Liberia: Unity Party Chairman Flexes Muscles on National Coordinating Committee; Says He’s the ‘CEO’ of the Party
MONROVIA – Unity Party Chairman Luther Tarpeh has vehemently rejected a mandate from nine aggrieved members of the National Coordinating Committee (NCC) to dissolve the Ad-hoc Committee he set up to design guidelines for County Restructuring pending conclusion on proposed discussions surrounding the formulation of the party’s Standing Committees on Elections and Campaign, Religious Affairs and Grievance and Ethics.
The NCC is the highest decision making body of the UP.
By Obediah Johnson
In a communication dated November 4, the aggrieved nine NCC members of the UP accused Chairman Tarpeh of allegedly violating several portions of the party’s constitution when he unilaterally went ahead and appointed an Ad-hoc Committee on County Restructuring.
The aggrieved executives include: Dabah M. Varpilah (National Vice Chair for Administration), Ben A. Fofana (National Vice Chair for Governmental Affairs & International Relations), and Cornelia Kruah-Togba (National Vice Chair for Inter-Party Relations & NEC Affairs).
Others are: Whroway Bryant (National Vice Chair for Membership, Mobilization & Recruitment), Selena Polson Mappy (National Vice Chair for Women Affairs), and T. Melvin Cephas (National Vice Chair for Youth Affairs).
The rest are: Edmund F. Forh (National Treasurer), Christian Cooper (National Deputy Secretary General for Administration) and James Yolei (National Deputy Secretary General for Training & Research).
They claimed that Article XIV Section 24 of the Unity Party’s constitution gives the duty to supervise the conduct of County and District elections plus handle other elections and campaign activities, as designated, to the Standing Committee on Elections and Campaign.
They accused Chairman Tarpeh of allegedly violating the constitution by “firstly taking a decision, of such gravity unilaterally, without consulting the National Coordinating Committee which is currently the highest decision-making body of the Party, and also admonished all County Leaderships to not subject themselves to any illegal process by the Ad-hoc Committee that has been established by the Chairman.
“You have unconstitutionally established an Ad-hoc Committee to perform the functions of a Standing Committee without authority to do so. Our Constitution is very clear on how decisions in the Unity Party are made. It does not provide any of us the authority to unilaterally make decisions on behalf of the NCC and thus the Party,” they maintained.
But in his reply dated November 6 and addressed to the aggrieved NCC members, a copy which is in the possession of FrontPage Africa, Mr. Tarpeh recalled that on two occasions, he appointed a very hardworking and dedicated individual, partisan Lansana Fofana, but the aggrieved executives’ personal “vendetta and apparent hate for him”, made him to be rejected.
He noted that the aggrieved NCC members also rejected partisan Nyah Mantein, an eminent son and one of the leaders of Nimba County to head the Grievance and Ethics Committee.
He pointed out that this was done due to the decision taken by partisan Mantein to write a dissenting opinion to the decision of the dissolved convention sub-committee on elections.
Mr. Tarpeh observed that in the memo presented, the aggrieved members of the NCC only quoted the preambular of article XI, which posit that the National Coordinating Committee shall be the operational and management organ of the party responsible for all decisions and directions of the party during the recess of the National Executive Committee.
According to him, the provision also states that the National Executive Committee may review the decisions of the National Coordinating Committee (NCC).
Mr. Tarpeh pointed out that the aggrieved members of the UP NCC have failed to realize that the interpretation of by-laws or charters do not end with the preambular statements, as the real functions and responsibilities are clearly stated in sections.
He pointed out that in this case, the specific functions and powers of the National Coordinating Committee are clearly stated in section 1, article 11.
Section 1, Article 11 of the UP constitution states that: The National Coordinating Committee shall have the following functions: Function in place of the National Executive Committee during the recess of the National Executive Committee. Direct and coordinate the activities of all organs of the party and also assess their performances and receive reports of those activities. Serve as the rapid response organ of Unity Party for the purpose of either responding to political developments or initiating political actions and programs, which may not have been considered by the National Executive Committee before and which becomes necessary in Liberia, the sub region and globally.
Other functions are: “To, by a two third (2/3) majority vote of its entire membership expel any member or appointed official who has been found guilty through an investigation, according to due process, conducted by the Grievance and Ethics Committee, of proven misconduct and/or failure to perform his or her functions. To, by a simple majority of its quorum, suspend any member or appointed official from office who has been found been found guilty through an investigation, according to due process, conducted by the Grievance and Ethics Committee, of proven misconduct and/or failure to perform his or her functions. The decisions of the NCC may be reviewed by the National Executive Committee and the National Convention at their meetings.”
I’m the CEO
Mr. Tarpeh disclosed that Article 11, section 6 of UP constitution poignantly acknowledges him as the Chief Executive Officer of the party.
He justified that the crafters of the constitution were not naïve when they used the term “Chief Executive Officer” of the party. They, according to him, understood the role and responsibilities of a CEO.
“In case you do not know, a CEO of any organization including political parties has responsibilities to manage the day to day activities of the institution including delegating responsibilities and, in this case, our party constitution rightly so requires that as National Chairman, my specific tasks are: To serve as Chief Executive Officer of the Unity Party, To supervise and manage the general operations of the Unity Party and to To exercise such powers and authority and perform such functions as are delegated by this constitution.”
