Editorial

Now the dust has settled…

President George Weah wisely calmed the storms last week when he met with media managers and publishers here, including the leadership of the Press Union of Liberia at his Foreign Ministry office in Monrovia and reiterated his government’s commitment to upholding press freedom and free speech, as guarantees under the Constitution of Liberia.


Following a healthy exchange of ideas, President Weah went a step further and had lunch with members of the media.

The engagement with the media was intended to alley all fears and suspicions about each other – Government and the Liberian media that has been heightening unnecessary tensions in the country.

The forum between the two parties was timely to create an atmosphere for partnership in the crucial forward march to genuine peace, reconciliation and economic development.

Now that the dust has settled, we call on the media and the government to build trust in each other in pushing the agenda for the Motherland.

However, we like to caution here that in this partnership, our respective roles are mutually exclusive. Ours, as media practitioners, is to keep sentry on the government in making sure that everything it does is in the best interest of the country and its people.

Government, as we all know is moved by political interest as it endeavors to work in the interest of the state and its people. But human beings are driven by self-interest, which often runs contrary to the interest of the majority.

The media has played the traditional role of watchdog for society, alarming each time the public interest or right is trampled upon, for who else could effectively assume this sacred duty if not the Fourth Estate?

However, this should not be misconstrued as the media being against the government or the President. If the administration did something good, the media would acknowledge so thru its reportage. We are fully aware that government should have its own media team to project its image positively, and this is why the independent media would always stand with the public by pointing out ills in the public sector, because human beings – whether they are in government, from the religious community or other areas of society, are infallible.

Notwithstanding, it behooves all – government, media, civil society, religious community, business people and ordinary citizens to keep the interest of the state supreme above all other selfish desires, for the common good. This should matter most in all that we do; the interest of Liberia.

When love turns sour

No one read the minds of a young couple or at least knew their intent in their Peace Island community in Jacob Town, Paynesville City as they entered their bedroom on Saturday, 7April only for residents to discover subsequently that one of them was lying dead in a pool of blood, while the other was found unconscious in bed with his penis slashed.


That’s reportedly what transpired on the fateful night of Saturday, 7April at about 10pm when the late Princess Boe, 24, was found dead in a lake of blood in bed, while her boyfriend, Lassana Kenneth, was by her side in the same bed unconscious with his penis slashed.

Who may have done this? Was there a scuffle or brawl between the couple while they were in the room or had they been in confusion prior to that day which may have led to the ugly situation in the room?

While there might be various accounts about the situation in the community, depending on whom you speak with, the police will unravel what has become a tragic love story. Thank God that one of the couple, Lassana Kenneth, who also became victim of the situation, is recuperating in hospital and is now prime suspect.

One thing is however clear: There is a suspected murder, and no one perhaps can better explain what actually occurred in that room or at least circumstantial activities that led to the loss of life and injury other than prime suspect Lassana Kenneth, fiancé of the deceased. Whether he would say nothing else, but truth and only the truth that would be another thing.

Love sometimes suffers strains, but that it would lead to the taking away of someone’s life for whatever reason is against the law, and the perpetrator would have to face justice in court. It is important to note that this human venture is a social contract between a man and a woman or individuals of the same sex.

If that social contract is established before the law, it may be terminated in court in line with the relevant terms, and each party goes his or her way peacefully rather than the ghastly situation that occurred in Peace Island.

Equally, if it is a gentleman agreement, any party can throw in the tower anytime, walks away and life goes on as usual with no strings attached. They may reunite if deems necessary after resting for a while and no one dares ask why either.

We don’t know why the couple from Jacob Town ended their relationship in the way they did or in the way it happened, but whoever is responsible for the death of one party, in this case Princess Boe, that person should be brought to book.

No one, whosoever, whether a husband or a wife, a boyfriend or a girlfriend, a father or a mother, a son or a daughter, a brother or a sister, or a friend has right to terminate the life of another person under the law, not even for the sake of love or in the name of love.

