Vulnerable girls acquire skills

The River Gee Chapter of the Liberia National Red Cross Society or LNRCS is expected to graduate over 30 vulnerable girls who have acquired skills in two vocational trades.

The prospective graduates, some of whom are commercial sexworkers in the River Gee Capital of Fish Town are expected to obtain certificates in cosmetology and plumbing after several months of intensive training by the LNRCS’ River Gee Chapter.

Speaking in an interview with this paper in Fish Town recently, project focal person Mr.BellehTarr said the skills training is an initiative of the LNRCS through its Community DevelopmentProgram.

He says the Swedish funded project implemented by the LNRCS ismeant to build the capacity of vulnerable girls who are with the notion that life has nothing to offer them, thus engaging into street activities all day.

Mr. Tarr further disclosed that the LNRCS River Gee Chapter recently went into the communities and did a complete survey to spot out girls that are vulnerable in order to build their capacities and make them useful people in the society.

Also speaking in an interview with this paper, 27 year - old Ms. MusuTambah, a mother of two children who works in the plumbing department says the training has greatly impacted her life and she is now doing plumbing contracts in River Gee County to sustain she and her two children.

The 27 year - old single mother has lauded the LNRCS for the initiative and encourages peers who are reneging in the process ofacquiring vocational education to take advantage of the golden opportunity.

“If you learn trade no man will misbehave on you because you knowhow to make money for yourself”, Ms. Tambah says. A cosmetology trainer Ms. Jestina Gaysue says despite the challenges that the vulnerable girls are faced with, they have accepted the program and
are taking it very serious.

She says the vocational skills will take the young girls who are sellingtheir bodies for money at night in the county from the street and make them productive people in society.
By George K. Momo/ Rivetr Gee-Editing by Winston W. Parley

Pres. Sirleaf congratulates Queen Elizabeth at 91

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has sent a message of congratulations to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, on the occasion commemorating her 91st birth anniversary on Friday, April 21, 2017.

Queen Elizabeth II was born Princess Elizabeth Alexandra Mary on April 21, 1926, in London, to Prince Albert, Duke of York (later known as King George VI, and Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon). She married Philip Mountbatten, Duke of Edinburgh, in 1947, became queen on February 6, 1952, and was crowned on June 2, 1953. She is the mother of Prince Charles, heir to the throne, as well as the grandmother of princes William and Harry. As the longest-serving monarch in British history, she has tried to make her reign more modern and sensitive to a changing public while maintaining traditions associated with the crown.

AForeign Ministry release said, in her message to Queen Elizabeth II, President Sirleaf personally extended warmest felicitations and best wishes of well-being and prosperity on this special and happy occasion.

“We are thankful that God continues to endow Your Majesty with long life, good health and strength, so that you may remain an inspiration for the world, particularly the marginalized,” the Liberian leader said; adding, “We also salute your immense patronage to hundreds of charities, many of which are encouraged by your Majesty’s laudable benevolence.” President Sirleaf indicated that it is satisfying to note that relations between Liberia and Great Britain have attained new and elevated heights, bolstered by the visit of the British Foreign Secretary to Liberia in February this year. She furthered that discussions held were quite encouraging and were aimed at expanding the spheres of bilateral cooperation between both countries, while consolidating current engagements. “We were pleased to have received reports that Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson was impressed by the visit,” the Liberia President noted.

On behalf of the Government and people of Liberia and in her own name, President Sirleaf extended gratitude to the Government of the Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland for its support to the Government of Liberia, which has in many ways positively impacted the lives of Liberians.

She emphasized that the Liberian Government has been invigorated by renewed commitments by the British Government aimed at improving the country’s infrastructure, especially roads and energy, which are very critical to the fulfillment of Liberia’s development goals.

“Once again, allow me to extend congratulations on Your Majesty’s birth anniversary, and wish you and members of the Royal Family continued good health and happiness,” President Sirleaf urged.

Grand Gedeh sees security calm

Grand Gedeh County Superintendent Peter Solo says there is considerable calm along the Liberian - Ivorian border, thanking President Ellen Johnson - Sirleaf for the deployment and patrol of vigilant joint - security operatives including the Armed Forces of Liberia or AFL and armed police.

During a dinner at Zwedru City Hall following President Sirleaf’s arrival on the fourth leg of her farewell tour in the southeast, Sup. Solo recalled that the greatest security challenge in the post conflict country has been to keep Ivoirians and illegal migrants “from our farmlands” in Grand Gedeh County.

