President Joseph N. Boakai is all set to deliver his first-ever State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday, 29 January 2024 before the Joint Session of the 55th Legislature at the Capitol in Monrovia. This address holds immense significance as it will mark the unveiling of some of the President’s crucial plans for the nation.
Boakai, who assumed office on January 22, 2024, after winning the 2023 Presidential election, has promised to bring about real change at the helm of power, assuring the nation he would lead differently in the interest of the majority of the population who have been marginalized for decades.
The SONA is a fulfillment of Article 58 of the Liberian Constitution, which calls for the President to address the nation through the people’s Representatives and Senators on the Fourth Working Monday in January of each year to elaborate on the Legislative program of the administration.
“The President shall, on the fourth work Monday in January of each year, present the administration’s legislative program for the ensuing session, and shall once a year report to the Legislature on the state of the Republic. In presenting the economic condition of the Republic, the report shall cover expenditure and income.”
The SONA will be graced by members of the Diplomatic Corps, the Business community including traditional and religious leaders, and local and international Civil Society Organizations, among others.
Monday’s SONA will be the 2nd Joint Session of the 1st Quarter of the 1st Session of the 55th Legislature. The first Joint Session was held during the inauguration of President Boakai and Vice President Jeremiah Koung on Monday, January 22, 2024.
According to protocol, foreign, and national guests, senior government officials, and senior citizens are expected to be seated by 3:15 pm followed by the Vice President and members of the Senate, the Speaker and members of the House of Representatives, and the Chief Justice and associate Justices of the Supreme Court.
Speaker Cllr. J. Fonati Koffa will serve as the presiding officer of the Joint Session according to Article 33b of the Constitution.
“… Whenever the House of Representatives and the Senate shall meet in joint session, the presiding officer of the House of Representatives shall preside.”
By 3:45 pm, the Executive Committees of the House of Representatives and the Senate will go to the entrance of the Capitol Building to escort the President to the Joint Chamber, during which Sergeant-at-Arms Martin Johnson will cry the opening of the 2nd Joint Session under the gavel of Speaker Koffa with the formalities of roll calls and motions.
Upon the arrival of the President into the Joint Chamber, he will be announced by the Sergeant at arms and be led to the podium to commence his report to the Legislature at 4 pm.
A New Era of Democracy
Boakai, a former vice president and a former minister of agriculture, who is now the country’s 26th President, has declared agriculture a priority to improve food security and create more jobs for the youth.
The President is expected to urge the three branches to collaborate and coordinate to push his agenda, develop the infrastructure of the country, and fight corruption.
The legislative, executive, and judicial have unique powers, but each branch has to cooperate with the others to accomplish policy making goals.
There are reports that the President would declare the pursuit of political renewal, that the political campaign is over and it is time, regardless of political affiliations and persuasions, to come together to heal and rebuild the nation.
Boakai is also expected to extend a hand of friendship and solidarity to the leadership and members of all political parties that participated in the recent presidential and legislative elections and call those who have been long in the struggle, as well as those who recently earned their stripes, to play important roles in rebuilding the country.
President Boakai would pledge his recognition and support a strong democratic and constructive opposition in Liberia, because it is believed that democratic culture and the nation are best served when the opposition is strong and engaged in the process of nation building.
Further, the President will call on Liberians of all political persuasions in the Diaspora to return home and join in meeting this exciting challenge of national renewal for a new dawn of democracy.