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Wednesday, February 28, 2024

LIVING THE HARSH REALITY OF GEORGE WEAH’S ‘CHANGE FOR HOPE LIBERIA

Date:

A Patriot’s Diary with Ekena Wesley

Regime enablers reckon Liberia’s woes are not their iconic George Weah creation. Before Weah, we saw J.J. Roberts, William V.S. Tubman, William R. Tolbert, Jr. Samuel Doe, Charles Taylor, and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. But there is something unique about all our leaders. They put themselves up for public office to do something differently. Perhaps run an effective and efficient government. George Weah also put himself forward, especially through the eyes of unpatriotic Liberians who reasoned that he could make a fine conduit to exploit the small West African nation.

The trappings of the quasi-democracy we have experienced over the years have produced some kind of opposition. Building a viable opposition bloc has had its lows and highs. Notwithstanding, no government has had an easy ride. Not even William V.S. Tubman – the benevolent dictator. The real test of a vociferous political opposition in Liberia emerged under the reign of Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. The coloration of the legislature 52nd was in part indicative of critical opposition voices. The former ruling National Patriotic Party (NPP) of Charles Taylor was intolerant of critical voices that had re-emerged in the legislature – making their presence felt. Such is the beauty of democracy. We had struggled too long for change. Did it come? Your guess would be as good a reckoning as ours.

Weah and his handlers conditioned he could make a great leader amid his so-called humbled background. Really? A transition from a professed humbled origin to soccer stardom didn’t teach anyone a lesson. Managing the national team, the Lone Star, so poorly but unfortunately did not ring a bell. George Weah’s popularity on the soccer pitch, in their reasoning, was enough to prove he is indeed the ‘masses’ leader’ who could bring the needed change. A kind of change that would lift the masses from ‘mats to mattresses.’ All was a bundle of illusion. Statecraft is simply not child’s play. But the gamble at the whims of capricious elements and concealed thieves was being aggressively pursued. It was about a mischievous end aimed at justifying the means.

A pitch in 2005 landed Weah a second place to Harvard-educated and former UN Under-Secretary cum World Bank executive, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. Role shifted in 2011 when Weah changed tactics, joining the race as running mate to former UN Special Envoy to Somalia, Cllr. Winston A. Tubman. TEAM Tubman-Weah lost miserably! Ahead of 2011, ahead of the second round, when the Nobel Committee announced Ellen Johnson Sirleaf as one of the winners of the Nobel Prize for Peace; an enraged Cllr. Winston Tubman refuted the Committee’s decision vehemently. Clearly, one could understand where Cllr. Tubman was coming from. Dogged by a politically bruised aura, angrily nursing the wound became Cllr. Winston Tubman’s outburst.

2017 proved Weah’s moment in history. Whatever the jinx that became unraveled, history was unarguably recorded. Former football icon-turned-politician became the first to transition from the soccer pitch to the presidency in keeping with the popular will of the people. The locus shift in power had dawned on the small West African nation. A Unity Party (UP) fatigue might have incensed voters’ psyche that swayed state power. Weah had returned to school to disabuse the minds of adherents, supporters, and fans amid the criticism that marred the 2005 campaign. Our country is now led by DeVry-educated Master’s degree holder in Public Administration.

Weah’s long-nursed ambition from a soccer star to the president finally saw him inaugurated on January 22, 2018. Before an elaborate audience of local and foreign dignitaries at the Samuel Kanyon Doe Sports Stadium, Weah told an ecstatic crowd that a new day was on the horizon. Has that day seen the light of day? Huh!

The new administration became dogged by various corruption scandals – thus neglecting the people. The looting of the public treasury is rife. Pro-poor-inspired austerity measure sanctioned salary harmonization. Anticipation that the government’s wage bill would take a dive was counterproductive. Instead, it has skyrocketed! Life for ordinary Liberians has hit the worst. Joblessness has become the order of the day. Seven out of ten Liberians have turned into beggars.

But in the words of a staunch supporter and fanatic of President George Weah, his revered icon simply lacks the capacity to deliver. We weren’t stunned at all. This is someone who has accused ‘A Patriot’s Diary’ of anti-government propaganda. “Comrade, this is about the dire straight beleaguering our country. Partisanship has blinded us for too long when people are suffering.” Whatever informed a 360-degree turnaround of Weah’s craze-driven fanatic could be as good as the guess of many misery-stricken cum impoverished Liberians.

Salary arrears that prompted the Supreme Court to go into action recently seem to be battling scores of civil servants across government Ministries and Agencies. Weah’s fanatic who says the government has not released his paycheck for the last three months is intrigued by what is happening to the few gainfully employed let alone the many jobless Liberians out there. On the heels of mounting difficulties, President Weah is on a social safari in the name of a retinue of official visits that are expected to be climaxed in Qatar for the FIFI World Cup.

If ‘Weahians’ are baffled, hopeless and disenchanted about a government they passionately elected, where lies the hope that is giving a reason for his shambolic reelection bid? But Weah’s fanatic thinks in spite of the incumbency factor, the soccer legend faces a tumultuous challenge. As we brace ourselves for 2023, Weah’s record-breaking frustration, cluelessness, corruption, and hopelessness continue to remain fresh in the minds of the people. Which people? The unpredictable voters might become consumed by the frenzy of rice and cash in exchange for votes.

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Smart News Liberia is an online news outlet, a product of Smart Media Group Inc. smartnewsliberia.com publishes a wide range of content including politics, business, sports, and entertainment on and about Liberia. Contact: +231777425285/ 886946925 Email: info@smartnewsliberia.com/ smartnewsliberia@gmail.com

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