The first few days of Liberia’s 24th president, former soccer legend – turned politician Mr. George Manneh Weah’s administration seems to be confronted by shaky start with an early government shutdown, after creating vacuums in most government ministries and agencies in a mass cabinet removal and nominating just few officials, some of whom are already controversial figures.
Liberia has a weak civil service system with no chief directors at ministries and agencies to hold on during transition, thus leaving ministries and agencies at the mercy of Human Resource Personnel.
Mr. Weah is yet to have a full cabinet, something that is going to happen in weeks due to slow nominations, leaving him to hope on these human resources directors and ex-cabinet officials in the Sirleaf government to hang on till he completes his appointments.
Out of 18 government ministries and numerous agencies here, Mr. Weah has only managed to hold onto three of former President Sirleaf’s appointed ministers and two directors, while he searches out for the replacements of the rest of the ministers and heads of agencies that he has asked to turn over to heads of human resource persons at their institutions.
Formation of his cabinet appears to be challenging, given the time it takes to hear new names since the nomination of few officials including a Justice Minister designate Cllr. Charles Gibson who is being x- rayed by the public ahead of facing Senate confirmation due to controversies over an alleged “lawyer – client” matter.
Mr. Weah has so far nominated former Senate President Pro – Tempore Gbezohngar Findley as Foreign Minister, former Army Chief of Staff Gen. Daniel Ziahnkan as Defense Minister, Samuel Tweh as Finance and Development Planning Minister, Nathaniel McGill as Minister of State for Presidential Affairs and Prince Charles Johnson, III, as Army Chief of Staff, among others.
Appointments of officials to set Mr. Weah’s government running may not be an easy task in the early stages, especially for a government that won a runoff poll on a coalition ticket of three political parties and other individual collaborators, all of whom may be making demands in the awarding of jobs.
Beside the possible head – scratching task of forming a perfect government out of these different groups that supported Mr. Weah and landed him to the nation’s highest office, the ex – soccer legend takes over a nation that is already stressed due to a tough economy, more jobless youths and a skyrocketing foreign exchange rate which may require some urgent actions to deliver the change that the masses voted for.
With the huge void left in cabinet after a mass removal of the Sirleaf era appointed officials, coupled with the Liberian Senate’s vow to thoroughly screen nominees during confirmation hearing, it seems unlikely that in the first few weeks of Mr. Weah’s government, the right senior level officials needed to take decisions for government will be available, given the noise behind some of the first few names he has nominated. The Senate says in a guideline that it will not accept offers from nominees during the confirmation period, and that only Liberian Citizens shall be confirmed.
By Winston W. Parley-Edited by Othello B. Garblah