EDITORIAL: Pres. Weah’s Reversal of Controversial Former Speaker Alex Tyler’s Nomination Suggest It’s Time for Supporters To Make Adjustments
FOR MONTHS NOW president George Manneh Weah and many of his supporters have taken offense to critics and those raising red flags about early missteps in his administration. From the failed and controversial Eton and Ebomaf loans to an ill-advised hiring of partisans of the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change resulting to a bloated payroll that has now put the economy on the brinks of collapse, prompting the administration to issue an SOS call that has brought the International Monetary Fund(IMF) to the rescue, the President and his advisors have played deaf to the wailings of the Liberian people.
WHEN THE PRESIDENT named Mr. Alex J. Tyler as one of the government’s representatives to the ArcelorMIttal Company last week, it marked the latest in the long-line of ill-advised decisions that has raised questions about the President’s ability to govern amid concerns over the total disregard for governance, transparency, accountability and the rule of law.
BARELY 48 HOURS after the President’s appointment, public outcry forced him to issue a reversal of the appointment for a man who is yet to be cleared from a series of high-profile of corruption cases when he served as Speaker of the 53rd Legislature.
THE FORMER SPEAKER is currently on trial for allegedly soliciting and receiving bribes in the Sable Mining saga that was exposed by Global Witness’ ‘The Deceivers’ Report. The Sable Mining corruption scandal was the largest corrupt syndicate in Ex-President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s regime which involved several high-profile officials of her government.
ADDITIONALLY, the speaker was in September 2016, ousted from his position by his own peers through a resolution signed by 49 members of the House of Representatives in keeping with Article 49 of the Constitution which states: “The Speaker, the Deputy Speaker and other officers so elected may be removed from office for cause by resolution of two-thirds majority of the members of the House.”
THE DECISION by the 49 lawmakers was a result of a report from the committee on Rules, Orders and Administration which recommended that, in keeping with the House of Representatives rules 48.1, and 48.3 in the committee report, it was unanimously recommended that Representative Tyler be removed from his position as Speaker of the House of Representatives.
THE COMMITTEE REPORT CAME a result of a mandate given the committee by the plenary of the House of Representatives to investigate complaints brought before that body by Representative Henry Fahnbulleh (Unity Party, Montserrado County) and Samuel Korgar of Nimba County who accused lawmaker Tyler of taking bribe and other alleged criminal conducts against his position as a Speaker.
IN FEBRUARY, 2017, the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) found the former Speaker Tyler and the current Speaker, Bhofal Chambers to be in violation of ‘conflict of interest’ protocols and ‘violation of article 90, section A, B, & C of the Constitution of Liberia,’ as well as the National Code of Conduct, section 1.3.6.
THE LACC ALSO found former representative Kettehkumeh E. Murray, to be in violation of the Constitution in relation to their shares in the China United Investment Group.
AT THE TIME, the LACC recommended penalties as required in Part 15.1 of the Code of Conduct, which includes “dismissal, removal from office, reprimand, fines, demotion, seizure and forfeiture to the State of any property acquired from abuse of office and interdiction/suspension from duty with half pay.”
THE TRIO HAD cunningly setup a firm to win the contract for the construction of the Bong County Technical College (BCTC), sending shock waves to Liberians and international stakeholders.
HOW PRESIDENT WEAH and his advisors missed such a fresh detail to appoint the former speaker is beating the imagination of not just Liberians but international partners as well.
FOR THOSE CONTINUING to languish at the bottom of the economic ladder, the unending missteps is proving dangerous for a post-war bourgeoning democracy where the President has surrounded himself with a group that sees no wrong in what he does.
SADLY, THE PRESIDENT appears to tolerate such people to the detriment of his own administration and his pending legacy.
THE AURA PATRONAGE system, first started by late President William V.S.Tubman is showing its ugly face in Liberia today.
SADLY, THE EMPEROR without clothes is surrounded by folks refusing to tell him that he is naked.
IN THE DAYS after the June 7 protest, the world and the international media are joining a chorus of networks raising red flags about the presidency.
IN THE PAST WEEK, the BBC’s Resident President and African media sensation Adeola Fayehun have brought the missteps of the Liberian presidency to a broader platform, exposing the weaknesses and lapses of the Weah-led government.
BUT EVEN AMID THE outpouring of concerns, some of the president’s supporters see nothing wrong. “BBC, be reminded that your rudimentary characterization of our president will not go unnoticed,” one posted on Facebook Saturday.
LAST WEEK, , Elizabeth Donnelly, deputy head of the Africa Program at the influential Chatham House in London, discussed the recent demonstrations in Liberia and whether there is anything President Weah can do to regain his “man of the people” image.
DONNELLY OPINED: “These were the most significant protests in Liberia in over a decade, and they drew attention both from within the Liberian government and from international observers. They are protests of frustration and disappointment. President George Weah, having inherited a difficult economic situation, has quickly descended from hero to let-down in the popular imagination.”
DONNELLY ADDS: “This administration is part of a patronage system that is dominated by the old guard of Liberian politics. Reforming it will take tough decisions, confrontation within the ruling elite, a political balancing act, and improvements in government capacity over the course of many years. In the past year, there have been numerous allegations of stolen and missing public funds, including aid money from international donors, which suggest that progress has not been made on tackling corruption. Meanwhile, Weah has not responded to citizens’ demands to make public his declaration of assets, fueling speculation that his pledges to tackle corruption were insincere.”
INSTEAD OF President Weah and his supporters paying deaf ears to these burning issues, it would serve the President well to take a page from his predecessor who tread a similar path to their own detriment, leaving an unmemorable legacy for today’s generation.
TODAY, THE INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND reports that the country’s inflation is at 28 percent and the value of the Liberian dollar depreciated by 26 percent in 2018. The economy is forecast to grow by just 0.4 percent in 2019.
ACCORDING TO DONNELLY, this translates into even more hardship for people living in one of the poorest countries in the world. “Liberia ranks 181st out of 188 countries in the United Nations’ Human Development Index. The beleaguered economy the Weah government inherited has not been helped by low prices for Liberia’s key exports: rubber, palm oil and iron ore. But even still, the administration has struggled in its first year to make decisions and implement reforms that will channel resources away from corrupt and unnecessary spending and toward an agenda that actually helps the poor.”
ADOPTING A defensive posture is not a good way to address critics or those trying to make contributions to the national discourse.
LIBERIA DOES not belong to one party, one person or one group of people. Rulers and leaders before Weah thought that way and we all know how far that got them.
IF PRESIDENT WEAH IS to succeed, he must pay deaf ears to those singing the songs he want to hear and refusing or probably afraid to tell him when he is wrong.
DONNELLY PUTS it succinctly. “If Weah is to gain the trust of his constituents, he will need to acknowledge the problems of his own administration and publicly demonstrate that there are consequences for malfeasance and mismanagement. He will need to show that he can make changes to his team when necessary. Liberians need a signal from the president that he puts their welfare before the political system.”
THOSE SINGING the president’s praises have not been fair to him. Praising decisions like the one made on the former Speaker and now equally praising the president for reversing the decision only exposes the limitations of sycophancy and why President Weah could do himself a lot of good by tuning out sycophants and listening to the cries that really matters, the cries of the people and those languishing at the bottom of the economic ladder.