Is Liberia’s Jamaican-American First Lady a Humanitarian or she is pretending to be one? In this edition of our series “The Red Rooster from Ducor”, we are pointing our torch on First Lady Clar Weah with specific focus on her whopping US$1.5 million budget for “Humanitarian Outreach” Is First Lady Clar Weah really a philanthropist or a pseudo-philanthropist? The Red Rooster will endeavor to proffer a more convincing response to this question.
First Lady Djene Conde of Guinea and First Lady Fatima Jabbe-Bio of Sierra Leone do not have the leverage that First Lady Clar Weah of Liberia has to expend US$1.5 million of our taxes on “Humanitarian Outreach” just in a period of 15 months. In fact, there is no line in the National Budget of Ivory Coast for First Lady Dominique Ouattara. This applies for Ghana, Guinea, Sierra Leone, and many countries. Most First Ladies, including the First Lady of the United States, are not compensated by government for the work they do because such position is not an elected or appointed position.
The position of First Lady is more ceremonial in terms of title and function. Unlike First Lady Clar Weah who has US$1.5 million in our National Budget for Humanitarian Outreach, most First Ladies do not use tax-dollars to carry out humanitarian and philanthropic projects. They initiate genuine programs to source funding externally. As a youth activist and student leader, I am compelled to ask this fundamental question “Is First Lady Clar Weah a pro-poor Humanitarian or a pro-rich Humanitarian? The latter would suffice in my opinion.
The budget of First Lady Clar in a period of just 15 months is US$1.5 million when there is no public high school in Liberia with a Science Laboratory or modern Library. Maternal mortality rate is as high as 1,072 deaths for every 100,000 births according to UN Women while teenage pregnancy accounts for 38 percent according to UNFPA. I have heard some fanatics and enthusiasts of CDC branding First Lady Clar Weah as a philanthropist even though she is lavishly using our taxes? Who is a Humanitarian or a Philanthropist? According to Cambridge Dictionary, “A philanthropist is a person who helps the poor by giving them money or assistance.”
A philanthropist or humanitarian spends his/her own money on charities and pro-poor programs, and not the people’s money. The money First Lady Clar Weah is spending on orphanages is the people’s money (taxes). So, Madam Clar Weah is not a humanitarian or philanthropist as claimed by some diehard CDCians. She could be audited or made to account for those public resources she is expending.
This is a financial outlook of the Office of the First Lady Clar Weah:
- 2017-2018 Recast Budget (3 months): US$500,000.00
- 2018-2019 National Budget (12 months) – US$1,000,000.00
- Total – US$1,500,000.00
In a period of just 15 months, the Jamaican-American First Lady is receiving a whopping US$1.5 million. No First Lady of Liberia has had such leverage since 1847, not even former First Lady Jewel Howard-Taylor. In fact, there has been no line in our National Budget called “Humanitarian Outreach for First Lady” since 1847. While the First Lady was receiving US$500,000 in 3 months in the recast budget, the pro-poor government was slicing the last quarter budget of the Redemption Hospital to US$60,000 from US$500,000. In the midst of global macroeconomic slump and mass poverty across Liberia, it is unimaginable for First Lady Clar Weah alone to get US$1.5 million as budgetary allotment. I encourage our First Lady to go out there and raise money for her personal Foundation – The Clar Hope Foundation. She cannot and must not use tax-dollars to fund her ‘philanthropic projects’. She must follow the good examples of First Ladies Fatima Jabbe-Bio, Djene Conde, Dominique Ouattara, Rebecca Akufo-Addo, Melania Trump, etc.
In a futile attempt to justify the whopping US$1.5 million allotted to Madam Clar Weah, I listened to a senior official of this pro-poor government misinforming the public that the Group of 77 falls under the office of the First Lady. The real fact is that the Group of 77 is under the Office of Vice President Jewel Howard-Taylor with a budget of US$222,884. Our ultimate interest is to ensure that our government does what is RIGHT and RIGHTEOUS in the best interest of our PEOPLE. We have a national duty never to economize with THE FACTS but to demonstrate a sense of PATRIOTISM. We have made a solemn pledge to remain loyal to Liberia, our conscience, and no one else.
—–Martin K. N. Kollie, Monrovia, Liberia.