By E. Geedahgar Garsuah, Sr.
MONROVIA: In an apparent attempt to erect appropriate checkpoints against what has been characterized as baseless, unwarranted, cheap and mere propaganda campaign being allegedly touted by its die-hard critics and other naysayers aimed at discrediting its numeral development achievements since 2018, the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC), led Administration, headed by President George Manneh Weah, continues to showcase “all that it did and continues to do development-wise” in the past five consecutive years as stipulated in the popular mandate the incumbent Government received from Liberian electorate, and in line with the 1986 Constitution of Liberia.
Today’s publication of The ‘Investigative’ INDEPENDENT Newspaper is part of a series of publications, focusing on what some topnotch executive s of the ruling CDC called “ineradicable national development gains” made by incumbent President George Weah, who, before ascending to the coveted Liberian Presidency in January 2018, was a global soccer celebrity and later served as United Nation’s Goodwill Ambassador. The gains of Weah as President, are as summarized in what his Administration calls FACTSHEET.
The FACTSHEET was released in January 2023 against mounting public debate, bordering on whether or not, the Weah led governing establishment has succeeded or failed as regards its governance of Liberia. By all accounts, public reactions to this raging debate in the public domain remain generally mixed.
For instance, the Government of Liberia (GoL) has released FACTSHEET for the five years in review.
The Government’s FACTSHEET, which is in the possession of The “Investigative’ INDEPENDENT indicates unequivocally that the Weah-led administration has scored tremendous successes in almost all spheres of the country’s development process.
It referenced the economy, road construction, healthcare, education and peacebuilding, among others.
The FACTSHEET offers detailed information on Weah’s successes in the areas of microeconomic stability and growth, youth development as well as gender and social protection, poverty reduction and the country’s growth profile.
Other areas of resounding success as explained by the Liberian ruling elites include infrastructure and roads, public safety and national security, social inclusion and traditional governance.
It referenced the conduct of public audits, decentralization of the operations of State ministries and agencies, revenue sharing, investment in the energy sector, all of which the ruling establishment said resulted into stabilization in the prices of the prices of basic commodities such as fuel, electricity, food.
Touching on the microeconomic stability and growth, sound monetary and fiscal policies, the government mentioned the printing and infusion of LD$48 billion Liberian dollars banknotes in the economy, while there has been sharp reduction in the rate of inflation from 30% to 7%.
According to the government, this record of deceleration in the inflation rate from 30% to 7% is the fastest collapse in Liberia’s history.
The Administration further highlighted the laudable reform of what it calls “broken wage system” instituted by the former ruling Unity Party (UP) led 12-year regime, leading to the saving of US$32million dollars annually.
For healthcare and other key related services, the Government FACTSHEET listed the increment of doctor’s monthly earnings from US$700 to US$2000; addition of 2,500 healthcare workers to the government’s payroll and the provision of advanced home-based specialized medical training for more than 101 doctors.
The vaccination of over 80% of Liberians against the deadly COVID-19 Pandemic and Liberia’s record as the third best performing country in the containment of the pandemic in West Africa as well as 7th best in Africa is more than worthy of national celebration, if politics put aside.
The FACTSHEET termed as a “noteworthy achievement” the construction of a up-to-the-minute 100 bedroom Emirates Hospital in Gbarpolu County, Western Liberia, as well as the construction of the 14 Military Hospital. It showcases ongoing construction of new Redemption Hospital situated in Caldwell, Montserrado County.
On public safety and national security, the government pointed to the increment of budgetary support to the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL), by US$4 million dollars in the fiscal year 2022 and ending the deduction of 20% salary from soldiers to support Mali Peace Mission.
It named provision of more logistics for the Liberian National Police (LNP) including uniforms and the provision of ten fire trucks to the Liberian National Fire Service (LNFS). The vigorous crackdowns on illicit drugs trade by joint security forces including the Liberia Drugs Enforcement Agency (LDEA) also made it to Weah’s national success story. The US$100 million drug busted in Monrovia is a classic success story for the security sector.
