MONROVIA-In adherence to Article 58 of the Constitution of Liberia, President George M. Weah is expected to address Liberians, next Monday, January 30, 2023 on the status affairs of the country.
Article 58 of the 1986 Constitution mandates the President of Liberia to, on the fourth working, Monday in January of each year present the Legislative Program of the Administration for the ensuing session, and report on the State of affairs of the Republic, covering the economic condition of the Nation, including expenditure, security, and income.
This year, the State of the Nation Address (SONA) did not hold on January 23, 2023 because the first of January fell on Sunday, thus forcing the government to announce the celebration of New Year to Monday since the holiday fell on Sunday to be observed as a national holiday.
From the such calculation, the fourth working Monday of January 2023 will be on the 30of of January, the day Liberians both at home and abroad will once again be glued to their radios and any medium of communication to listen to their leader as he addresses the final state of the nation in his first term as head of the Liberian government.
As the President makes preparations to deliver his last SONA in his first term, much is expected from him; Liberians will be looking for some of those things he has done well.
Like former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, it is expected that President Weah will announce that he will be a formidable force in the 2023 Presidential and Legislative Elections.
It is also expected that the President is going to speak on the road connectivity his administration has embarked on, taking into consideration the ongoing Roberts International highway road construction.
The Government of Liberia made efforts in fighting COVID-19, constructing health centers such as the one hundred bedrooms hospital in Gbarpolu County, and provision of scholarships to teachers and health workers.
In addition, Liberians are hopeful that their leader will speak about new companies coming to the country or renewing concession agreements of other companies such as AML, HPS, and Western Cluster among others.
It is also expected that the President will speak to the recent security threats which saw the confiscation of million of dollars worth of drugs and the seizure of some arms from the Free Port of Monrovia and the Armed Forces of Liberia efforts in fighting terrorism in the African region.
Another thing that will be said very clearly is President Weah’s meeting with the 46 President of the United States of America, Joe Biden.
During last year’s SONA, President Weah spoke to the satisfaction of the ordinary Liberians considerably and they were joyful of his presentation.
Some of the things that he spoke about during last year’s SONA were the level of work done by the Liberian Legislature.
He told the lawmakers, “During the period under review, our collaborative efforts have resulted in your passage, and subsequent approval by me, of twenty-three (23) pieces of legislation, which include financing agreements, creation of regional universities, and ratification of international instruments, amongst others.”
He added, “While I applaud you for your hard work, I want to respectfully remind you that there are still thirty-five (35) pieces of legislation which are pending before you, eight (8) of them from your Third Session of 2020, and twenty-seven (27) of them from your Fourth Session of 2021.
Many of these proposed laws have important significance to strengthening our governance and judiciary systems, as well as our relationships within our sub-region.”
Last year, the Liberian leader recognized the efforts of the Supreme Court of Liberia for its opinion on certain provisions of the Alien and Nationality Law of Liberia.
He said, “We, therefore, would like to commend the Honorable Supreme Court for its Opinion handed down on the Twenty-Third of December 2019, which found that certain provisions of the Alien and Nationality Law are inconsistent with the Constitution of Liberia.”
That was one of the things that brought happiness to the President because he long wished for such.
President Weah added in his last year’s SONA, “For instance, the current Alien and Nationality Law provides that a natural-born Liberian citizen automatically loses his or her citizenship, without any due process of law in a court in Liberia, upon taking up citizenship of another country or acting in some capacity for that country.”
He said the law undermines their quest for unity amongst all Liberians everywhere! “Therefore, as we celebrate the Bicentennial anniversary of the founding of our country, I want to call on the Honorable Members of this 54th Legislature, in particular the Liberian Senate, to consider passage of the Bill currently before you, which seeks to codify the Opinion of the Honorable Supreme Court and make it more true that … “once a Liberian – always a Liberian.”
He did not forget the young people in his message. As part of his last year’s address, the Liberian leader said, “The young people of Liberia have already gone through quite a lot. While many have advanced to the next stage of their lives, others need our push. Amongst the many programs we have initiated to improve living conditions for young people is the Youth Entrepreneurship and Empowerment Program (YEEP), a $2.4 million US dollar initiative funded by the African Development Bank, to get graduating students work-ready.”
He then informed the lawmakers and those who have gone to listen to the SONA that his administration was implementing the Entrepreneurship Development program; the Liberian Employment and Entrepreneurship Program (LEEP) and the recently launched Recovery of Economic Activities for Liberia Informal Sector Employment (REALISE), which will provide short-term employment opportunities to a much wider demographic, including young people.
“The government also wholly sponsors a National Youth Literacy program and a National Cadet Program. The Monrovia Vocational Training Center (MVTC) continues to provide vocational and technical skills to youths of diverse backgrounds. The Center offers a variety of training courses, including Heavy Duty and Auto Mechanic; Welding & Fabrication; Auto Electricity and Electricity; Electronics; Refrigeration & Air Condition; Masonry, Plumbing, Architectural Drafting, Carpentry; and Graphic Arts” he said in his then message.
He also spoke of the additional 26 million Euros provided European Union (EU) to cover the cost of establishing state-of-the-art TVET schools in the rest of the 8 Counties that do not have them.
“This is in fulfillment of our vision to have TVET Institutions in all 15 Counties. These initiatives are targeted at all Liberian youth, regardless of which county they may reside in.”
Results from the plans and pronouncement by President Weah during his 2022 SONA are expected this year.
The President will again be telling Liberians where his administration performed well, and what the prospects of the nation are among others.
The government worked with the Liberian Legislature to limit tax waivers or tax expenditures, which in the last three years alone have cost us more than $300 million U.S. dollars. While duty-free privileges and incentives are important to spur development.
“I believe that, as a country, we have been too generous with these instruments and must now begin to take a more conservative approach”
List of what the president reported in last year’s SONA
We participated in and addressed the Generation Equality Forum convened in Paris, France in June of the reporting year.
We also attended, and addressed, the 26th UN Climate Conference (COP26), which was convened in Glasgow, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, where we made a proposal for the establishment of a new African Carbon Credit Exchange.
We also participated in the 4th Edition of the Paris Peace Forum in November 2021 to tackle global problems and strengthen multilateral cooperation and collective action for a peaceful world.
While also in Paris, we attended the occasion marking the 75th Anniversary of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and addressed the 41st Session of the High-Level segment of the General Conference.
Pursuant to our strong commitment to peace, security, stability, and democracy, particularly in the Mano River Basin, with special emphasis on the political situation in the Republic of Guinea, Liberia took the initiative to invite our neighboring Sister Republics – Côte d’Ivoire and Sierra Leone – to convene the “Mano River Union Diplomatic, Peace, Security and Democracy Conference”, which was held at Farmington Hotel in Margibi County in November 2021. The conference was termed as very successful by the delegates and international participants, who praised it as the first such peace initiative undertaken by the Mano River Union for over four years