the fiscal budget of 2005/2006 of that’s year was expected to elapsed in June of 2006, before the incoming government can present a New Budget for Fiscal year 2006/2007. Following the inauguration, during the 3rd—working Mondays of January, 2006, Madam Sirleaf appeared at the National Legislature to deliver her “First State of the Nation Addressed.
There, she told members of the 52nd National Legislature that what the elected government was taking over from the outgoing interim government was very minimum and far bellowed expectations of the Liberian people who were in dare needs of almost everything at the same time.
More beside, Madam Sirleaf said almost every sectors of the Liberian Society, ranging from the security sector, onto health, education and infrastructure, amongst others, were in complete shattered and in dare needs of urgent reforms and transformations, but with very minimum amount of cash left into the nation’s reserved by the outgoing administration to address these concerns.
This is how the Constitutional and Electoral Laws of Liberia were, until in August of 2011, when a National Referendum was held for amendments in some of the Liberian Constitutional & Electoral Laws, including extensions of the ages of Judges serving at the Levels of the Supreme Court Bench, from Chief Justice onto Members of the Associate Justices of the Supreme Court Bench and other subordinate judges from 70—75—years, respectively.
During that’s referendum, the intentions to extend the serving lifespans of Members of the Supreme Court Bench from 70—75—years was defeated hands down, following the referendum.
On the other hand, the issue of amending the Electoral Laws for a Lawmaker: “Senator & Representative” to obtain 50%–Plus–!, along with anyone who wants to be President, was amended to a “Simple Majority,” meaning that at the legislative levels, no matter how many candidates maybe contesting for a particular seat, anyone of them who obtain the highest percentage is declare the winner by the National Elections Commission (NEC).
With this, only the Liberian Presidency was now left alone for a contestant to obtain the Constitutional requirements of 50%–Plus—1, before being declared as a winner by the NEC.
This was the case with the Liberian Constitutional & Electoral Laws, coming onto the Tuesday, October 10th, 2011 Legislative & Presidential Elections, when again, Madam Sirleaf, as the Sitting President, vying for her 2nd—Term, was vigorously opposed by 23-other candidates, including Ambassadors Winston A, Tubman and George Manneh Weah of the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC).
At the end of that’s election first round, almost the same percentages obtained by the two candidates in 2005 (38% & 28%), respectively, were obtained, while 22—of the presidential candidates who could not obtain such percentages to go for a “Presidential Run—Off Election, dropped by the way side.
But instead, except for Sitting President, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Liberia’s Main Opposition Political Party of Cllr. Winston A. Tubman and Ambassador George Manneh Weah of the then Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) who were short listed and certified by NEC to go for the Run—Off Presidential Election on Tuesday, November 7th, 2011.
However, before the conduct of that’s Run—Off Election, Cllr. Tubman and Ambassador Weah, as Presidential and Vice Presidential Candidates of the Congress for Democratic Change respectively, refused to honored (NEC’s) qualifications of their party to go for the Second Round, because according to them, their percentage obtained was allegedly swapped in favored of the former ruling Unity Party (UP).
This dispute led to the former Chairman of the National Elections Commission, James Fromayan resigning, just to satisfy the quests of the aggrieved party to show up for conduct of the Run—Off Presidential Election, but despite that, they refused and stay away from the process.
However, despite their boycotts, the National Elections Commission went ahead with conduct of the Run—Off Presidential Election, following which Madam Sirleaf was declared the winner, to enable her served her 2nd—term.
After serving her 2nd—Term in Office, October 10th, 2017 was again set aside, as another elections date, for the Liberian people to go to the polls and select a successor to outgoing President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and several other lawmakers.
To achieved this, 22—other presidential candidates surfaced again, with Ambassador George Manneh Weah of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC), former Vice President, Joseph Nyumah Boakai of the then ruling Unity Party (UP) and Cllr. Charles Walker Brumskine of the Opposition Liberty Party (LP) becoming the front runners, according to local and international opinion polls’ results.
After disseminating series of campaign’s related messages across Liberia, following NEC’s greenlights for candidates to go out and campaigned, by selling themselves to Liberian Electorates, through their parties’ platforms and manifestos, beginning from July 31st, onto Sunday, October 8th, 2017, following the closed of campaigning, on Tuesday, October 10th, 2017, the Legislative & Presidential Elections were peacefully and successfully held.
At the end of the day, following preliminary counting and released of results, Ambassador George Manneh Weah of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) and former Vice President, Joseph Nyumah Boakai were short listed and certified to go for the 2nd—Round in a Presidential Run—Off Election, after acquiring 38% & 28%, as the highest percentages, respectively.
- From October 10th, onto the 15th of 2017, respectively, one of the Candidates, in person of Cllr. Charles Walker Brumskine of the Opposition Liberty Party took exceptions to conducts of the elections itself, followed by preliminary results that were being released by (NEC) on grounds that he was allegedly grossly cheated, followed by series of frauds and irregularities into the process.
