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George Manneh Weah’s Inaugural Address: Where are the Deliverables?

By Tewroh-Wehtoe Sungbeh          

 

George Manneh Weah is President of Liberia.

I am not kidding.

Just ask the thousands and thousands and thousands of Liberians who stood in lines for hours on December 26 to proudly vote him in office as the nation’s 25th president.

Mr. Weah’s supporters will surely tell you that ‘His Excellency, Ambassador, President Weah’ was chosen by God to be President of Liberia.

That’s how fanatical they are or can be.

Mr. Weah’s supporters care less about how things are with them in life.
They don’t care whether they have jobs or food on the table, or whether they can afford to send their children to school; and whether they have electricity and money for rent.

All they care about is that their man, H.E Ambassador Weah is in the Executive Mansion.

Anyway, can you believe it, that a guy from the swamps of Gibraltar, near Clara Town, who played football barefooted in those swamps before fame and fortune came knocking on his doors, is now President of Liberia?

That’s the “Liberian dream.” 

You work hard, stay out of trouble, do the right thing and pursue your dreams.

It is a rag to riches story about George Manneh Weah that will be told over and over about the football prodigy who came from humble beginnings and went against all odds to become President of Liberia.

It is a story that should be adapted for the big screen starring his hand-pick surrogate, or George Manneh Oppong Weah himself as the leading character.

See, in that football-crazy West African nation of Liberia, Weah is football God who can do no wrong – for now.

However, as a political commentator and Liberian by birth, having a say about what affects Liberia is the hallmark of being a Liberian. So, I think I have the right to express my opinion here about the new Liberian leader and his inaugural speech to the Liberian people and my worldwide readers.

No joke about it, George Weah is a beloved figure, a very popular guy who brings both his natural charm and political naiveté to the table.

Now that the presidential election is over and Weah was finally inaugurated President of Liberia on January 22th as the nation’s 25th president, what did he really say to the Liberian people about his vision for the country? 

Or, can I ask, ‘Where is the beef?’

Unfortunately, I did not hear a bold pronouncement or any pronouncement at all about his vision for Liberia, a vision that will move the country from its centuries-old stagnancy, underdevelopment and high unemployment, to growth and economic prosperity.

This is my observation.

Because he is George Weah, the inarticulate new president, his supporters lowered the bar and focused only on his supposedly error-free delivery, and care less about substance and deliverables.

Weah’s inaugural address was disjointed, flat on content and delivery, flat on domestic policy, big on foreign policy, big on pomp and pageantry and big on his former football career.

Weah paid homage to European countries, the United States and the football career that took him out of poverty to fame, fortune and international stardom.

Twenty-five thousand Liberian students failed the university entrance exam in 2013. And because Liberian students are way behind in education a result of the civil war, I wanted to hear Mr. Weah’s plan for education. I heard nothing.

Liberians teachers are paid too low in salaries for what they do. I did not hear anything about increasing the salaries of teachers, either.

Mr. Weah did not say anything about healthcare in his inaugural speech. Liberians are dying daily from curable diseases such hypertension (high blood pressure), diabetes and malaria, etc. He said nothing about healthcare.

Rural Liberians lacked (good) roads to move their products to the markets for sale. City streets and sidewalks are bad or don’t exist at all. Mr. Weah said nothing about roads, streets and sidewalks renovation and construction.

I heard nothing about Mr. Weah’s transportation policy.

Other than Roberts International Airport and Spriggs Airfield, airfields in the country/counties have been ignored for decades. I did not hear anything about training Liberian pilots, purchasing a national airline, renovating existing airfields and constructing new ones for air travel.

Bridges are crumbling in all of Liberia. Mr. Weah did not talk about infrastructure development and renovating the nation’s crumbling bridges.

Sea erosion is a major problem in coastal Liberia.

Coastal cities such as Buchanan, Greenville, Robertsports, Cape Palmas and Monrovia are losing land and homes to sea erosion. I did not hear anything from President Weah about a possible and practical solution to fixing this problem. 

Jobs, jobs, jobs, is the big elephant in the room.

The nation needs private-sector jobs in the country.

How’s President Weah going to create those private-sector manufacturing jobs in the country?

There is lot of goodwill shown this president. Weah needs to step up to the plate very soon and quick before he’s shown the angry side of the Liberian people.

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