On February 14, 2021, President George Manneh Weah took a giant step when he began his first nation-wide tour, starting with six counties including Bong, Nimba, Grand Gedeh, River Gee, Maryland and Grand Kru.
The President is a son of Grand Kru County in the southeastern region of the country.
President Weah’s first nation-wide tour in three years of his incumbency of the above mentioned counties effectively generated lots of excitements and jubilations from ordinary citizenry.
In Bong County, President Weah, accompanied by several foreign diplomats and other dignitaries who graced the National Agricultural Trade Fair held at the Center for Agricultural Research Institute (CARI), pledged a whopping US$16 million investment into the nation’s agricultural sector.
Apart from the President’s US$16M promise to improve the country’s food production and food security, some members of the international community led by the United States and the European Union also committed their respective member countries to assisting Liberia as the country strives for self-sufficiency in food production and food security.
Noticeably, as the President traveled into the interior parts of Liberia, pressing social-economic issues were being highlighted to his high-powered delegation by the locals at various town hall meetings he held with the citizens.
The citizens stressed the need for more impactful development programs and projects.
For instance, in David Dean’s Town, in Kokoyah Statutory District, Bong County, the citizens petitioned the President to release some 55 people who were allegedly involved in vandalizing the facilities of MNG Gold Mining Concession Company.
However, the President’s response to the Bong County citizens’ request to him on the release of those arrested was clear. In his response, President Weah seriously frowned on acts of violence and lawlessness. He cautioned the citizens to make use of the nation’s justice system and to fully adhere to the rule of law.
President Weah made it clear that his administration will not encourage any acts of violence and lawlessness as such acts have not done anything good for the Liberian nation
instead, violence makes the country to remain undeveloped in almost all spheres of life.
Henceforth, it became loud and clear that President Weah’s non-violence speech in Kokoyah was his main message to other citizens during the entire trip.
In Ganta, Nimba County, following what one observer calls “long shopping list of demands” read by Senator Prince Y. Johnson, President Weah told the people of Nimba that development can’t be attained in the midst of violence.
While accepting to work with Nimba County’s Legislative Caucus and the citizens for the development of not only Nimba but the entire country, he called on parents to warn their children against violence, adding, “If you burn down a police station, you are burning your country, because the police represent the country” in the promotion of law and order, peace and security.
Despite his willingness to give Liberia a new face in terms of genuine development, President Weah’s campaign for peaceful dialogue and the need for all to adhere to the rule of law were his key massage to the people of Karnplay, Bahn, Saclapea, and Tappita in Nimba County.
The President’s peaceful dialogue campaign was somewhat amended, thus adding the slogan: “grow what you eat, eat what you grow” as President Weah and team entered Grand Gedeh and other parts of the Southeastern region.
Interestingly, it appears that some of our people were not keenly following the President’s speeches he delivered in the previous counties he visited before theirs.
In as much as we, at THE INDEPENDENT, are in full agreement for genuine development to take place in every part of the country and the importance for the government to lead the way, we think it would be more prudent for citizens across the country to make demands on the government by prioritizing impactful, peace-consolidation and development projects and programs.
In order words, we, as Liberians, must make demands that are realistically achievable for the remaining three years of the Weah administration.
Although we do not concord with the opinions of other commentators that some of the demands made to the Weah Administration during his nationwide tour were unrealistic, and not for the general good of the ordinary people, we can only say “our people must make people-centered and impactful development demands” based on priority. It is more than significant for implementation of such development projects to be achievable within specific timeframe.
We say this simply because, for one county to demand for over fifteen (15) development projects which implementation may be highly capital-intensive, without taking into serious consideration the development of other counties is not only mindboggling but also worrisome and troubling.
We believe that the President’s two cardinal messages-for people to rise above acts of violence and lawlessness and to adhere to the rule of law; and for us, as a nation, to “grow what we eat, and eat what we grow in an atmosphere of peace and serenity are cardinal. We challenge all to put into practice such message for the common good of all.
Another thing that we observed during the President’s first county-tour was that some officials, for apparent pecuniary gains, were influencing locals to demand personal construction projects at their homes or private ventures.
We are very disturbed for the fact that some of the counties’ officials, (names withheld), who were suspected to be involved in such acts of ‘blackmail’ are hugely benefiting from central government in terms of mouthwatering salaries, allowances, transportation, and gasoline among other incentives while the vast majority of their ordinary compatriots are languishing in abject poverty, misery and disease, to say the least.
We think, it is about time that such greedy public officials rise above their personal aggrandizement after three years of incumbency and encourage President Weah to foster people-centered development projects instead of such self-centered officials lobbying to build roads before their door steps of their luxurious and flashy homes.
We also want to urge the Liberian leader to focus more on roads construction-mainly major highways such as the Ganta-Zwedru highway, Buchanan-Sasstwon highwas or the Gbarnga-Foya highway.
We believe if these main highways are built, the much- needed agricultural produce would be accessible to the local markets and that it would boost the country’s trade and commerce, thus leading to the strengthening and buoyancy of the Liberian economy.
As the President returns, we want to plead with his good offices to mainly build the major highways, which are widely considered the “nation’s economic zones” as his “LEGACY” and ignore the apparent unrealistic demands by some officials that are wrapped in personal aggrandizement.