- Because of these reasons, he demanded for forensic investigations into the process and called for a re—run of the entire electoral processes, as a means of satisfying his quest for “free, fair, credible and transparent democratic elections in Liberia, to avoid a repeat of the controversial 1985 elections and other evil vices, which paved the way for executions of the 14—years old Liberian Civil War.
Following series of hauling and pulling between Cllr. Brumskine and Cllr. Jerome Kokoyah, Chairman of the National Elections Commission, while the (NEC) was planning to conduct the Presidential Run—Off Election on Tuesday, November 7th of 2017, on October 23rd, 2017, Cllr. Brumskine filed “A Writ of Prohibition” against the National Elections Commission and Members of the Board of Directors of the commission before the Supreme Court of Liberia to prevent the electoral body from proceeding with said elections, until his complaints before the (NEC) is look into.
After probing into the matter, opinions into the lawsuit, filed by Cllr. Brumskine on October 23rd, 2017, against the Chairman of the National Elections Commission and members of his Board of Commissioners was honored by the full Bench of the Supreme Court of Liberia, led by Chief Justice, Cllr. Francis Saye Korkpor, in terms of looking into the complaint.
Following series of arguments between the two parties, through their lawyers, on Thursday, December 6th, 2017, the Supreme Court of Liberia came down with a ruling, dismissing the complaint to overturn the entire elections’ results and go for a re–run.
But instead, after looking into the merits and de-merits of the complaint, the Supreme Court came down with a ruling on Wednesday, December 6Th, 2017, dismissing all of the 12th—counts and their evidences adduced by Cllr. Brumskine, calling for a rerun of the entire electoral process.
In the Supreme Court’s ruling, which also dismissed the case, was however quick to take keen interest into one of the evidences adduced in court by Cllr. Brumskine, which had to do with an alleged “fraudulent Final Voter Registration Roll (FVRR),” comprising of all of the voters’ identities.
After keenly listening to all of the parties, the Supreme Court mandated the National Elections Commission to clean up the 2017 Final Voter Registration Roll properly and desist from responding to public criticisms against the commission, concerning aggrieved individuals making unsubstantiated comments against the commission for allegedly cheating and robbing them of their victories.
Thereafter, similarly, the Supreme Court also requested the (NEC) to set a new date and proceed with conduct of the Presidential Run-off Election.
Based on this clearance from the court, on Monday, December 10th, 2017, the Chairman of the National Elections Commission, Cllr. Jerome George Kokoyah came out to announce the date of Tuesday, December 26th, 2017, as the new date for the Run off Presidential Election, which was constitutionally scheduled to take place on Tuesday, November 7th, 2017, but was dragged to the new date, due to the Supreme Court’s interventions into the matter into the complaint of Cllr. Brumskine.
However, in honored the new date, before Tuesday, December 26th, 2017, which was now the actual date for the Run—Off Presidential Election, the two parties were asked to proceed with campaigning and bear in minds that such campaigning will end on Sunday, December 24th, 2017, to pave the way for Liberians to proceed to the polls and elect their new president and vice president, respectively.
Following the run—off, with this understanding, it was now understood that whoever wins and his vice president will now be the one to replace Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, and Vice President, Joseph Nyumah Boakai who were elected on the ticket of the former ruling Unity Party in 2005 and 2011, respectively, after serving their two constitutional terms of offices, although Vice President Boakai was still in the race, along with his Running Mate, J. Emmanuel Nuuquay.
And indeed, following conduct of the Presidential Run-Off Election on Tuesday, December 26th, 2017, on Friday, December 29th, 2017, Chairman Kokoyah came up with preliminary results, which put the Opposition, Coalition for Democratic Change of Ambassador George Manneh Weah ahead of ruling Unity Party Standard Bearer, Joseph Nyumah Boakai with 60% Percent of the votes, far above the constitutional requirement of 50%–Plus—1.
Following that, on Saturday, December 30th, 2017, the final results were announced, with Ambassador Weah accumulating at least 61.5% of the total votes; while Ambassador Boakai, too, got a total of 38.8% of the total votes, thereby bringing the entire processes to an end, to pave the way for Ambassador Weah and Senator Taylor to take over from outgoing President, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Vice President, Joseph Nyumah Boakai, respectively.
Following that, the next thing in lined was the issue of certificating of the winners.
On the basis of that, on Monday, January 4th, 2018, at the Headquarters of the National Elections Commission, the two, president & vice president elects were certificated and declared winners of the Tuesday, October 10th/December 26th 2017 Legislative & Presidential Elections, as President and Vice President of the Republic of Liberia, respectively.
This recognitions and declarations by the (NEC) of winners of the Presidency & Vice Presidency, respectively, was followed by setting up of a date for inaugurations of the President & Vice President Elects of the Republic of Liberia, Ambassador, George Manneh Weah and Neh Suakoko Jewel Howard Taylor.
In setting up the date, which constitutionally should had fallen on the 2nd Working Mondays of January, expected to be on the 16th, was rescheduled and pushed to the 22nd of January, 2018, simply because due to prolonged litigations concerning the elections, followed by certifications of the winners on Monday, January 4th, 2018, means that the 2nd Working Mondays would now fall on January 22nd, 2018.