He noted that in the absence of a Standing Committee, he has the responsibility to ensure that the operations of the party continue unabated especially as the nation approaches the 2023 elections.
Appointed Ad-hoc committee before
Mr. Tarpeh, however, questioned the rationale behind the claims raised by the aggrieved executives of the UP.
“I find it very interesting that I appointed Ad-hoc committee headed by the Vice Chair for Administration to plan and implement the party’s Home Coming Day program, even though there is Standing Committee on Planning, policy and programs, you did not raise any constitutional issue about usurpation of function. Is it because the person who heads the Home coming day committee is a core part of the “majority bloc” in the NCC?”
The 32-member Committee is headed by Madam Dabah Varpilah, who also affixed her signature to the document raising qualms over the move made by Chairman Tarpeh to appoint an Ad-hoc Committee for County Restructuring.
Other executive members of the party who opposed the appointment of the Ad-hoc committee for the county restructuring, but were also appointed on the Unity Party Home Coming & Fundraising Committee include: Ben A. Fofana, Whroway Bryant, Selena Polson Mappy, Melvin Cephas and James Yolei.
Similar to Home-coming Ad-hoc Committee
Mr. Tarpeh observed that building a responsible leadership team to deliver on the mandate of any given organization including political parties is a vital component of any CEO’s responsibilities which he claims that the constitution of the UP also subscribed to him.
While I valued your input in the choice of those who head Standing Committees as outlined by the constitution, he noted, that “I want to state very clearly that the committee constituted is an Ad-hoc as the one charged to plan and implement the Home Coming Day.”
According to him, the establishment of the ad-hoc committee on county restricting is intended to accelerate the workings of the party.
I will be held responsible
Mr. Tarpeh further observed that none of the nine aggrieved members of the NCC of the UP bears the greater responsibility, or will be held liable for the poor functioning and structures of the party across the country ahead of the 2023 elections.
He claimed that despite his efforts being applied to promote coordination and cooperation within the party, a non-compliance posture is being exhibited by some executives.
“I will be held responsible as the National Chairman of the party if a committee is dormant, non-functional and fail to deliver. I find it very shocking that even after I have accepted to appoint 5 individuals to chair important Standing Committees on the direct recommendations of your group as part of my unwavering determination to ensure teamwork, you have adopted a noncompliance posture with everyone I have appointed. This is clearly an apparent ploy to use inconclusive constitutional provision as the basis to delay and stagnate the work of the party.”
Ad-hoc committee will go ahead
Meanwhile, Mr. Tarpeh has informed the aggrieved executives of the UP that despite their mandate, the Ad-hoc Committee will go ahead with its assigned tasks and responsibilities to design guidelines on county restructuring across the country.
“As we continue to extend olive branch of peace and togetherness, let me categorically state that the ad-hoc Committee appointed to design guidelines for county restructuring will not be withdrawn. They will go ahead as mandated. I will continue to appoint individuals as and where necessary to perform tasks that will enhance the operations of the party.”
He maintained that the roles of the NCC are clearly stated and as such, he will continue with his responsibilities to manage the day-to-day administrative activities alongside the National Secretary General who has the constitutional duties to coordinate the planning and implementation of all party programs.
He used this medium to urge Vice Chairs of the UP with specific policy responsibilities need to concentrate on their policy roles.
Mr. Tarpeh, however, vowed to convene a National Executive Committee meeting to discuss important policy issues including the approval of Standing Committees and ASGs upon his return to the country.
“In the meantime, I urge all vice chairs and other nationally elected officers to work in line with your specific duties as the constitution mandates. Once again, let me assure you all of my good intention to work together with you as we look forward to creating a political tsunami that will upset the CDC led government and make JNB president in 2023 to the pleasure of the Liberian people.”
The latest response from the Chairman of the UP would stir up mixed feelings and reactions from the aggrieved NCC members and others within the party.
It also has the proclivity of igniting internal wrangling within the party ahead of the 2023 elections.
However, the decision taken by the nine NCC members to raise an alarm over the establishment of the Ad-Hoc Committee on county restructuring, claiming constitutional violations, continues to raise eyebrows and concerns since in fact, this is not the first time Chairman Tarpeh has appointed an ad-hoc committee within the party.
Six of the nine aggrieved members were appointed to the ad-hoc Home Coming and Fund Raising Committee on October 18 this year, and did not oppose the decision taken by Chairman Tarpeh to appoint them to the committee.
They also failed to identify any constitutional violations, even though the committee was headed by one of them.
There are reports that there is an ulterior motive behind the opposition of the ad-hoc county restructuring committee setup by Chairman Tarpeh.
Many of those opposing the appointment of the committee are either contesting or re-contesting for representative or senatorial seats in the pending elections.
The need to orchestrate or influence the appointment of their die-hard supporters or loyalists to the committee remains a must that they can’t turn down easily ahead of the primary process of the party since in fact the ad-hoc committee on county restructuring set up by the chairman Tarpeh also has the responsibility to come up with suggested fees for the holding of counties restructuring exercise to be implemented before the start of the voter registration process.
The current situation has the propensity of escalating division within the former ruling party if it is not handled properly by the party’s Standard Bearer Joseph Nyuma Boakai in the coming days.