Protest loom over rice shortage
As SUP, EFFL others announce mass rally to stage rice riot
By Lincoln G. Peters
Several Liberian and political pressure groups have threatened mass rallies and protest action against the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) government if President George M. Weah failed to arrest the current rice crisis in the country.
The group which includes Economic Freedom Fighters of Liberia (EFFL) and University of Liberia campus-based Vanguard Student Unification Party (SUP) say their move is being instigated by the president’s “callous and lethargic” tendency toward the ongoing crisis.
“The callous and lethargic tendency of President Weah’s government toward this crisis is not just a signal of administrative ineptitude but a gross demonstration of how the Liberian public administration has degenerated into the insolvency of carelessness and imbalances,” the group noted adding, “President Weah has once again shown our people how incompetent and incapable his government is in providing leadership.’’
According to the group, the current Liberian state is in disorder because of poor statecraft with incompetent human agencies of the highest order that lack the discipline, thought, and requisite knowledge to administer leadership in a third-world nation like Liberia.
The group further that it’s saddening that Liberians are currently buying a bag of 25kg rice for four thousand five hundred Liberian dollars, while a cup of rice is sold for one hundred and fifty Liberian dollars, something which the group describes as “first of its kind’’ in the country’s history.
EFFL and SUP also pointed out that the scarcity of and heightened increment in the price of rice is not only generating hardship for the people but has also condemned them to a shameful situation of sleeping on the street in long queues and jumping over fences and combating over who to be served first by the wholesalers.
It has been over three weeks since the situation of rice shortage evolved in the country and the inimitable increment in the price of the commodity hit the country. The government has failed to give attention to the situation to properly remedy the crisis but maintains that there is enough rice in the country.
But also addressing the situation at a press conference Tuesday, October 4, 2022, on the main Campus of the University of Liberia, SUP Chairman Mustapha N. Kanneh said that rice which is Liberia’s staple food is a commodity with a history in the country which led to social-political eruption because of past government’s inability to exercise decisive leadership.
“The rice riot of April 14 1979 is a classic historical account that any serious government should learn from. Again, we are seeing another rice crisis that has evolved in such a short time and the Weah regime has been unable to provide any feasible solution so far. Since the regime has played just lip service to this plight, the crisis is pushing the people along the line of forceful mass action with the government paying little or no heedfulness to the situation’’ Chairman Kanneh noted.
Meanwhile, speaking in an exclusive interview with this paper Tuesday, October 4, 2022, the Commander-in-chief of the Economic Freedom Fighter of Liberia Emmanuel Gonquoi termed the Ministry of information statement defending the availability of rice in the country as shameful, disgusting, ridiculous and unrealistic.
He said that no government plays with the day-to-day economic survivability of its citizens mostly for Liberia which has record of war, and conflict about its staple food which is a serious political commodity.
“When you play with the economic survivability of the people, you embrace crisis, conflict. You cannot say we have food and then you put taskforce on the street. (But) the EFFL has always been in the vanguard for advocating for Liberian and we stand with SUP in their quest to end this situation through protest. We support the protest 100% and we will make sure that our people’s needs are met’’ he noted.
Commenting on the peace and stability of Liberia, he disclosed that once the government takes food from the people’s mouths that means they don’t appreciate the peace because they have failed to address food security, and stability. Therefore, the citizens don’t respect it also.
‘” We don’t have peace in Liberia. What we have in Liberia is a moment of silence. The government should stop and desist from playing politics with the survival of the state. The survivability and peace of the country surely depend on the availability of food on the market, mostly the country staple’’ Gonquoi concluded.
Using rice, the nation’s stable food to capitalize on as a political tool to elected and or appointed power is a shame. This should no longer be permitted in Liberia’s democracy. If rice is necessary to the Liberian food chain, why are we not producing enough to feed ourselves? Why are we depending on those born in the capital city to import foreign rice? What are farmers who have bulk of the farmland in the interior not producing food that will substitute rice to compensate sale time to the Liberian market by vessels docking at the only main Seaport? Looks like the native has forgotten his style of life and the type of food comparable to a civilized way relying on grains from abroad. We will crush all political rice riots to cause pallet politics in this nation again. If you cannot wait until the good rice comes for the Liberian people to eat healthy rice, you eat the one on stock or go in the natives and help grow rice on the farms. We have no time for using rice as your style to win votes, as was done by past reboes and dictators. Cut this off now!