Therefore, on the basis of this, Monday, January 22nd, 2018 was set aside as the date to officially inaugurate President & Vice President Elect of the Republic of Liberia, Ambassador George Manneh Weah and Senator, Neh Suakoko, Jewel Howard Taylor.
The ceremony took place at the Samuel Kanyon Doe Sports Complex in Paynesville City, Montserrado County in the presence of a record crowds of about 40,000 people.
Those who turned out to witness the ceremony included Liberians, foreign residents, international guests from the Mano River Union Basin of West Africa, (MRU), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the African Union (AU), the European Union (EU), as well as Bilateral & Multilateral Institutions, such as the World Bank Group (WBG), the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Paris Club (PC), respectively.
On the other hand, representatives from friendly nations, including Liberia’s traditional Friend, the United States of America, onto Australians, British, Belgium’s, Canadians, Chinese, Danish, Ethiopians, French, Germans, Indians, Japanese, Koreans and many others were at the ceremony, to grace the occasion.
Immediately following the inauguration of President Weah, even before proceeding at his temporary Ministry of Foreign Affairs Offices, he started holding discussions with business people, including Members of the Rice Dealers Associations of Liberia at his resident in the ELWA—Community in Paynesville City, Montserrado County.
A Tariffs of (USD$2) was dropped from the bag of a rice imported into the country to enable business people reduce their prices on a 25 & 50 Kilo Gram or 25 & 50 Pounds Bags of Rice, to impact the lives of ordinary people who are in the businesses of buying rice by cups a day to benefit the reductions.
Apart from that, President Weah also held meetings with importers of others goods and commodities into the country and made similar commitments to them in terms of dropping some of the tariffs on those imported goods & services to help reduce their prices to impact the lives of ordinary Liberian people.
One week later on, on Monday, January 29th, 2018, President Weah appeared at the Capitol Building, Official Seat of the National Legislature to deliver his first “State of the Nation Addressed.”
Amongst other things, the Liberian leader said he would use the “Constitution of the Republic of Liberia as his guide during his stewardship of the country.”
After touching on several key issues of national concerns, he went turning to the real business itself, in terms of what he had taken over, government and the economy.
“This government is broke; and the economic is broke; and due of prolonged litigations involving some of the contestants who felt aggrieved and went to court, and with the court taking its own time to look into the matter, the transitional period was too short for me and my transitional team to go checking to know what the outgoing administration was leaving behind into the coffers of the Liberian Treasury. …And so because of this, there is nothing to report to you about,” President Weah emphasized, amidst cheers and applauds from Members of the National Legislature and ordinary people who jammed packed the Joint Session of the 54th National Legislature to listen to him.
Following the addressed, some Liberians, including high profile media personnel and even foreign residents alike had problems with the levels of understanding of the Liberian people, because according to them: “Why this man will say in such a major national addressed that the government is broke, and the economic is broke, for the Liberian People to be cheering, clapping and applauding him…? For what…?”
However, those who had problems with this behaviors of the Liberian people in this manner, should be reminded that no matter how many (AA, BSc, PhDs and Master Degrees) that they may be holding from some of the most prestigious colleges and universities around the world, they need to proceeds at the levels of the University of Liberia and still do one Course in Sociology there, to be able to keenly know the way of life of the typical Liberian man, or woman, or else, anything short of that, they will forever remained lost and confused about the levels of understanding of Liberians.
Why is it so…? It is so, because Liberians like for you to tell them the truth, than to lie to them, because they have a proverbial saying that: “You cannot buy Pig in the bag,” but instead, to be on the safe side, the seller should take the Pig from the bag and bring it outside for both the seller and the buyer to see it good—good, before paying for the Pug.”
This is so, simply because Liberians are fully aware that during the campaigned, almost everyone opposed to President Weah said that “this man can’t make it,” and so for him to go and take over a government and an economy that he has not audited to say this government is rich and the economy is also rich, means that he was committing suicide; and if he had done that, he would had fallen in a very serious problems with the Liberian people, should anything go wrong in the future about missing money in the government, or in the economy.
So, it was better for him to tell them the truth, than to lie to them, and this was the reasons for applauding the Liberian leader.
Following the addressed, later on, while the newly elected President was now appointing some of his ministers and managing directors of autonomous agencies and public corporations, taking over from some of the outgoing ministers and their deputies, respectively, later on, even though the outgoing administration’s Fiscal Budget for 2017/2018 was expected to be exhausted by June 30th, 2018, but unconfirmed reports coming from some of the ministries & agencies, begin to surmised that only (USD$52,000) was left into coffers of some of the ministries and agencies, four months before those ministries & agencies’ budgets could elapsed
The appointments of new cabinet ministers continued, until on Wednesday, February 28th, 2018, when President Weah decided to call and preside over his “First Cabinet Meeting” in the C. Cecil Dennis Auditorium of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, since his inauguration.
