By Lincoln G. Peters
All is not well at the Governance Commission (GC), a government think tank that is responsible to write public policies, as the Commission is seriously locked in leadership power struggle.
Two senior commissioners of the institution took the airwave here early Monday, June 13, 2022, particularly on OK FM with claims and counter-claims over the position of Officer-In-Charge, throwing verbal jabs at each other.
GC Commissioners Elizabeth Dorkin and George W. Howe are both claiming legitimacy over the position of Officer-in-Charge, though the Commission announced in a recent press release that the Board of Commissioners has appointed Commissioner George W. Howe, Jr. as Officer-In-Charge and head of the Board with immediate effect, pending appointment of a new Chairperson by President George Manneh Weah.
However, Commissioner Dorkin claims she is legitimately in charge of the Governance Commission because she is the most senior Commissioner and has occupied the position of Acting Officer-In-Charge since the resignation of Cllr. Nwabusi Nwabudike.
Commissioner Howe excepts, claims that they had agreed administratively that the position is rotational and the tenure of Commissioner Duncan expires this June.
But responding on the live talk show via telephone, Madam Dorkin disclosed that she has reported the matter to President Weah through written communication, asking the President to intervene, because she works at the will and pleasure of the President.
She says her tenure as Commissioner will end by July 19, 2022, and that
at no time did she ever agree in a meeting with Commissioner Howe and others that the position of OIC or Acting Chairperson should be rotational.
“Commissioner Howe instructed that the Office of the Chairperson of the GC be locked, where I have been working for a while. He has prevented me from entering my office on grounds that I am not the OIC, so the place remains locked until President Weah can make a new appointment. In that office, I have One thousand United States Dollars and Three thousand, five hundred Liberian dollars that he instructed to be locked, preventing me from working’’, she alleges.
“Clarence, you know that I am a woman and I am afraid that before one day you call and they say somebody has stabbed me because I am not having any cameral in there. Therefore, as it stands, I am not at work and I am not going to that office until the President probe or intervene in the matter. I have been prevented from using my office on the instruction of Commissioner Howe.’’
However, Commissioner Howe insists that both of them agreed during a meeting with the former Chairperson of the Commission Cllr. Nwabudike, that the position should be rotational and since that time, they had signed every communication from the GC, but one day Madam Duncan called a meeting and appealed that she should continue serving as Acting OIC until President can make a new appointment.
“I reminded her concerning what Cllr. Nwabudike said that we both will run the institution and sign every communication. Everybody appealed to me and the other guys, including her, told me that I met her here and let her be the OIC. I agreed and told her that it would be rotational and she agreed before everyone in an in-house administrative meeting. Her tenure as commissioner expires July 19, 2022, and her acting OIC position ends this month based on the in-house arrangement. We are just using administrative law and not insulting the office of the President to give appointing power to ourselves. She has to live by that’’, Howe maintains.
He denies instructing anyone to lock her office as Acting Chairperson, saying that rather, Commissioner Duncan herself packed her things and left the office, demanding that her office be painted with pink color since President Weah had appointed Dr. Toga Gayewea Mclntosh, who rejected the appointment for political reasons.
The Governance Commission was established by an Act of the Legislature in 2007 to champion the social, economic and political development of Liberia. The Commission carries out this mandate through research and consultations with Liberians on issues affecting governance in Liberia. Editing by Jonathan Browne