Gbarnga, Bong County – Since coming to power on January 22nd, there are clear indications that those with vested interest have continued to play dominant roles in determining who gets what in the administration of President Joseph Boakai.
The Presidency has been inundated with intense lobbying for strategic positions, as the ruling Unity Party (UP), affiliating political parties and Boakai’s close political allies battle for the spoils of victory. The allegation is that the administration is high on politics. The priority to settle cronies is very high.
By Selma Lomax, [email protected]
An assessment of the President’s appointments so far indicates that there has been no clear departure from the old order, where a system that promotes the president’s county of nativity has been taken into serious consideration.
The appointments made so far have favored Lofa County, where the President comes from. These appointed areas where Lofians have been appointed include; the Mayor of Monrovia, the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces, the Minister of Internal Affairs-designate, Ministry of Youth and Sports, LISGIS, Deputy Minister of Public Works, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, the head of the Liberia Revenue Authority, the Minister of Education, Deputy Minister for Administration, General Services Agency, Assistant Minister for Special Services, Minister of States without Portfolio, Managing Director, Liberia Telecommunications Corporation, Director, and General Corporation Development Agency.
It means fifteen out of the 39 appointed first sets of government officials come from Lofa County. On the other hand, Bong County has been allocated three ministers, Bomi County has been rewarded with two as well as Grand Bassa, Nimba County has two appointed cabinet officials, Sinoe County has one, while Cape Mount County has been awarded one cabinet minister.
South-Eastern Liberia, which comprises of six counties, including Grand Gedeh, Sinoe, Maryland, Grand Kru, Rivergee, and Rivercess, has received only one ministerial position.
Based on the above, Boakai had promised to prevent the dominance by any sectional group, be it ethnic, geographic or religious, in the country’s political governance. “I will ensure that every county has its fair share of cabinet minister when am elected president,” Boakai said during a campaign rally in Bong County.
President Boakai added: “The composition of the Government and the conduct of its affairs shall be carried out in such a manner as to promote national unity and also to command national loyalty, thereby ensuring that there shall be no predominance of persons from a few county or from a few ethnic or other sectional groups in my government.”
The development has generated mixed reactions from Liberians and groups across the country. Some days ago, the executive director of the Bong Concerned Youth Movement and an opinion leader in Bong County, said President Boakai’s appointment of Francis Nyumalin as Minister of Internal Affairs appears that he is pushing an unseemly pro-ethnic agenda.
“That the previous administration of President George Weah toed a visionless, divisive path, in the overwhelming tribalistic appointments it made, should never excuse this course that fundamentally degrades the legitimate dream of a new, progressive, inclusive country.”
“I earn the right to speak truth to power because President Boakai is somebody that I, Alex Flomo, respect with the greatest respect.I strongly feel he is threading on a dangerous path and must be checkmated.”
Similarly, the head of the Bong Intellectual Class (BIC), William Dolo, some days ago condemned appointments made so far by Boakai, noting that they are lopsided and favored mainly Lofians. He advised the President to ensure balance in the coming appointments.
“We are shocked to our marrow that President Boakai has been appointing more Lofians to key positions since the inception of this administration at the expense of other counties. For instance, his recent appointment of Internal Affairs Minster Francis Nyumalin, an ally to Boakai, makes it more than five cabinet ministers from Lofa County. I think this is totally unacceptable,” he said.
Morris Wrupu, chairman of the Unstoppable Youth Movement and a political analyst, said nepotism seemed to have become the norm and leadership culture among Libera’s presidents in recent time, but stressed that it was a result of faulty democratic system.
On Sunday, Nimba County Senator, Prince Johnson, expressed displeasure over the neglect of the county, which played a significant role in President Boakai’s election. He called for a more equitable distribution of appointments to ensure that all regions benefit from economic development opportunities.
Meanwhile, Martin Lawor, a lecturer of Cuttington University and a ranking member of Unity Party Bong Chapter, said It was too early in the regime to accuse the President of nepotism.
Lawor said: “In his ministerial appointments so far, I do not see where he contravened the principles of good governance, all the counties will be factored in. it’s just the matter of time. Of course, people are apprehensive about one or two other appointments he has made with the fear that he may be toeing the path of the immediate past president (Weah) who skewed the appointments to his region without concerns from the public.
“There are several other appointments to be made; so many agencies and board appointments to be made. We may have to be a little more patient with him before we jump to conclusions.”
“This approach is vital for the development of the nation and the promotion of unity among its diverse population,” Lawor said.