It was at that’s “Wednesday, February 28th, 2018 Cabinet Meeting that President Weah now officially took over ownership and controlled of the government’s financial coffers and the Liberian Economy, as a whole.
This acceptance was followed by an admonishment, with a call on all cabinet ministers not to be surprised and complained about empty financial coffers that they met at their various ministries & agencies, but to instead see the “Liberian Economy as their own, and help him to fix and keep it.”
The Liberian Leader, begin the “First Cabinet Meeting” with a chronological and narrative explanations, as to how he, along with Vice President, Neh Suakok, Jewel Howard Taylor Jewel Howard Taylor got to the stages of administering the affairs of the Liberian Nation.
He noted that following conducts of the Tuesday, October 10th, 2017 Legislative & Presidential Elections, which finally ended up into a “Presidential Run—Off Election” between the former ruling Unity Party Candidate, Joseph Nyumah Boakai, and he, Candidate, George Manneh Weah of the Coalition for Democratic Change, something which he won with 61.5%, on Monday, January 4th, 2018, they were certificated by (NEC), as President and Vice President of the Republic of Liberia, respectively.
President Weah continued that following their certifications on Monday, January 4th, 2018, on Monday, January 22nd, 2018, they were finally inaugurated.
“One week later, on Monday, January 29th, 2018,” President Weah narrated that he appeared at the National Legislature to deliver his “First State of the Nation Addressed.”
According to the Liberian leader, during that’s “State of the Nation Addressed at the National Legislature,” he informed the Liberian people that “The government was broke, the economy was broke and the nation was also broke!”
However, while presiding during the Wednesday, February 28th, 2018 Cabinet Meeting, the first of its kind, the Liberian leader again reminded the cabinet ministers that the nation was broke and experiencing economy downward turn and they needed not to complain about it, “Since the economy is for us.”
The Liberian Leader was therefore quick to point out to his appointed and confirmed cabinet ministers, currently carrying on their functions to realize that “the economy is now for us, and so therefore, we all need to fix it, clean it and keep it; …and so you all need to help me in the task of reviving this broken economy.”
The President informed his cabinet members that “the purpose of this government is to improve the livelihood of the Liberian people; and as such, it is incumbent upon all of you ministers to work in the interests of the Liberian people, if we must succeed.”
President Weah also reiterated to his ministers that the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) took over a broken government, a broken economy and a rising inflation that require every cabinet minister to work within their respective sectors for improvement, “since this broken economy is considered as our own now.”
He said: “my primary responsibility is to make sure that we recover this broken economy and be sincere with the process of improving the system, if you all will have to help me in succeeding in this process.”
The President used the occasion to called on Cabinet Director, Jordan Sulunteh to ensure that a “Comprehensive Note is taken of the Wednesday, February 28th, 2018 First Cabinet Meeting, to be presented to his office within the period of 24—hours.”
Following the instruction of presentation of the reports by Cabinet Director, Sulunteh to his office within 24—hours’ time from that’s “First Cabinet Meeting,” President Weah also announced that the next step will be the setting up of an economic recovery committee to be Headed by Finance & Development Planning Minister, Samuel B. Tweh, and Co-Chair by the Minister of Commerce, Professor, Wilson K. Tarpeh.
According to President Weah in his opening statement at the “First Cabinet Meeting,” the “submissions will now be used as a basis responsible to review all of the government’s ministries and agencies’ financial statuses and report to his office progress made by all sectors of the Government of Liberia.”
President Weah said the committee will also be charge with the responsibility to report to the “President’s Office within the period of three (3) weeks for final adoption.”
That’s cabinet sitting saw the presence of: Vice President, Neh Suakoko, Jewel Howard Taylor, Foreign Minister, M. Gbehzohngar Findley, Finance & Development Planning Minister, Samuel B. Tweh, Information Minister, Lenn Eugene Nagbe, Public Works Minister, Mobutu Vlah Nyenpan, Commerce Minister, Wilson K. Tarpeh, Minister of State for Presidential Affairs, Nathaniel F. McGILL, GSA Director General, Mary T. Broh, Post & Telecommunications Minister, Cllr. Cooper Kruah, Transport Minister, Samuel Wlue and Professor, Dao Amsu Sonnie of the Ministry of Education, amongst others, respectively.
Following that, on Wednesday, April 25th, 2018, President George Manneh Weah held his 2nd Cabinet Meeting, again, in the same C. Cecil Dennis Auditorium of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, this time around, taking several critical measures, exactly two months after officially taking ownership and controlled of the Liberian economy, which he earlier described as: “A Broken One” on Monday, January 29th, 2018, when he delivered his “First State of the Nation Addressed before Members of the National Legislature.”
Those critical steps taken by the President came as a results of all of the returns and submissions from Cabinet Director, Jordan Sulunteh, Finance & Development Planning Minister, Samuel B Tweah and others, as requested by the Liberian leader, during the “First Cabinet Sitting,” with the decisions affecting at least 4071 appointed officials of government and civil servants earning salaries more than a Thousand Plus United Dollars, respectively.
