Pleading for Improved Relations B/W Pres. Weah & VP Taylor
PRESIDENT GEORGE MANNEH WEAH and his top Executive Branch officials on the one hand and the Vice President of the country, Jewel Howard Taylor, on the other are once again in the news, though for any good reason. As this is not the first time, the latest appears to harness unfavorable public perception about relations between the First and Second Citizens of Liberia. Whatever the case, this does not project a good image of the country, needless to mention impacts of such relations on national security and unity. It keeps the nation, the ruling party and supporters of both leaders on edge. Something must be done, and done now, to lift the perceived or real implications on this row from the dust.
WHAT THE NATION has been confronted with once again is that the Vice President is angry because the Ministry of Finance under the aegis of President Weah is not disbursing to her office allocations enshrined in the National Budget necessary to make her effective and efficient. Following days of lingering rumors about why she could not attend the re-opening of National Legislature, the Liberian Vice President sent a letter to the Senate, which she serves as the President. In that instant communication, VP Taylor reminded the Upper House of the “continuing and seemingly intentional circumstances surrounding financial obligations due in support of my duties as Vice President of the Republic and President of the Liberian Senate.”
AMONGST OTHER THINGS, the Vice President said she acquainted the Senate with the difficulties she was undergoing with some members of the Executive Branch, as it related to budgetary support for her office and the need for their intervention—something they consented to do. But, according to her, she patiently waited without any word, and the situation has since not improved. Then she told the Senators in the communication: “I am saddened to inform you, as elders of our Nation, that the situation remains that bills due my office from 2018-2019 are still not paid and the operational expenses which I needed for the effective running or functioning of my office (Office of the Vice President of the Republic of Liberia), during 2018 – 2019 and 2019 – 2020 budget years have not been paid.” She not only confirmed that it was because of those “difficulties” she could not attend the opening of the Senate’s 3rd Session but that she’s unlikely to perform her official duties unless something is done about constraints facing her.
WHAT THE VICE President told the Senate appears to be a far cry from “clarifications” provided by the Ministry of Finance sources who contend that the office of the Vice President has received more than Three Million United States Dollars since 2018 and that the money she is demanding is last year’s budget which cannot be paid unless accounted for in the current budget. The Finance Ministry sources also indicated that the Vice President took vehicles for her office last year “but due to budget difficulties that caused salary delay, those vendors are still not paid.” Accordingly, the Government is working to bundle all such domestic arrears to process payments as part of a package of domestic arrears.
THE VERY FACT that the issue of allotments for Liberia’s Vice President has become an issue of public discussion is not good at all for the image of the country. Though some news outlets scurry to report such hot news, and some detractors may want to exploit for political chip, we however feel that anything that impugns on our country character is unacceptable. With ordinary civil servants often agitating for pay, and some political actors intensifying their propaganda against Government and the ruling establishment, it worsens the situation when the second highest public servant in the country laments almost all the time for delays to execute her budget, something she says afflicts her performance.
HAVING SAID THAT, let us also state that statesmanship requires that official of the stature of the Vice President needed to pursue internal governance issue within the ambit of the officialdom. The Vice President, as a key member of the presidential inner circle, needed to seek and exhaust internal resolutions of the matter. Coming out public, in whatever form and manner, further credits critics’ view about the ability of the ruling class, of which she is part, to competently navigate the Ship of State. It is therefore totally suicidal that she let the cat off the bag at this time.
IT MUST ALSO be stated without fear and favor that it’s time for President Weah and the Vice President to reflect on the “First Love” as indicated in Book of Revelation so that they have a refreshing recollection of the road both threaded to reach the acme of national leadership. They were in the bunkers together against their vicious opponents in 2017. They travelled the worst of pathways we call motor roads in Liberia. They survived common political ambushes. They ate roasted cassavas and journeyed the remotest of places across this country. And most importantly, they both are of the same religious faith—at least so they profess. And without hesitation, the Liberian electorate parented the political wedding in 2017. Thus, it would be folly to let anyone anywhere put asunder what the electorate put together within the edifice of the ballot box and sealed the marriage with Constitutional rings and vows.
THEY BOTH CARRY huge followings who became united by the political marriage. The way things are unfolding will leave the nation divided and spur anger and venom along the divided lines. This could shake the very foundation of the land, repudiate the integrity of the Government and ruin the development programs it has put together. This is why we plead for unity and peace in the Palace of Power.