The horrifying claws of monstrous death has hit the Government and people of Liberia, yet again, sending waves of renewed mourning across the country. The rapidity of the frequency of death in governmental circles, particularly in the last two years of President Weah’s incumbency, has caused public alarms. It appears to give credence to some arguable prophetic declarations that there would be mass deaths in government. What appears to be most stunning is the passing of the Minister of Public Works, Mobutu VlahNyenpan, fondly simply called Vlah by his close associates—the man who was practically the rooster crowing over the nation about the dawn of President Weah’s massive infrastructure program. Despite the ominous prophecies, not many people had thought the Public Works Minister was factored into them, and many are asking, “And you too, Vlah?” The Analyst reefs through an avalanche of clamorous public reactions greeting the death of the former Sinoe County Senator.
Though it was reported back in early September that Public Works Minister Mobutu VlahNyenpan encountered massive stroke which immediately consumed his consciousness, it seemed most Liberians, even including citizens from the other side of the political aisle, did not think this friendly soul would succumb to death, even if it meant he was to be revived not in his full energetic status.
But the hard-to-take incident came home, nevertheless. On Friday, October 30, 2020, it was officially announced that Vlah was no more.
Avalanche of Tears
The Government of Liberia, through the office of President George Weah, swiftly responded to the sad news the same day.
The President who expressed his “deepest sadness and grief,” stated: “The deceased minister will be remembered for his humility, family values, love for country and strong work ethics, which resulted in the development of many rundown infrastructures in the country.”
The release from the President’s office added that Mr. Nyenpan’s death has created a deep void in the cabinet and would also personally impact the Liberian leader who had come to regard the Minister as a friend and brother.
Also, Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor who is believed to have had intimate relationship with the deceased, wrote on her Instagram page: “Oh death, where is thy sting; Oh death, where is thy victory? So Mobutu is gone and people are moving around without even mourning for a day! Ay ya, what is sacrifice! Only what is done for God is permanent.”
The brother of the fallen Public Works Minister, who effectively dispelled initial reports about the Minister’s death back in September, struggled to release the paralyzing news.
He lamented on his Facebook page: “My family has been fatally crushed! Lord you are on the throne and we know that, but why God? Why, Oh God, Why?”
In a subsequent post, he further lamented: “This is the moment I feared the most: informing our mother of your death. That hour has come this morning, and I asked that other family members give her such news…I just cannot! Am skipping this other family meeting. Rest in peace my brother. We shall grieve forever. #2 boys, 1 mother#”
The ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) on October 29, 2020 suspended all party activities by shutting down party offices across the country for 24 hours in observance of the passing of Minister Mobuto Nyenpan.
According to the press release from the CDC, “the National Executive Committee of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) mourns the irreparable loss of Public Works Minister Mobutu Nyenpan.
The Coalition for Democratic Change said it was devastated by this loss, a sad event of disastrous enormity, which has crushed the spirit of the entire membership of the CDC.
“As the Coalition for Democratic Change (in mourning the untimely death of the Minister) suspends all party activities and shuts down its offices across the country for 24hrs, it’ll remember most our brother’s commitment to the agenda, growth and development of the CDC. The CDC is left impacted by the Minister’s numerous contributions that have made it stronger, enhancing the party’s viability and resourcefulness,” the release further stated, while extending profound sympathy to the bereaved family, beseeching the Lord’s divine power to grant solace and strength during this difficult period.
Already, a stream of tributes has saturated the social media, as the deceased being a very popular and people-centered person–former student leader, political activist, a lawmaker and accomplished public servant.
An apparent longtime affiliate of the deceased, J Frederick Barclay, also had some fond words to remember Minister Nyenpan. He wrote on his Facebook page: “Though your days among us were too brief and our grief at your loss is never-ending, we draw comfort from the knowledge that you have found safe refuge in The Lord and in our hearts, where no darkness or pain can touch you now. We bless You with love, light, and our gratitude.You were a good boss and mentor to me, Mo-Vlah! You will never be forgotten. Rest In Perfect Peace Sen Mobutu VlahNyenpan.”
From the political aisle, well-known talk show host and political activist Henry P. Costa, poured out his doleful sentiments. “Mobutu VlahNyenpan, I just woke up to the terrible news that you succumbed to your sudden illness. It’s deeply heartbreaking. I, and many others, had been praying that you would beat the stroke and return home. You were such a cheerful and fun person. You shall be deeply missed! Aye mehn! Rest well, Vlah.”
Vlah, the Man
The fallen Public Works Minister was 56. His Facebook profile information indicates he was born March 20, 1964.
His appointment as Public Works Minister by President George Weah in 2018 brought him to revered public prominence, as he proved to be one of the President’s most loyal servants and articulate political appointees.
He was a workaholic that President Weah in 2019 announced his most favorite public servant.
Because of his humility and hard work, Vlah, as he was popularly known and called, was named Person of the Year, Minister of the Year, Senator of the Year by several media institutions in the country in this paper.
With the Weah government’s extraordinary focus and priority for infrastructural projects, mainly road projects, the fallen son of Sinoe County picked up high national appeal and admiration amongst the populace.