A resolutions coming from the Liberian leader’s 2nd Cabinet Meetings on Wednesday, April 25th, 2018, exactly two months after officially taken ownership and controlled of the “Broken Economy,” noted that effectively beginning June 2018/2019 Fiscal Budget, which will be the first of its kind under his administration, all appointed officials, ranging from ministers, onto managing directors of public corporations & autonomous agencies, their deputies & assistants, respectively, will no longer earn salaries more, or less than (USD$7,861) “Seven Thousand Eight Hundred & Sixty One United States Dollars, respectively.
The resolution said the decisions will also affect all deputies and assistants’ ministers, as well as assistant managing directors of public corporations & autonomous agencies, including civil servants earning salaries more than a “Thousand United States Dollars,” with “A Ten Percent Reductions,” affecting all appointed officials, including ministers and managing directors of public corporations & autonomous agencies, respectively.
Following President Weah’s 2nd Cabinet Meetings, Presidential Press Secretary, Sam D. Mannah broke the news, informing the Liberian public that the decision was in the full most interests of the Liberian Nation and its people, as well as the economy, with at least (USD$ 4.9 M) realized from the cuts across the board.
Mannah said the decision was in the best interests of the Liberian Chief Executive’s “Pro—Poor People Agenda,” in a bid to be able to impact the lives of under—privileged people who feels neglected and abandoned by past administrations over the years, because their lives have not been impacted, as a results of extravagant spending, only bettering the lives of those who served at the higher echelons of government.
Since that’s time, President Weah has increased the sittings of his Cabinet Meetings to four, while at the same time, he has presided over two “Cabinet Retreats,” with one taking place in Buchanan City, Grand Bassa County in May of this year.
Similarly, President Weah has been liaising with his appointed officials to revive the Liberian economy, but with stiff resistance from “Depreciations and Inflations in the Exchange Rates between the Liberian and United States Dollars, to the point where from the time the outgoing administration left power, with the exchange rates at (1USD$–123LRD$), the Liberian Dollars has been falling sharply against the United States Dollars, to the point where in the Month of June, 2018, after being in power for just 6—months, the exchange rate escalated against the Liberian Dollars from (1USD$–LRD$161, 162, 163, 164, 165 & 166), respectively.
This inflations caused very serious concerns, to the point where many were wondering, as to what was going on, until the former Executive Governor of the Central Bank of Liberia, Milton Weeks was compelled to resign.
Following his resignation, many of the radio talk shows in Liberia begin to start inquiring as to what was going on with the inflation rate against the Liberian Dollars, to the point where others people started giving their own views on the issued.
Some of them said the Liberian Dollars was depreciating and inflating against the United States Dollars, because according to them, up to date, no one know exactly how much money was printed by the past regime, how much was put into the public, and “why is it that those exchanging money in the streets for Lebanese, Indians and Fula Business Merchants, don’t go by the Cantal Bank of Liberia’s Official Exchange Rate across the country…?”
Following the resignation of Governor Weeks, a very Old Hands in in the Banking Sector, Nathaniel Patry was immediately appointed by President Weah, with a mandate for him, along with Finance & Development Planning Minister, Samuel B. Tweah, Commerce Minister, Wilson K. Tarpeh and others, as a team, to find a remedy in tackling “Depreciations and Inflations Rates into Values of the Liberian Dollars against the United States Dollars.”
However, while the newly appointed Governor of the Central Bank of Liberia, Nathaniel R. Patry is yet to be confirmed by Members of the Liberian Senate, President Weah appears to be hearing good news from their diving deep into the depth of the water to revive the Liberian Economy, to the point where he had gone raising the hopes and aspirations of Liberians that “There is a major development, or good news coming, and it is about to happen; and as something that if Liberians are not careful about, it will shake the camp of the oppositions; and they might run away from Liberia.
Although President Weah did not say what the big news was about but he was quick to note that” when it is released, it will make the oppositions to run—away.”
The President said his “administration does not believe in too much talking, but working in the foremost interests of the Liberian people who elected him to steer the affairs of the state.
He stressed that no one loves Liberia and the Liberian people more than he does, adding “I started working for the people even when I was not in government.”
President Weah Made the statement on Friday, July 13th, 2018 in the Borough of the New Kru Town on the Bushrod Island, at the Official Launching ceremony of a Coastal Defense Project to save several communities along the sea coasts of Liberia, including New Kru Town from falling prey to Sea Erosions.
There, President Weah said he remained committed to all of his campaigned promises made to the Liberian people during the 2017 Legislative & Presidential Elections.
He assured that he will not only be committed to honoring his campaign’s promises in terms of developing Liberia, but that he will also improve the livelihoods of every Liberian; noting that his “Pro—Poor Agenda is intended to impact the lives of every Liberians”
Never mind, four days later, before Monday, July 16th, 2018, the Office of Presidential Press Secretary, Sam D. Mannah and the Ministry of Information had informed the publics that President Weah will be issuing a major policy statement on the “State of the Liberian Economy” at exactly 3:00 O’clock in the afternoon, Liberian/West African Time.
