Disloyalty and Dismissal

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Disloyalty and Dismissal
Here Comes The Iron In the Lady
By A.Abbas Dulleh

With less than two years to exit, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf is taking harsh measures intended to cleanse her government but the dismissal of her allies is happening with an unprecedented wave of resignation ahead of the 2017 elections.

President Sirleaf
President Sirleaf

She became known as ‘iron lady’ for the difficulties in her political path characterized by challenges beginning in 1980 when she was imprisoned for criticizing the government. She was forced into exile twice to escape persecution.

During the struggle, a strong-will and political perseverance also added to reasons for the ‘iron lady’ title.

So when she handled the mantle of the presidency at the time the country was in frantic need of concrete post war transformation program, many expected her to captain a team that could synchronize the needed collaborative spirit to once again put Liberia among countries with accelerated development platform.

She also stands accused of being weak particularly in the current administration compared to the first regime that runs between 2006 to 20011.

Weak in the sense of failing to push her officials to bring about innovation. She is also accused of being lenient – not supporting government entities responsible for investigating officials accused of misconduct.

But during the days of the Ebola epidemic, when she acted promptly by dismissing 10 officials for failing to ahead to a warning to return from overseas travel to help the government’s fight against an Ebola epidemic she was hailed. The action pointed to the beginning of strength she wants to pull towards the end of her last days. It was also a mark of preparedness to stand in the iron jacket.

The dismissal has become a topic of discussion at teashops, drinking bars, inside vehicles, and in other public gathering areas. It has divided discussants on whether or not the action was belated.

Those in favor of the action say the decision should have been taken years back when her officials began exhibiting disloyalty thereby dipping the government into public mockeries and distrust.

Others say her action is timely. They believe in the theory of “better late than never.” They say the president was giving her dishonest officials ample time to repent. Those who repented were forgiven and given flower for good work. Those who refused to repent are now seeing her ugly side. Maybe more action awaits disloyal officials.

During the period (2006-2011) government officials, most of them with oversea education and high profile experience somewhat showed patriotism to assist her transform the country ravished by the years of civil crisis.

But all of a sudden, the nationalistic approach changed in the current government when the platform was already set for speedy recovery.

When she named her first set of cabinet in the current government, this paper published an article titled “Recycled Government,” with vivid evidence that about 85 per cent of them were drawn from the 2006-2011 government.

But the president, in one of her interactions with the media refused to accept the paper’s report saying the officials were not recycled and even if they were, they were committed to duty.

Perhaps what she also meant was although recycled, the officials had renewed their commitment to the cause of call – allowing the 2011-2016 government to set the pace for another round of popular vote through the ballot box.

But this is not the case. Their loyalty to the state has been dwindling – resulting to bad economy. Joblessness is on the rise; several officials stand accused of malpractice but go with impunity. Reports by the two anti-graft agencies, the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) and the General Auditing Commission (GAC) are replete with volume of officials’ dishonesty.

Worst, dismissed officials go with what they take from taxpayers’ money. Some officials are tried for graft others are spared.

So the wave of disloyalty among government officials just in one week crowned it all. At least three senior government officials resigned from the Unity Party.

Although former foreign Minister Augustine Ngafuan resigned from the government, it is unlikely that he will remain in the Unity Party. Even before his resignation, there have been widespread reports that the former student activist was crossing over to the opposition Congress for Democratic Change (CDC). He has not publically denied the rumor.

But Mr. Ngafuan is leaving with a stigma he has not sustained in his political live. If cleared it be good for his record, If not cleared, it will be difficult for his next political party to accept him. Some CDC authorities are already saying anyone wanting to go to the party should go with clean hands.

The former minister, along with selected officials of his ministry is under probe by for the missing Japanese Fund.

He has however made some attempts to cleanse the record. He instructed the Internal Audit Section of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to conduct a full-scale forensic audit and investigation to ascertain the nature, scale, amount and probable participants to a fraud relating to the management of a capacity-building project fund under the Department of International Cooperation & Economic Integration of the Ministry. The Internal Audit Section, comprising auditors from the Internal Audit Agency (IAA), is expected to present the report.