But a day after the dinner on Saturday, 15 April, President Sirleaf urged authorities of Grand Gedeh and River Gee Counties including Legislative Caucuses, superintendents, chiefs and elders to continue dialoguing on matters concerning internal security, having reflected on the boundary issue that had just been settled.

After cutting ribbon on the same day to a signboard erected on the boundary between River Gee and Grand Gedeh Counties, Mrs. Sirleaf expressed satisfaction over citizens’ agreement to see the conflict settled and reunite.

President Sirleaf says during her visit in Grand Gedeh, she had the opportunity to assess development projects, some of which are undertaken by government, while others supported through the county’s legislative caucus.

Before returning from the southeast on Monday morning, 17 April, Mrs. Sirleaf held town hall meeting with citizens of River Gee County in the commercial city of Karnweaken where she had spent Saturday night.

She has commended the county authorities and the local government for the level of development, and particularly noted that the level of progress in the county showed that the Legislature and the Executive had the same mind in terms of development.

Locals have praised and gowned the president at some events for leading the country peacefully for over 11 years and taking up time to appreciate them while approaching the end of her second and final term.

River Gee County Sup. Mr. Phillip Nyenuh says by signing the resolution to the settlement of the boundary issue, the people of River Gee and Grand Gedeh Counties are saying no more will they fuss on boundary matter.

Carter Center Chief of Party Mr. Pewee Flomoku pledged his organization’s readiness to always work with locals to settle conflict. Earlier reporting to President Sirleaf on state of Grand Gedeh County, Sup. Peter Solo touched on security, health, infrastructure, education and other key areas of development that are being undertaking by government.

Sup. Solo had reported that Ivoirians and illegal migrants have carried out illegal planting of crops on farmlands in Grand Gedeh, despite joint security patrols. Though he says there is considerable calm in the county, Sup. Solo maintains that illegal migrants “are still” occupying farmlands in Grand Gedeh.

He says Grand Gedeans are pleading with President Sirleaf to find an amicable solution to the security issue. On other development matters, Sup. Peter Solo has assured President Sirleaf that all government projects in seven of the county’s eight districts are intact and will be concluded within the 150 days’ timetable leading to the expiry of the administration.

He has given President Sirleaf credit for ensuring that services provided for citizens in Monrovia are also being provided for those in Grand Gedeh County through the opening of a County Service Center there. He says Grand Gedeh is currently constructing a modern community college, following President Sirleaf’s authorization a couple of years ago.

In a detailed statistical report, he says the county has a population of over 150,000, with 50 percent of the population residing in the county capital Zwedru.
Mr. Solo says Grand Gedeh has 114 public schools competing against 60private schools, adding that over 23,000 students are enrolled in public schools, compared to over 15,000 students that are enrolled in private schools. He says the county has one referral hospital, two health centers, 21clinics, 24 health facilities and over 570 health workers.

By Winston W. Parley-Edited by Othello B. Garblah

MPC vows to seek Taylor’s release

The leader of the opposition party, Movement for Progressive Change or MPC says an MPC-led government would seek house arrest for jailed ex-Liberian president Charles Ghankay Taylor.

Mr. Taylor currently serves 50 years sentence in Britain after his conviction by the UN-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone for aiding and abetting RUF rebels. MPC leader businessman Simeon Freeman says if elected President of Liberia comes October, he would exert his influence in the international community to have Taylor released from prison and placed under house arrest rather than being in foreign jail.

He gave the promise in a news conference on Monday, April 18, 2017 at his political headquarters in the Monrovia suburb of Airfield. He said the tradition in Liberia that if a president came to power, his immediate priority is to go after his predecessor should be abolished, adding the people that are in power will not want to leave, because their fear is their successor will go after them or they will try in whatever way to create a successor that will favor them.”

Mr. Simeon cited the Federal republic of Nigeria as an example where he observes, almost all of her past presidents are still alive, and laments, “but for Liberia, we have one and he is at the point of death, because he was given 50 years imprisonment.”

“By God’s willing, if I am President, we will talk to the international community, if we even have to create a probability of Charles Taylor living in a far country under house arrest will be good, those are things we need to do, because we owe it to our country for the betterment of the people of this country.”

He said similar dignity would be accorded to President Sirleaf upon leaving office, if she were afraid of facing prosecution, saying “We want to give her a blank check, it is imperative upon all of us contesting the Presidency not to prosecute any former President of Liberia, not because that person was holy, but because we need to deviate from this tradition.”