At the exact the time, President Weah, dressed up in an Official White Outfit, appeared in the C. Cecil Dennis Auditorium of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, at the glittering present of Members of the Liberian Media, ranging from magazines, onto newspapers, televisions, radio reporters and photo journalists, respectively to cover the addressed.
The Liberian leader’s speech was carried lived on (LNTV) and also simulcasts on State’s Owned Liberia Broadcasting System and several radio stations across the country.
On taking to the podium, President Weah went like this: “My fellow citizens, our International Development Partners, Ladies and Gentlemen: Nearly six—months ago, I was sworn in as President Elect of the Republic of Liberia, following an historic election in which the majority of Liberians demanded change for hope.”
“One week after my inauguration, I was required to fulfill a constitutional mandate to report to the country on the state of the nation,” President Weah noted.
He drew the attentions of his audience that: “you will be recalled that during that’s First Annual Message, I candidly described the poor state of affairs of the economy, which my administration had inherited.”
“The economy was weak and under-performing, and the government was facing solvency and liquidity challenges,” President Weah emphasized; and went on continuing: “Our currency was experiencing rapid and unprecedented depreciation, contributing to rising inflation and unemployment was very high, and our foreign reserves were at all—time low.”
Despite these challenges, five months later on, President Weah said it was not time for them to complain about the bleak situation that they have inherited; or least to do, “cast blames on previous administrations.”
“Rather, ours is a duty and responsibility to find new and sustainable solutions to these aged—old problems that have stubbornly defied solution in the past,” President Weah noted in the statement.
However, the Liberian leader was quick to assured the population that: “We were aware of these systemic problems when we decided to run for the high Office of President of Liberia, and so we are not surprised.”
With these challenges in minds, President Weah said: “…and being fully aware that we were elected with the expectations that this administration will solve these problems, it means that this is a task we are now embarked upon with strong determination, focus and commitment.”
“As a first step in this direction,” President Weah pointed out, noting further that: “we have placed emphasis and urgency on the formulation of a comprehensive development strategy that will be supported by strategic implementation plan.”
The development strategy, to be known as the “Pro—Poor Agenda for Development and Prosperity,” President Weah said “is nearing completion and will very shortly be presented to stakeholders, including our foreign development partners, the private sector, and the general public for consultation, input and buy-in, before being finalized into a strategic implementation plan.”
He said this will served as a “road—map for the urgent and important next—steps to be taken in giving direction to our economic recovery, and will consist of both short—term intervention, medium—term reforms, and long—term restructuring of the Liberian economy.”
“Ladies and Gentlemen, I am aware that we are faced with a very difficult microeconomic situation in Liberia; and for many decades, we have incurred trade deficits because we import more than we export,” President Weah stressed, and went on explaining further on the issued: “we also have an economy based on traditional exports, such as: Iron Ores, Rubber, Timbers, Gold, Diamond, Cocoa and Coffee, shipped to foreign buyers in their raw state, without any value—added propositions which could have also contributed significantly to industrialization and employment.”
Additionally, President Weah said the prices and demands for Liberia’s traditional exports over the years and even now are determined and affected by factors beyond the controlled of Liberians, because according to him; “Slump in demand for the products which utilize our raw materials will always result in externally generated shocks to our economy.”
“The world as a whole, is facing economic challenges,” President informed his audience, and went on continuing: “Of late, trade was between the major manufacturing countries and could also reduce demand and place downward pressure on the prices of our major exports.”
However, despite these challenges, President Weah said in the meantime, “on a positive note, as regards investors’ confidence, Liberia has moved to a new level of sustainable peace, which has led to the withdrawal of personnel of the United Nations Peacekeeping Mission In Liberia (UNMIL).”
Nevertheless, despite these challenges, President Weah said “the negative impact on real estate, and inflows into the economy of the U.S Dollars spent by the former peacekeepers, is significant.”
Therefore, President Weah said “finding solutions to the present microeconomic challenges Liberia is faced with now will take sometimes,” because according to him, “there is nothing less than a structural transformation of the Liberian economy that will produce sustainable growth and recovery.”
The key to success in this endeavors, President Weah said: “is for Liberians to produce more locally, so that we can reduce our importation of goods and services from abroad, whilst at the same time increasing our exports and adding value to the raw materials that we shipped to the world.”
In this regard, he said his government intends to “embark upon a major push to ensure that Liberia becomes more competitive in terms of domestic productions; and in so doing, President Weah maintained that: “We intend to encourage and empower Liberian Businessmen and Liberian owned businesses to lead the transformation of the Liberian economy.”
He assured them of his administration’s determinations in ensuring that they will make these “Liberian owned and operated businesses more competitive, by providing affirmative policies and supports, including ready access to finance and expertise for them.”
President Weah said the “aims and objectives of this approach is to import substitution and manufacturing for exports, as well as sustainable wealth and job creations.”
