President George Weah is bitterly upset here over public criticisms against two separate loans financing agreements the Government of Liberia signed with two private foreign institutions, totaling about US$1 Billion for road projects across Liberia.
The government also signed a Mineral Development Agreement with Hummingbird Resources-Liberia to develop gold resources in Sinoe, Grand Kru, River Gee and Maryland Counties, respectively.
Liberians are voicing apprehension, and rightly so, that a government that has barely spent six months in office would borrow US$1 Billion from private foreign institutions with interest rate as high as 15 percent to build roads. They are particularly concern that lawmakers on Capitol Hill speedily ratified these loans in just two days when dozens of concessions signed by the 53rd Legislature were clouded with serious flaws, and many of them had to be renegotiated.
But speaking at a welcome ceremony organized by local authorities on Sunday, 10 June in Gbarnga, Bong County as part of a two-day tour of Bong and Nimba, President Weah rather frustratingly roared, “I don’t know what Liberians want. I told them that if you elect me, I will build the roads. I am trying to build the roads; they are criticizing me. From 1847 to 2018, we Liberians still don’t know want we want; I you don’t want roads and god health system, let me know.”
By his assertion, President Weah seems to be implying that just because the government wants to undertake development to meet campaign promises, citizens should ignore questionable borrowings that are obligating current and future generation.
With all due respect to the President, Liberians have a right to make their government to account how it is conducting the state of affairs. And this is just what they are doing regarding the loan financing agreements. Who are the financing institutions? What are their past records, and how would they deliver these loans to finance the roads; Are there no vested interests or wouldn’t there be conflict of interest, involving government officials organizing companies to execute road projects that they should supervising, as was experienced in the past?
President Weah should exercise tolerance in the governing process rather than expressing frustration over citizens’ criticisms. Criticism, whether positive or negative, are necessary for the public space. It strengthens governance.
Government should provide adequate education about its policies and programs to keep citizens abreast instead of getting angry or frustrated, as the President sounded in Gbarnga early this week. They want to know the details.
Rather than getting annoyed, President Weah and the relevant government institutions should educate the public on not only loans being secured, but developmental policies geared at bettering lives of the citizenry.
When the people are in doubt, like in this case, they would always raise concerns, which should be legitimately addressed because they signed a social contract with the ruling administration at the ballot box, entrusting their peace and happiness to the government of the day.