Former Ruling Unity Party Describes President Weah’s 5th State of the Nation Address as Deliberate Deceit and Partisan Rhetoric

The Party said the Liberian leader is failing the Country after four years of willfully neglecting his duties and responsibilities.

Addressing a Press conference Tuesday on Broad Street, Unity Party assistant secretary for Press and publicity, Cornelius Krauh Togba asserted that President Weah is low on energy, short of ideas and simply unfit to steer the affairs of the country.

She noted the Liberian leader has released more music and participated in basketball and volleyball matches than working on policy achievements for the Liberian people.

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Fellow Liberians:

The Unity Party joins the chorus of Liberians and people across the world to express my heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims of the “stampede” in New Kru Town. We may not know their stories, but we can feel the hurt and loss that these families are going through.

The missed birthdays, missed graduations, missed weddings and missed milestones. We grieve especially for the children and their unfulfilled potential. Future doctors, lawyers, entrepreneurs, scientists and artists, that we won’t celebrate. May they all Rest In Peace.

Amidst this tragedy, we want to celebrate a milestone in our history: the bicentennial celebration of the return of freed slaves to what we know today as Liberia. This year we celebrate their daring return, their quest for freedom, and their role in the country’s history. Unfortunately, this event was not as inclusive as it should have been. This should have been a celebration that went beyond party lines and provided the space for all Liberians to celebrate this milestone. Hopefully, in the future, other National Milestones will be commemorated with the participation of all citizens regardless of social, political and economic alignments.

The history of our country has not been perfect, but the ideals we stand for are liberty, justice, and equality. We are grateful that the freed slaves, working with the natives, set high ideals for generations after generations to pursue. And even though our founding fathers and mothers failed to uphold these virtues fully, they never lost sight of them.

We too have also failed to perfect those ideals, but we all never lost sight of our obligation to make this country better. For the next 200 years, may we not lose sight, and may we never lose the conviction that liberty, justice, and equality are the highest human ideals.

Let me get to the point: the George Weah’s administration continues to fail the people of Liberia while painting a picture that Liberia is a shining city on a hill. It is a tactic they have used for three years and yesterday was a repeat.

But we know the truth: the State of the Nation is not strong. The State of the Nation has never been strong since the president took office. Maybe when the President talks to his closest advisors, that is the image that they paint. Or maybe the President is just not sincere about where the country is. For those of us who talk to ordinary people, we know there is nothing shiny about the city. From the trash on the street, to the insecurity at night, to the rising cost of education, to inadequate healthcare, the people in this country have been neglected by the President and his government. Mr. President, leave Jamaica, talk to the people, and come back and let us know what you think about the state of the nation.

Yesterday Mr. Weah decided to play president after an entire year of willful neglect of his duties and responsibilities. Even yesterday, he failed to be president. His speech was characterized by deliberate deceit, premature victory laps, and overt partisan rhetoric.

But we know the truth. And the truth is this: He has more music releases than policy achievements. He played more football, basketball and volleyball matches than he went to work in the entire 2021. He barely goes to work. At work, he barely works. It is a national embarrassment that we have a President who simply does not care about working. For all the talk about his youthful energy, we have seen nothing to indicate that it is being used for the interest of the country. The Unity Party knows what it takes to serve the Liberian people: late nights, long meetings, long hours preparing for big decisions. Our leaders served for 12 years and Liberians saw the long hours they worked to bring results. President Weah doesn’t have that endurance or patience.

While the President won the Most Valuable Player in the County Meet, we should award him another MVP title: Most Vapid President. The President is low on energy, short of ideas, and simply unfit to steer the affairs of the county.

Even after four years, the CDC-led Government has manifested President George Manneh Weah’s determination to rule by whim and caprice and to set the country firmly on the path of backwardness. His policies and actions have been characterized by economic retrogression and bad governance. This government has simply rained hardship and pain nonstop on our people. Sadly, he seems to not care.

We listened with dismay and disappointment as the President address yesterday was grossly insincere, comical and focused on trivialities. He has again wasted a golden opportunity to focus the minds of Liberians and our development partners on the cost of living challenges and herculean tasks of nation-building. Instead, he has left Liberians more confused and disillusioned about the future of their country.

The President stated yesterday that his government has no political prisoners but mysterious deaths are on the rise. Professionals died in a car and the President prejudiced the case by alleging that they were boyfriend and girlfriend. The boss of Internal Audit died and we were informed that he fell from his balcony. Mysterious deaths all resulting from revenue generating agencies of a government where L$16 billion and U$25 million disappeared in thin air.