However, despite this drive, the Liberian leader said: “this is a medium—to long—term solution, but to lessen the immediate negative impact on our people, it will be an urgent imperative to devise and implement short—term—fixes to the current problem.”
Since 2016, President Weah recalled: “The Liberian Dollars has been under a consistent depreciating trend, while prices have been on an upward trend.”
To support this introduction, President Weah said “since December 2017, the Liberian Dollars had depreciated by 25-percent.”
Similarly, he said “since January 2018, the Liberian Dollars had depreciated further by another 25—percent.” However, this current depreciation in the value of the Liberian Dollars, President Weah said has increased inflation by 4—percentage points of 21-percent, from 17—percent back in February, 2018.
“I am fully aware of negative impact of the declining exchange rates on the economic wellbeing of the Liberian people, and the serious hardship this is beginning to cause,” President Weah noted in the addressed.
Despite that, President Weah assured: “Let me assure you, our Government has resolved to take the necessary and urgent measures to address the situation.”
He said while the nation has been grappling with fall in the prices of the traditional exports of Liberia’s exports to the outside world, coupled with the drawdown of (UNMIL) from Liberia, significantly contributing to the challenges, his administration believe in a stronger and aggressive enforcement of monetary policy, along with the relevant fiscal instruments, should go a long way to partly address the problems.
With this, President weah said he is been advised that: “The short—term measures that could have the most immediate and positive impact is the aggressive enforcements of existing monetary policy.”
He said it is clear that over the years, Liberia’s monetary policy regime several years ago, “has been too tax. In fact, it could well be said that we do not have the capability to exert effective control over our monetary policy, since more than 90—percent of the money supply is held outside of the banking system.”
“Ladies and gentlemen,” the Liberian leader drew the attentions of his audience across the length and breadth of the country, noting: “Over the next several weeks, therefore, the Government, through the Economic Management Team, will closely collaborate with the Executive Governor and relevant staffers at the Central Bank of Liberia, and will announced series of monetary and fiscal measures that we believe should reverse the decline in the value of the Liberian Dollars,”
In seeking solutions to the problems, President Weah said his administration intends to “engage the minds of the best and brightest Liberian economists, both here and abroad,” and according to him, “we will also seek advice and active supports from our international partners.”
Hereafter, President Weah announced a major measures that will include, but not limited to (1): “An immediate infusion by the Central Bank of Twenty—Five Million United States Dollars into the economy to mop-up the excess liquidity of the Liberian Dollars; (2): A mandate to the Central Bank of Liberia to provide more effective supervisory role and regulations of money changers, or Foreign Exchange Bureaus; (3) : A mandate to the Central bank of Liberia to provide more robust oversights of banking systems under its suppressions; (4): Conduct a comprehensive review of regulations on the hoarding of both Liberian and United States Dollars outside of the banking systems, and provide incentives and safe-guards to encourage the utilization of the banking system, including financial statements.”
President Weah said: “The above measures, and many others currently being considered, are critical steps toward the goal of arresting the rapid deteriorations of the Liberian Dollars.”
Despite that, President Weah was quick to note that: “The ultimate solution for strengthening the Liberian Dollars is to ensure ‘domestic economic competitiveness and the existence of a strong private sector that is oriented toward domestic production and export.”
“This is a goal we seek to achieve in the “Pro—Poor—People’s Agenda for Development and Prosperity,” President Weah noted.
President Weah was however quick to note that the road to this transformation and recovery will be a very long, sometimes difficult, and so because of this, the Liberian leader said: “we ask our people for patience. We fully understand the urgency and critical nature of the situation, and we are fully focused in trying to solve those problems, some of which have existed for many decades.”
He used the occasion to call on all Liberians to work together for the purpose of “lifting their people from poverty, with a strong determination of confronting the challenges that have defied Liberians for generations, with strong resolved and togetherness, they can overcome the situation and move on to achieving even greater things for all Liberians.
Following the addressed, on Thursday, July 19th, 2018, President Weah led an array of government officials at the Capitol Building to dedicate two newly constructed Annexes to the facility, Seat of the National Legislature, constructed by the People’s Republic of China.
There, President Weah commanded the People’s Republic of China for their supports to the developmental drive of Liberia since their bilateral relations with Liberia over the last 40—years.
He named some of the contributions of the People’s Republic of China to the development of Liberia, as constructions of the Jackson Fiah Doe Memorial Hospital in Tappita District, Nimba County, Fendell Campus of the University of Liberia; the Ministerial Complex in Congo Town; renovation of the Samuel Kanyon Doe Sports Complex, and now completions of the Capitol Building Annexes, as some of the benefits Liberia was accruing from Mainland China, as a result of Liberia—China’s bilateral relations.
With these realities, President Weah pledged his government and the people of Liberia’s unflinching commitments and supports to the “One China Policy,” and assured the gathering that “China can be assured that he will be there son.”
