“LIBERIA ON AUTOPILOT” JOSEPH BOIKAI
Monrovia, 17 November 2022 (Dailywatch) – Former Liberian Vice President Joseph Boikai told a press conference in Monrovia on November 16, 2022, that the country is on autopilot and lacks direction “because there is no trusted leadership to move the nation in the transformative direction that it deserves.”
“Fellow Liberians:On the heels of critical national events and continued hardship being suffered by the Liberian people around the country, such as the rice shortage and the poor process of conducting our National Census, we continue to witness other acts of poor leadership, irresponsible behavior, lack of concern, impunity and wanton misuse of our finances on the part of the President in the midst of hardship on our people. As I speak to you, President Weah has left the country and will be away for the next seven weeks without any tangible explanation to the Liberian people for such a long stay abroad, visiting countries and meetings to which other government officials could have represented the country.” Joseph Boiakai told journalists.
The former Vice President said it is needless to say that the long stay away of President George Weah from the country with no tangible reason is unprecedented in the history of the Liberian presidency.
“Of course, we are aware that president Weah’s presence and absence are the same, but at least with minimum effect on our financial resources. So, it is fair to say that Liberia continues to drift like a rudderless ship on open seas without a captain.Fellow Citizens, Liberia’s major problem right now is the lack of leadership.” Joseph Boikai said.
Vice President Boikai noted that the Census process has been marred by controversies, characterized by outright corruption and lack of well-defined policies.
“Recently, we witnessed the hauling and pulling in a saga of stealing of money intended for the Census by corrupt officials at the Liberia Institute for Statistics and Geo-Information Services (LISGIS), the government agency responsible for collecting national data and conducting the National Census. Imagine the Census, which by law must be conducted every ten years, has not been conducted since 2008. The census should have been conducted in 2018, but the Weah/CDC-led government was not prepared to do so, and seem not prepared for it to be done. After many delays, the National Census was scheduled to begin last Friday, November 11, 2022, a day that was declared a national holiday.” Joseph Boikai noted.
The opposition leader even doubt the capacity of the current leadership of LISGIS to conduct a feasible census.
“At least two important questions come to mind: (1) Is LISGIS really ready to conduct a comprehensive National Census?(2) Are the Cdcian staff who were hurriedly recruited and claimed trained able to efficiently and effectively collect the critical national data needed to set benchmarks and policies that will transform the development of the country?Fellow Citizens, the haphazard partisan training, which was also marred by dissatisfaction, demonstrations and protests across the nation, points to the fact that the CDC-led Government has not realized the seriousness and critical nature of our National Census, as without these realistic empirical data, all planning for the country will be based on falsehood lacking the basis to make critical national developmental decisions. It is not surprising that before the actual counting of citizens begins, it is already allegedly reported on the eve of the Census that the Deputy Director-General for Statistics and Data-Processing of LISGIS, G. Alex M. Williams, (now dismissed) has predicted that the National Census exercise will be a ‘flop,’ and a banner headline on one of our local newspapers has screamed out: Enumerators to boycott census.” He said.
Joseph Boikai believes that others like Samuel TWEH as well as the Board Chair of LISGIS should also be punished.
“The question then is, what action does the president contemplate against the Board Chair of LISGIS, Finance Minister Samuel Tweh and others implicated in this census saga? Was it not the advice of Mr. Tweh to the President that everything about the census was on course that prompted the declaration, by the President, of a Census Holiday on Friday, November 11, 2022? So, what are we to believe here, that the President is serious? Certainly not!Because the acts of gross mismanagement and unaccountability of budgetary funds at LISGIS, I believe such corrupt acts have undermined the process that is very crucial to the nation and to our partners for national development purposes.” Joseph Boika said.
He said he doubts that the process of counting citizens around the country will be done efficiently, we want to encourage citizens to cooperate when it happens that they can be counted. Let’s us remember that ‘two wrongs cannot make a right.’
He then called on Liberians in general to participate in the census as it is their patriotic duties to so for the great interest of Liberia.
“For participating in the census is a patriotic duty! But let me add that the dismissed officials and all persons associated with fraudulent acts be immediately prosecuted and held accountable for funds misused. Fellow Citizens, despite my call to you to participate in the census process, that does not mean we will continue to tolerate the carelessness, heedlessness and dishonesty that is associated with this CDC-led government. In fact, we should be critical as often as possible, of the poor leadership qualities of President Weah and other government officials, which are returning our country to a pariah, failed state. Today, we therefore want to categorically denounce, condemn, decry, and deplore the haphazard manner in which the Weah Administration is handling the affairs of the State, especially his government’s disregard of the rights of the people of Liberia to be rightly and correctly informed on matters that affect their lives; and on matters of presidential actions, which include travels of the president with unusually large and unprecedented entourage that is costing the Liberian taxpayers millions of dollars, which could have otherwise be used for development projects and basic social services.” Boikai told journalists.
According to the former Vice-president of Liberia, the attitude of President Weah was the ingredient for the 14 years of civil war.
“My dear citizens, we are a post war country. In the name of democracy, thousands of innocent Liberians and foreign lives were lost in Liberia’s successive wars that shocked the world. Reasons provided by leaders of our insurgencies as justifications were bad governance, corruption, misuse of public office, and in the case of the military government, its failure to properly organize and preside over free and fair democratic elections in 1985. Today, we are threatened by the same reasons that were used by insurgents to destroy our country. As responsible citizens, we will not fold our arms and allow an irresponsible Government to invite another crisis to Liberia. Not only did the fourteen (14) year civil war destroy innocent and valuable lives. Liberians were degraded, homes and farms were destroyed, families were scattered and condemned to hopelessness, Liberians were displaced at home and abroad, and Liberia was made miserable. These are all history that is known to all. But because of our very history and sad national experience, it had been expected that post war governments would be mindful of the need to work hard and improve the living conditions of Liberians.” Boikai said.