When love turns sour

No one read the minds of a young couple or at least knew their intent in their Peace Island community in Jacob Town, Paynesville City as they entered their bedroom on Saturday, 7April only for residents to discover subsequently that one of them was lying dead in a pool of blood, while the other was found unconscious in bed with his penis slashed.


That’s reportedly what transpired on the fateful night of Saturday, 7April at about 10pm when the late Princess Boe, 24, was found dead in a lake of blood in bed, while her boyfriend, Lassana Kenneth, was by her side in the same bed unconscious with his penis slashed.

Who may have done this? Was there a scuffle or brawl between the couple while they were in the room or had they been in confusion prior to that day which may have led to the ugly situation in the room?

While there might be various accounts about the situation in the community, depending on whom you speak with, the police will unravel what seems to be a love mystery. Thank God that one of the couple, Lassana Kenneth, who also became victim of the situation, is recuperating in hospital and is now prime suspect.

One thing is however clear: There is a suspected murder, and no one perhaps can better explain what actually occurred in that room or at least circumstantial activities that led to the loss of life and injury other than prime suspect Lassana Kenneth, fiancé of the deceased. Whether he would say nothing else, but truth and only the truth that would be another thing.

Love sometimes suffers strains, but that it would lead to the taking away of someone’s life for whatever reason is against the law, and the perpetrator would have to face justice in court. It is important to note that this human venture is a social contract between a man and a woman or individuals of the same sex.

If that social contract is established before the law, it may be terminated in court in line with the relevant terms, and each party goes his or her way peacefully rather than the ghastly situation that occurred in Peace Island.

Equally, if it is a gentleman agreement, any party can throw in the tower anytime, walks away and life goes on as usual with no strings attached. They may reunite if deems necessary after resting for a while and no one dares ask why either.

We don’t know why the couple from Jacob Town ended their relationship in the way they did or in the way it happened, but whoever is responsible for the death of one party, in this case Princess Boe, that person should be brought to book.

No one, whosoever, whether a husband or a wife, a boyfriend or a girlfriend, a father or a mother, a son or a daughter, a brother or a sister, or a friend has right to terminate the life of another person under the law, not even for the sake of love or in the name of love.

Cleaning Monrovia for healthy living

Monrovia youthful City Mayor Jefferson Koijee, is upbeat about keeping the city named in memory of the late fifth American president, James Monroe, clean, safe and green. Immediately after taking office, Mayor Koijee launched the “Weah for Clean City Campaign”, a rebrand of the ‘First Saturday’ cleanup campaign initiated by one of his predecessors, firebrand Mary Taryonnoh Broh.


President George Manneh Weah and First Lady Clar Weah led an array of government officials to the launch of the “Weah for Clean City Campaign” in March, cleaning several communities across Monrovia.

Jeff is determined to clear the capital and its environs of garbage and human wastes that litter the streets, posing serious sanitary and health threats to the population. He has enlisted over 50 youth from the governing Coalition for Democratic Change party into a special brigade to run with the vision.

Monrovia residents should not become spectators or backbenchers in this exercise. Rather, they should take ownership of the entire campaign by helping to clean their environments before the city corporation comes in to buttress their effort.

Addressing a news conference on Thursday, 4 April at the Monrovia City Hall, Mayor Koijee paid special homage to residents of Soniwein community for coming out in their numbers to clear drainages in the community of dirt, while the MCC provided tools as such shovels, hooks, brooms and wheelbarrows.
The youthful mayor cannot do the work along. He needs support from government, citizens and partners to take Monrovia to the kind of capital it ought to be, which we all would be proud. The capital city of any nation is the face of that country, for it says a lot about the entire country.
This means the World Bank, UNDP and other international partners would have to join the effort in helping to keep Monrovia clean, safe and green. It is attractive for habitation and vacation. The MCC needs funds and logistics, particularly trucks, and yellow machines to collect garbage.
First Lady Clar Weah donated a huge consignment of face masks to the MCC on Tuesday, this week as a way of buttressing ongoing effort to keep Monrovia clean. The masks are to be used by sweepers clearing the streets and various market grounds.
Efforts by Mayor Koijee to have hygiene clubs established in various schools across Monrovia would go a long way in promoting hygienic and positive sanitary lifestyle among the population.
If we all can join the Mayor in cleaning our various environments, we would have addressed half of our common health problems such as malaria, diarrhea, cholera, and Lesser Fever, among others that attack our homes and children. Lest we forget, a clean environment produces a healthy population.