Mr. Simeon is the second political leader here after Senator George Weah, standard bearer of the Coalition for Democratic Change or CDC to comment on Taylor. Sen. Weah recently confirmed that he had held telephone conversation with Mr. Taylor from his prison cell in Britain and maintains that he would accord the former president all courtesies due him as an ex-leader of Liberia.

Weah’s Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) party has formed a coalition with Taylor’s former ruling National Patriotic Party and criminally indicted ex-speaker Alex J. Tyler’s Liberian People Democratic Party (LPDP).

The Senator has also picked Mr. Taylor’s former wife, Jewel Howard Taylor, as his running mate for the Presidency comes October. Recently, an executive member of Weah’s party, MulbahMorlu, told a live broadcast talk show that the CDC will not shy away from Mr. Taylor, which implies that the party is ready to do deal with the jailed ex-president come what may.

Meanwhile, the MPC has rejected calls for the resignation of the Chairman of the National Elections Commission, Cllr. Jerome Korkoya, arguing that the nationality of the NEC Chairman should not be the primary focus as the elections draw closer.

“I think what is crucial now is to address the complaint made by the NEC over lack of resources to adequately handle this upcoming elections”, Mr. Simeon emphasizes.
He says NEC has complained in recent months about lack of finance, adding “We can’t be serious about holding elections when the election body doesn’t have money to conduct elections.”

He says what the government should focus on at this crucial moment is how best it could reduce fabulous salaries of officials, including huge allowances and gas slips to empower the NEC financially to conduct free, fair, and transparent elections in October.

By Lewis S. Teh-Editing by Jonathan Browne

Over 5,000 people lack health facility in Nimba

Over 5,000 citizens in electoral district#7, Nimba County lack access to basic health facility. The underprivileged citizens lamented their plight recently to presidential hopeful and ex-central bank governor Dr. Joseph Mills Jones during a tour of the votes-rich county.

Nimba County reportedly has a population of 1.2 million people, the second to Montserrado County. The head of women groups from the district told Dr. Jones that two towns outside of Bahn City with a population of over 5,000 namely; Miaplay Yeezlay and Miaplay Bonnah lack access to clinic.

According to Madam Martha Gonkanue, due to the situation they are constrained to tote sick people in hammock from one town to another where there is an available clinic.
The citizens described Dr. Jones’ visit particularly to Miaplay Bonnah as a great relief after they have put before him their plight.

The New Dawn Nimba Correspondent says during the visit of the ex-governor to 17 administrative districts of the county, he was warmly received. Dr. Jones, who ended his tour of Nimba recently, was accompanied on the trip by the Chairman of his Movement for Economic Empowerment or MOVEE party, Dee Maxwell Saah Kemayah Sr.

He told the citizens that in order to address their plight; they are required to make a sound decision by joining the party, which is committed to building a better Liberia.
According to the two MOVEE executives, the kind of decision the citizens will make comes October 10, has a propensity to lead them to development or under development.
“It is about time that you the citizens, shine your eyes come October”, they challenged the electorates.

By Franklin Doloquee,Nimba-Editing by Jonathan Browne

LEC connects Gd. Gedeh

Liberia Electricity Corporation or LEC Managing Director Mr. FodaySackor says the corporation is planting larger electricity poles to put Zwedru, Grand Gedeh County online by Monday, 17 April, trashing a contractor’s work as not being proper.

Through the West African Power Pool, Mr. Sackor says “we” have a company called Energy Venture that did most of the work in Grand Gedeh, indicating that “to be honest” a lot of the work that was done “was not done properly.”

“A lot of the infrastructures are damaged and these poles are actually …, you either use 13 meter poles or you use steel poles. But when you’re doing this kind of stretch, it’s advisable that you use steel poles, especially we are in a curve”, says Mr. Sackor.

He says LEC is planting 13 - meter poles to replace the nine - meter poles that were planted by the contractor on grounds that the planting of the earlier poles did not meet the specifications.

The LEC chief was seen physically working on power pole in the forest, pulling power lines while his team gave support from below the pole. He argued during an interview with journalists that there are many fingers to be pointed at the poor work done by the contractor, but his administration at LEC is concentrating its efforts on correcting the wrong, while focusing its energy on the success story.

