Monrovia – Fresh accusations coming from a top official of the Ministry of Commerce and Industries against Minister Wilson Tarpeh is drawing ire just two months after the ministry embarked on what was termed as a rigorous move to clean up irregularities in the country’s trade and commerce sector.
Report by Alpha Daffae Senkpeni, [email protected]
Jemima Wolokollie, Deputy Minister for Administration, accuses Mr. Tarpeh of conniving with shady foreign businesses in the country at the detriment of Liberian-owned businesses.
In her staggering claims made last week to the media, Wolokollie accused Tarpeh of antagonizing her because of her stance against his alleged shady dealings that contravene the government’s pro-poor agenda.
“I’m asking my boss for him to open the market for Liberians to be able to do rice, for Liberians to be able to do petroleum, for Liberians to be able to bring in onions, and he has refused,” she alleged. “It is very disturbing; why is Professor Trapeh giving me problem.”
She claims Minister Tarpeh is blocking all her efforts to prioritize the interest of Liberalization – a policy that provides exclusive trade and commerce privileges for Liberian entrepreneurs – and does not want her to succeed in her functions.
While deputy minister Wollokollie’s revelations find a way in the public, Minister Tarpeh has refused to comment on the allegations made against him because “doing so would be giving relevance to unsubstantiated allegations”.
Meanwhile, sources at the ministry say Minister Tarpeh insists that he is dedicated to leading “his young team at the ministry that has the zest to work instead of wasting his time on Wollokollie, who has shown traits of incompetence.”
Other sources have told FrontPageAfrica that the infighting between the two top officials has been ongoing for more than a month.
FPA gathered that Wollokollie had earlier “disrespected” Tarpeh because he denied her privileges to employ two of her relatives at the ministry and she has also shown “inaptitude since assuming her role at the ministry”.
There have been frequent outbursts between the pair during high-level meetings with the rift becoming perceptible in recent weeks.
The tension reached the boiling point when Tarpeh recently recommended the employment of an individual within Wollokollie‘s department. She rejected the mandate and demanded that the person leave the premises of the ministry.
FPA has been told that Tarpeh was furious and wrote President George Weah requesting Wollokollie’s removal from the ministry “because he can no longer work with her”.
Insiders at the ministry say Tarpeh’s letter to the President angered his deputy, who then opted to go public about the rift by making the allegations.
This is the first major internal wrangling within the Weah-led administration, which, observers say, has the propensity of destabilizing the government.