Liberia: A Bit Too Early For Writings To Be On The Wall, President Weah


LIKE A CHICKEN WITHOUT A HEAD, the new government of President George Manneh Weah continues to run amok while encountering one misstep after another.

CLAMORED BY cheering praise singers and blinded by the obviousness of what is unfolding, Mr. Weah and his cohorts appear to be slowly falling into abyss of the very quicksand of bad governance his Coalition for Democratic Change, previously the Congress for Democratic Change criticized in the past.

THE PARTY WHICH was one of the vocal opposition of yesterday has become the oppressors of free speech and the very media it rode on yesterday to tell their stories and take on the government of the yesterday.

JEFFERSON KOIJEE, the party’s former youth leader, now Mayor of the city of Monrovia charged last week that the ruling establishment will not be intimidated by reports from the media. “We stand tall to work for our people and care less about the media criticism of this Government,” Mr. Koijee declared while speaking during programs marking the turning over ceremony of Mr. Moseray Momoh as Deputy Director for Administration of the Liberia Water and Sewer Corporation.

IRONICALLY, MR. KOIJEE’S comments came in the backdrop of media reports and a FrontPageAfrica investigation which found that Mr. Momoh had been blacklisted by the African Development Bank and forced to step down from the LWSC on July 30, 2015 after discovering that his dismissal was imminent.

AN INVESTIGATION COMMITTEE recommendation Mr. Momoh’s dismissal due to his alleged involvement with tampering with the bidding process for the contract. The investigation found him liable of the tampering with the bid process and failing to disclose his relation with one of the companies/individuals participating in the bid.

MOMOH’S appointment is just one of many drawing the new government in the line of fire of critics still baffled about the seriousness of the administration to implement its Change for Hope mantra of the Presidential campaign.

THE INCLUSION OF what many international stakeholders and traditional partners see as inexperience people in strategic areas of government is making it increasingly difficult for the new government to convince its partners that it means well for the people of Liberia.

NOW COMES A STRONG condemnation from the international watchdog group, Global Witness slamming the illegal removal of Konah Karmo, Head of Secretariat of the Liberia Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (LEITI). “The firing of Mr. Karmo by President George Weah, who has replaced him with Gabriel Nyenkan, violates Liberian law and severely undermines the independence of Liberia’s critical anti-corruption agency,” the watchdog group charged.

NYENKAN was appointed on March 5, 2018 and walked into the LEITI offices accompanied by Liberian police officers and demanded that the current Secretariat Head Konah Karmo leave the building, which he did.

GLOBAL WITNESS, in a statement Monday said: “The removal of Mr Karmo and appointment of Mr Nyenkan is illegal. Liberia’s LEITI Act states that only the LEITI Multi-stakeholder Steering Group (MSG) can appoint or remove the Head of Secretariat[i]. This safeguard is critical for the maintenance of LEITI’s independence, ensuring that the agency is not dominated by any of its constituent groups or subject to external interference.”

THE ORGANIZATION ADDED: “President Weah must immediately withdraw his appointment of Gabriel Nyenkan, allowing Konah Karmo to resume his duties as LEITI Head of Secretariat,” said Simon Clydesdale, extractive industries campaign leader at Global Witness. “LEITI’s independence is fundamental to its mandate and for the political credibility of Liberia, it cannot be the playground of political appointments.”

LEITI IS AN AUTONOMOUS Liberian agency that ensures transparency in Liberia’s forestry, oil, mining, and agricultural plantation sectors. It has the legal mandate to publish company contracts and the money they pay to the government. LEITI is governed by an independent MSG that is comprised of representatives from the government, companies, and Liberian civil society groups. Together, these representatives can keep one another accountable and ensure LEITI continues to promote and deliver transparency.

THE APPOINTMENT, according to Global Witness, was in violation of section 6.3d of the LEITI Act which gives powers to the MSG ‘to recruit and dismiss the Head and the Deputy Head of the LEITI Secretariat, and to approve the recruitment of all other staff and consultants’.

THE LEITI SAGA follows the recent hiring of three of the President’s siblings by the Acting Managing Director of the National Port Authority. 

THE EXECUTIVE MANSION is yet to refute Celia Cuffy-Brown’s actions, which points to blatant justification for acts of nepotism by the new government that dispersed the ramifications of a corrupt system.

PERHAPS BUOYED BY the lack of stance on the issue by the Executive, Ms. Cuffy Brown has repeatedly defended her actions at the port regarded as the gateway to Liberia’s economy. “You’re talking about the President’s brothers, if 10 of the President’s brothers should have come to me should I ask, ‘is your name Weah? Are you related to the President?’” 

THE ACTING NPA BOSS argued: “First of all, I think the President must have trusted my judgment when he hired me to work…, if I need to make a decision, I am not going to the President to ask because we have to respect human dignity,” said Celia Coffey-Brown. 

THE PRESIDENT IS also facing criticisms over his failure to declare his assets in the wake of several personal construction projects taking place at the same time.

TODAY, THE INDICATIONS suggest that the Weah-led government is on the verge of breaking away form the fiscal discipline mechanisms set up by the International Monetary Fund(IMF) and sanctioned by key stakeholders in a bid to secure a US$500.00 loan to undertake the Southeast road project.

THE IMF and the World Bank are both against this and so are others, suggesting that the Weah government is determined to shut its ears to what is unfolding around it.

THESE ARE THE types of missteps which if left unchecked breeds dictatorship and dictatorships breed chaos, destruction and uncertainty, a road Liberia has trekked many times over.

A ROAD the likes of Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza has trekked many times as he resisted opposition in his quest for a third term in office; a road Camerounians are dreading under Paul Biya and in Rwanda where Paul Kagame is seeking to breach his two-term limit in his quest for a third term.

SADLY, HISTORY HAS SHOWN that arrogance and stubbornness lead no where and are only short-lived.

HISTORY HAS ALSO SHOWN that no matter how long the night, day will break as it broke in Gambia where Yahya Jammeh saw his reign come to an end after 22 years in power, even after declaring in a BBC 2011 interview: “If I have to rule this country for one billion years I will.”

HISTORY WAS ALSO evident in Burkina Faso, where Blaise Compaore, was overthrown by a popular protest for trying to change the constitution so that he could seek re-election.

IN LIBERIA, a government less than 100-days old is already projecting a 12 to 24 year-rule when it has not even started to fulfill the promises it made to alleviate the poor out of poverty and change past and current conditions to hope.

THE LATE US PRESIDENT JOHN F. KENNEDY while addressing a ceremony at Amherst College in Amherst, Massachusetts in October 26, 1963 remarked: “When power leads men towards arrogance, poetry reminds him of his limitations. When power narrows the areas of man’s concern, poetry reminds him of the richness and diversity of existence. When power corrupts, poetry cleanses.”

BY DEFINITION, major international stakeholders conclude that Pro-poor growth is a term used for primarily national policies to stimulate economic growth for the benefit of poor people – primarily in the economic sense of poverty. “Pro-poor growth can be defined as absolute, where the poor benefits from overall growth in the economy, or relative – which refers to targeted efforts to increase the growth specifically among poor people.”

NO LIBERIAN wants this government to succeed more than those who continue to point out the early signs and writings on the wall, writings that are mirroring many of the trappings of yesterday. For the sake of Liberia and the future of the generations yet unborn, Mr. Weah and his government must begin to mute their ears to the praise singers and sycophants and begin to listen more to early cries of the afflicted while paying keen attention to the early writings on the wall before the damage now creeping up becomes irreparable.