Liberia: President Weah’s Mandate to the Medicine & Health Product Regulatory Authority Defied

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Monrovia – President George Weah’s mandate to rescue the Liberia Medicines and Health Products Regulatory Authority from the hands of Senator Saah Joseph has been either ignored or placed in the dust bin.

Senator Joseph, who is considered a close buddy of the President, has been viewed by many as one of the major decision makers in government.

The Montserrado County Senator was recently accused of using his influence to usurp the President’s power by appointing staff at the LMHRA including his much-criticized move to dismiss the head of the agency.

The office of the President then immediately nullified all of the senator’s involvement with employment and dismissal at the agency.

“President Weah has directed that all actions of appointment and dismissal carried out at LMHRA as a result of Senator Joseph’s communications are nulled. He has also directed the Minister of Finance to effect a freeze on all accounts of the entity pending a review of its financial records.” said a statement from the Executive Mansion.

“President Weah has described his action as an unlawful act that runs contrary to Article 56A of the Constitution of Liberia, which grants exclusive authority to the President of the Republic to appoint all such officials.”

Despite the mandate, staff who were employed by the directive of Senator Joseph are still going to work regularly, which some say is a blatant disrespect to the President.

FrontPageAfrica can confirm that the cost attached to the 25 new employees is causing the entity serious financial constraint, and the LMHRA has been unable to pay its staff salaries for nearly four months, something that constrained the agency to request a bank overdraft.

The 25 persons imposed on the agency by Senator Joseph include: Huge P. Bladee, Antoinette Mulbah, Nicklaus D. Nimely, Lassanan M. Dorley, II, Wynetta Kollie, Sekou M. Bility, Sheik T. Konneh, Mayamu Kamara, Asatta B. Tekai, Patience M. K. Bonsrah, Frances W. Bestman and Arthur N. Gbotoe.

Others are James Z. Sorsor, Prince S. Bunah, Moses S. Zogbaye, Koyo Freeman, Jesse Gbotoe, Adolphus Saywatt, Trokon College, Varney Sheriff, Walter Smith, Angel R. Banda, Teta Synyenlentu, J. Kollie Golakpai and Musu Kamara.

The letter addressed to the LMHRA Managing Director David Sumo by Senator Joseph in 2018 read: “I present my esteemed compliments and write to high recommend the following capable persons whose names are attached hereto for employment to any suitable positions that best fit their qualifications at the Liberia Medicine and Health Product Regulatory Authority (LMHRA). FrontPage Africa was able to obtain a copy of the letter from the Senator to the LMHRA.”

Senator Joseph insisted that the 25 individuals are capable, suitable and fit to occupy any position at the LMHRA and as such Mr. Sumo should consider the recommendations his demand.

Meanwhile, calls have intensified for the President to constitute the LMHRA’s Board of Directors before making appointment of a new Managing Director.

The request, which comes from stakeholders of the sector, is expected to help avert external influence of lawmakers like Senator Joseph.

Henry Wolokole, A former board member of the LMHRA, said the president’s refusal to constitute a board will hamper the entity operations.

“If this is not done local and international partners may not want to work with that entity and as such many Liberians may die as a result of poor regulation of the sector and pharmacist owners will be importing fake and expired medicines in the country,” he said.

Wolokole noted that the selfish interest of officials of government including some lawmakers is affecting the health sector of the country.

“If the sector is not regulated and monitored by a constituted board, these guys will flood the market with lots of fake drugs that might kill people and when we are not careful there will be an outbreak that we cannot control, the president needs to be careful who to put down there, that place is serious minded entity that supposed to protect,” he said.

“If the president really loves his people and he wants them to live, we urge him to do the right thing and appoint  professional people who know the job instead of satisfying people who believe to confidant to the power that be.” Wolokole, however, called on the President to ignore the “noise” at the LMHRA and appoint a professional and capable person to run the entity.

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