30 January 2018

Liberia: 'Follow My Lead'

In his first State of the Nation Address as 24th President of Liberia, Ambassador George Manneh Weah defied all odds and trekked the hard-political grounds his predecessors dilly-dallied to act upon.

Against the background of a very terrifying and troubling economy, President Weah Monday announced with immediate effect the reduction of his salary and benefits by 25%, and urged lawmakers to follow his footsteps.

A small country and the 5th poorest nation in the World, Liberia pays its lawmakers huge salary as well provides other astronomical benefits while some citizens live on less than 2 dollars according to various reports.

Calling on lawmakers who by law set their own salaries and the salaries of the president and the vice president is a political non-go zone.

Senator Oscar Cooper (Margibi) fought alone in calling on his colleagues to consider the reduction of their salaries. He was threatened with punitive actions for seeking the interest and wellbeing of Liberians.

But President Weah who came to power on the pedestals of removing Liberians out of poverty braved the storm to demand lawmakers to follow his footsteps by reducing their salaries and benefits.

Liberians legislators make over US10,000 along with other allowances while ordinary citizens struggle for a daily meal.

"With the assessment I gave you earlier on the poor condition our economy, I believe that it is appropriate that we should all make sacrifices in the interest of our dear country. The salaries of the president and the vice president are established by the legislature and they cannot be increased or reduced during the period for which they were elected. However, in view of the rapidly deteriorating situation of the economy, I am informing today that with immediate effect, that I will reduce my salary and benefits by 25% and give the proceeds back to the Consolidated fund for allocation and appropriation as they see fit," President Weah announced to the admiration of Liberians in the Chambers.

In a speech he was not at his best apparently because of fatigue, having returned home Sunday evening from Addis Ababa, the President struck a core that is likely to face resistance or not adhere to by lawmakers.

"In the meantime, I will urge you, Honorable distinguished ladies and gentlemen, to follow my lead in the interest of our constituents," he pleaded.

Not many African leaders take pleasure in reducing their incomes as they are seen as the reasons for coming government, the largest employer the world over.

Apart from calling on lawmakers to see need in reducing their salaries, the Liberian leader used to time to remind them of their respective commitments to the people of Liberia.

"Let us all remember that we were elected to serve the Liberian people and not to be masters of them," he said.

The president also urged lawmakers to exert their best efforts as leaders so that "in the cause of the people, the struggle is ended."


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