Reply to the State of the Nation Address: I’m disappointed Madam President

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As Liberians across the country were eager last Monday to listen to your final State of the Nation Address, I was glued to my radio to hear Africa’s first female president speak eloquently to the joint session of the National Legislature.

And sincerely Madam President, when you started to speak about asking that we give thanks to God for what he’s done for our nation, I joined in prayers for consoling us, despite all that you did to plunge our post-war country into another malady.

I thanked God for keeping our nation safe despite the countless incidences of police brutality, the flagrant violation of our constitution, the killing of innocent people, and the clampdown on media institutions.

I thanked God for keeping our nation safe even after the killer of West Point’s Shaki Kamara continues to live freely with impunity. I thanked God for keeping our nation safe though the killers of Angel Togba enjoyed the pardon of your government.

I must admit, Madam President, I was very fascinated at the beginning of your annual address, but little did I know that my fascination could soon turn to anger and deep sorrow of reflection on the lives of the ordinary masses of our people.

I was confused when you said, “I have been a witness as our country has gone from civil unrest, dictatorship, anarchy, and war; from the abuse of children conscripted as soldiers, pervasive sexual violence, and economic collapse; and then, finally, to peace, elections, development, and an open and dynamic civil society.”

It caused me to wonder, is the current recession in the economy not happening under your watch? Did the imprisonment of Vandalark Patricks, Henry Costa, Rodney Sieh, and others help foster a dynamic civil society?

You spoke about Liberia transitioning from sexual violence as though we are blind. Since you didn’t say it, let me remind you that sexual violence against children is rampant. So when you tell us about the better society you’ve created, we’re left with nothing but to ask: are you really as sincere as your apologists habitually claim?

According to a 2015 UNMIL report, “rape is the second most commonly reported serious crime in Liberia,” with 803 cases in 2015 alone. The report says “only two percent of rapes and sexual and gender-based violence cases reported last year resulted in a conviction in court.”

So Madam President what happened to the remaining 98 percent of the rape cases that were reported?

The problem is not that we don’t have institutions but our institutions that are spearheaded by your cronies are weak and lack the willpower to institute laws and make sure they are executed. These things are only happening because you’re bent on branding your image internationally for more awards while your people continue to live in shackles and despair.

We will continue to remind you that you’ve not delivered your promises to our people. Do you know how many young women continue to live in trauma as a result of your failed justice system?

Do you know how many young girls are raped because you’ve failed to protect them? Montserrado, where you live, accounts for the highest number of rape cases in 2014 according to the Minister of Gender, Children and Social Development.

You’ve refused to invest in the human resource capacity building of the younger generation. Remember that probably fifty-plus years from now, our natural resources: iron ore, gold, oil, and others might not be around, so we’ll have to rely on human skills to solve some of our pressing problems.

What investments have you done relative to human resource capacity building? You must stop telling us about a future you’ve ruined and tangibly effect the change you’re known for speaking about.

You talked about the next generation of Liberia being “empowered through education and new technologies” as if you’ve built a better education system. How many Liberian students in Bong, Nimba, River Cess, Maryland and other counties in Liberia knows or have access to technology?

Your failure to invest in the future of Liberian students has led your government to let a private company decide the fate of our education system. This is because you and most of your government officials don’t have children attending Liberian schools.

No doubt Madam President, that you’re noted for introducing fancy policies that you never intend to implement. What are the fates of the so-called vision 2030, the Poverty Reduction Strategy and the Agenda for Transformation?

Our country’s economy is in shamble. Instead of investing money in the economy, your government would rather spend thousands of dollars on award ceremonies and meaningless travels.

Madam President, know that democracy without accountability is a mere bluff. There’s institutional corruption in this country. Over the years we’ve seen bandits transferred from one ministry to another. You continue to protect your cronies every day. There’s not a single government agency in Liberia that is spared of corruption. What have you done about it?

The Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission was created to deceive the Liberian people. It’s just a money consuming institution that employs some of your loyalists who have no vision of fighting corruption. How many corrupt government officials have been charged since the LACC was enacted into law?

When you spoke about the health sector, I sincerely thought you were speaking about a different country. The health sector remains dilapidated because money meant for medicine is being kept for personal aggrandizement by the very people you trust.

Your government is killing thousands of people every day. When you steal funds meant for medicine, you’re killing many people who depend on that medicine to be cured. I wonder if they care to know how many women deliver on farms in rural Liberia, or the number of people that die every day at the nation’s referral so-called hospital.

Today, unlike the 1970’s, we have the highest rate of importation of food for consumption. Our government sees nothing in agricultural development, which is manifested in an agriculture ministry being located in the capital.

Your statement that papa made many stops was an insult to the suffering men in this country. It was something that “papa” will never forgive you for. That statement was not just an insult, but a slap in the face of the working men in this country that are treated with the worst form of indignity. There’s a massive unemployment rate in Liberia and the vast majority of those that are employed are underpaid.

Featured photo courtesy of Gbatemah Senah

Ansumana Konneh

Ansumana M. M. Konneh is a young Liberian student and an ardent believer in the philosophy of Kwame Nkrumah. He can be reached at: ansumana.konneh96@gmail.com or +231775926845.

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