Fact-Check President Weah’s Speech at the Groundbreaking Ceremony and What’s in the 2022 Draft Budget
By: Trokon Wrepue – [email protected]
On February 9, 2021, President George Weah broke grounds for the construction of an invincible park near the James Spring Payne Airport in Monrovia, Liberia’s capital.
At the groundbreaking ceremony, President Weah said the multipurpose park, will contain basketball courts, tennis courts, volleyball courts, walking trails, a children’s playground, and an outdoor gym, together with adequate sanitary facilities. The Liberian leader in remarks acknowledged that he used the area to play soccer doing his days of football in Liberia.
Claim: I, therefore, want you to know that I am developing this public park as my personal contribution to the people of this area.
The president statement can be heard in the Facebook live feed 35 minutes 38 seconds
FOR THE INVINCIBLE SPORTS PARK
SINKOR, MONROVIA, LIBERIA
FEBRUARY 10, 2021
Today has brought me yet another opportunity to share my dreams and aspirations for the happiness and well-being of our citizens, by providing modern recreational facilities that will contribute to their good health, wellbeing, and fitness.
We have come to break ground for the INVINCIBLE SPORTS PARK, a multi-purpose complex that will contain basketball courts, tennis courts, volleyball courts, walking trails, a children’s playground, and an outdoor gym, together with adequate sanitary facilities. As a public park, it will be freely accessible and
available to everyone who seeks to use it.
Ladies and Gentlemen:
I attended the Ellen Mills Scarborough Junior High School right across the road from here. If you look keenly you will see the school building still standing there. And I also practiced here during my days when I played for the Invincible Eleven Majestic Sports Association. I broke my first record in the high school league right here on this field by defeating the famous Wells Hairston High School when I played for the Muslim Congress High School on the other side of this airfield, called The Bench Old-Timers Field…right over there.
So you can see that I know this area very well. This area and piece of land, unstructured and undeveloped as it was, has been used for recreational purposes for many decades by the general public in Monrovia. In fact, this is one of the first places in Monrovia where I used to practice soccer in my youthful days.
And so it has the distinction and honour of producing the first and only Liberian and the first African to have won the World’s Best Footballer title, the Ballon d’Ór.
You will also recall that this area has played another important and very meaningful role in our Nation’s history when it served for many years as the site where hundreds of Liberian women, wearing white, prayed for peace to return to our land. They were here as Prayer Warriors for our Nation, in the heat and in the rain, laying on the ground and sitting in the sand, with no shelter from the elements.
And as we all now know, they were very successful. Their prayers were heard by the Almighty God, and their efforts were rewarded with a lasting and sustainable peace that we have enjoyed for almost two decades now.
In recognition, gratitude, and appreciation of their patriotic efforts, this Park will contain a special Prayer Ground area for them to pray, which will feature turf under their feet and shelter over their heads.
And yet, for some reasons best known to my predecessor, Her Excellency Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, former President of the Republic of Liberia, chose to shut this place down, thereby denying our people the simple pleasures of recreation and relaxation in the open air. Well, just as HER job is to CLOSE it, it is MY job to OPEN it.
Since no one cared to do anything about it after more than 30 years, it is MY job to FIX it. When she spoil it, I will FIX it.
I, therefore, want you to know that I am developing this public park as my personal contribution to the people of this area. There will be other parks that will be built with public funds, but I feel a burning desire and sense of obligation to GIVE BACK to this community because of what this place has contributed to my success in the world of soccer.
And let me also inform you that, before doing so, I made a formal application to the Liberian Civil Aviation Authority for approval to locate this facility here, because of its close proximity to Spriggs Airport, and permission was granted on the basis of my undertaking that all heights and elevations would comply with the requirements of the aviation regulator. Additionally, it will be situated a safe distance from the runway, as determined by the LCAA, and there will be no buildings erected in the Park.
AND NOW, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, FELLOW LIBERIANS:
Before I cut the ribbon, I just want to tell you that it does not take OPULENCE to do this. All it takes is selfless love for your people, thoughtful care for their feelings, and genuine concern for their happiness and well-being.
So, Ladies and Gentlemen, as I break ground for this INVINCIBLE SPORTS PARK, I ask you to TRAIN WELL, BE FIT, BE INSPIRED, and DEVELOP YOUR GAME!
I thank you.
Verification: But on the contrary to President Weah’s promise to build the park as his “personal contribution” to the people of the Airfield Community where the park is located, it has been established that funding towards the construction of the park will come from the national budget of the country.
In the 2022 draft budget, funding allocation to the invincible park is captured under the budget line of the Ministry of State.
There are also proposed budget allocations from 2022- 2024 in the Draft National Budget Fiscal year 2022.
Conclusion: Despite President Weah’s promise that the construction will be his personal contribution; and the same construction is allocated in the draft national budget, the claim is Misleading.
Because the park will be funded through the national budget instead of the President’s personal contribution.