He told the interview Monday, 17 April in the forest between Doegeeand Zwedru that majority of the street lights were already up in Zwedru, but the most important thing that remains is getting electricity there.

As soon as LEC gets the electricity in Zwedru, Mr. Sackor says the distribution will be targeting hospitals, schools, churches, mosques, government administrative buildings and then the businesses.

“Well, I mean, it’s a huge success for us because you know few months or years ago this was something that, it was a dream fartetched. But this is something we’re talking about now”, he says.

He says the LEC’s target is to take electricity from Toe Town in Grand Gedeh to the county capital Zwedru by Monday night, 17 April. “So we were able to get electricity into Toe’s Town last night -hundred percent … we cleared the lines, we did lot of rehabilitation there so the whole city came on last night,” Mr. Sackor says.

Based on public pronouncement at Zwedru Administrative Building, President Ellen Johnson - Sirleaf was expected to switch on power in the city before her departure, but Mr. Sackor says it was delayed to correct other issues. The LEC chief says his most immediate concern is to get electricity into Zwedru safely so that the people can enjoy a reliable power. Mr. Sackor says he and his team are carrying 13 - meter poles on their shoulders on distances on grounds that a lot of the flat-bags and vehicles are damaging.

By Winston W. Parley-Edited by Othello B. Garblah

EPA, UNDP end validation training

The Environmental Protection Agency or EPA in collaboration with the United Nations Development Program or UNDP has ended a one-day interactive Cross Cutting Capacity Development (CCCD) project validation training in Kakata, Margibi County.

The training was held at the Kakata Administration Building on April 18, 2017 with representatives from various government ministries and agencies and presidential aspirant, Dr. Tokpah Nah. Tipoteh, attending.

It was held under the theme: “Enhancing the Capacity of RIO Conventions” aimed at building the capacity of participants to develop sectoral strategies on managing wetlands and how to avoid construction in waterways.

Speaking to reporters on Monday, April 17, the National Coordinator of NCCS /EPA and CCCD project Focal Person Mr. Jeremiah G. Sokan, Sr. said, the training is also geared at validating a process to mobilize US$1.5 million to building capacity and enhancing skills of players involved with the protection of the environment in Liberia.
According to him, a couple of weeks ago, similar training was held in Grand Bassa County where participants discussed how the EPA could work in generating US$50 million to help improve the environment.

He narrated that beneficiaries of the US$1.5 million project will include the Forestry Development Agency or FDA and the Ministries of Agriculture, Lands, Mines and Energy, and Public Works, respectively, amongst others.

Mr. Sokan explains the validation process has specific focus on looking at all of the processes and strategies that lead to getting the US$1.5 million being projected, adding that work started about three years ago. He says all of the people, who started the process, are the ones, who attended the workshop in Kakata.

By Ramsey N. Singbeh, Jr. in Margibi-Editing by Jonathan Browne

Rep. Berrian denies link to scholarship fraud

Montserrado County Electoral District 10th Representative Julius Berrian, has expressed dismay over report implicating him to scholarship fraud. Representative Berrien, who is member of the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC), told the NewDawn recently in Monrovia that media report linking him to fraud is not only ‘unfair’, but intended to blemish his hard earned reputation.

According him, Miss Angela Harris Moldestad, a Liberian residing in the United States implicated him to fraudulent scholarship scheme, only because he is a close friend to her and then accused Dr. William Barnes.

In Miss Moldestad complained via email that Dr. Barnes claimed that he was running an organization under district#10 leadership that was providing scholarship to Liberians both locally and internationally, something he (Berrian ) denied ever being a part.

Rep. Berrian said Dr. Barnes is an educated guy, who may have a scholarship scheme in the district as reported by Angela, but as a lawmaker and friend to both Angela and Dr. Barnes, he is not aware of such program.

“We just want to register to the public that after local daily edition dated Wednesday April 12, 2017, with a captioned “I was part of a fraudulent scholarship program. I have decided to register my own view on this matter that I am innocent and don’t know anything about such report”, he denied.

“I know the lady in question and I even know the man in question and we are friends. The last time I ever met them was the time I was in America. I am completely innocent to whatever thing that she is saying. She does not have any document to prove that indeed, I Julius Berrian sponsored or was supporting any scholarship from her relatives or friends from Liberia. She doesn’t have any document to show that I received any payment and we are completely amazed of such information emanating from people of such kind”, he said.

