The ‘rich-land-poor country’ phenomenon
President George Manneh Weah struck a salient point during his recent state visit to Paris, France when he noted in his remarks that Liberia’s ‘rich-land but poor country’ phenomenon is the result of mismanagement of our natural resources.
He blames failure of previous leaders to exploit the natural resources for the empowerment of all Liberians, rather than benefiting a select few. Absolutely, we agreed with the President that mismanagement and prioritizing a select few over the majority has been the sad state of our governing system, which has really hurt us as a nation.
For too long, leadership or governance in Liberia has been about Me, Mine, and Myself or immediate relatives and cronies at the detriment of the masses, who barely survive on the fringes of society.
And so after 170 years of independence and national leadership interrupted by 14 years of bloody civil war, development and growth have remained an illusion primarily because of lip-service by our national leaders.
Basic services such as health, education, infrastructure, especially roads are in shamble so much so that a country of 43,000 square miles with a population of less than 5 million is hardly accessible by road, restricting inland movement to one weather season.
No serious economy can thrive in such environment where electricity and safe-drinking water still remain a luxury than a necessity. Then comes the question, how had our governance system been over the past nearly two centuries?
But we hasten to remind President Weah that there is a big difference between saying and doing or acting. It is easy to criticize past administrations, but designing realistic programs that would take us there is another thing. This administration may acknowledge the problems. However, mustering political will in the face of competing priorities could short cut or divert the vision.
President Weah should do everything humanly possible to truly practicalize his Pro-poor Agenda for the people of Liberia. He has no choice, but to deliver accordingly. Lest the President should forget, the power he wields today was delivered at the ballot box largely by the youth, slum dwellers in and around Monrovia and villagers across the country, who believe in him. He should not and must not disappoint them.
If the Weah Administration can construct the super highway it envisages to connect southeast Liberia to the rest of the country, modernize the JFK Medical Center, improve the welfare of our security forces, while putting the young people to work thru a national agriculture program, among others, it would have won for itself a second term in office even before 2024.