How could the Education boss sound so pessimistic?

Newly appointed Education Minister Ansu Sonni sounded very pessimistic here Monday, 2April the eve of the administration of the 2018 West African Senior High School Certificate Exams or WASHSSCE to 12th graders across the country by the West African Examinations Council when he regretted that Liberian students are to write the exams, because they are not prepared. He didn’t stop there. The minister immediately turned prophet of doom, predicting mass failure among the students, adding that their dismal performance could be recorded in the Guinness Book of Records.


Minister Sonni’s comments, coming on the eve of the exams amounted to telling all 12th graders in the country to boycott the test, because as head of Liberia’s education system, he doubts whether they could perform.

But then why didn’t the Education Minister, who is a former lecturer at the University of Liberia and ex-Dean of the College of Business and Public Administration as well as former Vice President for Administration, respectively of the UL, say so earlier, having spent about two months at the ministry.

WAEC Office Liberia believes strongly that it is time students in Liberia particularly 12th graders get on par with their counterparts in the subregion by transitional from the Liberia Senior High School Exam to WASHSSCE to standardized the curriculum in member countries of the West African Examinations Council.

As member of the five nations subregional body, it is not only demeaning, but unacceptable for Liberia to continuously have or administer separate exams to its students from the rest of the other countries namely; Nigeria, Ghana, The Gambia and Sierra Leone.

Accordingly, the office in Monrovia in collaboration with the Ministry of Education conducted pilot tests in selected schools to assess the IQ of students in readiness for the exams, which Minister Sonni is fully aware of though he was not at the ministry then.

But we all know that government is about continuity and the new Education Minister might have met this WASHSSCE test issue on his desk immediately upon taking office. In fact, this administration headed by President George Manneh Weah reportedly paid some US$2.1 million as fees for all 12th graders to write the new exams.

As one of the first cabinet member nominated by President Weah, he could have raised this reservation expressed at the eleventh hour, which we believe was not timely at all, coming from a leader. The comment sent everyone - parents, students, instructors and school administrators subdued and perplexed, with confidence eroded.

Minister Sonni also spoke as if WAEC Monrovia Office had acted along in transitioning the country from the Liberia Senior High School Exam to WASHSSCE, a more comprehensive and essay dominated test rather than the objective and multiple questions type that Liberian students had been used to.

We are fully aware of the challenges that have plagued the education sector over the years, including lack of adequate qualified teachers particularly, for Mathematic and the Sciences; lack of laboratories to adequately prepare students for science subjects and poor supervision by the Education Ministry itself, among others. However, we caution that our leaders should be very calculatedly circumspect in their public utterances even with all the good intentions and purposes or else, they send the wrong message.

Pres. Weah must keep the courage to prosecute

President George Manneh Weah is yet to appoint another government lawyer to prosecute former officials indicted by Global Witness recently in a damning report for allegedly receiving bribes to award Old Block 13 to Exxon Mobile, and America company.


President Weah had earlier appointed Justice Minister and Attorney-General of the republic of Liberia, Cllr. Musa S. Dean, to head the prosecution of those ex-officials named in the GW report. But the UK-based environmental watchdog objects to the appointment, citing conflict of interest and calling for his recusal, as Cllr. Dean represented the state in the signing of the NOCAL deal with Exxon Mobile.

