In his 5th State of the Nation Address Monday, January 24, to the National Legislature, President George Manneh Weah accentuated the significance of durable peace and unity amongst Liberians in and out of the country despite prevailing difficulties and challenges.
“Let me assure you that, as President of Liberia, working in close collaboration with you, I will do all that is in my power to ensure that our Nation will remain peaceful, stable and strong, and that our economy will continue on a trajectory of sustainable growth and development,” the President averred. “Together, we can – and will – succeed!”
The Liberian Leader used his 5th State of the National Address (SONA), in fulfillment of Article 58 of the Constitution, to urge Liberians to make peace, unity and reconciliation a national priority, while reassuring citizens of his unwavering determination to keep the nation stable and peaceful.
President Weah acknowledged Liberians’ resilience and determination to overcome challenging and unbearable situations such as they for the civil war, EBOLA and now Covid-19, and urged them to demonstrate that same spirit to keep on the heights of peace and unity.
“We came together as a people to end a deadly civil war and to overcome its effects,” he continued. “We came together to solve Ebola. We came together to stabilize our recent macroeconomic problems and we are together fighting COVID-19. We can do and achieve anything once we set our minds to it. That is who we are as Liberians.”
The President admonished Liberians to stand tall against events such as political and religious sentiments that have predilection to plunge the country into chaos,
“So let us not let politics divide us to the extent of destroying our country,” he pleaded.
President Weah implored Liberians to take advantage of the country’s Bicentennial Celebration to invoke the spirit of national unity, no matter how painful and difficult those first 200 years may have been.
He emphasized that the country’s past may be bittersweet, but the future could be sweeter with unity and oneness of purpose.
“As we go from this place today, let us continue to walk in unity and peace. I want to thank you, wholeheartedly and sincerely, for maintaining the peace,” the Liberian Chief Executive noted.
Quoting former South African President Nelson Mandela who described peace as the greatest weapon for development that any person can have, the President reminded Liberians that it is so easy to break down and destroy, but that those who make peace and build are heroes.
He called on Liberians to cherish the beautiful country God has endowed them with by equally embracing each other with love, and allowing peace to reign throughout the land, from the heights of Wologisi, to the Peaks of Mount Nimba, from the Slopes of Putu Mountain, to the Top of Mount Gibi.
He declared poetically: “Let peace reign From the Golden Sunset of River Gee, to the Savanna of Grand Kru: From the Sunset Beaches of Grand Bassa, to the Golden Beaches of Rivercess, from Cape Palmas to Cape Mount, from the Belleh Forest of Gbapolu, to the Sarpo Forest of Sinoe, from the Blue Lake of Bomi, to the Kpatawee Waterfalls of Bong, and from the Providence Island of Montserrado.”
Recommitting To the Call of Duty
In the Address spanning nearly two hours, President Weah also unequivocally stated that his government is on course of delivering on the promises he made in 2017, to give power to the people, to improve the economy, to empower the youths, and to sustain peace.
He said Government is leaving no stone unturned in actualizing national development encapsulated in the Pro-poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (PAPD) aimed at giving power to the people through better education and healthcare, creating stronger possibilities for young people, especially for our girls and women.
The PAPD, he said, is also intended to transform the economy and continuing to build critical road and electricity infrastructure; to protect peace and strengthen national security, to intensify the fight against corruption, and to improve the quality of governance, among others.
“I am proud and pleased to inform you today, Mr. Speaker, that four years from where we started, this Pro-Poor Agenda remains actively on course,” President Weah declared.
Another important focus of the President’s SONA was gains made in national youth empowerment and development programs.
President Weah announced that the government and its partners implemented several programs intended to improve the lives of the country’s youths, stressing that the young people of Liberia have already gone through quite a lot, and there was a need to push them.
President Weah said: “Amongst the many programs we have initiated to improve living condition for young people is the Youth Entrepreneurship and Empowerment Program (YEEP), a $2.4 million US dollar initiative funded by the African Development Bank, to get graduating students work-ready. We also are implementing the Entrepreneurship Development program; the Liberian Employment and Entrepreneurship Program (LEEP) and the recently launched Recovery of Economic Activities for Liberia Informal Sector Employment (REALISE), which will provide short-term employment opportunities to a much wider demographic, including young people.”
According to the Liberian Leader, government also wholly sponsored a National Youth Literacy program and a National Cadet Program, indicating that the Monrovia Vocational Training Center (MVTC) continues to provide vocational and technical skills to youths of diverse backgrounds.
“The Center offers a variety of training courses, including Heavy Duty and Auto Mechanic; Welding & Fabrication; Auto Electricity and Electricity; Electronics; Refrigeration & Air Condition; Masonry, Plumbing, Architectural Drafting, Carpentry; and Graphic Arts,” he divulged.
He added: “The European Union (EU) has approved additional 26 million Euros to cover the cost of establishing state-of-the-art TVET schools in the rest of the 8 Counties that do not have them. This is in fulfillment of our vision to have TVET Institutions in all 15 Counties.”
He said the initiatives are targeted at all Liberian youth, regardless of which county they may reside in.
President Weah reported that “thousands have already benefited. Over the ensuing period, the government will dedicate more resources in order to tackle the growing menace of disadvantaged Youth, otherwise referred to as Zogos.”
Article 58 of the Constitution of Liberia mandates the President of Liberia, on the fourth working Monday in January of each year, to present the Legislative Program of the Administration for the ensuing session, and report on the State of the Republic, covering the economic condition of the Nation, including expenditure and income.