President George Manneh Weah is still being bombarded by public criticisms against his 2nd Annual Message delivered before the 54th Legislature on Monday, with the latest reaction coming from the campus-based Vanguard Student Unification Party or SUP, at the University of Liberia, terming the President’s address as a deceit to the suffering masses.
SUP Chairman Carlos Tingban Edison says the poorly scripted and jumble speech delivered by President Weah is not only a deceit, but an affront to prevailing economic hardship citizens are faced with in the country.
Addressing a news conference at the party head office on the campus of the university on Wednesday, 30th January Chairman Edison laments that under the Weah-led government, youth unemployment is high, noting that partisan identification card is now the primary qualification required for employment in the country, thereby depriving professionally qualified and competent Liberians opportunity to contribute to the growth and development of the State.
“In the midst of these things, President Weah refused to inform the citizens about his plans to tackle the collapsing economy of the nation; this is a clear demonstration that the President is running a government that is eclipsed by innovation scarcity.”
According to him, President Weah had promised to move Liberians from being spectators of their economy to the position of full players, but sadly, he notes, Liberians have now become watchmen of their own economy while the President and his foreign friends to milk the wealth of the nation.
Relations between SUP and the government have not been rosy in the past several months with persistent criticism from the student party leadership, which was greeted by suspension of student politics at the University of Liberia and in all public universities and colleges across the country, imposed by the UL Administration.
The suspension has been greeted with condemnations and calls for it to be lifted immediately.
Minutes after President George Manneh Weah delivered his address Monday, 28 January to members of the 54th Legislature, four collaborating opposition political parties here branded the President’s Annual Message as a “waste of time.”
Speaking at the headquarters of the opposition Liberty Party in Monrovia, immediately after the President’s address, the national chairman of the former ruling Unity Party Wilmot Paye said the address portrays Liberia, a country whose economy is already in free fall, as being “better”, saying “obviously, the President just does not care about how many of you sleep hungry, how many Liberians are barely surviving, and how grim the prospects are for this economy to recover in the foreseeable future.”
“The President and his officials have destroyed whatever was left of the economy after the Ebola crisis. Yet, while you waited to hear some meaningful policy prescriptions for resuscitating the bleeding economy, he said nothing substantive to rekindle our hopes, reassure businesses, ensure investor’s confidence, and once more regain the respect of Liberia’s bilateral and multilateral partners. This is what a serious leader would do in difficult times,” the parties said in a joint statement.
Chairman Edison notes that Liberia remains the only country in the ECOWAS region that is spending less than 20 percent of its national budget on education.
He says the government’s commitment to upgrade the education sector is a complete lip-service as the personal budget of the President and his Vice President, including the Legislature are far bigger than the total budget for education.
SUP stresses that investment in education is very low, pointing to lack of qualified staff and a student loan bill still laying under dusty files at the National Legislature.
Chairman Edison says SUP believes President Weah’s pronouncement on tuition-freed education for undergraduates in all public universities and colleges is a mere publicity stunt, as it lacks sustainability plan.
The party laments during the President’s first year in office, his government demonstrated nothing substantive to improve the livelihood of citizens.
Edison further observes since the inception of the CDC-led government, rape cases and sexual based violence cases have increased in the country, including the Moore Than Me sex scandal and other abuses that have led to death of women and teenagers across Liberia, noting that sadly, President Weah did not say a word on these human rights abuses in his Annual Message.
By Lewis S. Teh –Editing by Jonathan Browne