“They Want to Destroy Me” -McGill Thrashes Rumors of Involvement in Mobutu’s Death -Says Some Govt Officials and Opposition Want to Malign Him
The death of Public Works Minister Mobutu Nyenpan on Friday, October 30, 2020 has left in its wake a grieving nation that is still fighting the shock of seeing so many of its young professionals’ lives cut short this year. But if the shock of Minister Mobutu Vlah Nyenpan’s sudden death was not enough, news that the outgoing and hardworking Public Works Minister had died from cyanide poisoning equally left Liberians puzzled and angry. Among the litany of conspiracy theories making the rounds was that President George M. Weah’s Chief of Office Staff and Minister of State for Presidential Affairs, Nathaniel Falo McGill, had allegedly poisoned Minister Nyenpan through a fish because the Public Works Minister had objected to using the Road Funds for unintended reasons. In the wake of these mounting accusations, Minister McGill has been providing clarity about the much-talked-about meeting at the Ministry of Public Work, saying in very clear terms that never in his life has he killed a chicken, and so he wouldn’t even harm someone who is not only a good friend and colleague cabinet member, but bears very close tribal affinity with him.
“I feel very hurt, not for myself, but for the parents and the Ministry. Because people know the truth. When people come and say your child was killed, do you know the agony the family is going through? People say, McGill you are a Minister, you don’t have to say something. But most people don’t know. Mobutu is Sarpo. I am a Belleh man. The Belleh and Sarpo people are ‘doedee’. I am not supposed to see Mobutu’s blood. How will I kill someone that I was very close to?” Minister McGill wondered when he addressed the media Monday, November 16, 2020 on a wide range of national issues at his residence.
The soft-talking but visibly angry Minister of State said people have been talking a lot about this meeting without knowing the real story about what happened.
“Maybe I need to explain what led to this meeting because there are all sorts of explanations. Firstly, I am the Minister of State. My job is to make sure that every cabinet member does their job. I don’t compromise that. Even if you are a friend and you are not doing your job, I don’t compromise that. But I cherish my friendship. One thing I don’t compromise is friendship, because money can never buy friendship. So I feel hurt. And I know the people who are behind this malicious propaganda. You think you’re trying to destroy me. Mobutu’s mother and my mother are the same poor people.
“Sometimes you ask yourself whether you need to respond to some of these things. But because our society is gullible, because of the pain the family suffers, you see it as a responsibility to say something. Many people don’t know. Before Mobutu became minister of public works, he had a very good relationship with the president, they were friends and brothers. Mobutu and I were very close. The reality is that in the government I have two close friends – friends in the cabinet that I interacted with most of the time. One of those friends was Mobutu. A lot of people know that during inspection, Mobutu would always send for me. Mobutu never one day called me by my names. He always called me Chairman.
“In the first place, we’ve always had meetings at Public Works. It was not the first time. When we had meetings, people sent for food for us to eat. On this fateful day of this meeting, the Minister had informed me that he had a problem with getting certain things done; and he wanted my intervention to get the Minister of Finance and the PPCC Director to make sure that we solve some of the problems that he was confronted with. Let me give you one example. People say there was a heated argument during the meeting. Yes, there was a heated argument. But what was the heated argument all about? The heated argument was about a contract to do the road to the 14 Military Hospital. I don’t like to explain it, but I will have to explain it so the public can understand. The minister had requested a “no objection” to a contract for that road. The minister’s problem was that the current road we’re doing here, the least we pay to do the current feeder road is between US$600,000 US$850,000. The minister said to me: ‘Chairman, the road is too expensive, so we have to find a cheaper way of doing the road’. He brought a new technology which the president and I approved. Instead of spending US$600K you can spend US$300,000 to do one kilometer. So the difference between US$600K or US$850K is US$500K. You can save at least US$500K, so he made the request. Over six months there was a problem. I called the PPCC Director and the PPCC Director said the problem is with Public Works procurement people. We brought the group together to have the meeting.
