Too many embarrassing signals

The formation of the governing structure of the Weah-led administration is being characterized by too many missteps and outright arrogance so much so that early signals coming out of the pro-poor government is becoming very embarrassing not only to Liberians at home and abroad, but key international partners, one of whom was constrained to intervene immediately as in the case of the fiasco appointment at the LEITI.

Currently, the Minister of Finance and Development Planning Samuel Tweh, is fusing with the National Elections Commission for submitting US$3.9 million budget to conduct by-elections in Montserrado and Bong Counties, declaring that elections are not considered an important issue under the government’s pro-poor agenda. The comment is a sharp paradox to the Coalition government that came to power after winning a free, fair democratic election in 2017.

Ongoing confirmation process at the Liberian senate has seen senators confirming nominees with glaring lack of competence and questionable academic credentials to key positions in government without any second thought on what specific capacity they are bringing to public service. President George Manneh Weah recently succumbed to mounting public pressure against his initial nominee for the post of Minister of Justice and Attorney General, and withdrew that nomination, replacing him by Cllr. Musa Dean.

In the first place, the Minister of Finance and Development Planning does not have to publicly fuss with the National Elections Commission or its head for submitting a US$3.9 Million budget, which in the eyes of the Minister, is astronomical. Perhaps the finance boss forgot that a budget is what it is, subject to adjustment upward or downward, depending on priority. There was no need to portray people at the electoral house, who have successfully conducted series of by-elections over the years like they lack knowledge of what to do, and to declare on public television that elections are not important. How could Tweh, a former president of the campus-based Student Democratic Alliance or STUDA say elections are insignificant. What message is he sending out to those he left behind at the University of Liberia?

President George Weah got it statutorily wrong when he appointed a new Secretariat at the Liberia Extractive Industries, Transparency Initiatives. Was he ill-advised in doing so? The act that establishes the LEITI forbids the President of Liberia from appointing its secretariat so that it can maintain its international integrity.

As if that flagrant violation was not enough, Gabriel Nyenkan, the ex-lawmaker that was illegally appointed as the new head of secretariat, took armed police with him to forcibly take office. What an embarrassment! Do we need Global Witness to educate us that LEITI’s operations are bordered on international standards, and that only the Multi-Stakeholders Group has the power to appoint head of secretariat at that institution? Global Witness would not have intervened if the President’s advisors did their job.

Deputy Finance Minster for Administration Rebecca McGill, who performed dismally during confirmation hearing, conceding publicly that she has no knowledge on the job she was being nominated to, got eventually confirmed by the senate as the deputy in command of the nation’s financial house. At the Ministry of Agriculture, expelled student activist, Alvin Wesseh was nominated and subsequently confirmed by the senate as Assistant Minister without a college degree, while the Inspector General of Police Patrick Sudue turns things upside down at the Liberia National Police, jeopardizing public safety.

For God’s sake, would this pro-poor administration check a brake on how it is proceeding in order to save this country from unnecessary embarrassment as it is unfolding now?

Government is a serious business and those being nominated to serve our people must come with tangible and practical skills to offer that would not just change status course, but help in improving lives. While it is the exclusive right of the President to appoint senior and junior officials, it should be based on both competence and acceptable standards. How undergraduates could be nominated to serve as Assistant Ministers in this 21st century! What profile can they present to their counterparts in Sierra Leone, Guinea, Ghana or Nigeria?

It is time that the government pays heed and return to the drawing board to do the right thing by proceeding accordingly rather than condemn critics and keep embarrassing us as a nation.

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