Monrovia- Finally clinching power after twelve years as Liberia’s biggest and major opposition political party, the Coalition for Democratic Change led-government in its early stages is threatened by dishonest recommendations of people by some top partisans for presidential appointments, internal rivalry and the sidelining of some die-hard partisans due to personal issues with the Standard Bearer of the party. The Liberian Billboard investigative team unearthed some startling revelations after a thorough investigation, and reports.
As it is customary and by law, appointment of people to certain top positions in government are done by the President of the Republic of Liberia, and those appointees serve at the will and pleasure of the President. However, most often, appointments made by the president are not hands-on, meaning, most appointees are recommended by hierarchy of the ruling party, Presidential confidants and in most cases channeled through the Minister of State; so is the case of the current Liberia government being led by the Coalition for Democratic Change. On the other hand, unlike past governments where appointments were properly vetted and based on some knowledge of appointees to positions for which they are being appointed, top partisans of the CDC and closed confidants to the President are misusing the process to mislead the President in making unwholesome appointments. Our investigation revealed, many appointments by the President which were based on recommendations from top brass of the CDC are flawed, and have the propensity of stagnating the government’s progress. This issue has ignited a rift between parties of good and evil in the party, as some members of the hierarchy vehemently oppose these actions on the part of their colleagues.
Example of a recent rift among top brass of the CDC has to do with the appointment of officials of the WASH Commission. WASH is the acronym of the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Commission. According to our sources, Hon. Munah Pelham-Youngblood who heads the WASH committee in the House of Representatives was originally tasked with recommending an Executive Director and Chair of the newly established WASH Commission. However, Hon. Pelham-Youngblood who has been ill for some time now delayed the recommendation until her return to the country. Our sources say, while Hon. Pelham-Youngblood was outside the country, Hon. Thomas Fallah and Saah Joseph bypassed her and went to the President with recommendations, insisting that it was urgent that he appoint officials at the Commission since the Act establishing the commission has just recently been passed into law. Out of well-situated trust he have for his two political soldiers, the President appointed Mr. Bobby Whitfield and Mr. Salia Kamara as Chairman and Executive Director of the Commission respectively. These appointments irritated Hon. Munah Pelham-Youngblood who saw it as gross disrespect to her by fellow colleagues. In retaliation, the District 9 representative threatened a sour working relationship with the commission and also pledged to withhold the necessary allocation for the commission in the next budget. On the other hand, Hon. Fallah who is the Chairman of the Ways, Means and Finance Committee in the House said Hon. Pelham-Youngblood threats are in vain, because as chairman of the committee that has the final say in budgetary allocations, nobody has the power to stop any agency from getting the required funding apart from plenary, and that plenary acts based on his committee’s recommendations. Hon. Saah Joseph who in conjunction with Hon. Fallah made the recommendations to the President, said the President’s appointment is final and Hon. Munah Pelham-Youngblood can’t do anything about it.
Despite the back and forth between the lawmakers, The Liberian Billboard made some grueling discoveries. As Mr. Bobby Whitfield has been in governmental circles for awhile, and holding some top positions, his appointment as Chairman of the WASH Commission is not really an issue; as his position is more administrative than technical. The real issue with these two appointments is the position of the Executive Director. The Executive Director of any agency runs the day-to-day affairs of that agency, thus, the success or achievements of that agency lies on that appointee. The Act creating the WASH Commission says, the Executive Director of the Commission should be a person who has knowledge about the WASH sector, both educationally and in experience, but our investigation revealed, Mr. Salia Kamara has none. The Liberian Billboard investigative team discovered that Mr. Kamara once worked in the offices of Hon. Thomas Fallah as an errand-boy, and was fortunate to travel to the United States on a trip with the lawmaker and never returned. Based on that relationship and Kamara playing host to the lawmaker whenever he visits the United States, Hon. Fallah recommended him for that position. Additional investigation also revealed that Mr. Salia Kamara has never ever worked in the WASH sector, nor does he even have a college education. One of our sources told The Liberian Billboard that Mr. Salia Kamara only graduated high school and have never set foot in University (not independently confirmed), and that his appointment as Executive Director of the WASH Commission totally violates the Act creating the commission.
The WASH Commission appointments are just few tips-of-the-iceberg of the internal power struggles and dishonest recommendations of presidential appointments. Information available to us says, Minister of State, Nathaniel McGill is the defacto Prime Minister of the Government, and almost all appointments by the President are run by him, but in recent times, the President had made some direct appointments without McGill’s knowledge. These appointments angered the Minister who saw it as an affront from people who goes directly to the President.
In a related development, some die-hard partisans of the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change are reportedly being sideline by the President and some hierarchy of the party due to personal reasons. Sources with knowledge of the issue told our correspondent that certain partisans such as former CDC-USA Chair, Vah Isaac Tukpah is being ignored by the President because of multiple incidents of disrespect and status-challenge. One report says, at one point in time, Mr. Tukpah not aware that the President was on a conference call, sarcastically criticized and demeaned the President. The well-placed source told the Liberian Billboard that Mr. Tukpah on several occasions have openly criticize some of his colleagues in the party, and acts pompous while exhibiting gross disrespect to even the President. This, our source hinted, is the reason why Mr. Tukpah and few others who the President feel are aligned with him have not been appointed in the government, as the President does not take disrespect or power challenge lightly. The source further told our reporter that many top brass in the party sees Mr. Tukpah as a threat to its existence, and as such, do not even bother to talk to the President on his behalf. Meanwhile, as observed, Mr. Tukpah is still hevaily associated with the CDC-USA chapter, most recently, seen actively involved at its just ended convention in Fargo, North Dakota.
Some distraught partisans who spoke to The Liberian Billboard said, with a government as young as the CDC-led government, internal rifts and power struggles as well as dishonest presidential appointments recommendations are threats to its Pro-Poor agenda. They said, for any government to truly succeed, it needs cohesiveness, and disagreements should be solely policy based, and not power related. One partisan pointed out, “Capable and well educated CDCcians like Charles McArthur, Ben Fyn, Arthur Zakama, etc, are still around and not appointed. Educated and die-hard partisans like these individuals need to be highly considered first, and top brass who have direct access to the President need to quit recommending people for appointments based on personal relationships, rather than qualification and knowledge about jobs to which they are being appointed”. Another partisan stated, “When people around a President starts to mislead him or her, the government is bound for trouble. In this case, President Weah is not wrong for relying on trusted associates for recommendations to fill up positions, however, these trusted associates need to be honest not only to themselves but to the nation for which they are recommending people to serve. In addition, any organization that is divided, is set-up to fail; that does not need rocket scientist to analyze the assertion”.
The Liberian Billboard will keep following up on additional developments as it relates to the issues in this article……