The Inquirer is a leading independent daily newspaper published in Liberia, based in Monrovia. It is privately owned with a "good reputation".

Should Pres. Weah Address The Nation Over Virus Status: Looking At The Senators’ Concern

By Atty Philip N. Wesseh (PNW)

Yesterday this paper carried a front page story captioned: “SENATORS WANT WEAH GIVE STATUS ON CORONAVIRUS,” in which it was reported that in an effort to restoring hopes in Liberians amidst the existence of the coronavirus in Liberia, some members of the Liberian Senate on Tuesday March 24, urged President George Weah to address the nation.

According to the story, Senators Daniel Naathen, Gble-bo Brown, Prince Johnson and others asserted that the Liberian leader has ever since reneged to update the nation regularly as it is being done by other Presidents since the virus hit the continents.

The senators’ statements were triggered by the report from the Senate’s Committee on Health, chaired by Dr. Peter Coleman when he briefed his colleagues on the status of the virus in their plenary session.
As part of Dr. Coleman’s briefing, the former Health Minister who recently invaded health protocols at the Capitol Building informed his colleagues that the Liberian leader is regularly briefed by the health authorities on the status of the virus revealing that the President is serious about a holistic fight to defeat the virus.
In their separate comments, the senators said while it is true, the new health law gives health authorities the legal rights to declare a National Health Emergency, they equally argued that President Weah must speak to his people; which the lawmakers claimed would restore hopes in Liberians.

It can be recalled that in an effort to keep the nation safe, the Ministry of Health (MOH) declared a National Health Emergency in Montserrado and Margibi counties. A release issued over the weekend said the declaration of a National Health Emergency is in keeping with Article 33, Chapter 14 of the Liberian Code of Law Revised known as the Public Health Law.

Besides the senators, there are some members of the public who feel that such as pronouncement on national issue must be made by the President and not any head of institutions related to such issues.
In all fairness, these concerns are genuine, especially so, as it relates to the pronouncement of declaring the virus as “National Health Emergency.”

As a student of communication, there are two things associated with the President or the Chief Executive Officer of any country in making public statements on pronouncements on national issues.

The first is that it helps to build hopes in the people or put them in a position to know what actions or decisions to take for their survival. The next is that it gives such pronouncement a high degree of believability; as the leader is not expected to mislead his or her people on such national crisis.

Intuitively, I believe that President Weah himself is embarrassed by this coronavirus, as such; he should be in the position to update his people on this global pandemic that is devastating the world including great nations like the United States, Italy and Spain.

The world, of which Liberia is as part, is faced with a war against this DEADLY VIRUS. This is no joking matter! It this REAL as it is claiming the lives of thousands of people worldwide and it could get worst in coming days.

Today, United States President Donald Trump who had initially downplayed this referring to it as “China Virus” when it started in China, is now taken the lead in informing his country about the status of the virus along with his health taskforce. He has given them hopes that by Easter the situation would improve, in view of all the measures being taken by the country.

I believe too, that it is equally important for the Liberian people, whose country now has only three confirmed cases to hear from their leader on this matter. The same way President Weah took the lead to announce the first CASE; he should continue to do so by keeping the inhabitants abreast of daily statistics and efforts made by his government to contain this virus and assure the safety of this people.

Mr. President, let this claim your attention as the ‘masses’ leader; it is not about politics, but the interest, wellbeing and safety of your people.

To side track, just as I was concluding this PIECE, I received information that the Liberian Petroleum Refining Company (LPWRC) has distanced itself from recent comments made by Commerce Minister Prof Wilson Tarpeh about the possible shortage of gas because of the coronavirus. The LPRC, among other things, said it is the only body authorized to speak on such matter and not the Commerce Ministry.

Once again, this brings to light the poor and non-coordinated communication system of this government I have repeatedly spoken about. It is sad to note that some individuals in the government behave as if they are in parallel administrations.

It was this same “MESS” (sorry for my choice of word) that led to the recent gas shortage, something for which the President dismissed the Deputy at LPRC. This government MUST do something about its communication system to avoid confusing the people who’s right it is to be informed by their government accurately and factually on issues.

I Rest My Case.

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  2. smoretraiolit says

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