The President yesterday informed us that the Invincible Park Project is 100% funded by him but later on states that NASSCORP, NPA and Maritime supported the project. This confirms that our pension money is being used to fund projects that President Weah would boast of as his personal projects. This is why we move to remove George Weah’s government which is facilitating the theft and misappropriation of pension money. This mismanagement might, in fact, soon lead to the collapse of NASSCORP.

President Weah yesterday boasted of press freedom and refused to highlight the high level of media censorship currently practiced by his government. The government has denied some suspected anti government stations, including Punch FM, the right to operate in Liberia while granting permit to Bana FM only because they are pro government.

President Weah presides over a deeply divided country, largely of his own making, while paying lip service to promoting national unity. Liberians exercising their legitimate right to protest under the constitution are brutally suppressed with police batons, teargas and water cannons. Petitions demanding answers to serious issues of life and death are treated with scorn by the government. The President has politicized the County Meets, the biggest source of unity since the end of the war. Yet, Liberians remain undeterred and daily life in the country has become characterized by protest.

Business confidence is at its lowest as companies seek to relocate to neighboring countries.

The Unity Party had a full grasp of Liberia’s endowment and potential when it inherited the wasteland of a country in 2006. Roads and bridges were completely destroyed making Monrovia a tapestry of burnt out and bullet riddled buildings. The streets had large craters.. Social services and administrative structures were nonexistent throughout the country. The Mt. Coffee hydro dam was destroyed. The country was dark.. Liberia was burdened down with inherited external debt of US$4.9 billion with little possibility of further borrowing. Months of arrears owed civil servants and other public sector employees.. The country was viewed as a criminal pariah state.

We brought this country back to life with proven leaders who put in the work, proven leaders who made tough choices, proven leaders who listened, and proven leaders who put the nation above party and above self. We deliver this country and we can do it again.

Every sector needed urgent action.

The Unity Party Government immediately set about restoring Liberia to international respectability and soon removed the stigma of a pariah. We then cultivated the goodwill of the international community and financial institutions to write off Liberia’s US$4.9 billion debt. Under the HIPC arrangement with the World Bank and IMF, the Unity Party government under our leadership initiated prudent economic and fiscal policies. There was no quick fix solution nor did it attempt to mortgage the country’s future in pursuit of bogus and vulture loans.

These policies helped to garner international confidence. Our development partners worked with us to rebuild infrastructure, establish administrative authority and the rule of law throughout the country and deliver social services. For the first time in our history, we established the County Development Fund (CDF) and Social Development Fund (SDF) to encourage local ownership of the development process and stimulate local entrepreneurship in the counties. These would serve as first steps towards devolution of power.

Fellow Citizens: President Weah announced that his government has built over 200 housing units in his home county of Grand Kru. This significant infrastructural development is commendable. However, this development should not only be concentrated in one region of the country.

President Weah boasted about payment of loans contracted by the previous government. He must be commended but also must be reminded that government is continuity. It is the role of government to honor its legitimate obligations. This loan repayment pales compared to the US$4.9 billion debt inherited by the Unity Party-led government and for which it successfully negotiated a debt waiver. Some of that debt was more than 50 years old from previous governments.

The debt referred to by the President Weah was used to construct the Police Academy Road, SKD Boulevard Road, and the rehabilitated Monrovia streets among others. These roads were designed based on sound economic policy and are easing traffic congestion in Monrovia and boosting economic activities.

Let us also remind President Weah that from March 21, 2019 to June 18, 2021 his government has taken a loan of Three Hundred Fourteen Million Seven Hundred Thirteen Thousand United States Dollars (US$314, 713,000) and we are not seeing the corresponding development of those loans.

The Unity Party Government completed the construction and rehabilitation of over 700 kilometers of major roads connecting political subdivisions and vital economically productive regions of the country.

Yesterday, President Weah boasted of ongoing construction of about 388 kilometers of roads (including the Lofa Road) and shamelessly refused to give credits to the role played by the Unity Party led government. Here is what the CDC led government refused to tell you that; we concluded the financing mechanism to pave a key remaining major economic corridor: Gbarnga-Salayea-Korneah-Voinjama-Foya-Manikorma; the Unity Party Government established the Arab Consortium (Kuwaiti Fund, Saudi Fund, Abu Dhabi, OPEC, BADEA) to provide concessional loans.

