By: Varney Dukuly
Monrovia: President George Weah will today, Monday, January 30, 2023, address the Liberian nation. The President will speak on the state of affairs with focus on the expenditure and revenue component of the economy.
His address is in line with provisions of the 1986 Constitution of Liberia.
Ahead of President Weah’s State of the Nation Address (SONA), there are concerns in the public bordering on the level of preparations made at the bicameral Legislature which includes the House of Senate (Upper House) and House of Representatives (Lower House).
Citizens and foreign residents continue to grow keen interest in content of the 2023 State of the Nation Address which marks the final SONA of the President’s first six-year constitutional term of office.
Many are concerned about the beautification of the Capitol, which plays host to the National Legislature, and the state of national security and national budget, the roadmap for successful and peaceful conduct of the pending October presidential and legislative elections among others.
Speaking on the different preparations made at the Capitol, the House’s Chair on Executive and Head of the SONA’s Committee, Representative Acarous Moses Gray, said the various preparations for the President’s SONA deliberations are on course.
“There is a budget of US$250,000 (two hundred fifty thousand United States Dollars) allotted for the State of Nation Address,” said Rep. Gray.
The money, according to Lawmaker Gray, has been used to fund activities of the Capitol such as the presence of adequate national security personnel, the operations of various line ministries and agencies such as the Ministry of Public Works and the General Services Agency (GSA).
Some of the money, according to Rep. Gray, will also address the issue of publicity, focusing on publication and semi-cast of President Weah’s SONA today.
On security, he said, the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) and other state security officers will be on Capitol Hill to provide maximum security for the assembly of the country’s leadership.
Contrary to previous hue and cry over the years, relating to the reported poor state of the sanitation and hygiene at the Legislature, Rep. Gray noted attendees of today’s occasion would access more clean bathrooms and other hygienic environment at the Capitol.
He said accredited Media institutions will be given the opportunity to have full access to the Capitol during the State of the Nation Address in order to provide effective coverage.
Other heads of ministries and agencies will be allowed to enter based on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs official’s invitation and other protocol arrangements.
Gray: “I want to discourage people out there who people are given invitation to. If it does not come from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to be given to you, and Acarous take an invitation for you and you went there, you could be embarrassed.”
A copy of the protocol in the possession of this paper explains more on the President’s appearance.
It says, at 3:50pm, the Joint Executive Committee of both Houses will leave the Chamber to meet the President at the main entrance of the Capitol and escort him to the Joint Assembly Hall along with the Sergeants-At-Arms of both Houses.
Upon arrival to the door, the protocol noted, the Sergeant-At-Arms of the House of Representatives will announce the president’s arrival.
At 4:00pm, President George Manneh Weah will deliver his annual message to the Sixth Joint Session of the 54th National Legislature of the Republic of Liberia.
The special protocol cautioned that during the period of delivery, “No one may enter or leave the Chamber.”
“After the annual message, the President will be escorted out of the Joint Chamber to the Rotunda of the Capitol by the Joint Executive Committee, where he will receive guests,” the protocol discloses.
The Liberian leader will later be escorted to the head table for reception, hosted in his honor by the Speaker and members of the 54th Legislature.