Liberia: Liberians Have the Right to Know How Much Weah Spends on Foreign Trips
by S. Karweaye
The 44-year-old comedian-turned-politician has gallantly been leading the troops from the front against Russian forces. That is leadership. What we have in Liberia is however a contrast. President Weah must know that Liberians need him back home to fix the country and for the presidency to be transparent about the president’s foreign trips.
Liberians have been shocked by the news that President George Weah has requested additional 25 days to attend some important events to which he has been invited and have been asking him to disclose how much he is spending on his trip abroad, if indeed he truly sticks to his transparency promise to Liberians at the inception of his administration.
According to Liberia’s 2022 budget, Weah will spend US$1.6 million on his foreign travels this year. However, the President has already reached the number of total foreign trips made in the whole of 2022 and is likely to make more international trips before the year ends.
Currently, President Weah is on a 48-day international trip. Mr. Weah spent at least 30 days outside of Liberia — last November alone. Weah’s travel destinations within this period include; Morocco, Egypt, France, Qatar, and Monaco. On 13 December, President Weah will be attending the United States-Africa Leaders Summit at the invitation of the President of the United States of America Joe Biden.
It would be recalled that President Weah came back to the country on 26th September 2022 after 8 days in New York, the USA to participate in the 77th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA77). Mr. Weah was accompanied by Dee-Maxwell Saah Kemayah, Minister of Foreign Affairs; Samuel Tweah, Minister of Finance; Maritime Commissioner Lenn Eugene Nagbe; Wilhelmina S. Jallah, Minister of Health; Daniel Dee Ziankahn, Minister of National Defense; Ansu Dao Sonii, Minister of Education; Williametta Saydee Tarr, Minister of Gender; Dester Zeogar Wilson, Minister of Youth & Sports; Mawine G. Diggs, Minister of Commerce and Industry; Ledgerhood Rennie, Minister of Information; J. Fonati Koffa, Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives; Senator Zoe Emmanuel Pennue of Grand Gedeh County; Representative Frank Saah Foko of District #9 Montserrado County; Nyemadi D. Pearson, the Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Liberia; Comfort Sawyer, Deputy Minister for administration; Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Trokon Kpui, Minister of State without Portfolio; Sekou Kalasco Damaro, Presidential Aide; Nora Finda Bundoo, Chief of Protocol, Executive Mansion; Jefferson T. Koijee; Mayor, Monrovia; Pepci Yeke, Executive Director, Liberia Agency for Community Empowerment; among others.
Liberians have the right to know how much taxpayer money their president spent abroad. According to the Liberian Freedom of Information (FOI) Act, signed into law on September 16, 2010, every Liberian has a right to know from any public office holder any information they think they must have. So, the Presidency should provide a categorical answer to the question of Weah’s travel expenses abroad. This is a democracy and, in a democracy, there can be no opaqueness, everything must be clear and open.
If the money with which the President spent himself abroad did not come from his purse, then he is under obligation to disclose to Liberians how much he spent from our money on his foreign travels. Liberians want to know how much he has spent except if the money came directly from his pocket. If it was from the purse of the Republic of Liberia, then he is under obligation to disclose the cost of travel to Liberians.
President Weah should know that whenever you are presiding over a set of people, irrespective of how large or little they are, there is nothing as good as having very prudent housekeeping. That will add value to your credibility and transparency as regards the leadership role you are playing over such people. With the ‘ Hope for Change’ mantra, we expect things to be done differently and more transparently. We expect more openness in governance.
Truth be told, President Weah is globetrotting for minor engagements, and abandoning Liberia and its citizens has no economic benefits for his numerous foreign travels. These trips must stop as they are not exigent and are aimed at squandering taxpayers’ resources and for the President to find a phantom alibi for his monumental incompetence and rudderless political leadership style.
It is perplexing that the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) government prefers that civil servants remain unpaid while millions are spent on frivolous foreign trips by the President. It is reprehensible that the President can be junketing to many countries of the world during severe economic, educational, energy, and security crises in Liberia.
Liberia’s currency is bleeding, and Liberians are bleeding due to increasing rice, fuel, and other commodities prices. The epileptic power supply does not help matters. Weah should show leadership and not desert the people when his attention and presence are needed the most. Ukraine’s President, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, has not left the country since the invasion by Russia in February 2022.
The 44-year-old comedian-turned-politician has gallantly been leading the troops from the front against Russian forces. That is leadership. What we have in Liberia is however a contrast. President Weah must know that Liberians need him back home to fix the country and for the presidency to be transparent about the president’s foreign trips. I rest my case.
Source Daily Observer.