Monrovia, Liberia: President, Dr. George Manneh Weah, has just eloquently peddled Liberia’s flagship development framework, “the Pro-Poor Agenda for Development and Prosperity” with hundreds of world leaders and representatives from nongovernmental organizations looking on.
He underscored determined efforts by his government aimed at uplifting the people of Liberia from the claws of poverty to the bright days of prosperity and happiness.
Speaking on Wednesday at the 73rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, United States of America, the Liberian leader outlined government’s plans for national renaissance.
He said the wellbeing of the Liberian people, coupled with the transformation of the state, is a monumental priority for his government, as articulated in the Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development.
The President acknowledged the enormity of the mantle leadership he assumed about eight months ago, but said he was determined to deliver on the mandate given him by the Liberian people.
He declared: “The challenges of leadership are enormous, but I see opportunities to make things better and to bring permanent improvements to the lives of all Liberians, as we devise policies and programs that will have a lasting and positive impact on the lives of our citizens.”
The Liberian leader used his UNGA address to portray the positive image of Liberia and Government’s pro-poor agenda, which he noted is not only an agenda for the poor, but also for the benefit of all Liberians.
“It is a policy framework that gives priority to the alleviation of poverty, with the core objective and focus to reduce the marginalization of the most vulnerable, whilst at the same time creating a conducive atmosphere for the middle and upper income Liberians to grow and prosper,” President Weah assured his audience.
“We want to build a harmonious society, based on the goal of economic empowerment, especially for the underprivileged. Our Pro-Poor Agenda is therefore designed to give power to the people, promote economic diversification, protect sustainable peace and encourage good governance.”
Realizing this Liberia is confronted with such a huge development goal that is not achievable without outside support, the President appealed to Liberia’s friends, bilateral partners, and private investors to support this agenda.
The Liberian leader did not forget to account for the wellbeing of Liberian youth, and the dire need to have these future leaders of his country capacitated and incorporated into the national theatre of productivity by providing them education opportunities.
President Weah said his government is determined to reverse the “unfortunate situation” facing Liberian youth by making them productive citizens through the provision of adequate educational facilities at the high school and college levels.
He averred: “For those youths left behind due to the disastrous civil crisis and who have outgrown their school years, my government is investing in Technical Vocational Education and Training programs to build their entrepreneurial and marketable skill-sets.”
President Weah also presented an intertwining picture between youth empowerment and national development as it relates to the impact of infrastructure on social and economic development.
In order to achieve this goal, the President told the world body that his government had “identified investment in roads, energy and ports as our key Priority, and it is therefore soliciting funding and other technical expertise to undertake these projects in pursuit of our goal to connect our cities and towns and strengthen our economy.”
He also did not lose sight of the treacherous long road Liberia so peacefully trekked since the guns went silent in 2003, and the role of the international community has played to overcome years of division and anarchy; a stark reminder of the need to put peace at the front-burner.
He continued: “Madam President, My country has finally turned the corner with more years of peace than preceding years of war guided by our peace agreement signed in Accra 15 years ago. We thank the members and Security County of the United Nations for the UMNIL Peace-keeping Mission which brought stability and helped us rebuild our institutions and communities. We are a peace-keeping success story and we are grateful for the support given.”
He however indicated that there was still a strong need for Liberia to remain on the path of peace in order to realize its development programs.
The president said: “But the nation which has experienced civil war must never take peace for granted and forget the long shadow years of conflict still cast over people’s lives. We must realize and appreciate that ours is still a fragile peace. Our people across the country still bear the scars of conflict, we therefore intend to initial series of national peace dialogues.”
Instead of pursuing actions that endanger the peace and security of the nation and thwart development efforts, President emphasized the importance of dialogue and national conversations.
He declared: “Throughout Liberia, we must restart those difficult conversations at the local level and include our youths so that they and we do not repeat the costly mistakes of the past. It is clear to me that these frank exchanges are an initial step in bringing lasting healing, reconciliation and unity to our people.
While Liberia is now in charge of its own security, the President thanked the United Nations for the sacrifices that you have made in securing and maintaining the peace after our prolonged civil crisis.
He made specific reference to Mr. Farif Zarif, former Deputy Representative Secretary General (DRSG) who headed the United Nations Mission in Liberia from 2015- 2018 and supervised an orderly withdrawal of troops, while simultaneously securing the peace environment for peace that allowed for the robust political campaign to take place without incidence.
He reaffirmed Liberia’s support for the work of the United Nations in striving to achieve global peace, counter terrorism, UN reform, security, good governance and advancement of the principle of universal human rights.
The President also reiterated his government commitment to the rule of law, alleviation of poverty, gender equality, elimination of gender-based violence and empowerment of women, girls and young people.
Most importantly, he reiterated assurances to end corruption in public service in line with mandate he received from the Liberian people in 2017.