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Mixing Apples and Oranges in A Fool’s Paradise
It was the late Dr. Edward BeyanKesselly; founding Chair of the Unity Party (UP), who months ahead of the 1985 polls, appropriately remarked; “We in this country do not put the right man in the right place.” It was an apparent reference to Master Sergeant Samuel K. Doe’s impulse-driven appointments in government. Dr. Kesselly had a point. The UP chair-emeritus was simply being dismissive of incompetence and ineptitude! Dr. Edward Kesselly was among the young and enterprising young cadre of professionals the late President William R. Tolbert appointed to Ministerial portfolios. He served as Minister of Information, Cultural Affairs & Tourism and Post and Telecommunications. Dr. Kesselly also chaired the Constitutional Review Committee after Dr. Amos C. Sawyer-led 25-Member team – appointed in 1981 had concluded its work. When IGNU was formed, he became Minister of Defense – prior to his death in 1993.

Liberia’s latest political ‘Santa Clausing’ – has become epic – and worse still characterized by bad governance and misrule to the effect – the order of the day is seemingly and severally attracting arguments and counter-thesis from Liberians across the divide. President George Weah has gone ahead to appoint Madam Mary TaryonnohBroh as National Response Coordinator of the Executive Committee on the Coronavirus in Liberia. Has she been presented any Term of Reference? Absolutely Not! What is the point? Pointless! Really! Indeed! Any qualms with Madam Broh’s ability to perform? That is not the point folks. Why then the furore or brouhaha?
Politics aside; Mary Broh aka ‘General Broh’ is the only Liberian of the long list of City Governors of Monrovia – who unmistakably knows what it takes to enforce City Ordinances and make our capital city environmentally friendly and conveniently habitable. In 2003; in a cable to the BBC ‘Network Africa’ – current LBS boss, LedgerhoodRennie – then a stringer with the British Broadcasting Corporation; described Monrovia not just as Africa’s first oldest capital city but most stinging as it were. He was by then doing his job and telling the story about an environmental catastrophe about to explode. The goal posts have since changed as it were…
Factually speaking, the government of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in 2014 amid the Ebola onslaught; took certain tenable and prudent actions in the absence of existing ‘National Response Facility’ responsible to swiftly handle infectious disease detection, prevention and control. Those actions witnessed the dawn of ‘Ebola Taskforce’ that transitioned into the Incident Management System (IMS) led by Tolbert Nyenswah and the Presidential Advisory Council on Ebola (PACE) headed by the late Dr. Emmanuel Dolo.

Invariably, Ebola and its attendant consequences pragmatically gave rise to the enactment of the National Public Health Institute (NPHIL) in 2017 as a statutory entity. NPHIL was established in January 2017 following the 2014 unprecedented epidemic of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in West Africa, which highlighted the need for the establishment of a Public Health Institute in Liberia to support National Health Service delivery as part of plans to revitalize health services in the country.

The National Public Health Institute of Liberia is a Center of Excellence for better health outcomes for Liberians through a strong health system. It is anchored on “Preventing and Controlling Public Health Threats!” NPHIL’s ‘Mission’ is – “To prevent and control public health threats by promoting healthy outcomes and serving as a source of knowledge and expertise.”

It is high time we divorce politics from critical issues of life-threatening impact to allow the medical scientists and public health experts to do their job without rancor folks. Yes, President Sirleaf might have taken actions to experiment within the context of achieving results of in line with the ‘greater good proportions’ – but in the end – our country landed in the right place out of a compelling dire situation to say the least. Now that the appropriate ‘Authority – NPHIL’ is in place – it is only foolhardy to provide frivolous justifications for unnecessarily creating jobs for the ‘boys or girls’. The right and most qualified people are already in place. Let’s stop the unnecessary duplications in the name of appearing to be doing something. That‘s programmatically nonsense! We must seek ‘band aid’ solution when the experts only need the space and resources to execute their mandate.

For the record, when Ebola struck – we saw the ‘Emergency Call Center’ operate from the General Services Agencies (GSA) under the ambit of Madam Mary Broh; while other the other hand comrade DorborJallah presided over logistical support to aid the work of the IMS in a professional manner. We saw all hands on deck especially given the non-existence of NPHIL at the time. Let the word go forth that NPHIL’s current structure encompasses the totality in detecting, preventing and controlling public health threats – including public health ‘kitchen sink’ – to put it mildly.

