By, Francis Nyepon
President George Manneh Weah could experience a humiliating, embarrassing and crushing defeat in 2023 due to his epic disappointment as President of Liberia. Since becoming President almost two years ago, George Weah has dashed the hopes and aspirations of millions of Liberia’s majority youthful population. Under his Presidency, Liberia has overwhelmingly become toxic, besieged by corruption, mismanagement, hyper-partisanship and brazen inability of the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) Government to formulate and implement viable market liberalization policies to propel growth, boost employment and fuel transformation. Consequently, Liberians should be prepared to give President Weah a soft landing when he drops the political bombshell and announce his resignation from the presidency of Liberia and completely withdraw from politics. Over the past two years, Liberians have come to realize that President George Manneh Weah and the ruling CDC Government has pillaged the national treasury, paralyzed the economy, stifled innovation, and deprived the country’s youthful population of economic opportunities to boost employment, income, skill development, gross domestic product (GDP), reduce poverty, and improve living standard; thus, leaving widespread distrust, repugnance, misery and anxiety all over the landscape.
In 2018, Liberians proudly witnessed something that has never been done in the country for eighty years, the peaceful transfer of power from an incumbent President to a President-elect – Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to George Manneh Weah. This miraculous event preceded almost three decades of dictatorship, autocratic rule and two bloody civil wars that brought the country to its knees, with the collapse of the economy, destruction of infrastructure, with internal displacement and external exile of over half the population, followed by massive brain drain of talented and educated workforce, and hundreds of thousands of innocent children turned into child soldiers, causing the entire country to yearn for big structural change to prevent conflict from ever again becoming the means by which differences are settled. As a result, George Manneh Weah was elected President by the power of the ballot box on this enormous wave of hope and aspiration of Liberians.
The nostalgia of Liberia’s majority youthful population for a servant-leader, innovator, and problem-solver to bring about structural change became a reality with the election of George Manneh Weah. This vital group from both the rural and urban sectors erroneously came to believe that George Manner Weah possess the talents, capacity, and skill-set to bring Liberia’s diverse socioeconomic, political and leadership classes together to mutually appreciate the urgent need to abolish structural inequalities, which marked the country’s degrading social order of privileged, preferential treatment, gender inequity, nepotism and income inequality. In contrast, the hopes and aspiration of this vital and dynamic segment of the population were repulsively dashed. The lack of clear pathways to bring about inclusive governance, sustainable economic growth and opportunities to improve livelihood and basic service delivery are still being demoralized.
Accordingly, President George Manneh Weah has been unable to articulate a comprehensive vision for structural change to boost inclusive growth, provide employment in both urban and rural areas to tackle poverty and social exclusion to improve living standards and further sincere political discourse amongst them populace. Instead, the President has propagated cronyism, privilege, favoritism, corruption and incompetence, which has stalled growth and social change by ruthlessly enhancing the relationship between economic growth and bad politics to a practice not just of correlations, but of causation. As a result, President Weah’s leadership has failed the Liberian people miserably. It has indeed severely weakened prospects for structural transformation. For example, key growth and social change indicators, like GDP, healthcare, education, employment, infant and maternal mortality, social protection, food security, skill development, electricity, and agricultural rejuvenation have been severely underperforming. Consequently, inequality have gotten worse as Liberians grow weary and powerless, unable to trust the ruling CDC Government, while many scandals hover over the country as the economy marches on the verge of collapse with pessimistic and useless political discourse being provoked amongst vital segments of the population by reckless negligence, pointing directly towards dereliction of duty by the President.
Over the past two years, the ruling CDC Government has been besieged by poor governance, rampant corruption, mismanagement, weak institutions, and parochial politics, while concomitantly paying little or no attention to socioeconomic determinants to boost sustainable growth and social change. Furthermore, the ruling CDC Government’s guiding economic policy framework, implemented through the Pro-poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (PAPD) lacks innovative pathways to reduce poverty and provide inclusive growth opportunities to boost sustainable economic development. The PAPD’s claim to return power to the people, generate employment, maintain peace, provide good governance and transparency is the biggest joke of the century. To tell the truth, the PAPD’s fundamental strategic claim to empower marginalized, vulnerable, and socially excluded Liberians is a hoax. As a matter of fact, the PAPD does not vigorously promote sustainable agriculture to boost food security, nor does it create innovative pathways to improve the food value chain, expand export, or promote gender equality in the sector to support women, the largest subdivision of smallholder farmers in the country. Additionally, the PAPD does not effectively utilize information technology as pathways to build capacity and developing skills to invigorate the economy to impact rural development. In spite of its hopeless declaration, the PAPD can only become effective if and when its regulatory framework and implementation conduits for transformation are harmonized to facilitate socio-economic growth to improve well-being through structural change and diversification of growth sectors and market liberalization.
Liberia is ripe for sustainable innovative growth and social change. Currently, the country still has the drivers to boost growth through an enthusiastic workforce ready to learn and innovate, amidst an abundance of natural resources to boost growth and propel social change. Nevertheless, the missing links still remain that of progressive growth, strategies and policy frameworks—to reorganize institutions, safeguard investments; uphold judicial independence by offering platforms to end rampant corruption and eradicate social exclusion to tackle poverty. The ruling CDC Government needs to take cues from the voices of Liberia’s dynamic youth and vivacious young people many of whom have been appallingly vocal since the end of the country’s two bloody civil wars in 2023. A deeper appreciation for the irresistible truth that peace, stability and social change are directly connected to the economy; without which, the country could be at serious risk of triggering another disaster, leading down a slippery slope towards political chaos, social mayhem and civil violence.
Liberians are tired and frustrated by the lack of innovative pathways for structural change to improve lives and well-being. They are yearning for social inclusion, improved living standards, and investment in human capital as a facilitator of social change. In addition, they are demanding innovative policies to improve lives, boost access to improved education, healthcare, food security, employment and environmental protection. Liberia does not need a strongman leader, especially one who has completely failed to grasp the urgency for structural change to boost inclusive growth, and economic stabilization. Liberia’s youthful population needs to be empowered. Liberia deserves an innovative and transformational leader to provide opportunities and pathways for structural change to propel growth and transformation. Do not allow history to dub you a champion of corruption, bad governance, parochialism and a facilitator of the gender division of labor. If the Presidency of Liberia is excruciatingly demanding, grueling and herculean; then go back to the comforts of the unbridled celebrity lifestyle; otherwise, become a facilitator of social change, and contribute to the building of a prosperous Liberia, where the dynamic youth and vivacious young people can innovate and engage in structural transformation to advance Liberia to a more ameliorate nation-state.
– Be a Liberian not because you were born in Liberia but because Liberia was born in you –
Francis Nyepon can be contacted at – email@example.com
Main Photo, George Weah /The Independent