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-Under Boakai-Koung administration  

By Jerromie S. Walters

As the norm has played from administration to administration in Liberia, electorate either maintain a specific government untill the climax of its constitutional terms, considering its impact, or be replaced because of their (citizens) unwillingness to tolerate its (government) weaknesses. Almost everywhere in the world, the perpetual existence of the opposition serves as a solid hindrance to the continuation of a one term government, as they(Opposition) often use the sitting government’s weaknesses to heighten the masses’ anger.

This was clearly demonstrated in the recent elections, as the Unity Party (UP), vehemently echoed the consequences of drugs that continue to undermine the future of young Liberians, massive corruption, mysterious killings, unrealistic budgetary allocations and what they considered as extreme hardship the Weah-Taylor administration imposed on the people of Liberia.

Impressively for them, those pressing issues they flagged were overwhelmingly embraced by the electorate, as they voted against the incumbent in their majority, in a quest for rescue. This was because the various issues were visible and they saw the UP as the best alternative, especially during the runoff election. Notwithstanding, not much is needed to remind the Unity Party (UP) that Liberians are eagerly anticipating appropriate remedies to the different challenges they believe the CDC government failed to address.

One of the primary concerns that citizens expect the newly elected government to address is the rampant proliferation of drug the country is confronted with. Though efforts, including the passage and signing of the none-bailable drug law and other commitments by the outgoing government, drug remains acritical issue to Liberians. Not just Liberians being aware of this, they were repeatedly reminded by the Unity Party that the outgoing government didn’t do much to address the issue.

The name of the terrible substance, “KUSH” was widely emphasized by the UP during the campaign, as they attributed the spread of the substance to the government and it’s inability to curb the situation. At a press conference Thursday, October 19, 2023- Amb. Joseph Nyuma Boakai, assured Liberians that the Unity Party (UP) administration will do all it can to curb the proliferation of “Kush” in Liberia. Kush is a harmful substance that continue to undermine the progress of hundreds of young Liberians. The substance is speedily increasing across Liberia, and its effects have been seen through the multiplicity of ways it has treated its end users, especially young folks (at-risk youth and home children), through maltreatment, madness, and death. 

Hundreds of young Liberians are indescribably falling prey to the dreadful hands of the narcotic substance that’s also known as K2, which often treats them like they are going mad. As the UP frowned at the proliferation of the substance, and blamed the George Weah administration, Liberians are anticipating a proper redress to the situation. The UP also accused officials of the George Weah administration of being involved with the importation of illegal substances that they have turned the future of many young Liberians in the mud. Like none other, it is expected of the UP to ensure that these issues are adequately addressed.

With this, Liberians also anticipate a comprehensive approach that includes stringent law enforcement, intelligence gathering, rehabilitation programs, and community engagement to combat drug trafficking, production, and abuse. Like drug, corruption has been a persistent problem that has eroded public trust in the government and hindered the country’s progress. As they newly elected government told Liberians that the outgoing leadership couldn’t fix the issues, they were recently entrusted to managethe affairs of the state for the next six years. 

It can be referenced that members of the Unity Party (UP) criticized the budgets of the outgoing government, with specific reference to allocation made for the office of the president, Vice President, the First Lady and other entities. With this, it is now upon the Unity Party (UP) to display the honesty in what they earlier preached or do the same. With this, they are expected to prioritize anti-corruption measures, including the establishment of robust accountability mechanisms, transparent governance practices, and strict enforcement of laws against corruption. Liberians demand a zero-tolerance approach, where no individual, regardless of their position or influence, is exempted from the consequences of their corrupt actions.

President George Manneh Weah, on 13, April, 2023, signed into law the National Budget for the 2023 fiscal year following its controversial passage by the National Legislature. On Monday, April 10, 2023, the President signed the budget of L$122,139,108,000.00, which is the same as US$782,943,000.00. This followed months of scrutiny, including public hearings. Both houses of the 54th National Legislature concurred and submitted the budget to the Office of the President for signature, even though a few lawmakers had some concerns about not having adequate time to digest the budget.

The 2023 National Budget accounts for three separate revenue envelopes, including tax revenue and non-tax revenue as well as external resources. Accordingly, the budget subsequently becomes law once printed into handbills. Following the passage of the national budget for 2023 by the House of Representatives, Montserrado County District #4 Representative Rustulyn Suacoco Dennis and other lawmakers expressed dismay over what they termed the speedy passage of the budget and complained that they (lawmakers) are not always afforded the opportunity to digest the budget.

Howbeit, the budget might be revisited early next year by the Unity Party’s government.

This, like many know, will be tested in the recast budget comes January, as Liberians will be looking at Mr. Boakai’s first budget policy. They will obviously be looking forward to how it will concur with the issues he preached during his campaign.

As the control of the economic was one of Mr. Weah’s major challenges, Liberians are looking forward to the Economic policy of Mr. Boakai and how he intends to reflect it on the ordinary people. Arguably, the U.S. sanction placed on three of the CDC officials for Corruption, was a vivid testament of the government’s involvement with the political nightmare(Corruption). This  was also stressed by the UP as one of thereasons why the CDC government should have been voted out. With this, it is expected of them to deliver a corruption free state. 

Throughout the CDC six years, the Unity Party joined human rights campaigners to speak against the magnitude of mysterious deaths and secret killings Liberians experienced. These and many others were used to inform Liberians that the George Weah’s administration is incompetent and doesn’t mean well for the state.