Does this country realistically need a so-called National Response Executive Committee on Coronavirus Coordination amid the existence of the National Public Health Institute of Liberia? Whatever the ‘corrupt-inspired motive to loot’ – the Liberian leader has got it absolutely wrong. We do not need anything next to a useless ‘response coordination’ at this time. Let the specialized Agency of the State be allowed to operate with the ‘free-hand’ as contained in its 2017 Act creating NPHIL. Ever since the mistaken appointment of the current City Mayor – Liberians have been calling for ‘about-face’ to redeem our and garbage-infested capital from total environmental collapse.

If the government means damn well while looming filth engulfs the good people of Monrovia – Mary Broh should be its soul-saving ‘Magic wand’ as it were. It is instructive for the government to know that its – apparent poorly conceived political gimmick to present General Broh as supposedly some kind of ‘Coronavirus heroine’ is misplaced. The imposed jigsaw Ebola matrix cannot see a redux for attaining political capital. We must call ‘a spade a spade’; Mary Broh is critical to rescuing Monrovia from its pile-up of rubbish.

While General Broh could suitably fall in the late Dr. Kesselly’s construct particularly in light of cleaning Monrovia’s mess – it is essential to note – NPHIL exists as a specialized facet of the overall government setup and consists of medical scientists, public health experts and specialists the institution successfully trained in a relatively short period of time – courtesy of partners, et al. We cannot render them redundant in these critical times… We are talking about public health specialists, epidemiologists, environmental health scientists, et al that have been trained cum specialized in the science and arts of their respective specialties. They have earnest scientific appreciation of public health threat-related issues and possess the capabilities to act timely and firmly as and when necessary. Empower them now!

Gen. Mary Broh is as fit as fiddle to lead the fight against a clean and environmental-friendly capital city riddled with mountain piles of garbage from Central Town to Bushrod Island, to Red-Light, Gardnerville – you name it. Hmmm! Will comrade LedgeeRennie herald a revived cum damning ‘most stinging capital’ cable report any time soon? Anybody’s guess…
If the President does not have the guts to replace the Monrovia City Mayor to give way for the appointment for Mary Broh as the right person in the right place at the right time – engaging in a ‘square peg in round hole’ formula is just sickening. Gen. Broh can do the job and there is no two ways about that. Find another job for the current youthful Mayor – lurking in a ‘fashion show cruise’. We should not make a fool of ourselves by mixing ‘apples with oranges’. If we truly are committed to fighting Coronavirus, we must enable the Public Health Institute to live out to the true meaning of its creed. Cleaning Monrovia’s filth is not the same as ‘detecting, prevention and controlling public health threats’ in its specialized context.

This is not about politics; the President must look beyond his nose to rise to the challenge or risk plunging our country in disastrous mess! We regrettably saw the signs when politicians started reading through their political lens during the onset of Ebola outbreak. It took a sound leadership that demonstrated the preparedness to put the politics aside to save people’s lives. Again, we are plagued with yet another unknown wave of terror – even more deadly and life-threatening – according to medical scientists.

Should we sit supinely while our people begin to die before effectively mobilizing human, technical and logistical resources urgently required to fight COVID-19? When this administration fails to as indicative of obtaining trappings; it would be nonsensical to blame it on opposition elements or its fiercest critics. The honeymoon about ‘we’ve just taken over; and we are trying understand the system would be just unacceptable after spending 27 months at the helm of power.

Now is time for exercising the ‘political will’ and not a ‘lulu game fiesta’ since governance is about serious business for serious people. We urge the government to stop experimenting with the lives of our people. In 2017, they offered to lead; and it seems that leadership is still farfetched. “The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things. He is the one that gets the people to do the greatest things.” – Ronald Reagan – President Weah as part of the 53rd Legislature contributed to the enactment of the National Public Health Institute of Liberia (NPHIL). He must be seen to be that leader who gets NPHIL to do the greatest things for which it was established!With Ekena Wesley