Thereafter, President Weah returned to his newly crafted economic policy, announcing that beginning Friday, July 20th, 2018, he was reducing the “Pump Price of Gasoline by (USD$14—Cents),” bringing down the price of gasoline from (LD$650, 600, 550, 560, 570, 580 & 590), respectively to (LD$540 for Gasoline & 640 Fuel Oil), respectively.
WHY NO ONE CAN’T BUY LIVING PIG IN THE BAG IN LIBERIA…?
Pig is a very strong, hostile and unfriendly animals that are raised by Liberian farmers.
It is very Hairiest and Strong with Long Mouth, Long Nose and Flag, Wide Grinding Teethes and a Standing Ears, is a very Greasy and Sweet Animals, and very good for party programs.
By this, it means that if you want to have a graduation party, or put your children outside from the Poro & Sande Society Bushes, the best Animal to slaughter at such party will be a Living Pig. But despite that, if you want to buy a Living Pig, the best place to buy it from is in the Town and Villages where they are raised, in the presence of the owners.
In catching the Living Pig, the owner will bring some pieces of Cassavas into his hands and begin to call the Pigs, as they will come in their numbers.
As they come, the buyer will look at them in their numbers and point at the one that he wants, and right there, the seller will hire people to catch it for him.
But if the seller is very broke and needs some money, and decides to catch the Living Pig and take it to the market, after catching it, the four legs will be tied properly and place it into an Empty Rice Bag to enable you carry along easily.
On taking it into the market, the seller will lay the Living Pig on the ground in the market for buyers to come and see. On seeing it, anyone who needs it will ask as to whether the Pig is for sale. On answering in the affirmative—yes, then the buyer will ask you, the seller to take it from the bag, because he want to see it good—good, before you people can go into negotiations about the price.
But in doing these things, you will have to take several things into considerations. (1): In taking the Pig from the bag, you will have to be careful, because by the time you touches that’s bag, the Pig will start yelling and crying heavily, and as strong, violent and unfriendly as it is, if the Pig turn hostile, violent and spoil people’s thing into the market place, you, the owner will have to paid.
(2): if you take off the Pig from the bag and the buyer is interested in it, then he will ask for negotiation on the price. However, if the negotiation failed, be reminded that you alone will put it back into the bag, to avoid it from escaping from you, because the attempted buyer will not help you to put it back into the bag. But if the negotiation settle the two of you down on buying the Pig, after paying for it, you will have to help him put it back into the bag to take it along. More besides, on bringing the Pig into the market, you will have to be careful that in some of the market days in Liberia, selling starts by 6:30—7—AM, and by the time it is around 12:30—1—PM, those who came in the market will start going back. So, to avoid taking the Pig back to the village, you will have to be flexible in pricing it and persuading customers to come closer.
So, in Liberia, if you are selling pig in the bag, you should take it out for everyone—the sellers and buyers to see it good—good for everyone to be satisfied.
As a result, on Friday, July 20th, 2018, to avoid buying Pigs in the bags in Liberia, now a day, Commerce Minister came out with a “Price Control Policy,” noting that beginning Monday, July 23rd, 2018, a bile of Used Clothes is now reduce from (USD$350—USD$151-50—Cents), and with a cautioned that by October, 2018, no more “Grade–C Category of Used Clothes, also known as “Whea—Whea” will no longer be allowed in Liberia.”
Similarly, the ministry said by the end of August 2018, owners of store and mini-shops in the country should start pricing their goods on the markets, and if it is sold in United States Dollars, the equivalent should be in Liberian Dollars, and printed in bold face, with the current exchange rate of the Central Bank also printed in boldface for everyone to see, instead of someone asking you off-head to tell them what the rate is…?
With this, it will tell everyone that you are not buying Pig into the bag, but outside that everyone can see clearly.
The New Republic Newspaper is an independent newspaper established in 2009 by a Liberian journalist, Alphonso Toweh with many years of experience for the key purpose of reporting a balanced coverage of events as well as promoting Liberia’s image locally and internationally.
Toweh has been working for Reuters News Agency as its correspondent since 1998 to present. In addition to that, he has served as correspondents for the following magazines: West Africa New African, Africa Week and African Observer.
More to that, he worked for Radio Deutche Welle radio in Germany, Radio Netherlands and contributed to CNN, BBC News hour, BBC TV as well as Africa Confidential and Sunday Times in London.
The paper has no political affiliation nor ethic lineage. The focus and primary commitment is to ensure the sovereignty of Liberia and unity for Africa. It seeks to foster human rights and freedom of the press.
The New Republic is a liberal paper dedicated to upholding the tenets of democracy. It believes that state can not only create the political, social, economic and cultural spirit, but also to ensure that all human beings, irrespective of any affiliation is able to achieve its highest human potentials.
The paper strives for free speech and equal opportunity for all. Importantly, it believes that the nation must intervene judiciously in the economic life, in order to minimise the adverse effects of free enterprise and ensure that less privileged people have reasonable and fair access to the basic necessities of life. By this, it would help reduce some level of threat.
New Republic brings huge commitment to its readers and offers the nation the type of media that will advocate for the people and nudge our nation on the path of development and social re-engineering