A senior partisan of the Unity Party and renowned women leader in Montserrado County Electoral District #7, Maureen Lavonne Shaw, congratulates President Joseph Nyumah Boakai and Vice President Jeremiah Kpan Koung, for winning the Presidency.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with The NEW DAWN Tuesday, February 6, 2024, at her residence on U.N. Drive in Monrovia, Madam Shaw said she is happy that the UP won the 2023 election, noting that she has explicit confidence in both leaders’ ability to bring good changes to improve the country economically.
She says as a business woman herself, she will be happy when every Liberian is provided an opportunity to earn money in the country and that they will love Liberia, think Liberia, and build a better Liberia.
According to her, President Boakai and Vice President Koung’s inaugural program was very successful, adding that the inaugural team’s focus for the day was to encourage the Unity Party and the former government to have held the program at the Centennial Pavilion in the heart of Monrovia, instead.
She explains that this thought was shared with ambassadors at the Foreign Ministry in Monrovia, who have worked in government before, adding that they visited the Pavilion to show that this could be the main venue for the inauguration because it was where previous inaugural programs were held.
She says the Centennial Pavilion was built for such purpose and is fully air-conditioned with capacity to accommodate more than 2,000 people, and it would have required very little work to get the premises ready for that day, given there wasn’t enough time.
But unfortunately, she notes, because the Weah administration had gone at the Capitol Building, some members of the inaugural team said the inauguration of President Boakai and Vice President Koung should be held on the grounds of the Capitol, which they had to follow.
Madam Shaw reveals that she coordinated the catering aspect of the program and prepared for 44,000 invited guests, but the main challenge was dealing with the outgoing administration, the incoming government, the UP, and caterers, “so I had many bosses, including the chairperson of the inaugural committee.”
According to her, she handled the inaugural program for former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in 2006, adding that she also catered for children’s party under the late interim Chairperson of the Council of State, Ruth Sando Perry, held at the Monrovia City Hall, where she served the children for the entire day without any problem, but she had to answer to so many bosses during the inaugural program of President Boakai.
Madam Shaw further details that she was instructed to prepare food for 4,000 guests at the inaugural program, but went extra mile in catering for 8, 000 people “because we were prepared, we had 15 caterers, and brought extra caterers in and many young people volunteered to help.”
According to her, she personally paid over 1,000 young people from the Unity Party, giving them US$25 each, and they served well to the extent that there was enough food for everybody.
“I am so happy; until today people will tell you that everybody ate and nobody has reported that they were ill or had problem with the food, so we are happy that was achieved.”
Meanwhile, she notes the policy of outgoing government preparing or celebrating for the incoming administration, as it happened recently, doesn’t make sense, adding that she was totally angry and kept telling advisers to the government and other people this will not work.
She emphasizes that loser of an election would not celebrate for the winner or the winning side, as the Unity Party and the CDC have been rival for more than 12 years, adding “so when you win your rival then you say your rival should celebrate for you.”
She recalls that when CDC was coming to power after the 2017 election, the Sirleaf government presented an inaugural budget of US$950,000 unlike US$650 budget presented by the Weah administration for the inauguration of President Boakai.
She says even at that, the budget for the catering was never released until Friday, January 18, 2024, barely four days to the actual occasion on Monday, 22 January.
She adds that they didn’t have access to the Capitol because the staff were protesting, where 3,000 of the guests that should have been fed were seated, and couldn’t also get in the Executive Mansion where 1,000 of the VIPs were supposed to be served because of the poor organization. Editing by Jonathan Browne