President George M. Weah will today deliver to the National Legislature his second State of the Nation since January 29, 2018. Amidst the cacophony of mounting criticisms decrying the excruciating economic hardships the country faces; and against the retort from government quarters that critics ought to give the Weah administration a chance to adjust itself to the stark-eyed realities of governance, The Insight Newspaper has been up and about, sampling the views of Liberians – from civil society actors, politicians to ordinary citizens, on what they expect to hear from their president when he faces the National Legislature today.
Prince Kreplah is co-chairperson of the Policy Response Committee of the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) that brought George M. Weah to power.
Mr. Kreplar believes the president is “obviously going to talk about his roads-roads-roads” deliverables, and much more.
“The president will also talk about dual citizenship; that our laws are not in support of dual citizenship; and he will address what needs to be done to remedy the situation to those of our birthright brothers and sisters who are citizens of other countries but whose contributions to Liberia continue to help our economy, yet are restricted by our bias citizenship laws,” says Kreplah.
President Weah, Kreplah believes, will also talk about the gains made in the health sector as well as the challenges that need to be surmounted in not only health, but water and sanitation, education, and the agriculture sectors. “Our leader will tell the legislature and the Liberian people what has been done in these sectors and what will be done,” he said.
When quizzed about the public outcry on the alleged missing billions, CDC partisan Kreplah said he doesn’t expect the president to preempt the current investigation on the alleged missing billions.
“I don’t expect him to dwell on that as it would be preempting the outcome for the ongoing investigations. But what I expect on transparency is that the president will reaffirm government’s commitment to fighting corruption, as was done recently with the case of the National Housing Authority,” Kreplah stated.
Charles Cuffy is the current President of the embattled Press Union of Liberia, whose Vice President was recently suspended, following the membership reinstatement of one of its key members, the Liberian Minister of Information, Lenn Eugene Nagbe.
Says Cuffy: “I expect the President to talk about the economy of the country. He’s also going to talk about the infrastructure they’ve embarked on in Montserrado and other parts of the country. I expect him to talk about security also; and address the Bills that are before the Liberian Senate, especially the one that has to do with decriminalizing free speech.
I also expect President Weah to talk about the education sector. But most importantly, I expect the president to address the appalling economic condition of the country, especially the poor health conditions. Most of the health sectors are deplorable. The JFK right now is not a complete national referral hospital. I’ve been visiting Gbarpolu and Bomi, there were no electricity in most of those places; the people were complaining. The president needs to address the health issue.
We know that the Senate is demanding explanation from the president on how the resources will be gotten to implement the recent pronouncement on free education for public universities.
We also expect the president to talk on our foreign relations, and the investments in this country, because, as we speak, many persons believe that there are no new investments coming into the country.
Finally, the president should highlight in his address peace and reconciliation. When you listen to radio, you know that there is great divide between the media, the opposition, the government and the people. The former president said she did not succeed in that direction as she had anticipated; so President Weah must tell us how far his government has gone, and how they intend to foster better reconciliation of the people of Liberia.”
Jonathan Dolakeh is the acting Secretary General of the Alternative National Congress of political newbie Alexander Cummings, a man who seems set to be a kind of coalescing agent in harnessing the potentials of Liberia’s opposition.
According to Mr. Dolakeh, Liberians expect tomorrow for the president to give a candid disclosure on the LD16billion that allegedly got missing; and the $25 million that was said to be infused into the economy.
“In so doing, we expect the president to be delivering, on behalf of the Ministry of Finance, the government’s quarterly financial report, in terms of expenditure and revenue,” he stated.
Most importantly, Dolakeh said, President Weah must redirect his militants’ energies into positive forces. “Specially, his CDC partisans’ militancy directed at the opposition during the recent District 13 by elections and also at Representative Yekeh Kolubah, have the propensity to undermine the peace and security gains made by our international development partners. If the security of this country cannot be provided for the citizens of this country, we’re going to use the first law of nature to protect ourselves,” he warned.
National student leader Martin K.N. Kollie on the other hand stanchly believes Liberians should not expect anything new from President Weah.
“We expect the president to talk about his community roads, which is a complete divergence from his earlier pronouncements about connecting Liberia. If we had known from the beginning that president Weah was going to be preoccupied with community roads, we should have elected him as community chairman instead of president of the Republic of Liberia. What do our people get in Sinoe, in Maryland and other outlying parts of Liberia? That was not the initial promise of this government. The initial promise was that government would build coastal highways to connect our people in the rural parts of the country to access opportunities in urban communities,” Kollie said.
The president, Kollie noted, will also be talking about projects that the previous government undertook, but that the Weah administration would want to give itself credit for implementation of projects such as the RIA rehabilitation project, the Ministerial complex, and majority of the ongoing rural roads network projects.
As for Madam Krubo Fatorma of Duala’s Gorbachop Market, she expects her president to address the economic hardship that ordinary Liberians like herself are facing. “We forced to sell our goods at high price because of the high rate (exchange rate). Our customers are running away from us,” says Fatorma who trades in vegetables and other highly perishable agriculture produce.
Meanwhile the government of Liberia last evening issued a vehicular and human movement restriction circular ordering the observance of certain traffic and security measures.
According to the circular, on January 28, 2019, beginning at 6:00 AM to 6:00 PM, all vehicles plying the road from Red Light to Central Monrovia will be diverted from 9th Street through Jallah Town.
The circular continued, all vehicles commuting from Broad Street will be diverted from the Ministry of Gender and Children Protection through Jallah Town; and that the Road from Lynch Street through Redemption Street around the Barclay Training Center will be closed to the driving public.
“No vehicle without permit will gain access to Tubman Boulevard after 9th Street towards the Capitol until 6:00 PM. No vehicle or individual will commute in these restricted routes without a valid Access Pass or Invitation. All drivers are warned to remain in their positions 5 minutes after the passage of the Presidential convoy. All individuals and vehicles will be subjected to security scrutiny,” the LNP circular noted.
However, immediately up to press time, the circular was updated from beginning 6am to 6pm, to beginning 12pm to 6pm, perhaps because of the huge public backlash on social media.