As the ball is expected to land in UP’s court comes January, 2024, Liberians are anticipating a fair and independent judiciary is crucial for upholding the rule of law and ensuring justice prevails. Citizens expect the UP government to prioritize judicial reforms, including the appointment of competent and impartial judges, expediting the resolution of pending cases, and ensuring access to justice for all citizens. This is crucial as a transparent and efficient judiciary will not only restore public confidence but also deter individuals from engaging in illegal activities.

As the outgoing President said recently, the recent election demonstrated the level of division that exist in the state, and as many know, the end of this can only be seen through reconciliation.  In a recent opinion piece, a strong supporter of the Alternative National Congress (ANC) writes- “Half of the country voted for personal reasons, hurt by how CDC treated them or a family member- loss of jobs, threats, relegation, sidelining, cut salaries, cutting speech, no pay for months, etc. Majority of us in CPP were hurt by what UP did to us and our Political Leader too yet da y’all patriotic and we’re not? Why did y’all expect us to forgive UP even though they hurt us, but why y’all ain’t forgive CDC and their officials too?” 

She adds, “The fact is, the entire country voted for PERSONAL reasons. Period. It was not about no country. Just how you could never vote Weah because he dismissed your family member for example, I could never support JNB for testifying against Cummings; and for being the mastermind behind that bogus case. I suffered a personal loss during that period.” With this, there remains a crucial need for reconciliation.

As it has been portrayed on multiple occasions, the ideology of “Our time, your time” might play in the UP government, considering the current relationship that exist between they and the CDC.  This should be critically looked into to avoid discrimination amongst Liberians.

Boakai-Koung Manifesto

President elect Amb. Joseph Nyuma Boakai, entered the 2023, presidential race with a 5-Pillar Plan and 5-Area Agenda to rebuild Liberia. Concisely, it considers Microeconomic Stability and Infrastructural Development, with 10 thematic areas. The UP says it is committed to improving Economic and Financial Governance to Spur Economic Growth and Development. The second pillar considers Health, WASH, The Environment, and Climate Change, and it contains 5 thematic areas. This is also engulfed with their desire to promote Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries Development to Support Wealth Creation.

The third pillar of the UP agenda focuses on Human Capacity Development, with 3 thematic areas. This is enraged around promoting sustainable Job Creation and Ensure Job Security for the Employed. Pillar four of the UP Boakai  agenda dwells on Governance and Rule of Law, and it has 10 thematic areas. This also considers Improving Commerce and Industry to Support Indigenous Wealth Creation

In the fifth position, the former ruling party’s plans do LIberia considers Gender, Youth, Children, and Social Protection, and it has 5 thematic areas. This is also biased by their interest in developing Road & Bridge Infrastructures to Support Actors’ Participation in Economic Activities. The Rescue Team says it is prepared to

 and experienced to serve Liberians and under its 5-Pillar Plan and 5-Area, it considers Developing Road & Bridge Infrastructures to Support Actors’ Participation in Economic Activities.

More to this, is their interest in Developing Transportation Networks and Air and Sea Ports. The former ruling party through Mr. Boakai says it is willing if elected to Improve Nationwide Access to Information Communication Technology. Eighth of the 5-Pillar Plan and 5-Area is Prioritizing Energy Sector Development to Drive Economic Activities.

More to this, is the ninth area that focuses on Improving Mineral and Natural Resource Management, and the tenth area considers Promoting Culture and Tourism to Support Job Creation and Income Generation. Under Pillar 2: Health, WASH, The Environment, and Climate Change, the former Vice President is in the race with an assurance to Liberians that he will straighten Healthcare Delivery System, Mental Healthcare Service, Water and Sanitation Service Provision, Development of a Healthy Environment, and Climate Change Mitigation Initiatives.

Under Pillar 3: Human Capacity Development, he has committed himself to 

Strengthening National Education System to Improve Education Outcome, ensuring Diversify and Promote Technical and Vocational Education Training, Improving Educational Systems Management and Governance. With regards to Governance and Rule of Law, the former Vice President has committed himself to Strengthening National Security to Ensure Access to Security and Safety for all Residents. 

This commitment also considers the Improving the Rule of Law and Ensure Access to Justice for all Residents, Strengthen Integrity Institutions and Ensure Accountability in Public Service, Prioritize Public Sector Development, and Strengthen Election Governance to Ensure Transparency and Integrity in the Electoral Process.

Mr. Boakai UP plan also highlights Enhancing Democratic Processes and Guarantee Human Rights, Promoting Peace and National Reconciliation to Create and Maintain a Harmonious Society, National Decentralization Process for Equitable Development, Engagement with the National Legislature with a Clearly Defined Legislative Agenda to Secure the Interest of our People, and Improving Foreign Relations and Strengthen Global Engagement.

With the climax recent election, Liberians have placed their hopes in the former ruling Unity Party that vehemently criticized the George Weah administration’s shortcomings, particularly regarding issues such as drugs proliferation, corruption, and more. As the new government takes office in January of next year, the expectations of Liberians are high, demanding swift and effective action to address these pressing concerns, especially those things they frowned upon during the George Weah’s administration will be addressed.

LIberians visited the polls Tuesday, November 14, 2023, in the presidential runoff election. Saturday’s consolidated results announced by the National Elections Commission (NEC), puts Amb. Boakai of the UP at 814,428 votes(50.64%), ahead of incumbent President George Weah who has 793,910 votes (49.36%). This covers 5,889 of 5,890 polling places from the recent runoff election.