Prudently, the Justice Minister heeded the GW’s call for his recusal and graciously backed off last week, leaving the task, which places him in a position to collaborate with the process by explaining his role played, rather being a player and referee at the same time.

Since he stepped down from the pending investigation, the President is yet to name another lawyer to proceed with prosecuting all those former officials named in the report, including Mr. Robert Sirleaf, former board chair of NOCAL.

The Executive Mansion in Monrovia hs not provided any explanations why the delay by President Weah in appointing another competent lawyer to take over the case and bring all those mentioned in the report to book.

We are raising this early concern because memories are still fresh about poor handling of similar trial of GW report by the past administration that had now become a cartoon, rather than a case with all indictees walking around today as free men.
It is very important that the President keeps his courage that moves him in the first place, to hace called for prosecution, appointing the Justice Minister, who however, fell short of the ethical standards to proceed accordingly.

We believe it is but expedient and morally imperative that he does so immediately to maintain the public confidence he has generated by calling for prosecution in the first place.
If the Coalition-led government can gather all relevant pieces of evidence and try those accused by GW in a competent court, it would have won for itself increased public trust both at home and in the international community about its professed determination to stamp out graft and corruption in the public sector of our country, where its predecessor failed miserably.

Consequently, we call on President Weah not to allow the momentum to diminish by promptly naming another lawyer to proceed with the prosecution accordingly, which would indicate a strong mark of departure from business as usual.

 

Creeping intolerance

A relationship of creeping intolerance and animosity is gradually developing between the media and the Weah-led administration in Liberia, which if not checked, could harm peaceful co-existence and general stability here.


For some reasons, some officials of the administration are creating an impression that the media in the country is an undesirable element with a destructive agenda that should be aborted at all cost before it hatches.

But this is far from reality. Instead, we believe the media is a very serious partner in the socio-economic and political development of any nation, with Liberia being no exception. It is that instrument that mirrors society truly as it is, by portraying both good and bad that enable us to listen, take stock and correct the wrong.

However, what has been attaining of late in regards to how the media is being considered is not only disturbing, but worrisome. It all started when an overzealous deputy minister at the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism openly lash at the media, specifically wishing poverty and other ill-wishes upon this key instrument that promotes democratic governance, political and religious tolerance, peace and unity and healthy debate or exchange of ideas in a non-confrontational atmosphere.

Not only that, Grand Bassa County Senator Youngblee Karnga Lawrence violently moved on legislative reporters, while in the line of duty at the Capitol. As if this were not enough, President George Manneh Weah in a joint media stake-out with the Deputy Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary General to Liberia Madam Amina Mohammed branded BBC Reporter Jonathan Paye-Layleh fought against his pro-human right campaign in Liberia by promoting violence and carnage during the civil war here.

Just last week, the third most powerful official in the Liberian government, Speaker Bhofal Chambers, ordered armed security officers assigned in his office to drag New Dawn Legislative Reporter Nathaniel Daygbor, out of his office. What was the crime? Reporter Daygbor asked for the Speaker’s academic credentials.

As a public official, Speaker Chambers should have known by now that everything about him, including his wife and children, food and dress code are of public interest, let along his academic credentials. There is absolutely nothing so private about a public official, and journalists are protected under the “Doctrine of Qualify Privilege” to query officials in their line of duties.

We believe Reporter Daygbor had not acted wrongly by asking the Speaker for copy of his academic credentials so; he did not deserve the humiliation meted out against him by Speaker Chambers.

With just barely three months in office, we call for a reversal of what is rapidly becoming a ‘cat and mice’ relationship between the government and the media. Lest we should forget, we need each other on the forward march to peace, reconciliation, prosperity and development. No democratic leader or government can thrive without a strong media.

Yes, because of its watch dog function, the media would most times disagree with everything the government does; it is our right and duty to question who, what, how, and perhaps critically why? This is necessary for the public good. The sooner we all realize this, the better it would be for the Motherland, our common patrimony.

