Home Politics More Reforms Underway …As Public Officials To Take Drug Test

More Reforms Underway …As Public Officials To Take Drug Test

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By: H. Richard Fallah

MONROVIA: In his First State of the Nation Address (SONA), President Joseph Nyuma Boakai has underscored the need for officials of his government to take drugs test.

The move, President Boakai said, is in line with the government’s fight against the importation and proliferation of illicit drugs in the country.

Making the commitment before members of the 55th National Legislature on Monday, January 29, 2024, the Liberian leader disclosed that he, along with Vice President Jeremiah Koung will take the lead for the drugs test.

President Boakai noted that the decision as President and vice President to take the drug test is an indication of his government’s seriousness in tackling the importation and proliferation of illicit drugs in the country.

“To make the government more effective and efficient, we must focus on public service deliveries; the people, not the government, must come first,” he noted.

According to the new Liberian leader, the drug epidemic, especially the use of “KUSH” in Liberia, is an existential threat that is eating away the future of youthful populace as a whole.

The President called on members of the Legislative Branch of government to stand up and face such `national security risk by not only taking the drug test but also engaging reform measures for the benefit of the Country.

“I am here by declaring Drugs and Substance abuse as a Public Health Emergency,” he added.

President Boakai has, at the same time, established a multi-sectoral steering committee comprising the following Ministry of Health- Chair; Ministry of Justice, Co-Chair; Ministry of Youth and Sports- Member; Ministry of Gender, Children, and Social Protection – Member; Liberia Drug Enforcement Agency (LDEA) – Member; and the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP) Member.

The committee would help to plan a vigorous anti-drug measures for implementation.

At the same time, the Liberian President described health and sanitation as major priorities of his government.

He noted that the provision of needed medical supplies and logistics to all public health institutions, regular, efficient, and robust monitoring and evaluation of health services need to be accelerated.

He further stressed the reduction of Maternal and Newborn Mortality, establishment of regional diagnostic centers, regulation of Health Care and pharmaceutical institutions in the country to meet international standards are among the priorities of the government.

President Boakai recalled that the recent experience with Ebola and COVID-19 requires the full support in treating national public health with utmost importance in Liberia as it relates to emergency preparedness and response.

“This requires a more coordinated way of building a more resilient health infrastructure to address current health challenges and future health shocks,” he maintained.

According him, his vision, as revealed in ARREST (meaning, Agriculture, Roads, Rule of Law, Education, Sanitation, Tourism); shall guide the preparation of the new Medium-term National Development Plan.

The President’s commitment to lead the drug test comes in the midst of a serious public outcry on the growing wave of illicit drug use in the country.

The recent statement from the Liberian leader is in agreement with the chief of staff of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) Maj. Gen. Prince C. Johnson III and Montserrado County Senator Abraham Darius Dillon who have called for drug test to be conducted on all public officials especially those appointed by the President.

Meanwhile, this is not the Liberin leader’s first time speaking on the alarming drug situation in the Country.

On Saturday, May 20, 2023, Boakai who was then, the major opposition leader, expressed disappointment over disturbing media reports of a not-guilty verdict, exonerating all four key defendants accused of involvement in the importation of a staggering US$100 million worth of drugs or 520kg of cocaine into Liberia by jurors at Criminal Court ‘C.
Mr. Boakai then, said that the news was not only shocking and disappointing, but also embarrassing for the image of the country.

Ambassador Boakai then noted that the verdict from the court represented a huge setback to Liberias international reputation and sadly portrayed a perception that Liberia is fast becoming a haven for drug traffickers and a point of transit or final destination in the West African region. “Even more troubling is a BBC report that the key suspects in the drug case may have fled the country immediately after the verdict,” JNB noted, then. President Boakai assured that he will vigorously clamp down on drug traffickers and others who are attempting to use any inch of Liberias soil.

The President statement, though in opposition at the time, came when a jury panel at the Criminal Court “C” in Monrovia on Thursday, 18, May, 2023 handed down a unanimous verdict, acquitting the four accused.

The acquittal came after 11 of the 12 jurors found the men not guilty of all charges, including money laundering, unlicensed possession of controlled drugs, unlicensed importation of controlled drugs, and criminal conspiracy.

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