Whatever thing has been done between the two parties , Barnes and the lady in question, they have better ways to explain their conflict, if there be a conflict between them, but to register me in the process, I think it is unfair and I think justice has not being done to my image, Rep. Berrian further argued.
He challenged Miss Moldestad to produce evidence that she gave him money, adding that “Not because I know you will indicate that when someone does wrong, then I know about the wrong”, he said.

Reports gathered indicate Dr. Barnes and Miss Angela Harris Moldestad are intimate friends. She alleged that Dr. Barnes siphoned over U$350,000 from her under the pretext of providing visas and academic scholarship at Pont Part University in the United State for her siblings in Liberia. She said her relatives were denied visas at the U.S. Embassy in Monrovia after it was established that the scholarship program was fake.

In an email exchanged, Miss Angela Harris Moldestad complained back home that she was rubbed by Dr. Barnes who claimed that he was representing an organization called YPP-Liberian for International Scholarship.

Angela: “In May 2016, I got a call from Dr. Barnes indicating that he was working under the leadership of District 10, Honorable Julius Berrian and Pont Part University of Pittsburg or PP, in the States. Dr. Barnes told me that each student had to pay $4,000 and the scholarship would cover the rest of the money. I deposited U$ 3, 400.00 in Dr. Barnes’ account and paid U$400.00 for service fees and $350.00 for my siblings to benefit from this venture, all the applicants on August 15, 2016 sat the interview at the U.S. Embassy in Monrovia and they were all denied.”

-Editing by Jonathan Browne

FRED empowers rural dwellers

Foundation for Empowerment of Rural Dwellers or FRED, a local NGO has embarked on series of activities aimed at improving lives of citizens in southeast Liberia.

In an interview with this paper recently in Barclayville, Grand Kru County, FERD Executive Director, Jonah S. Toe, says his organization is working with rural communities in the southeast, especially inaccessible communities to help improve lives of rural dwellers.

He explains that the organization is working in various thematic areas, including women, children, and the elderly.He disclosed that FRED has launched interventions in the areas of constructing schools, clinics, and roads in the region, particularly Grand Kru County.

According to Mr. Toe, the organization is presently in Boa Gilatike, Foboi, Doboi, Garraway, Tren District, Bewan, and Barclayville, respectively. He names Grand Kru County Senator Dr. Peter Coleman, as Board Chairman of FRED, adding that Dr. Coleman is the brain behind the Foundation.

The director also reveals that Senator Coleman is interested in seeing lives of citizens in southeast Liberia improved at a gauge that could be compared to standard of life in Monrovia.Mr. Toe describes the Grand Kru Senator as a philanthropist, who wants to transform lives and notes that Foundation is currently lobbying for funding from donors and partners to achieve its programs.

FRED, which was established in August, 2014 with the motto: Empowering Rural Inhabitants, started operation two years ago. It has constructed several kilometers of roads, linking over 25 towns and villages to Barclayville, which have created easy access to farm-to-market roads.

Recently, Board Chair Senator Coleman broke grounds for the construction of Yahn Cooper Jiglakeypor Elementary and Junior High School in the area. “When the people are impacted by development, they are very much at peace, and FERD cards are on the table to continue to venture into development in the southeast”, Director Toe vows.

He says the group maintains zero tolerance on violence against women and children by any of its staff, disclosing FRED is working with partners, including CHAL Liberia, USAID and others to stop Sexual and Gender Base Violence against girls and women.

By George K. Momo/ Grand Kru-Editing by Jonathan Browne

Rep. Moye cautions District#2 inhabitants

Bong County Representative Prince Moye has admonished his constituents not to listen to anti-development politicians, seeking their votes for the October elections.Representative Moye, who hails from Jorquelleh District#2, says since his election in 2011, his people have benefited several developmental initiatives.

Rep. Moye names construction of clinics, schools and bridges as among his key interest in the district. He called on his constituents to re-elect him, if Jorquelleh District #2 must become second to none developmentally in Bong.

He specifically accused Bong County Senator Jewel Howard Taylor of supporting an aspirant to unseat him, and called on the senator to re-direct her thoughts in improving conditions at her clinic constructed in Gbenequelleh.

Representative Moye alleged that since the construction of the makeshift clinic by Senator Taylor in 2008, the facility has not administered single penicillin to a child in Gbenequelleh.

The District#2 Lawmaker made the comments among scores of citizens and local leaders at programs marking the dedication of a hand pump and a public latrine in Gbenequelleh market recently.

-Editing by Jonathan Browne

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