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Whooping US$250, 000 Goes Into SONA -As Weah Delivers Final Address Today

By Bill W. Cooper

The Government of Liberia through the Executive Branch has spent a whooping US$250,000 for the preparation of President George M. Weah’s 6th and final State of the Nation Address (SONA).

Making the disclosure on Friday, January 27, 2023, Montserrado County District 8 Representative, Moses Acarous Gray said the fund which many describe as a “waste” will be used to ensure the successful holding of the event.

“For the budget of this SONA, the government is or will spend US$250,000 for the event, and this is because we have a lot of activities that need to be done to ensure that the ceremony is successful,” Gray, who is the House’s Committee Chair on Executive stated.

As part of the expenditure of the fund, Rep. Gray maintained that portion of the fund will be given to ELBC and LINA to do live coverage of the event, as well as the General Service Agency (GSA) for the setting up and maintenance of the Capitol Building expected to host the President.

Other entities captured include the joint security, the Presidential Press Secretary to ensure the publications of the President’s speech in several local dailies, the Capitol Building and Foreign Ministry protocol officers, the Monrovia City Corporation (MCC) including the hiring of a catering service for refreshment among others.

“There are lots of things that will be going on and that will require money; so I think this money allotted is realistic, and I believe in my mind the SONA should even have more money than the Inauguration because of its many activities associated with it,” he added.

At the same time, President Weah will today, January 30, 2023 deliver his last address to the Legislature which ends his first term in office in fulfillment of his Presidential constitutional duty and is to be delivered on every fourth working Monday in January of each year.

Article 58 of the 1986 Constitution which states, “The President shall, on the fourth working Monday, in January of each year, present the administration’s legislative program for the ensuing session.”

It adds, “And shall once a year report to the Legislature on the State of the Republic. In presenting the economic condition of the Republic then report shall cover expenditure as well as income.”

Technically, January 30, 2023 is the fourth working Monday since the first working Monday as the New Year which was on Sunday was celebrated on what should have been the first working Monday of the year. 

In Liberia, holidays that fall on weekends are observed on the Monday preceding the weekend; which necessitated the celebration of the New Year on the first working Monday of this year. 

However, many Liberians anticipate that this year’s Sate of the Nation Address will focus on his achievements, proposed and unfinished projects as well as ensuing General and Presidential Elections in the country. 

Although the Liberian leader’s message is coming at the time Liberians are gearing up to go to the poll in October of this year to elect new leaders of the country; many believe that the President’s message would squarely center on electoral process of the country.

Members in the opposition bloc and critics of the President would also think that President Weah will use this year’s SONA as a platform to promote his image and campaign ahead of the election by propagating some accomplishments made by his administration over his five years in power.

Following his ascendency to the country’s highest office in 2018, many Liberians were hopeful that this President would leave a positive image on the country by improving their living condition through the provision of jobs and addressing the bread-and-butter issues in the country.

From a layman’s perspective, it is believed that the President and his team of writers, including researchers have been contemplating on what to report to the country for the past years of his administration.

Even Liberians, themselves, may be thinking what their leader would tell them, especially so, when this year they would be trooping to the polls to decide who their leaders will be for the next six years, including the would-be President. 

With the daunting decline of the economy, Liberians are also eager to hear from the President what policies that his administration are putting into place to address the bread and butter issues as well as the security of the country.

Other areas of concern that Liberians are expecting their leader to talk about would be sanitation, Electricity, Education, Health and Transportation among others, although his administration has also made some strides in the infrastructure through roads-connectivity.

Meanwhile, according to protocol, the legislators will gather in the Joint Chamber of the Capitol Building where the Presiding Officer, Speaker Bhofal Chambers will call for a motion to accept and receive the President to deliver his annual message to the august body.

Following that, the Chairpersons and members on Executive of both Houses of Representatives and the Liberian Senate will go at the main entrance of the Capitol Building to receive and escort the President to the joint chamber to deliver his address.

The program is expected to be graced by the Chief Justice and Associate Justices of the Supreme Court of Liberia, Members of the Cabinet, Heads of State Enterprises, the Doyen and Members of the Diplomatic Corps accredited near Monrovia.

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