Liberia: ’26 Orator’s Choice A Breach Of Government’s Own Vetting Scheme

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MONROVIA CITY MAYOR Mr. Jefferson Koijee, during an appearance on the OK FM Afternoon conversation show Thursday announced that after a careful vetting process, City Hall and the Ministry of Gender and Child Service Protection have selected Mr. Samuel D. Tweah, Minister of Finance and Development Planning as this year’s 171st Independence Day orator.

MR. TWEAH’S SELECTION clearly falls in line with the perceptions many feel about the George Weah-led government that it despises objective thinking and independent voices.

PAST INDEPENDENCE DAY ORATORS have ranged from historians, scholars, educators, clergymen and women, politicians and business owners.

OUR CONCERN REGARDING this year’s choice has nothing to do with the comparison with previous speakers but rather the manner in which Mayor Koijee and the Gender ministry has misled the Liberian people regarding the process of selecting this year’s orator.

NEARLY OVER A WEEK AGO, the mayor told a news conference that a committee comprising members of the MCC and the Gender Ministry would undertake a transparent vetting process in which an orator will emerge to serve this year’s event.

MADAM MEMINAH CARR, Assistant Minister for Children and Social Protection at the Gender Ministry told Liberians last Thursday, June 21, 2018, that the vetting process intends to discover a new voice in the history of celebrating Liberia’s independence.

THE MINISTER WENT as far as pledging a “transparent and crystal clear” which would be open to the general public for young people between the ages of 15 to 35 years.

THE MINISTER INVITED young people from high school to masters’ level of the required age to apply to be the national orator.  “We are accepting applications from high school to masters’ level and the application process beings June 22 to July 15 2018,” she said.

WHATEVER HAPPENED TO the committee’s pledge to ensure that the process remains clean of biases? Who comprised the panel of judges set up to review applications and vet applicants? More importantly, did the MCC and the gender ministry present their choices to the public for final vetting as promised? In the minister’s own words: “Five (5) persons will be the finalists from the judges vetting and voting thereafter will be open to the public for three (3) days, anyone can vote for one of the five candidates in the process including market women among others”.

MAYOR KOIJEE WENT as far as to state that the process is open up to all young people irrespective of your political affiliations.

MAYOR KOIJEE WAS RIGHT and we agree that the ruling CDC members are human beings and are entitled to be amongst those in the pool for selection. However, when the so-called vetting committee comes up with a middle-age man who is a veteran of the party, it kills the entire objective and the idea of presenting a fresh voice to the national discourse.

MINISTER TWEAH’S selection is a clear breach of what many believed was an honest pledge toward the search of a national day orator.

THE SAD REALITY is that there are so many young Liberians out there who are doing great things and fall in line with the objective of what this vetting process was looking to achieve.

SATTA F. SHERIFF one of Liberia’s staunch Child Rights Advocate and among the most influential Teenagers in Liberia today. She started her advocacy for children as far back at age 9 at which time she vouched to improve the living conditions of children rights in Liberia.

AT SUCH A YOUNG AGE, Satta has established #Youth in Action for Peace and Empowerment, a child and youth driven Charity NGO, where she serves as its Executive Director and recently served as the First Female Speaker of the Liberian Children’s Parliament (now, the Liberian Children’s Forum) and in 2016, Satta was the Youngest Speaker at Liberia first ever TEDx Event organized by ILab Liberia and partners.

DURING THE HEATS OF EBOLA IN 2014, Satta became a Champion for Children’s Rights in West Africa by caring and saving lives through campaign awareness and through her popular Radio Talk Show called #Kid and U. During those difficult days, Satta also developed a health promotional project titled #Your Support, Our Future; a project designed and solicited supports from donors for the well-being of thousands of orphans affected by the Ebola Virus.

THEN THERE’S Abraham M. Keita, who grew up in extreme poverty with his mother and siblings in West Point, the largest slum of Liberia’s capital, Monrovia to emerge as one of Liberia’s leading youth advocates today.

KEITA’S ADVOCACY STARTED when he was only nine-years-old. Outraged by the rape and murder of a 13-year-old girl in his community, he took part in a peaceful protest demanding that the perpetrators – her foster parents – be brought to trial. Making an impression on his peers, Keita was invited to join the Liberian Children’s Parliament, where his passion for advocacy was nurtured.

THERE ARE SO MANY young Liberians out there doing so many great things and bringing attention to the issue of rape and abuse of young children all across Liberia.

MAYOR KOIJEE AND the Ministry of Justice have thrown away a glowing opportunity to bring attention to the plight of many young children struggling in Liberia today, many of whom were part of the struggle of the party that is now running the state of affairs.

TWELVE YEARS AGO, Liberia celebrated the election of the first-ever woman head of state. Sadly, many of the issues confronting women were ignored and an opportunity was lost.

WE HOPE that for the sake of Liberia’s future, another opportunity is not lost for the youths on whose backs the current government came to power.

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