President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and her administration, in 2009, declared the Tubman National Institute of Medical Art or TNIMA a tuition-free institution. The decision actually meant that students of the TNIMA would have no longer gone through the headache of struggling to pay fees; rather the responsibility would solely rest with the administration. Under the administration’s sponsorship, students of the institute were to benefit not only from tuition, but also books, feeding, transportation and perdiems.
President Sirleaf was taken against the back-drop of the huge gap in the health-care delivery system across the country, in terms of the shortage of nurses, mid-wives, as well as physician assistants, among others. Since 2009, President Sirleaf and the public continue to be under the impression that in consonance with the program, the TNIMA is still tuition-free.
Just recent recently, ‘hell broke loose’ on the matter when students of the Tubman National Institute of Medical took to the streets of Monrovia, beginning from the TNIMA Campus to the ground of the Capitol Building, the seat of the Liberian legislature to protest against their unfair treatment by the administration of the John F. Kennedy Medical Center or JFK.
Their action contradicted previous pronouncement by the General Administrator of the JFK, McDonald Scott in defense of the Center’s 2012/2013 budget that her administration was providing incentives, including stipends and books for students of the TNIMA in conformity with the government’s policy.
While we may not want to delve into what’s happening at the JFK Medical Center as a whole, we must also state emphatically that the TNIMA saga is a complete betrayal of the trust of President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf by the JFK Administration. We are left to wonder as to why the JFK Administrator would choose tell the Legislators under oath something that is completely untrue.
From 2009, what has the JFK Administration been doing with the funds provided by the government for the students’ upkeep? Now that it has come to light that the TNIMA students have in no way benefitted from the scholarships offered by the Ellen Administration, Dr. Scott and her administration must further explain the circumstances surrounding the funds provided by the government for the students.
If and only if the TNIMA students are positive about not receiving stipends, books, transportation or food, President Sirleaf must commission an audit, through the general Auditing Commission or GAC, of the entire John F. Kennedy Medical Center with special emphasis on the Tubman national Institute of Medical Art.
The President’s intervention in this direction must not be diplomatic as usual. The ‘chip must fall where it may’ as a way of protecting the image of the Government of Liberia against corruption and other forms of bad governance.
President Sirleaf must be informed that that such behavior on the part of the JFK Administration, if the students’ recent position is something to go by, is not only corrupt, but very undermining to her administration.