Take the bull by the horn, President Weah

President George Manneh Weah perhaps doesn’t know that trying to dodge or evade question about the establishment of war crimes court in Liberia takes away a lot from his professed commitment to fighting for human rights, freedom and dignity. The reality is that there are slow, but concertedly sustained efforts by Liberians at home and abroad in collaboration with international partners to have such court in Liberia.


It is but prudent that the President takes a clear stance now by telling the citizenry and the world at large his position regarding increasing calls for the establishment of war crimes court here.

The calls derive from recommendations contained in the final report of the former Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which proposed among others, prosecution for people who committed heinous crimes during the Liberian Civil War, including ex-generals and heads of former warring factions.

We believe the calls to make people account for their deeds are necessary to stop the culture of impunity, which seems to have become so endemic in the Liberian society, needless to say that they are also in the interest of the Weah Administration.

There are people whose hands are stained with blood parading the corridors of power today as savior of the people. They are hiding and using political power to erase their dirty deeds, but the pages of history are replete with indelible facts about their character.

Even the chairman of President Weah’s Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) party Mulbah Morlu, is chief campaigner for the establishment of war crimes court in Liberia. He paraded symbolic coffins before ex-UN boss, Dr. Koffi Annan during a visit to Liberia, pleading for the establishment of war crimes court.

So what’s wrong with a journalist, acting in the line of duty at a recent press stake-out with the President and UN Deputy Secretary General Amina Mohammed at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Monrovia asking both leaders to give their stance on such a critical issue that borders on our integrity as a people?

We urge President Weah to muster enough courage and clearly tell the Liberian people whether under his presidency Liberia would support war crimes court coming here. If no why, and if yes, he should equally explain. 

The President should harbor no fear, as this is not about witch-hunting anyone, but justice for over 800,000 of our fellow compatriots whose lives were cut short by guns-toting rag-tag rebels carrying on summary executions in the name of liberation.

Those people who licensed our young men and women to rape, pillage and engage in cannibalism should be made to account in court or Liberians should brace themselves for a vicious cycle of violence with impunity where the man with the biggest gun becomes the decision maker for the rest of us.

Consolidating the gains after UNMIL

After nearly 15 years of peacekeeping duty in Liberia characereised by Disarmament, Demobilization, Rehabilitation and Reintegration of 100,000 ex-fighters from various armed militias and subsequently restoration of democratic leadership, the United Nations Mission in Liberia or UNMIL officially ended its mission here over the weekend, and turned over one of its key assets UNMIL Radio, to ECOWAS.


UNMIL came to Liberia in October 2003 after the last round of hostility and formation of the Liberia National Transitional Government, LNTG that headed by the late Gyude Bryant.

Yes, a 15,000 strong peacekeeping force came here and delivered peace because Liberians themselves were war-wearied. The peacekeepers left their respective countries and families to make sure Liberians enjoy peace again.

The peace the UN delivered in collaboration with the regional body ECOWAS enabled Liberians to enjoy 12 years of democratic governance and peaceful political transition in more than 170 years.

So many gains have been achieved since the guns went silent. Liberia has recuperated from being a failed state to becoming a respectable member of the Comity of Nations again.

Come what may, we as Liberians must do all within our means to consolidate the peace and continue the forward march to reconciliation, development and prosperity.

The Coalition government headed by President George Manneh Weah inherited a relatively peaceful country, thanks to the resilience of his immediate predecessor, Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

It is the dividends of the peace, including a restructured national security force, proper governance structure, and strong regional and global partnership, among others that created the platform for this nation to return to civilian life and our children to return to school again and businesses to resume normal operation.

President George Weah should seize this opportunity to build on the gains already achieved. It is forward ever, backward never. Oh yes, we must preach reconciliation with a sober reflection on how far we have come and where we want to take the Motherland.

We say hat off to UNMIL and ECOWAS for serving the mission well. Liberians say thank you. We will forever remain grateful for the sacrifices made in getting this country back on the stage of peace, pluralistic democracy and economic revitalization.

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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