President Weah also refused to tell you that: the road project in Maryland commenced in 2015; Harper-Ivorian Border, Harper Junction-Pleebo-Karloken-Fish Town, River Gee County was constructed by the Unity Party Led Government. Additionally, as domestic resource mobilization; we left in place financing infrastructure, the Road Fund which was established through legislation in 2015. We also negotiated SECRAMP (South Eastern Corridor Road Access Management Project) with the World Bank providing guarantee for the financing arrangement to pave from Ganta to Zwedru using the Road Fund Mechanism. Also, as part of the Trans West African Highway Project, we secured 50% grant from the European Union and a concessional loan from the African Development Bank to finance the pavement from Logatuo to Sanniquellie, Ganta – Yekepa which commenced in 2015 and financed by the GoL. The Coca Cola Factory – ELWA Junction road expansion project financed by the World Bank. These are the same roads President Weah referred to yesterday when he boasted of ongoing 388 kilometers for which the CDC government will be only too willing to take credit. Pavement of major roads completed under the UP Government include the 90 mile Monrovia-Buchanan Road; 200 mile Monrovia-Gbarnga-Ganta Highway now named Suakoko; Fish Town-Harper Road; the SKD Boulevard and Kakata-Bong Mines Road. We completed the pavement from Harper to the Ivorian Border and up to Karloken and extensive work up to Fish Town, Rivergee county.

The UP government secured funding for Sanniquellie-Yekepa Road which commenced five years ago; Freeport- Red Light funded by the Japanese Government.

The UP government’s complex road network cannot be compared to the pavement by the CDC Government of President Weah of community roads in Rehab and other communities which can actually be described as alleyways leading and without major economic returns. CDC’s road projects are intended to provide contracts to friends at exorbitant cost without proper procurement processes. CDC community roads smack of a scheme to hoodwink the Liberian people for short term applause.

Additionally, President Weah should not just lament about inheriting few million dollars in debt from the UP government, he should be honest to inform the public that he inherited a US$60 million dollars Ministerial Complex; and a reconstructed 4 turbines hydro-electric plant, 38 Megawatt of functional Heavy Fuel-oil Power Plants currently unused by the government. An over 458 million project-CLSG 225 KV Line conveying electricity out of the West African Power Pool is yet to become functional. Currently, Sierra Leone has concluded and is supplying its citizens with affordable electricity; while due to this government incompetence, Liberians are yet to benefit. The crisis this government currently faces in providing electricity for citizens, which has led to rationing of power, is not as a result of lack of the facility to provide electricity but the inability of the CDC-led government to effectively and efficiently utilize these facilities. President Weah did not report, yesterday, that because of his administration’s incompetence, one of the turbines at Mt. Coffee constructed by the UP government has already been destroyed contributing to the present electricity crisis in the country. Rather than stating how this government would address this crisis, President Weah went on to shout “LEC, thank you yah!” to mean that he is satisfied with their level of performance. This further proves that President Weah’s government does not care for the concerns of the people. He doesn’t care that small business owners have to use all their profits on the purchase of fuel and for the serving of generators. He doesn’t care that, at night, students wanting to study have to find alternatives while our electricity can be compared to “Christmas lights” . Apparently for these the President says “LEC, thank you yah!”.

Additionally, we secured 257 millions committed funds from the US Government Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) as our first compact in 2016. Unfortunately, Liberia now under the CDC Government lost the chance of a second compact of over 500 million due to the gross incompetence and mismanagement of the Weah government to pass the MCC indicators over the past four years. It is interesting to note that the three other Mano River Union countries qualified for the second compact.

Fellow Liberians: The Unity Party’s infrastructural blueprint for development was well thought out for long term and sustainable development. The emphasis was on those corridors that would spur growth, enhance agriculture development together with the promotion of value chain and jobs creation. It was left to the incoming CDC Government as should be in the interest of continuity.

Health care delivery services, a crucial human capital development pillar of the so-called PAPD, was insufficiently reported on by President Weah in his Annual Message to the National Legislature. A pattern seen in the past 3 years of his Administration. It is not a slip-up; health care is not a priority for the Weah’s Administration. It is without doubt that the health sector is crumbling. Despite a global COVID-19 pandemic, our president fell short of reporting to an unhealthy nation, the-state-of-our nation’s health.
​Noticeably, there is an acute shortage of drugs and medical supplies(including gloves) in our clinics, health centers and hospitals; weak supply chain system; feebler health system caused by 4 years of neglect and health workers working under harsh conditions.

