Capitol Hill in Central Monrovia will, on today Monday, occasion President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf’s Annual Message or State of the Nation address. Her Message to the Joint Session of Liberia’s 53rd Legislature is in consonance with Article 58 of the 1986 Liberian Constitution, which, among others, mandates Her to present the administration’s Annual Report on the nation’s state of affairs, as well as Legislative agenda on the fourth working Monday in January of each year for the next session.
The President’s presentation to the Legislature will cover every facet of the nation’s security, socio-economic and political existence for the past year, as well as the achievement and challenges characterizing its state of affairs and prospects for national renewal and progress.
Among the foregoing issues, national security and the economy, which is the bedrock for national development, may top President Sirleaf’s State of the Nation Address.
The ability and capacity of the Liberian Government, in terms of its preparedness, to ensure national security at all levels of the country’s existence upon the June draw-down of the United Nations Mission in Liberia or UNMIL is expected to dominate the issue of national security, while the state of the economy as it relates to its crumbling condition for the last twelve months, resulting to another shortfall of US$70 million, and how she intends to over-turn such in 2016, may take much of her time before the Legislature.
Regarding health and education, expectations are that the President will dwell much on new interventions and policies already formulated in partnership with national and international stakeholders to restore both systems than the practical impact of the administration’s desire; of course, the troubling Liberian economy may be presented as an attributing factor for such inability to improve both systems, but she may express her administration’s recommitment to improving the two systems before her last State of the Nation Address on the fourth working Monday of January 2017.
Not much of President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf’s Annual Message on the issue of efforts against corruption for the past twelve months is expected to attract the admiration of her audience, especially ‘ordinary’ Liberians who would be listening today, considering the fact that not much may have been achieved in the administration’s fight against corruption.
In her January 2015 address to the Legislature, the Liberian Leader named lack of systems, institutions, policies and strategies, poor compensation survival due to deep rooted poverty which characterized all three branches of Government and the nation as a whole as the root causes of this threat.
But whether or not these have been practically overcome or minimized by the administration since then, the Liberian Chief Executive may, perhaps, repeat last year’s progress report by mentioning the establishment of integrity institutions such as the General Auditing Commission, Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission, Public Procurement and Concessions Commission, Internal Audit Agency and Liberia Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative, as well as developing the systems and improving the level of compensation for all public servants at all levels, in addressing these deficiencies.
No doubt, this year’s State of the Nation Address by the President would be inconclusive if the tremendous strides toward the administration’s development programs in 2015 to include energy/power, water, roads, as well as housing, among others, and efforts in completing such programs/projects were not mentioned, among other issues to feature in today’s Annual Message.
However, to overcome the challenges which may have strangulated the government’s progress in 2015, as well as prevent recurrence and ensure a high degree of achievements in 2016, President Sirleaf is expected to rally the support of Members of the Legislature and Judiciary.
But again, such support will greatly depend on the highest degree of commitment, patriotism, respect for rule of law, as well as fiscal discipline on the part of members of these national institutions, if this administration must end on ‘good notes’ in the eyes of the general citizenry.