Liberia’s President George Weah has derided what he perceives as disrespectful text messages sent to him by young people seeking financial relief and claiming to be supporters of his Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) party.
He said will not render any help or assistance to persons who continuously show him disrespect through text messages. Weah is regarded as one of the most accessible African presidents with many Liberians having his personal phone number.
“You want something from me, you got to respect me; you got to be diligent. You are arrogant and you asking me for something small, I will not do it. You can’t be asking for help and disrespecting the President,” he said.
Weah, 55, criticized young people between the ages of 19 to 20 who want to live on their own adding that they should rather stay with their parents and use the money for rent to support their mother’s business.
He was quoted saying: “Some of you’re telling me to pay your rent; you get your ma and pa and you asking me to pay your rent; why you can’t go live with your ma. The money you want to pay your rent; you can use it with your mother to do business.
“Go take the one room in the place there and lay down inside and do business with the rest to help you and your ma. Why do you want to leave from [sic] your ma house when you 19, 20-years old.”
“You know I was 18 years sleeping on the floor? Why are you rushing life? he asked. “Anybody you got malice in your heart for me, it will not work.”
Weah grew up in the capital Monrovia’s Clara Town slum with his grandmother while trying to be a professional soccer player. He rose to stardom after playing for prominent clubs in Europe and won the FIFA Player of the Year title in 1995.
Weah was elected President in 2017, taking over from Africa’s first elected female president and Nobel Prize winner, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. This was after he lost his bid to become president in 2005 but was subsequently elected a Senator.
The former United Nations goodwill ambassador is very popular among the country’s youth but there are high expectations among that segment of the population for him to deliver on his electoral promise of jobs and prosperity.
In 2019, thousands poured out in the capital to protest against his failures to tackle corruption, economic mismanagement and injustice. Since he assumed power, economic growth has shrunk and while inflation keeps rising, according to the IMF.
According to the UNDP, 64 percent of Liberians live below the poverty line and the country is yet to recover from the from severe economic shocks in 2014/15 caused by the Ebola Virus Disease and the collapse in international prices of key export commodities such as iron ore, palm oil.