​Paradoxically, in the 2022 budget of the CDC led government, we have retrogressed to the 2005/2006 budget level with only 10.1% allocated to health. This is a paradox because, at the time we are boasting about the national budget increasing to almost 800 million, our health sector is expected to only receive 10.1%, far short of the Abuja target. This is a very sad time for our nation’s health. Instead of moving forward, our health system is weakening by the day.
In his State of the Nation Address, President Weah mentioned, “I am thankful that the House of Representatives approved $10 million U.S. dollars for projects under the County Tour that I undertook in the year under review. These county tour projects will bring serious relief to many of our people, especially those in rural areas.”

​Mr. President, we want to see resources go to interventions that improve our counties primary health care, which includes community health services, community clinics; health centers, County Hospitals and our two major referral Hospitals, (JFK and Tappita Hospital). The health sector is on life-support. That 10 million can be added to the sector’s budget. The solution, at the moment, is not building more clinics that will end up in similar conditions as the ones we currently have. The solution is providing budgetary support to the ones that currently exist.

​​In the words of Ambassador Joseph Nyuma Boakai, our Standard Bearer, “the Liberian people made a mistake in 2017, we are sure in 2023 they will correct their mistake by making this government and President Weah a one term President.”

​Under a Unity Party led government, we will implement all the neglected cornerstones in the investment plan of building a resilient health system, that encompasses: emergency preparedness, health security and response; building health care workers capacity; having more trained health workers at all levels, and adequately compensating them; increase financing to the health sector; improve the quality of health care to our people, that underpins universal health coverage and primary health care.

Regarding education, the announcement that many students passed last year’s WASSCE is commendable. Test scores, however, should be considered along with other assessment mechanisms that will prepare students to compete in the real world. We need more funding for early childhood and primary education, better incentives for teachers, adequate school supplies, increased funding for research and development, recruitment of qualified teachers among several others.

As expected, the President yesterday bragged about the increment in the draft budget to US$785.6 million. Approximately 82% of this amount is for salaries and administrative costs and only 5% for capital investment. Once again, the budget is not as programmatic as it should be. The revenue component of the budget is unrealistic and may lead this Government to record the biggest budget shortfall in Liberia’s recent budget history. About 32% of the revenue sources remain unidentified with no plan of sustainability for the years ahead. On the proposed spending, the Government failed to align public spending with its professed promised of pro-poor investment. The draft budget is further away from what could be a pro-poor investment. Contrary to the widely held opinion that this budget would have been significantly different from previous ones and mimicked a pro-poor agenda, provide employment opportunities for vulnerable youths, advance rehabilitation and integration of “AT RISK YOUTHS” it actually does the reverse: reinforcing allocations to easily corruptible lines while cutting back from frontline pro-poor service delivery institutions like clinics and hospitals. Unless the proposed spending trend is drastically reversed, Liberians will remain poor under President Weah.

For the past four years, in every State of the Nation Address, the government has committed to improving the business climate to spur investments. Besides giving these deceptive speeches annually, the CDC government has failed miserably in achieving this.
In the President’s 2021 address, he praised the printing of LD4 billion of new bank notes out of LD48 Billion which was approved by the Legislature. According to the president, the hasty printing of the 4 billion LD was intended to address the acute liquidity problem. However, we are not seeing this new money and Liberians continue to receive mutilated banknotes from commercial banks. I can see that we are sliding back into the LD16 Billion scenario as the printing of new banknotes was against the advice and criticism of many of us who believed this was daft outside of a comprehensive report and subsequent reprimand for the missing L$16 billion and U$25 million that were unaccounted for.

The President boasted of the decreasing inflation rate. We hope that was the reality considering that the appreciation of the Liberian dollar against the US rate is not commensurating with the prices of goods nor the purchasing power of individuals residing in Liberia. One cannot say the economy is doing well when government agencies cannot afford the administrative cost of conducting daily activities. One cannot say the economy is doing well when officials of government are the only group of people who currently are swiftly and easily acquiring properties, especially from families who have to sell for half or less of the actual property value in order to survive the harsh economic situation.

We call on the Liberian Senate to reexamine the National budget that is before the body. This body should focus on youth development programs and employment for young people who are at risk.

