Monrovia – As he sails past midway in his six-year tenure, President George Weah has warned his cabinet and members of the Executive branch that it is no time to play if they are to stay on board.
Addressing the 54th Legislature in his fourth annual message on Monday at an event attended by officials of government and the diplomatic corps, President Weah, at the end of his speech warned his lieutenants that there will be “no room for error.”
“I have mandated the entire machinery of my administration to recalibrate and enhance the focus on finding lasting solutions to the bread and better issues facing our people. Therefore, there will be no room for error, no room for laxity. All ministers and officials. TAKE NOTE!”
The President’s comments come amid public outcry on several non-performing officials and growing calls for the removal of appointees deemed not deserving of holding office.
It also comes on the heels of his party’s massive defeat in the December 8, 2020 Special Senatorial Elections where his party lost senatorial seats in several vote rich counties including Montserrado, which it has always considered its stronghold.
While the President has been applauded by the nation’s key bilateral and multilateral partners for his government’s subtle effort in containing the spread of the COVID-19 and scoring high in the IMF standard set to measure his government’s progress in building the economy, huge portion of the population continues to criticize him over what the growing hardship amid a sloppy economy.
Despite growing calls for the President to act decisively by reshuffling his cabinet, he has often defended his officials and called on the public to be patient and give him and his team more time to deliver.
But why the change of tune this time, and at no other place, but during the State of the Nation Address (SONA)?
Growing Public Outcry
Political pundits and observers have pointed to President Weah’s daring comments in his annual message to the sustained calls for a major reshuffle in his administration as some of his officials were not up to the task. FrontPage Africa takes a look at some of the officials that continue to come under staunch criticisms but still have the President’s backing.
Minister of Education
Recently, the President, following a tour of major public schools across Monrovia and its suburbs, expressed dismayed over the deplorable learning environment- filthy and unsanitary conditions of the schools.
“I am very disappointed in school authorities. I am so shocked to see students learning in such a poor state without the authorities doing anything about it. The education authorities are wrong to allow students to attend class in such a poor condition,” he said.
“They are wrong and, these issues are something that they should have taken care of. I wonder we can think about our own children seeing these things,” the President pointed out while blaming the Education authorities headed by Minister Ansu Sonii and head of the Monrovia Consolidated School System (MSCC). Despite publicly rebuking Minister Sonii and his team, President Weah has taken no action.
Cllr. Ndubuisi Nwabudike
For many, the Executive Director of the Liberia Anti-corruption Commission (LACC), Cllr. Ndubuisi Nwabudike should have exited Liberia’s premium integrity House by now over his questionable citizenship status that was brought to light during his confirmation hearing at the Liberian Senate following his appointment as Chairman of the National Elections Commission (NEC). Though President Weah withdrew Nwabudike’s nomination when it was certain that the Senate was set to reject him, the President has refused to fire him from the LACC, even after the Liberian National Bar Association, the professional body he once served revoked his membership.
Recently, a writ of arrest was issued by Commercial Court Judge Eva Mappy Morgan for Cllr. Nwabudike and his top management team at the LACC for disobeying the court’s order to pay more than US$61,000 to former employees of the institution as their due benefits.
Minister Samuel Tweah
Finance and Development Planning Minister Tweah is no doubt one of the most trusted aides of President Weah, but also one of the most resented public officials in his government. Ever since the much publicized report of the alleged missing L$16 billion emerged and US$25 million questionable mop up exercise, there have been calls from both the opposition and the public for Minister Tweah to take the exit door. He has been consistently blamed for the crumbling state of the economy.
Despite calls for his removal, President Weah continues to give him his blessings, even publicly professing that he was up to the task.
“If you get in Samuel Tweah’s position now and in a month’s time you have a complication, money is not coming in because people are not paying their taxes, and your budget shortfall and you can’t get money in the coffer in the one month, I should sack you, is that what you’re trying to say?”, said President Weah in defense of Minister Tweah during a live radio interview with John Kollie, Executive Director of the Liberia Media Initiative for Democratic Initiatives and current Information Minister Legerhood Rennie when he served as Director General of the State Broadcaster in 2019.
Minister Nathaniel McGill
Often called the Prime Minister of Liberia, the Minister of State for Presidential Affairs, who serves as the President’s Chief of Staff and closest aide, Nathaniel McGill has not been spared by the public scrutiny as calls for him to leave heighten. The opposition often blame him as one of President Weah’s inner circles that has amassed huge wealth within a considerable short time. McGill has consistently denied ever amassing wealth illegally. He is often vocal on condemning the opposition and shifting blame on the Legislature for being responsible over the sloppiness of the economy for failing to authorize the printing of more money to address the liquidity crisis. President Weah has also ruled parting ways with his former party chairman who led the “Grand Coalition” to victory in 2017.
“I am the leader of this country, I have to evaluate. You know I did critical thinking in school, and I hope that would encourage Liberians to do critical thinking; we have to go for information, process them, and evaluate them before we make decision because if I jump to conclusion, there would be lot of issues here,” said while responding back in December 2019 when he was asked if he will give in to persistent calls to sack under par performing officials including his Chief of Staff.
Different Tune In Annual Message
While segment of the public remains skeptical over the President’s warning, some are hopeful that the President has come to grips with the reality that time is running out for him and his administration to fulfill the promises made to Liberians back in 2017. And the December 2020 Special Senatorial Election was a wakeup call for him to act decisively as he begins his fourth year in to his administration.