At groundbreaking and dedicatory ceremonies, many of which were frequently held between 2018 and up to his encounter with stoke, Mobutu VlahNyenpan’s towering voice bellowed at those occasions with fervor of militancy and scholarliness—something that made many to consider him as one of the government’s ideological fanatics and service deliverers.
He blended his orientation as a militant student activist with his legal knowledge and mastery of progressive histrionics to keep his high-profile audience and radio talk show hosts and the public spellbound with government operations in the infrastructure sector.
Vlah was one of the overused hosts for radio talk shows hosts who wanted an understanding and updates of what government was doing with its priority program—road projects. And he was always at this best, extemporaneously talking about nearly all villages and towns, districts across the country along with their respective mileages and data relative to their statuses and standing in government’s road projects.
Before his appointment as Public Works Minister, he had served as Senior Senator of Sinoe County until 2014 when he lost the post during a midterm senatorial election. He also worked as the Liberia Petroleum Refining Company during the transitional period of Liberia.
He is a product of the University of Liberia, where he obtained a decree in Civil Engineering. He lately studied law at the Louis Arthur Grimes School of Law at the University of Liberia. He briefly practiced.
Minister Nyenpan hailed from Sinoe County. He was of the Sarpo stock, from a town called Grisby Farm in Butaw District. The majority inhabitants of Grisby Farm reportedly originate from Voogbadee, Juarzon Statutory District.
Besides being an astute public servant, Vlah was a socially popular person around whom many ordinary people gravitated.
A relative of his told the Analyst in tears: “This was a man who would practically beg others to stay with him just for friendly or family conversations. He felt bad when no one was around him, and he would go all out to bring someone close to him.”
This appeared confirmed by a Facebook post by one of his associates who tendered a tribute in Vlah’s honor on the Facebook.
TheFacebooker, who simply called himself as Dennis Dennis, related his latest contact with the fallen public servant. He wrote:
“And so it was a Saturday like this, July 25, 2020 @10:30 AM when riding from Freeport my phone rang. I picked it up not noticing the caller but the voice I was accustomed to. ‘Gbarku’ that strong voice called out with the question “where are you?”. I replied I was driving home. He asked ‘can you stop by’? I answered in affirmative. “Please do” was the authoritative command that followed.
“Whatever that was on mind including not being with my visiting brother from the States was put on hold. I drove to his house and there was that broad usual smile awaiting me at the gate with the befitting pleasantries to usher me in.I initially thought my being there was for an hour or so. But everytime I asked to leave, he would say no. In fact, to extend my stay, without asking me, he asked the cook to prepare some dry rice. I was obliged to stay. And I was with him till 5pm.Little did I know that that meeting would be my last encounter with that special someone that today we called the late Public Works Minister Nyenpan Mobutu Vlah.
“Oh yes! Death is that element of life that divides people perpetually with so much pain attached to it. No wonder Philosopher Bertrand Russell described it as making man’s life brief and powerless on him and all his race the slow, sure doom falls pitiless and dark. I got to know Vlah through a friend in 1998. We became very close when both of us were working with two different projects in Sinoe County all aimed at reconditioning schools that were left ravaged be the war. We expressed admiration at each work we were doing.
“Therefrom, we never called each other by name but Gbarku. In fact when he became Senator and I visited him at his office, he didn’t appreciate me calling him by his official title. That was the depth of our relationship.When I got to know him, he was a people-oriented man and that he remained until his demise.What I admire most of my late friend and brother was his work ethics especially being at the Public Works Ministry. Every task was as important as the other. And one of the basic principles of management he kept utilizing was to delegate responsibility. Everyone working with him must be a team player. As jovial as he was, he took no pleasure in tardiness on the job. Therefore, the mandate given him by President Weah to do the roads in Liberia was key to his heart. It was never a surprise when he noted in one of his many interviews that Liberia needs development; but there can be no development without roads. He had worked several places. But the job at Public Works was very close to his heart and was more passionate about getting the roads done. In one of our conversations, he informed me that he would be fulfilled connecting Monrovia with the South East through paved roads. As he lies dead today, I am sure if he were to say a last word, he would say “the roads I am leaving behind should please be done Mr. President.
“As I visited his home yesterday and saw the scores of individuals wailing, I felt something that showed how compassionate he was. Throughout on my numerous visits with him, I saw people trooping there for help, it got done on me that living peacefully with people and being humanistic are attributes that fulfill a man’s life. Vlah had those attributes.Liberia has lost one of its brilliant sons and Sinoe County has lost one of its dearest.Mobutu, I will mourn you but I will take solace in the fact that you served well and left an indelible mark on the sands of time.
To everyone feeling the hurt of his demise, I quote these words from Bertrand Russell, ‘So long as there is #Death, there will be sorrow, and as long there is sorrow, it can be no part of the duty of human beings to increase its amount, in spite of the fact that a few more spirits know how to transmute it’.
“Let’s take wisdom in these words as we mourn.Gbarku! I don’t know when but I am sure we will meet again on those beautiful shores. Good bye brother!!!