By Shallon S. Gonlor

NIMBA COUNTY — The majority of Nimba citizens have described their outlook for Liberia in the next six years under the incoming government of Amb. Joseph Boakai and Jeremiah Koung as “very optimistic”.

Sons and daughters of the county expressed greater optimism about the country’s future with the election of veteran Liberia politician, Amb. Boakai and Senator Koung stressed that their presidency will do the needful and prioritize inclusive governance and development.

Speaking to WomenVoices Newspaper on over the weekend, the citizens said they are confident of the incoming administration, adding that major development challenges Liberia is engulfed with including the promotion of inclusive governance, justice, human rights, peace, and social cohesion should be addressed.

In general, Nimbaians are hopeful when asked about the future, in terms of the economy, their personal lives, and financial situations, if President-elect Joseph Boakai and Vice President-elect Jeremiah Kpan Koung are inaugurated.

Liberia has officially slated January 22, 2024, for the inauguration of President-elect, Joseph Boakai, and Vice President-elect, Jeremiah Koung, the winner of the presidential election held recently in the country.

Boakai and his vice president-elect Sen. Koung won the 2023 presidential run-off held on 14 November on an opposition ticket, ending the six-year rule of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC)-led government.

On Thursday, January 4, 2024, outgoing Liberian President George Manneh Weah approved US$650k as the inaugural budget for the inaugural activities of the incoming President, Amb. Boakai.

The presidential inauguration, which is expected to draw dignitaries and international leaders, will be preceded by several other events.

The citizens who spoke to Women Voices Newspaper said their dreams of liberation, and a new Liberia are actualized, saying the Amb. Boakai outlined a vision for Liberia, which includes economic growth, social development, and continued efforts to strengthen democratic institutions needed for the forward match of Liberia’s development.

Boakai, who served as vice president under Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Africa’s first democratically elected female leader, has campaigned on a promise to rescue Liberia from what he called Weah’s failed leadership.

However, in 2017, President Weah won that election amid high hopes brought about by his promise to fight poverty and generate infrastructure development. His goal, he had said in 2017, was to push Liberia from a low-income country to a middle-income one.

But Weah has been accused of not living up to key campaign promises that he would fight corruption and ensure justice for victims of the country’s civil wars, resulting in his early defeat to rival Amb. Boakai

In response to a circulating social media post claiming “presumptive first batch of Boakai’s appointees ahead of the inauguration”, Nimbaians termed as best suited”, the names of presumptive government officials have excellent credentials and experience. 

They believe that the most effective way to directly impact the poor and to narrow the gap between rich and poor is to ensure that public resources do not end up in the pockets of government officials.

Liberia’s political veteran election comes in the wake of a dramatic shake-up of the country’s economy and institutions amid public anger over high inflation and record poverty rates under the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change of incumbent President Weah.

Addressing corruption, Nimba citizens said the overwhelming support given to Boakai-Koung is a mandate to end corruption in public service and improve the ordinary citizens’ livelihood, noting the election of Amb. Boakai begins the end of Liberia’s decline, high inflation, corruption, and hardship, which the majority suffered under incumbent President Weah’s administration.

The citizens want President-elect Joseph Boakai and Vice President-elect Jeremiah Koung to remain engaged in the fight against corruption, fraud, money laundering, illicit financial flow, drugs, and tax evasion in the country.

The scores of Nimba citizens meanwhile stressed the significant need for the Boakai-Koung government to remain on track in champaign the fight against corruption.

For decades, Liberia has been ranked as one of the world’s most corrupt countries, but that notoriety reached its lowest depths under Weah. Since 2018, Liberia has averaged 29 points out of a possible 100 on Transparency International’s corruption perceptions index. It currently ranks 136 out of 180 countries. In the six years before Weah, Liberia had averaged nearly 39 points. 

Corruption became synonymous with Weah’s government from the very beginning.

In six years, Liberia’s most famous citizen, incumbent President George Weah became unpopular enough to lose the presidential vote to a man he defeated in 2017 as a result of corruption.

President Weah, was first elected in 2017 on promises to develop infrastructure projects and tackle widespread corruption, but critics accused his government of corruption and his failure to keep a promise to improve the lives of the poorest.