By Julius T. Jaesen, II
For about 12 years dating from 2005 to 2017, Liberians home and abroad toyed with high hope that ex-football legend, George Weah, was the answer to Liberia’s long cry for leadership. They saw in him the bastion and pathfinder of hope. Especially for the aborigines who suffered 133 years of class marginalisation, economic inequality, painful and shameful poverty under the moribund and decadent True Whig Party, for them, Weah’s presidency was a moral guarantor for their socio-economic upliftment. So, they used their meagre resources and earnings to print their own t-shirts with Weah’s photo and went all out to canvass for his ascendancy to the nation’s highest authority. During those days, when Weah was arriving in the country either from the USA or elsewhere, there was always an avalanche of people, I mean a mammoth turnout of Liberians mostly youth and market women who shut down their daily hustles and boycotted classes to give Weah a red-carpet welcome that was likened to Jesus’ advent in Jerusalem.
With unshakable love carried for Weah then, Liberians on the average voted kleptocratic-kakistocrates and ruffians at the Legislature simply because Weah held their hands and they trusted him. In those days, political tourists and politicians who were relatively unknown to the voters could win seats in the Senate and the honourable house of Representatives all because Weah lifted their hands. The attending negative consequences on the quality of participation in legislative discourses that informed public policy decisions were extraordinary profound and calamitous. Some of the greatest “bobos” and barren lawmakers were borne out of the people’s love for Weah and earned them a place at our lawmaking body. Can you imagine the quality of their inputs? Far below the belt!
This was how far Liberians went to cripple our nascent democracy and bring to prominence criminals and rookies who hide under the CDC’s emblem to escape public scrutiny from voters. Even with the low quality of participation from CDC’s lawmakers both in the Senate and House of Representatives, Liberians never lost fate in a Weah’s presidency. They still mobilised their proceeds from bitter bowls, oil and charcoals to ensure a Weah’s presidency was a dream come through.
So, in 2014, in the heat of Ebola, I chose to join them to make Weah Senator for just two reasons. One, I did so because I saw ample attempts on the part of Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf to impose, in the words of dethroned Chairman Wilmot Paye, Robert Sirleaf and his abominable conduct on the Liberian society. She even went far and discouraged Christopher Neyor from running in Montserrado only because of her beloved son, Rob Sirleaf. She didn’t stop there but ensured that the Unity Party’s candidate, Ali Sylla, was paid to leave the senatorial faceoff. Nonstop, her son Robert used taxpayers’ money on George Solo, Chairman of CDC then, to ensure Weah is bought out of the race. Thankfully, Morlu, Koijee and Samora stood their ground and expelled George Solo. But most importantly, I supported Weah’s bid to be Senator because I wanted Liberians to use his senatorial position to mirror his dismal and abysmal performance in the Senate to deny him the presidency in the 2017 election. Yes, I supported him with the slightest inclination that his presence in the Senate will expose his manifest ineptitude and incompetence and the people could use that as a barometer to conclude that Weah’s presidency would be a declaration of war on our democracy. But still, Liberians thought that Weah’s juice could only be seen at the presidency and not the Senate that is rubberstamped and compromised. Finally, they achieved that political feat and dream in the 2017 presidential election.
But true to their consciences, they never voted Weah to be a curse to their country and a token of punishment for not voting decent breeds. Certainly true, they voted Weah knowing that he came from grass to grace, and he would understand their daily plights. For them, Weah’s presidency would rib Liberia out of corruption, colossal hardship, inequality, selective justice, unemployment and economic deprivation. Really true to their belief, Weah’s presidency was like a paradise promised mankind by Jesus according to Christian theists. They never foresaw an impending danger hanging over the motherland. Yes, they saw him as a political Moses who came to lead them from the wilderness and from the hands of our Pharaohs who according to them have suffered us for so long. They couldn’t discern that Weah is a Pharaoh who was wrapped in Moses’ clothing.
At the sunrise of his administration, most Liberians said Weah would be a two-term President. Some even said Weah would go for 24 years while Samuel Tweah and other economic miscreants said, Weah would be President for eternity.
Today, Liberians no longer share in this belief of Weah would be a two-term President, 24 years or President for life. Weah’s sun is setting rapidly as a result of the collapse of our economy. Our country has once again moved into a failed state. The decision of our government to shoulder her responsibility of restoring sanity, probity and purity to our monetary entity, the Central Bank, to the IMF proves evidence that Liberia is a failed state.
The failure of Weah and his government have allowed ordinary Liberians and hardworking civil servants with a take-home pay that is barely enough to feed their families and pay rent to endure the unbearable challenges of life. Our once happy families are fast turning into impoverished despair as the promise of ‘Change for Hope’ fails miserably in meaning. The Pro-Poor is no longer a slogan of hope but rather a catchphrase of despair and a melody of regret.
