The political leader of the Vision for Liberia’s Transformation Party and an organizing member of the Rainbow Party comprising of 16 opposition parties, Dr. Jeremiah Whapoe has lashed out at President George Weah and his team for the manner in which they are handling the coronavirus crisis here.
Dr. Whapoe, noted that the attitude of President Weah and his officials toward the handling of the COVID-19 here leaves too many rooms for doubts in the minds of many that the virus is even in Liberia.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with this paper Monday June 8, the former presidential candidate in the 2017 election said he’s tempted to believe that there is no COVID-19 in Liberia.
“Do I agree there is COVID-19 ravaging lives around the world? Yes. Do I really agree COVID-19 is in Liberia? No,” Dr. Whapoe said, adding president Weah came up with a policy of social distancing but had since refused to be an example.
He narrated that for President Weah to have wined and dinedwith Justice Minister Frank Musa Dean, Information Minister Lenn Eugene Nagbe, the late Drugs Enforcement Agency boss who later died and Nagbe and Dean came down with virus but refused to be tested speaks volumes.
“The president was dinning with officials who allegedly contracted the virus but refused to be tested,” he noted saying “the government handling of COVID-19 has too much fallacy and doubts.”
Whapoe then ponders as to whether the virus can pick who to contract it, “because if you went to Redlight market, Waterside, Vai Town and other parts of the country where low incomers run for daily hustle you wonder whether the virus is actually in Liberia or is just the making of the government,” he said.
He applauded the Legislature for approving the US25 million stimulus package requested for by Mr. Weah but wonder what it is being used for because citizens are yet to benefit from any government relief.
According to him, even after the much trumpeted 25 million stimulus package promised by the Weah administration, Liberians are still left hanging to fan for themselves as the package is yet to come, while nurses at the 14 Military Hospital are planning a strike for not being paid for months.
Dr. Whapoeexpressed fears that the nation is collapsing under the watchful eyes of the Coalition for Democratic Change or CDC government, as the economy is now walloping in depression, while the price of the nation’s stable continues to skyrocket. He said is like Liberians are being left on their own without a responsible government.
He explained that worst of all, instead of Mr. Weah trying to rescue the nation from total collapse, he is engaged in running an egotistic campaign placing giant images of his on billboards around the city calling the Coronavirus-a Weah project. “This government has no plan for the Liberian people,” he noted.
President Weah on April 8, declared a State of Emergency (SOE) here with a subsequent passage into law of the SOE alongside a US$25 million stimulus package to ease the economic burden on vulnerable citizens during the period of the lockdown.
Since the passage of the SOE and the approval of the stimulus package by the Liberian National Legislature, Liberians are yet to receive any relief items from the Weah Government. Over the weekend Government announced that the SOE may not be renewed, meaning the country is expected to reopen. But questions still remain as to what happened to the USD 25 million stimulus package.
According to Dr. Whapoe, it is shameful that the government would announced such a stimulus package and could not even provide incentives for health workers or say buy PPEs. “What are they using the money for, we don’t know. This government has not given one PPE to anybody,” the former presidential aspirant opined.
It could be recalled that on April 14, President Weah in his letter to the lawmakers, appealed for re-appropriation of US$25m from the remaining 2019/2020 national budget of US$526m, to enable the government to undertake such a task to battle the deadly COVID-19.
According to President Weah, the stimulus package became necessary after preliminary economic impact assessment showed that the government has seen a 50 percent drop in projected revenue as business slowdown leading to revenue decline induced by the COVID-19 to be more than $32 million, or more than one percent of GDP, for the remainder of FY 2019/20.
“The State of Emergency has imposed necessary economic costs on Liberians and the broader economy to achieve public health and a public safety objective. Depending on the course of events in the coming weeks and months, even our constitutional electoral processes may be impacted, an outcome that would require due consideration from your Honorable selves,” President Weah said in his communication.
By E. Nathaniel Daygbor