HomeAfrica-NewsThe Gains, the Hurdles

The Gains, the Hurdles

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— A Look into Boakai’s First 100 Days Stewardship

Sworn in on 22 January in Monrovia, President Joseph Boakai marked his first 100 days in office on May 1, 2024, Upon his ascendency, he crafted a 100-day action plan, with priority areas such as fighting against corruption, making primary roads usable in all seasons, waging a robust war against drug abuse, and finding ways to keep the economy afloat.

Facing a cloud of uncertainty and some level of apprehension as a new President, the Boakai administration is beginning to take shape despite certain hiccups in its formation process, along with prevailing tensions, divisions, and fragility within the government — all of which signal the challenges ahead.

The President spent his first 100 days in office appointing cabinet members and addressing vacancies within the government. He has also outlined his administration’s stance on the fight against corruption, and combating drug proliferation, unveiled his policy through the “ARREST” Agenda, navigated tensions within the ruling Unity Party alliance regarding job allocations, and worked towards passing his initial appropriation bill in the legislature.

While it is acknowledged that 100 days are insufficient to fully assess an administration, the tradition of measuring progress during this period has significant weight in evaluating a new leader’s trajectory.

President Boakai’s initial actions, particularly his promises to address key issues affecting Liberians, garnered some positive responses from the public.

The need for effective governance, economic stability, and unity in the country is pressing as the next phase of his leadership unfolds.

The Promises, The Gains

Just after the National Elections Commission declared him formally as the winner of the November 14 runoff election, Boakai vowed to address the country’s numerous deplorable road problems within the first 100 days in office,

“We are at the point where we will prepare for the transition, begin the plan for the inauguration, as we jump-start the activities of governance,” Boakai announced immediately after being officially pronounced the winner.

Boakai has boldly stated that not a single car will get stuck on any major roads, emphasizing his commitment to addressing the country’s chronic road problem.

Although specifics of the plan were not disclosed, Boakai’s focus comes as the country’s road network remains greatly underdeveloped — among the least developed in West Africa. The situation is worse during the rainy season, which lasts for six months, as most roads across the country become inaccessible.

It is, however, unclear whether Boakai’s quick-fix solution to the country’s road problems, which are somehow more pliable in the dry season, would consider the rainy season while searching for a long-term solution.

“Liberians have been complaining and yearning for many things, and we will review some of the hardships, especially those areas essential to their livelihood,” the then-President-elect said.

“We will make sure that everyone is on board to build our country,” he added. “We want to appreciate the Liberian public and the people of Liberia who protected those ballots that subsequently led to our election. The Unity Party (UP) and its alliance are prepared to bring prosperity and everything the people have been yearning for over the years.”

On Wednesday, May 1, 2024, the President announced that under his 100-Day Action plan for road maintenance, his government has earmarked 11 key projects across the country to make sure that primary roads are all pliable during all seasons.

He said the Ministry of Public Works has been undertaking major road corridor projects totaling about 783.5 km in Bong, Lofa, Bomi, Gbarpolu, Nimba, Grand Gedeh, Rivergee, Grand Bassa, Sinoe, Maryland, and Grand Kru Counties.

To date, he added, contractors, equipment, and logistics have been heavily mobilized, and active work such as clearing, grading, shaping, and stabilization of critical spots, identification of culvert lines, and borrowing pits for material testing along all corridors are ongoing.

Boakai also noted on Wednesday that policy changes aimed at improving economic development were a fundamental objective of this 100-day plan. In this quarter, he said, initial reforms and capacity building in agriculture, tourism, and commerce were seen as building blocks for the country’s long-term economic development.

“Pivotal to our 100-day deliverable plan, was the need to introduce key legislations crucial to our governance process, and to the promotion of the potential growth-spurring tourism sector. In these past 100 days, and despite limited resources, we were able to make significant gains against interventions we set out in various sectors,” he said.

In Education, President Boakai said his administration has made strides in meeting targets in education during his regime’s first 100 days. Key deliverables, he said, included paying scholarship arrears for local and foreign students and investing in Youth capacity building in ICT for the first six months.

“To date, the Government of Liberia has allotted funds for the payment of arrears for both local and international scholarship students. These arrears include underwriting expenditures such as monthly allowances, resettlement assistance, air ticket costs, French language training programs, and other administrative and operational costs associated with students’ well-being,” he said. “Additionally, my administration inherited a debt of nearly 6 million of unpaid fees to the West African Examination Council for the WASSCE, [which was] sat by our students. Despite meager resources, US$3.5 Million has been appropriated in the FY 2024 budget for the payment of WASSCE fees.”

In his inaugural speech and first State of the Nation address to lawmakers, the President also reiterated clear and ambitious targets for his first 100-day deliverable.

“We see hard times, we see dysfunction, we see culture of impunity, we see corruption in high and low places. It is these and similar conditions that we have come to RESCUE. But we come with false assurance to no one. Our plan to fix the ills we are inheriting must go together with realistic expectations. We will act in the first hundred days of our administration, and then diligently pursue our rescue mission.

“In our quest to expand the economy, we will leverage Information Communication Technology (ICT) in creating jobs, especially for our youth. To achieve this, my administration will train up to 10,000 young people in various digital skills in the first half of 2024. The Liberian middle-class goal must be a reality in the next 6 years.”

Concerning the implementation of these programs and projects, the President is behind schedule as he just launched the six-month project on the last day of the 100 days. This means he’s left with two months to complete the training program designed for six months.

The President has also shown some signs of robustness in his fight against corruption. He, in February, directed the General Auditing Commission (GAC) to conduct a comprehensive audit of three key government institutions, including the Central Bank of Liberia, the National Security Agency (NSA), and the Executive Protection Service (EPS).

These audits, he said, would cover the six-year stewardship of his predecessor George Weah. Findings should have been reported in three months, but much is yet to be heard about those. Reports, however, indicated that the NSA audit was later disregarded by the presidency.

The President also subjected himself to drug tests and encouraged all of his lieutenants to do the same. His tests came out negative. The President, also in February, filed with the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission the declaration of his assets and liabilities

Looking ahead after the elapse of the first 100 days, expectations are high that President Boakai’s administration will address key issues, foster unity, restore faith in democracy, boost the economy, enhance security, create job opportunities, and tackle poverty to improve the lives of all Liberians.

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