Liberia: President Boakai Convenes Maiden Cabinet Retreat Amid Public Anger Over Rising Price of Basic Commodities and Allegations of Corruption  

MONROVIA – President Joseph Boakai Thursday told cabinet officials that the capacity of his government does not lie in how officials wear their titles on their sleeves and exert power, but they should demonstrate selflessly as a unit, bearing in mind that the work they do today and the foundation they lay will not just address current needs but guarantee a better future for the next generation.

By Selma Lomax, selma.lomax@frontpageafricaonline.com

President Boakai, who made the remarks while declaring open his administration’s first cabinet retreat at the Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf Ministerial Complex in Monrovia, also reminded all participants at the event that his officials must do things differently and with a renewed sense of patriotism and determination to deliver on their promises.

“It is no longer business as usual. This is a demand for hard work, dedication, and unwavering commitment to the development of our beloved country. It is no secret that the fate of a nation lies in the hands of its leaders; and although it is my picture that is plastered in papers when the Government is scolded, I want you to always remember that it is up to us, the officials, to pave the way for a brighter future for our citizens,” the President said.

Boakai’s maiden Cabinet Retreat, themed “Coordination and Performance: Delivering on National Agenda Priorities,” organized for ministers, heads of corporate entities and other top government officials, underpins a pivotal moment of shift, following his first 100 days in office. 

The Liberian leader said the agenda that was set for his administration’s first three-and-a-half months in office was an effort to collectively make bold decisions, take some concrete action steps, and dedicate his officials to the tasks that will help meet the administration’s developmental goals and lead to progress and prosperity.

According to the President, “It’s our country, we have no other one, let’s be proud that we’re Liberians and we can do it, you can show leadership. We can fight to make democracy a lasting reference for the rest of Africa.”

“We came to usher in the transformative change Liberians have long yearned for, and we must continue to demonstrate to the average Liberian that the mission to rescue him or her is no fluke but a deliberate move to set a new path for development; one that will improve livelihoods and bring about much-needed dignity lost over the years,” President Boakai said.

Continuing, he added: “Our capacity as a government does not lie in how officials wear their titles on their sleeves and exert power. Instead, it is demonstrated in how we selflessly serve as a unit, bearing in mind that the work we do today and the foundation we lay will not just address current needs but guarantee a better future for the next generation.”

The President, who spoke for almost 15 minutes at the ceremony, also said he would not complain about the heavy task of piloting the country through economic and social recovery, stating that he had accepted to inherit all the assets and liabilities of his predecessors.

Much Ado about the Ministerial Retreat

Unlike ministerial retreats of previous administrations, the ongoing cabinet retreat should be more than just a talk shop. It should reset the mindset of ministers and other officials of government and should be a call to action; reignite hope for millions of Liberians and a pledge to deliver results.

Holding a retreat for ministers where programs and policies of government would be fashioned out and templates for evaluation discussed should be key at the three-day retreat.

Bold moves, shaky execution 

Indeed, it has been a momentous 100 days for President Boakai, marked by deliberately proactive initiatives and reset policies, as well as a few policy missteps, which have been trailed by both commendation and controversy.

President Boakai’s first 100-Day in office has been tension-soaked and action-packed, with wide lamentations among the citizenry over the hike in the prices of busy commodities, including gasoline, rice, and others.

The situation has deteriorated due to the free fall of the Liberian dollars to the United States dollars. Foodstuffs sellers across the country continue to lament that the cost of a bag of rice has risen almost 10 per cent.

FrontPageAfrica gathered that long grain rice, which used to sell for between LD$ $3500, now costs over LD$4,000 depending on the location, putting a huge pressure on the consumers.

The despair has spilled into social media as angry citizens express their frustration with the daily hikes of staple foods, transportation costs, school fees, house rent and other inescapable expenses that are becoming impossible to finance due to paucity of resources and escalating inflation. 

Boakai’s government recently reported that they have successfully implemented 100-Day promises made before taking office in January, something that was challenged by the Naymote Partners for Democracy, which reported that the government failed in implementing most of the promises made.

The Naymote report also expressed concerns about poor adherence to transparency and accountability policies in the implementation of the 100-Day deliverables. But Boakai’s Unity Party government has since challenged the Naymote report through the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning.

Would this retreat fall into another category of talk shop with nothing much to show at the end of his tenure? What Liberians want is a transformation of the country for the better. They desire a government that would ease their hardship. Otherwise, the retreat will amount to another much ado about nothing.

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