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Weah’s Governing Problem

By Tewroh-Wehtoe Sungbeh        


George Manneh Weah is your everyday Liberian who shockingly became President of Liberia.

It is the first in the history of the republic for an everyday Liberian, especially an inexperienced and clueless one for that matter to run for president, let alone, win the presidency based solely on football credentials alone.

As the nation’s reigning past-time, football can be blamed for giving the Liberian people the politically ambitious and inexperienced Weah who exploited his football past and his stratospheric popularity to first convince himself that he is a presidential material, and shrewdly convinced a football-crazy nation to take him seriously.

To get to the presidency, Weah and his opportunistic handlers plotted his path via the Liberian Senate to expose him to legislating, and to also give him the talking point that he is prepared to govern the nation based on his prior experience as a legislator.

To some observers, it was a winning strategy and a brilliant political move since their guy had zero experience in leading anything that resembles a government, and zero managerial experience running a football organization.

To others, however, the forever taciturn Weah doesn’t have any history of crafting any groundbreaking legislation during his tenure as a Senator that lifted his constituents and Montserrado County (as former President Tolbert would say) from “mat to mattress.”

George Manneh Weah only decided to run for the Senate to prepare for the presidency since his obvious lack of experience in government, and his lack of a college degree was perhaps two requirements that could have derailed his dream of becoming President of Liberia.

Like a student who had to take a makeup test to meet a school’s passing requirements, Weah hurriedly enrolls in school to get his college degree in the United States only to later return to Liberia to run for the Liberian Senate.

All of this obviously was a sign of desperation and a red flag for Liberians who were desirous of Weah becoming President of Liberia by any means, knowing that he is hugely unprepared to be the nation’s leader at this crucial time of nation-building.

These rabid Weah supporters, aware that their man is unprepared for the Liberian presidency, are amnesic of the nation’s problems as they continue to invoke the delusional leadership qualities of Weah and the name of God for his election to the presidency, even as the country continues to fall apart on his presidential watch.

Shockingly, some even see his coming as “messianic.”

Weah’s ineptitude and absolute lack of leadership are on display from day to day as he inoculates himself from the pains and suffering of his people even as he proudly and shamelessly dabbles into the imperial presidency as if things are normal in the country.

However, Weah’s imperial leadership style, like his despotic predecessors, which is based on singularism and a powerful presidency as prescribed in the nation’s constitution, are the reasons Liberia is ancient and backward in development and progress today.

These are the reasons Liberians need to work very hard to decrease the imperial powers of the President of Liberia to be accountable to the people, decentralize local government, build democratic institutions that are genuinely independent of the President of Liberia and elected officials, and empower the Liberian people to decide their own future.

President Weah’s governing style was on display recently when he takes nearly his entire cabinet on a trip to China (even if the Chinese government had sponsored the trip, as reported unofficially) as if it were a winter retreat.

President Weah reportedly shuts down the Liberian government to retire his #14 jersey, which is a personal feat and not a national one, and he reportedly sheds $2,000 a piece to each Nigerian player after the game. Is it Weah’s own money or the nation’s money?

This is happening at a time when Liberians can barely afford a cup of rice to eat, afford to go to the clinic when they are sick, or can afford to send their kids to school.

Mr. Weah should have celebrated the occasion with his family, his teammates and his team, and not use the nation’s money to celebrate his personal achievements.

This does not warrant a national celebration.

Self-absorbed dictators and want-to-be dictators are the ones who often engage in these kinds of personal worship ceremonies.

Weah who often mixed politics with his personal accomplishments honored his former coach Arsene Wenger with The Humane Order of African Redemption, one of Liberia’s highest honors, for nurturing him and other players.

Again, these are Mr. Weah’s personal accomplishments that do not warrant a national celebration. Self-absorbed dictators and want-to-be dictators are the ones who often engage in these kinds of personal worship ceremonies.

The recent physical fight between Representative Edwin Snowe and Deputy Information Minister Eugene Fahgon shows the toxic climate in the country, which is a poor reflection on Weah’s-laid-back leadership style.

This is also a reflection on the climate of intolerance in the country, which is a threat to safety and security in the country.

Where is the Ministry of Justice? Where’s President Weah on these issues? As usual, there wasn’t a press conference and no address to the nation.

The $536 million loan from Singapore-based Eton Finance which was hurriedly negotiated without transparency and a genuine debate, is a problem.

Knowing that some shady characters from the Taylor era (Emmanuel Shaw and others) are now working in the Weah government, and knowing how corrupt this government and the previous governments have been over the years, is troubling.

Just recently, a Nigerian Manager, Aojedi Bejide at the Guaranty Bank in Monrovia allegedly assaulted a Liberian who works at the bank. I am not going to go into details as to why he physically assaulted the Liberian. What Mr. Bejide shouldn’t have done is lay his hands on a Liberian, or throw an object at another human being.

The Weah Ministry of Justice jailed the Nigerian. What the Weah Ministry of Justice should have done after jailing this idiot is to deport him to Nigeria immediately never to return to Liberia after he served his few days in jail.

Knowing Liberia and how relaxed the government is in terms of not adhering to the rule of law and equal justice for all, this guy will remain in Liberia and will go back to his old job to continue to physically and emotionally abuse Liberians.

As a stickler for the rule of law, accountability, building institutions and respecting institutions, I am hoping that the  Liberian people and their leaders will one day collaborate to reduce the powers of the imperial presidency so that the President of Liberia and elected officials will be accountable to the people.

When that happens, Weah and future Liberian presidents and government officials will not trample on the rights of the Liberian people by doing things their way.

Category: Editorial, News Headlines

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