In its drive to decentralization social inclusion and promote traditional governance, the CDC-government constructed more than 1,000 pro-poor dwelling shelters and 20 market buildings across the 15 sub-political divisions of Liberia.
The provision of vehicles and motorbikes to the leadership of the Liberia National Traditional Council (LNTC) were amongst the Weah/CDC administration’s promised kept.
In its war against graft, the FACTSHEET highlighted the passage of the revised act of the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC), which provides the commission with absolute authority to combat corruption, fraud, waste and abuse in government.
The CDC-led government also named the passage of the Whistle Blower, Witness Protection, and the new anti-money laundering legislations by Liberian Lawmakers.
The conduct of government’s payroll audit and drastic reduction of domestic debts which were instrumental in saving millions of dollars, and the improved audit of the government revenue account through a stringent and credible financial records system are highlighted in the Weah Administration’s five-year success story, which, it insists, the Government’s critics and others want to disingenuously ignore rather than highly appreciating such national development milestones.
On roads, which by all accounts, are a major hurdle affecting Liberia’s rapid growth and development, the CDC-led government, as captured in its latest FACTSHEET, referenced the pavement of more than 969 kilometers of news roads since its inception on January 22, 2018.
The FACTSHEET elaborated specifically on the construction of 233 kilometers of primary roads, connecting Ganta, Nimba County to –Harper, Maryland County, between the periods (2018-2022). It also named the construction of 116 kilometers of urban community roads.
On infrastructures, the FACTSHEET shows that the government has built several modern structures including the newly constructed headquarters of the National Port Authority (NPA), the Liberia Petroleum Refinery Company (LPRC), the Liberia Maritime Authority (LiMA), and the National Fisheries and Aquaculture Authority (NaFAA).
Conversely however, a local pro-democracy group, styled: NAYMOTE Partners for Democratic Development, released a somewhat stinging report in which it stated, among others, that President Weah and his government are yet to implement nearly two-thirds of the promises they have made to the people of Liberia” since the Government’s 2018 formal inauguration.
NAYMOTE indicated in the report that 292 promises were extracted from the President’s Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) Manifesto of 2017, speeches delivered during the 2017 presidential campaign, the President’s inaugural address, annual messages to the Legislature, Presidential Priority Projects (3Ps) and the Government’s flagship development agenda, the Pro Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (PAPD), among others.
The civil society group has been tracking President Weah and his Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) led Government’s activities over the last five years through its President Meter (Weah Meter program).
The project, under the banner: “Weah-Meter,” engages in the tracking of and reporting on promises made by President Weah and the CDC government.
According to NAYMOTE, only 24 promises, constituting eight percent, have been completed, 91- amounting to 31 percent still ongoing and a whopping 177 – equating to 61% has not been started.
Generally, the findings of the NAYMOTE’s heralded assessment suggest that President Weah and his government are yet to implement nearly two-thirds of the promises they have made to the people of Liberia.
“Numerous promises have been made, over the years, on poverty reduction, infrastructural development, and social service delivery, rule of law, government accountability, and decentralization, among others. Delivering promises made in campaign manifestos and policy statements is important for sustaining trust between the government and the citizens; conversely, failing to deliver undermines trust and confidence in the authority of the government,” NAYMOTE’s Executive Director, Eddie Jarwolo intoned.
Moreover, other opposition politicians including the former Governing Unity Party (UP), of Ambassador Joseph Nyuma Baokai (JNB); Alexander Benedict Cummings (ABC) of the Alternative National Congress (ANC), and lately Nimba County’s Senator Prince Y. Johnson, among others think otherwise, about the Weah’s Government five-year development gains as it has been listing ahead of the much awaited and crucial 2023 polls.
Nevertheless, well-informed observers are of the view that it is now left with Liberians, through the ballot box, to separate the sheep from the goats come October this year.