The very young students who voted Weah are now the ones who bear the brunt of hike in tuition fees and transportation fares as Weah and his officials cruise in luxurious vehicles at the expense of struggling taxpayers. Today, Weah rides in his convoy, four additional bulletproof cars cost 1.9 million USD when those who brought him to the helm of power live on wrangled bellies.
But the question to ask ourselves is, whoever thought that in less than two years in Weah’s administration, CDC could lose Montserrado, her stronghold, to the opposition? Nobody even imagines that! No prophet and prophetess ever envisioned that Dillon could be Senator in Montserrado as long as CDC remains in perpetual existence. Under Ellen, Dillon who participated in the 2009 senatorial by-election on the ticket of Liberty Party after the death of Hannah Byrant, couldn’t secure 6,000 votes when he was financially and morally prepared but won with 120,000 votes under Weah’s administration against the CDC where he was not prepared as compared to 2019 but only chances on the misgoverning of the state by Weah and his thieves. Whoever imagined that little sister, Telia Urey, who never grew up in district 15, neither had she lived there for a year could be neck-to-neck with the CDC’s candidate, Abu Bana Kamara, who had lived all his life in the district? He was actually flogged by our little sister, Telia, but Weah overturned the will of the voters because he had earlier promised that no Urey will ever be elected in his lifetime. Another important point to make, whoever imagined that Henry Costa would amass this magnetic influence and vast popularity over Weah and his government? Who dares dream that Costa would be sitting in a foreign land and instruct Liberians to create roadblock? Costa himself never daydream that he would sit at a local entertainment centre and in a few seconds, an avalanche crowd would assemble there thus making him leave for fear of insecurity. Yes, he never imaged that while he’s coming to his native land, over 50,000 Liberians would assemble at the airport to welcome him. If you don’t know that all these point to the sunset of the CDC’s government! Yes, I can see the sunset of the Weah’s failed regime!
Our businesswomen who voted Weah reliant on the importation of goods to keep employed are discouraged daily by the imposition of an unjust tax system that makes it difficult to remain in business. Frustratingly painful, the struggling people in the motherland are now left to marvel in despair and anguish in an economy with an exchange rate of 200 to 1dollar, and a price of a 25kg bag of rice hiked to more than US$25.00. The earnest expectation of Liberians who saw Weah as a neutral person with sainted hands in bloodletting and Liberia’s painful past was that Weah would enforce the scrupulous implementation of the TRC report to serve justice to Liberian war victims. But sadly regrettable, Weah is found dining and winning with warlords. He has even brought Agnes Reeves -Taylor in the country to undermine Jewel and the NPP.
Our “Yana Boys and Girls” who were CDC’s energetic supporters that printed their own t-shirts to ensure a Weah’s presidency honest votes cast have been unpatriotically misused by the utter disregard of the 12 years of struggles but only to birth criminals in power.
Truly, Liberia, once a ‘Sweet land of liberty’, has been rudely awakened by a masterminded enterprise of unparalleled economic robberies operated disguised as a reflection of representative democracy, yet a typecast of come grab and go business as usual. This pattern of politics has only succeeded in denigrating the living standards of the ordinary population and denied them access to basic social services and relegated the country beneath its rightful place amongst the community of nations. This gross evil, which has been accelerated beyond tolerance by this representative oligarchy, cannot be condoned any further.
Sadly, after decades of failed leadership, the concept of justice is alien to most Liberians. They have been conditioned to believe that being gracious to our abuser is a sign of good citizenship. Brother Weah continues to put his personal interests above that of the entire population. Evil has gripped this nation, and it must be soundly defeated. Until we can collectively stand against the rising tide of injustices against the poor and powerless, there is no assurance that the peace will be sustained. This indisputable reality is mirrored through a weak and corrupt judicial system further exploiting the vulnerable people.
Lastly, the coffin of democracy was hit its final nail when President Weah, as usual, refused to act in prosecuting Samuel D. Tweah and others who ate 25 million intended to mop up excess liquidity of the Liberian dollars on the market, a shameful display of top echelon corruption that has paralyzed Liberia.
About the author
Julius T. Jaesen, II, holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science from the African Methodist Episcopal University on 34 Camp Johnson Road. He is a licensed grassroots political organiser, message development specialist, essayist, biographer, poet and researcher on Harvard University Academia.com and Grin.com. He is also a published author and currently an Associate Managing Editor at the Parrot Newspaper. He can be reached on the following:
Email addresses: firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com
Contact numbers: +231886661061/+231776585152