Liberia: Potential Void at Ministry of Foreign Foreign as Four Names Emerge for Possible Replacement of Gbezohnga Findley
Monrovia – Six months ahead of the December 8, 2020 Senatorial Mid Term elections, speculations continue to heighten of a potential void at the helm of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with Minister Milton Gbezohnga Findley widely expected to take a bow in hopes of mounting a serious challenge against the incumbent Senator Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence(Liberty Party) in Grand Bassa County.
Analysis by Rodney D. Sieh, [email protected]
Findley, a former Senate Pro Temp, won a Senate seat for Grand Bassa, in the 2005 Presidential elections as an independent. If he does enter the race officially, it is widely expected he will run on the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change ticket, having endorsed the George Weah presidential quest in the second round of the 2017 presidential elections; and has been in the government since its inception.
Executive Mansion sources confirmed to FrontPageAfrica Tuesday, that President George Manneh Weah is working on a major reshuffle of his administration with the Foreign Ministry lined up for change due to Minister Findley’s reported interest in contesting.
Insiders say, the ruling party sees Findley as its strongest bet to give the incumbent a tough fight. Both Montserrado County, held by incumbent Darius Dillon and Bassa are seen as top priorities for the ruling party, looking to regain control of the county they lost and gain a football in two of the biggest vote-rich counties in Liberia.
The President, according to a close source will likely announce a shakeup by mid-July.
Whoever replaces Findley would be required to steer the direction of Liberia’s external direction and ease the lingering issue of diplomats and foreign service staffers overseas. Only a few current officials are said to be on a shortlist of potential replacement. They are the current Ambassador to the United States of America, George Pattern, the current Ambassador to the United Nations, Dee Maxwell Kemayah, the current Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Marwine Diggs and Information Minister Lenn Eugene Nagbe.
A Look at those under consideration
AMBASSADOR DEE MAXWELL KEMAYAH, Sr.
Kemayah was commissioned as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary and Permanent Representative of the Republic of Liberia to the United Nations and all its Organs on September 12, 2018, assuming responsibilities at the Office of the Permanent Mission in New York, United States of America (USA).
Prior to his appointment, Kemayah worked in the private sector and with several non-governmental Organization/Civil Society, Private and Public Sectors, with emphasis on Public Policy Administration, Diplomacy, Governance, Development, and Humanity.
Prior to his current assignment; Ambassador Kemayah served as Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs for Administration at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where he was directly responsible to ensure; and did ensure effective and efficient functioning of the Home Office at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; and the Foreign Service of the Republic of Liberia; through budget formulation and execution; and administrative and logistical support; in consultation with Minister Findley.
Ambassador Kemayah also currently serves as the Political Leader and National Chairman of the Movement for Economic Empowerment (MOVEE), which contested the 2017 Representative and Presidential Elections.
From 2015 to 2017, Ambassador Kemayah served as Chairman of the Liberia Coordinating Mechanism (LCM)–the Coordinating Body that governs all Global Fund programs and activities in Liberia; especially; in relation to HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. As Chairman of the LCM; Ambassador Kemayah served as Global Fund Representative to the Health Sector Pool Fund Steering Committee (HSPFSC). The HSPFSC comprises of international donors and representatives of the Government of Liberia; and has oversight mandate for the Health Sector Pool Fund. The Fund was established to support the implementation of the 2011-2021 National Health and Social Welfare Policy and Plan; and the Investment Plan for Building a Resilient Health System 2015-2021.
As an integral part of his professional life, Ambassador Kemayah also served on several Boards in Liberia; including the National Commission on Higher Education, National AIDS Commission of Liberia and the Liberia Institute of Statistics and Geo-Information Services (LISGIS). Ambassador Kemayah also served as President of the Liberian Business Association (LIBA) from November 18, 2011, to January 6, 2017; where he successfully decentralized and transformed LIBA-The Apex Body; and The Voice and Face of Liberian owned businesses; unprecedentedly bringing it to national and international prominence.
Kemayah holds a Master of Arts Degree in Development Studies (MADS); with Honor (Credit), Diploma in Microfinance and Community Economic Development; with Honor (Upper First Class–Suma Cum Laude); and a Bachelor of Arts (BA) Degree in Microfinance and Community Economic Development; with Honor (Upper Second Class–Magna Cum Laude); all from the Catholic Owned and Run Uganda Martyrs University in Nkozi, Uganda, East Africa. He also holds a Bachelor of Science (BSc) Degree in Mathematics from the University of Liberia (Class of 1989).
Ambassador Kemayah is married to an astute Liberian; and a God Fearing Woman of True Virtues, Substance, Integrity, Professionalism, and Productivity- Reverend Mrs. Dialokai Golanyon-Kemayah, a Registered and Ophthalmic Nurse; and their union is very much blessed with nine (9) dependents.
THE VERDICT: Kemayah came under fire during the early days of the Weah presidency over of all things, his fashion choice or lack thereof. When his appointment to the UN came through, many tore him to pieces for a suit that went viral on social media. At his confirmation hearing, he told Senator Conmany Wesseh that the poor display of the suit on him was due to camera trick. As Ambassador, Kemayah has upped his game in that department.