Statements made at yesterday’s State of the Nation Address were far from the realities on ground and is proof that President Weah and his entire government have detached themselves from the sufferings of the people. Imagine President Weah declaring that “the state of the economy is stable and the state of the nation is strong” when more and more people are jobless, parents cannot afford to send their kids to school and certainly many Liberians cannot afford going to seek medical attention even at clinics.

The President reported yesterday that the nation is peaceful, stable and strong. However, a few days ago, we witnessed a national tragedy that was allegedly as a result of an increase in vulnerable and disadvantaged youth leading to an increased rate of crime. We were informed that the nation is peaceful, stable and strong, however, we are unable to walk the streets of Liberia without tying our bags to our chests, ride cars without being terrified or go to bed at night without worrying that we could get robbed.

The PAPD promised the creation of 1 million jobs over the period of five years. 4 years in its implementation neither the president nor the entire government can report on how many jobs they have created. The President did not also report on how much poverty has been reduced. sa

On December 8, 2020, the people of Lofa county went to the polls and elected Brownie Samukai to serve as their Senator in accordance with the Constitution of Liberia. However, the people of Lofa County have been deprived of their second Senator for more than a year now. We are calling on the Supreme Court to speedily rule in matters arising from the Bill of Information filed by both the government of Liberia and lawyers representing Brownie Samukai so that the people of Lofa County know exactly the status of the Senator-elect. As the Unity Party, we take keen interest in this matter concerning Partisan Brownie Samukai and insist that the politicization of this case needs to stop!

The “Feminist in Chief”, yesterday in his address, failed to report adequately the progress made around women’s protection and the fight against Sexual Gender Based Violence- this is because no significant progress has been made. He, however, committed to making the promotion of women’s participation in the electoral processes and ensuring women occupy legislative and executive positions a top priority. I’m sure the women of Liberia are all familiar with these promises beginning with the promise to promote 50-50 representation in his government whereas the current female appointments are not up to 20% . Unlike President Weah, the Unity Party today commits to ensuring that no less than 30% of our candidates in the 2023 Legislative elections are female. The leadership of the Unity Party, through our Women’s Congress, will scout women from across Liberia to contest Legislative seats and fully support these women to ensure they are elected and subsequently represent the women of Liberia.

Fellow Citizens: Our country is at a crossroads. We have a golden opportunity at the start of this decade to enter an age of Liberian Renaissance. We have within our grasp the opportunity to create prosperity for all Liberians. We have a chance to build a peaceful and stable nation for ourselves and future generations. We stand at the cusp of final victory to end the struggle for social justice, equality and inclusive development. President Weah’s Annual Message does not convince us that his government has the capacity or the capability to come up with the roadmap to that destination.

President Weah is presiding over a divided nation and appears paralyzed to transcend his habits or free himself from his hubris. This is why we call on all Liberians, young and old, at home and abroad, to rally to the cause of the nation. Religious leaders, traditional leaders, international partners and friends of Liberia must add their quota.

It is not enough to exhort the people not to repeat the experiences of conflict in our recent past. No one wants that and certainly not the Unity Party which presided over 12 years of uninterrupted peace following the end of conflict. The UP Government defied the view that countries like ours coming out of conflict are likely to lapse back within seven years.

Nevertheless, the fear of conflict should not hold us hostage to flagrant violation of the constitution, corruption, police brutality and the suppression of freedoms. We should not allow incompetence to once again steal our future and that of our children.. This is not a solution to conflict prevention but rather the postponement of conflict. Also, let President Weah and his cronies understand that the building of a few community roads does not give them the license to loot the country, divide our people, and destroy our economy. He should further note that making more promises and the piling up of new promises does not represent the fulfillment of old promises- you actually have to deliver what you promise.

We ask all Liberians, religious leaders, development partners and would be mediators to stand up and hold this government to account and do the right thing. It must open the space for dynamic interaction and inclusive growth and development. Let us all embrace the drive to finally build this glorious land of liberty under God’s command.

When we win in 2023, We know Ambassador Boakai will listen to your concerns. He will engage in deliberate dialogues to find sound solutions that work. For the interest of the Liberian people, he won’t rest. We know this because we work with him everyday. He has the energy, patience, and empathy to lead this country.

Mr. President, we do not criticize you because we hate Liberia. We oppose your plans because we care about the Liberian people and believe you do not have the ability to provide transformative change.

Fellow Liberians, in a little over a year, we would have the opportunity to make a u-turn for the betterment of Liberia. When the time comes, let’s think Liberia, love Liberia and build Liberia.

May God bless Liberia!

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