The commission of the forensic audit was prompted by the abrupt and unannounced departure from the country of Mr. Augustine Nah Nyanplu, Senior Desk Officer & Project Manager, after vendors issued checks against the project account at the Afriland Bank alerted the Ministry to difficulties in encashing their checks due to insufficiency of funds.

But there are credible reports that the president has rejected the internal audit report and asked the GAC to conduct another audit.

Now that the president has accepted his resignation in the absent of the GAC report, it is safe to say the former minister has been exonerated from the probe even though his office was entire embroiled in signing the release of thousands of US$ from the Fund .

Mr. Nfafuan has his constitutional right to resign from government but the manner it was done opened a flood of arguments in street corners. Many say it was done in a defiant spirit compared to previously ministers who resigned from the government in recent time.

While in foreign country, the former Foreign Minister resigned and published the information on Facebook. He also published the information on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and syndicated it to media houses.

Arguably, this manner of resignation a new phenomenon in President Sirleaf’s government. Isn’t this unprecedented of an individual who was brought to prominence by this government? Mr. Ngafuan was appointed by President Sirleaf as Director of Budget Bureau and later promoted as Minister of Finance.

He was later appointed as Foreign Minister to take charge of the country’s foreign bilateral relations with individual nations and its representation in international cycle. Born on April 7, 1970 born the former minister was Dean of the Liberian Cabinet, perhaps the youngest person to occupy the position.

It has been speculated that he is on his way to the opposition Congress for Democratic Change ( CDC). But what will be his chances when the party’s’ authorities have already said he should go with clean hands? Will it be possible for the CDC to easily a former senior government official from the UP government which the CDC consistently accused of being corrupt?

Within the same week House Speaker Alex Tyler and Lofa County lawmaker Moses Kollie resigned. These individuals too became prominence at the expense of the party. Before his resignation, Speaker Tyler has been linked to a newly certificated political party called the Liberian People Democratic Party (LPDP).

Credible sources have hinted this writer that the Speaker is planning to launch the party across the political subdivision of the country soon.

“It shows that the Party lacks focus considering the unresolved lapses on the part of National Leadership and observing that there are no attempts to address the issue of concerns as mentioned supra, appears to me that there is total disregard for partisans and National Executive Committee Members, representative Kollie asserted.”

He added: “As a National Executive Committee member of the Unity Party coming from one of three (3) merged constituent political parties (the Liberia Action Party), I cannot and will not continue to be a due paying member without me being a part of the decision making of the institution.

There are report that Unity Party is looking into Nimba County for the Vice Presidential candidate. So Speaker Tyler, a citizen of Bomi County cannot get any other bigger position in the Unity Party. So if the speaker remains in UP what position should he be eying in the next UP government?

But the 2014 senatorial election was the beginning of desertion that further weakened the function of the government. Instead of staying to fulfill their commitment, most of the them deserted the government to become senators on the tickets of opposition parties.

In 2014, One of the most controversial desertions happened when a former senator of the Pnity Party Theodore Momo resigned declaring: “I am proud to leave Unity Party with clean hands where I served with loyalty, honesty, objectivity and openness. But I am sure that these qualities are no longer attractive to the Unity Party. Better still, these good and purposeful trademarks can market me to other institutions,” former Unity Party member in the current 53rd Senate, Senator Momo’s statement comes days after it was announced that the Unity Party had decided to carry Representative Gertrude Tene Lamin as its Senatorial candidate for the October 14, 2014 Special Senatorial Election, leaving out incumbent Senator Momo.

But in his four-page statement read to the media Senator Momo described the UP primary held in Bopolu, Gbarpolu County as a violation of the party’s own constitution. The party’s National Executive Committee elected to embrace the return of Representative Lamin to the party after she had previously tendered her resignation from UP in favor of Liberty Party.

The trend of resignation and dismissal especially for heavyweights such as former Internal Afffairs Minister Morris Dukuly and Speaker Alex Tyler is a blow to the party considering the influence they could pull in the 2017 elections.

Even though he is a citizen of Bomi County, Morris Dukuly’s forebears hailed from Lofa County, the home of the founding father of the Unity Party Edward B. Kesselly. The former Minister of State in President Sirleaf’s first government was a ground trooper of the Unity Party in both the 2005 and 2001 campaigns. It is hoped that though dismissed, Mr. Dukuly will stay with the party otherwise his absent could have a negative effect on it.