LENN EUGENE NAGBE
The current minister of Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism is one of the government’s most efficient communicators. In recent weeks, however, multiple sources suggest the minister have been pitching a move away from MICAT with the MOFA named among a list of possible destinations.
Nagbe was Secretary General of the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC), before bolting for the former ruling Unity Party. He was one of a handful of EJS officials held on by Weah when he took over in 2018.
He is a former Minister of Transportation. Born on August 11, 1969, in Harper Maryland County, Southeastern Liberia. He undertook primary and secondary education in Harper before enrolling at the University of Liberia where he earned a bachelor’s degree in Mass Communication. He was Secretary General of the CDC, a political party in Liberia organized and formed by Soccer Legend George Manneh Weah.Nagbe was previously an assistant police commissioner from 1998 to 2000, Chief of Staff to the Vice President of Liberia from 2000 to 2003 and Minister of Post and Telecommunications from 2003 to 2006.
THE VERDICT In his role as the government’s chief spokesperson, Nagbe never shies away from taking on the opposition and critics holding government’s feet to the fire. But does he has what it takes to transition to promoting government’s foreign service agenda? His role in former Charles Taylor’s government often comes back to haunt.
Currently, the Deputy Minister for Administration at the MOFA, Diggs is a former president and chief academic officer of the Eastern Campus in Michigan’s Wayne County Community College District in the United States of America. She left that position to join the Weah administration in October 2018; first as Director-General of the National Commission on Higher Education, overseeing regulation and policy regarding institutions of higher education and later as Deputy Minister at MOFA.
The youngest of four children, Diggs went to the United States with her mother. Diggs returned to Liberia for junior high and high school, worked a couple of years after graduating and returned to the U.S. for college.
She attended Roanoke College, becoming a charter member of the school’s chapter of Delta Sigma Theta sorority and the first Black student government association president before graduating in 2006 with a bachelor’s degree in sociology and environmental policy.
Diggs has a master’s degree in education from Clemson University. An advocate of diversity, she has taught leadership courses at Clemson and at the University of Maryland – College Park, where she also worked in residence life.
Diggs moved to Detroit in 2011 to serve as district dean of student services. In 2015, The Michigan Chronicle named her to its annual list of “50 Women of Excellence.”
THE VERDICT: The Weah administration has come under fire for not having women appointed to senior-level Cabinet positions. Diggs, who has made a strong push for investors to explore investment opportunities in Liberia’s growing market economy, could have the edge here as the administration looks to address growing sentiments surrounding women in the administration.
AMBASSADOR GEORGE PATTERN
With more than twenty years in public service, including as a career diplomat, building bilateral and multilateral relationships, Ambassador Pattern has engaged at all levels of government, regional, sub-regional, the UN system, and non-governmental organizations, forging relationships and building consensus around critical issues to achieve overall objectives.
Ambassador Pattern holds a Master of Arts in International Relations (MA) from the University of Liberia, a Bachelor of Laws (LL.B) from the St Mary’s University College, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) University of Liberia
He has received several certificates including on International Migration Law, Conflict Prevention: Toward More Effective, Conflict Prevention, Peacebuilding and Diplomacy.
Prior to his appointment as Ambassador to the United States and Pplenipotentiary of Liberia to
Ethiopia and Permanent Representative to the Africa Union (AU) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), Ambassador Pattern has also served as Ambassador of Liberia to Kenya, Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda.
In his current capacity, he has led the transformation of the Embassy and strengthened the presence of Liberia in Ethiopia and at the African Union Commission. Under the Joint Cooperation Agreement signed between Liberia and Ethiopia, the ambassador negotiated the signing of Memoranda of Understanding on Technical and Vocational Education (TVET); Industrial Development; Agriculture; Live Stock and Fisheries Development; and Health and Medical Sciences. He also negotiated scholarships and training opportunities for Liberians in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Uganda.
At the African Union, he led many Liberia delegations to meetings of the Union. As First Vice Chair on the PRC Sub-Committee on Multilateral Cooperation and Second Vice Chair on the PRC Sub-Committee on Administrative, Budgetary and Administrative Matters. he ensured Liberia’s election for the first time, to the AU Peace and Security Council. I strongly advocated for the recruitment of Liberians to the AU Commission.
Pattern previously served as CHARGE D’AFFAIRES, at the Permanent Mission of Liberia to the United Nations, New York, administering the affairs of the mission and representing Liberia at the highest level of the United Nations including negotiating and presenting the views and concerns of Liberia at the UN General Assembly and its relevant Committees; the UN Security Council and other agencies of the UN, as well as in the African Group on matters relating to Liberia and Africa, the Non-Aligned Movement.
THE VERDICT: Haven’t spent several years in the foreign service in various capacities, Pattern has a strong read of the plight of staffers at missions abroad, a major issue that has been dogging the ministry for years.