(Globe Afrique) Henry Costa, the fearless political fire breathing talk show host of the Costa Show, has called all opposition political parties in Liberia to assemble for a mass protest against President George Weah of Liberia.
Costa’s call for a massive rally arises from, what he sees as gross incompetence, ineptitude, massive corruption, and a disregard for Liberia’s Constitution and democratic principles, by the Weah administration.
The proverbial “straw that broke the camel’s back” comes from a fishing accord signed between the Republic of Liberia and the Republic of Senegal. The accord grants Senegal around 300 licenses per year to fish and “exploit” Liberia’s territorial waters. The key underlying issues leading to calls for a mass protests come from other issues the radio hosts have repeatedly cited on his critical talk show.
Some of the most glaring issues include President Weah’s allegedly shady dealings with businesspeople who were either arrested or banned from doing business in their home country. While President Weah promised Liberians would no longer be “spectators” in their country, according to Costa, the president’s rhetoric does not match reality.
On the January 30th broadcast of the Costa Show, Henry Costa listed instances of President Weah giving contracts (outside of Liberia’s procurement laws) to Ghanaians, Sierra Leonians, Senegalese, and shady Lebanese business people. People whose countries would never reciprocate the same privilege to Liberian-owned businesses.
George Weah, the former footballer, now turned politician, has launched one of the most radical socio-economic experiments in Liberia. An experiment that flies in the face of conventional nation-building norms. Weah and his supporters have argued that when it comes to running a government, formal learning or being “bookish” is less important than other qualities including vertical experience and leadership.
Weah argues that the educated class of the past are to be blamed for rampant corruption, failure to create jobs, failure to rebuild the economy, the education and healthcare sectors and deliver much needed social services. Hence, President Weah has installed a host of inexperienced and in some instances, less-educated civil servants to run several key institutions and the capital Monrovia.
Liberia, a country of around 4.7 million people located on the West Coast of Africa, has been plagued with wars, Ebola, corruption and a culture of impunity. During his campaign, Weah promised a “Change for Hope” but couldn’t explain what the change would look like if he were to become president.
As an opposition leader, Weah’s political party, the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC), opposed former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf’s relentlessly. The CDC criticized President Sirleaf’s reliance on foreign aid, extensive travels, and hiring of her sons and friends to every key position in Liberia.
Today, according to the Costa Show, in his first year as President of Liberia, Weah’s administration has been riddled and damaged by some of the biggest scandals in all of Africa. The Central Bank of Liberia is allegedly linked to illegally printing the country’s currency and being implicit in the disappearance of around LRD$16 billion. Thus, leading to a significant devaluation of the Liberian dollar from 120.78 to 157.98.
President Weah’s attempt to correct this scandal led to another scandal where it is alleged that the finance minister, Samuel Tweah, took on the role of the Central Bank of Liberia and set out to buy-back excess Liberian dollars from an unregulated group of money changers. When asked by Mr. Costa to provide a list of money changers who participated in selling their excess Liberia dollars back to the government – the Ministry of Finance has either refused to provide the list or can’t seem to locate the money changers.
Weah’s administration has been embarrassed in the international community by multiple financial deals that turned out to be fraudulent and shams. The Government of Liberia’s attempt to borrow nearly $1 billion for road projects and the speedy ratification by the administration turned out to be an embarrassment when it was discovered that Eton Finance and Ebomaf weren’t legit entities with the wherewithal to consummate the deal. Still, the government hasn’t offered a repeal of the agreements.
Weah’s failure to declare and make public his assets and his immediate purchases of land and investments in over a dozen new homes have sparked cries of corruption.
Costa promises to “go after” all political parties if they continue to remain silent while President Weah plunders the country and make one bad deal after another that will hurt ordinary citizens.
While no protest date has been published, the one thing that’s on the mind of all Liberians is, will the opposition parties participate in Mr. Costa’s call for a mass protest to force the government to “do the right thing?”