Labor Minister’s Dismissal Deepens Unity Party-Pres. Johnson-Sirleaf Brawl
Monrovia – The dismissal of former Labor Minister Neto Lighe was quite sudden and may have come as a surprise to those outside the circles of the ruling Unity Party; but for those within, it was anticipated.
Report by Lennart Dodoo, [email protected]
Neto Lighe’s dismissal was made public by the Executive Mansion last Friday, 1 December 2017 though his dismissal letter is dated November 28, 2017.
In a press statement, the Executive Mansion disclosed that the former minister was sacked “due to his continued gross disrespect and participation in wicked attack and false accusations levied against the presidency.”
However, his dismissal letter obtained by FrontPageAfrica rather had a moderate tone and failed to disclose specific reasons prompting his dismissal, rather, it stated the decision was in line with the power vested in the President by Article 56(a) of the Liberian Constitution.
Dear Mr. Lighe,
“With the authority granted me by Article 56(a) of the Constitution of the Republic of Liberia, I hereby inform you that you are relieved of the position of Minister of Labor, effective immediately.
You are hereby required, in keeping with policy, to turn over all government property, including vehicles, to the General Service Agency.
I thank you for the time you served this Administration and I know that with your exceptional skills you will achieve what you seek in your future endeavors.
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
Time To Move On
Immediately after the Executive Mansion made his removal public, Lighe took to social media to express his gratitude to Pres. Sirleaf for allowing him serve her government over the past seven years, adding: “It is now time to move on.”
He wrote: “Seven years ago, through a Presidential appointment, I entered mainstream government as an Assistant Minister at the Ministry of Internal Affairs.”
“Two years later, I was promoted to the position of Deputy Minister and then Minister of Labour.”
“There’s no singular honor than serving your country and I’m proud of the opportunity extended me to serve my country.”
“Today, seven years after, my service in government has come to an end. I want to use this occasion, on behalf of my family, extend my profound thanks and appreciation to Madam Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf for the opportunity extended me.”
“To all my colleagues in government and employees at the Ministry of Labour, thanks for your cooperation and service during my stay. It is now time to move on.”
Lighe’s dismissal seems to be digging old wounds between the President and the party that brought her to power.
It further exposes the intra-party brawl within the ruling party.
Speaking to FrontPageAfrica over the weekend, the deputy spokesman of the party, Mr. Mohammed Ali, found the reasons given by the Executive Mansion for Lighe’s dismissal as ludicrous.
He wondered why the content of his dismissal letter do not match the content of the press statement released by Presidential Press Secretary Jerolinmek M. Piah.
Ali said: “We think the explanation given on the Executive Mansion’s website is totally wrong because if somebody made a ‘wicked attack’ on the President – that is a serious crime that does not warrant only dismissal – remember this is the President we’re talking about, not any ordinary person.”
“To allege that the senior vice chairman of the party engaged into a ‘wicked attack’ on her that’s something that is worrisome.”
He added: “The reason on the Executive Mansion’s website is wrong. We think as a party that the only reason why Neto was sacked is because of his association with Vice President Joseph Nymah Boakai’s Presidential bid.”
Neto Lighe is a senior member of Vice President Boakai’s campaign team.
News Along the Corridors
FrontPageAfrica has been hinted that Lighe was dismissed based on suspicions that he masterminded and financed a protest by some members of the party, who called for the expulsion of President Sirleaf from the party.
According to sources, the President brought up the issue after a cabinet meeting and requested him to resign, terming his ‘action’ as gross disrespect.
But Lighe, who claimed innocence, informed the President that she was acting on gossip.
Lighe reportedly told the President he would not resign, rather she should effect the authority granted her by the Constitution to hire and fire at will.
Lots of heads have rolled over the last few months with many believing that their dismissals were as the result of their association with Vice President Boakai.
It can be recalled that former Nimba County Superintendent, Fong Zuagele, was relieved of his post shortly after an endorsement and fund raising ceremony for the Presidential bid of Boakai.
Dr. Augustine Konneh, Director-General, Foreign Service Institute (FSI); Cllr. Jeddi Armah, Deputy Minister for Public Affairs, (MICAT) and Magdalene Dagoseh, Assistant Minister for Administration, who also heads the Wings of Boakai, were also recently dismissed.
Their dismissals have, however, as believed by Unity Party officials, is due to their alignment with the Vice President.
This paper has also been hinted that the President has also asked Health Minister Dr. Bernice Dahn and Justice Minister Cllr. Fredrick Cherue to resign.
EJS Not Really with UP?
President Sirleaf has been accused by her own party of failing to lend the UP the support it deserves during this political season.
The Executive Mansion has refuted this claim vehemently.
Despite these denials, UP executives insist that Sirleaf has been withholding financial as well as moral support from the party during the 2017 electoral process.
In an October 29 joint press conference, a date that also marks the birthday of President Sirleaf, the Chairman of the party together with the chairmen of the opposition Liberty Party (LP) and All Liberian Party (ALP) accused the President of colluding with the Chairman of the National Elections Commission (NEC) to “rig” the October 10th Presidential and Legislative Elections on behalf of Senator George Weah’s Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC).
This allegation was denied by Press Secretary Piah, who said President Sirleaf believes in the tenets of democracy and it was unthinkable for any individual to think she would rig elections.