“We went to the meeting. We sent for the PPCC director. Mobutu wasn’t talking. The Minister of Finance and the PPCC Director wanted to have an understanding. I was angry, and I said to the PPCC director: ‘If you say the Public Works request for a no-objection is too high, then cancel the no-objection, and ask Public Works to do a new procurement process, but mind you, the new cost of the road will be US$800K. Because you have to choose between taking US$350K or doing US$800K road. So which one is cheaper – the one that Mobutu is requesting for, or the new one you want to ask for?’ So we concluded the meeting with the understanding that the US$350K was the cheapest cost to do, and it was the best contract, because, besides that company, no other company in Liberia will give you a road for US$350K. So when people heard me in the office and I was angry it was because the minister wanted this job done and that had been delayed because some people were not understanding that US$350K is cheaper, and they wanted a new procurement process for which only one company in Liberia can do the job. The other company is in South Africa, and because of COVID, they cannot do the job. So when the conversation was getting tough, Mobutu called for us to walk into the conference room. Mobutu was the only man in the cabinet who when he’s angry you would never know. So I always called him the politician, because he always had a way of calming people down. So this issue was because we only wanted to help the man, like we always do. And we solved that problem.
“Mobutu invited all the contractors, the Chinese man who’s doing the road to Johnsonville who was complaining that he had not gotten his pay so he invited the Road Fund director to come in. He came in and we asked why he had not paid the contractor. There were so many other issues which I cannot go into details, but we all resolved those issues”.
The Poisoned Food Story
“And they brought the food. I did not send for the food. I didn’t even know where the food came from. The restaurant they got the food from I didn’t know. It is now that people are saying that the food from “Paris”. If that’s where the food came from, maybe we need to go ask them. Because it’s unfair for people to be accusing me. I have never been to Paris since 2014. I don’t know how Paris is looking. I have never been there to eat before. People are saying maybe McGill made a telephone call to tell someone to put poison there, someone said that’s fish, what kind of nonsense is this? Responsible people going around spoiling people’s names. Complete nonsense.
“You have big people in the government behind this nonsense. But we know them. Some of them are on record for sending me some stupid text messages. We know them and they know themselves. If they are vexed, they will talk. I know the people who are trying to besmear and malign my character. I know them. I am upset because this is not only about me. This is about the mother of the minister.
“Somebody said McGill killed the minister, the medical report is available. I did not send for food. I did not request for food. When I went to Public Works, I did not ask for them to bring food. Yes, they had always sent for food. There were more than 25 persons in this meeting, including deputy ministers and assistant ministers. So where is this story coming from that someone put cyanide in fish?
“I ate some of the food along with Youboty. If I wanted to kill somebody, it was Youboty I was going to kill. We ate from the same plate. The minister wasn’t even close to me. The same stupid man wrote that I killed one George Kollie because of some kind of company. Here is George Kollie’s business friend. My whole life I have been to South Africa. I have never even done transit at a South African airport in my whole life,” Min. Nathaniel McGill narrated.
Medical Report Confirms Hypertension
The late Public Works Minister fell off on September 3, 2020 and was transferred to the John F. Kennedy Medical Center where doctors diagnosed that he was comatose with the blood pressure of 240/136mmHg. Brain CT scan conducted on patient Nyenpan showed that he suffered left-sided thalamic hemorrhage into the ventricles.
Minister Nyenpan was later flown out of the country to Ghana for further medical treatment, where he passed on October 30, 2020.
Following his passing and in the wake of the mounting speculations that Minister Nyenpan had been poisoned with cyanide, the family of the fallen official reacted sharply, requesting the public to respect the family’s privacy, denouncing the rumors as untrue.
In that statement issued November 9, 2020, the family of the late Public Works Minister, Senator Mobutu Vlah Nyenpan, warned the public against using the untimely passing of the former Sinoe County legislator to achieve parochial interest or objectives. The family indicated that they have observed with disgust and utter indignation attempts by some individuals and online publications to smear the memories of their beloved son, brother and father by attributing his cause of death to factors that are far removed from the truth.
“The untimely passing of Senator Nyenpan is a national tragedy that we cannot allow to be used by anyone to achieve his/her own parochial interest or objectives.”
Signed by Mobutu Vlah Nyenpan, Jr., son of the deceased, and approved by T. Ojuku Nyenpan, brother of the deceased for and on behalf of the family, the statement did not indicate nor make reference to the specificity of the public comments or publications regarding Minister Nyenpan’s death, rather, the statement pointed to an “incoherent and baseless tirade by one Mr. Paulson Garteh (the same gentleman that was expelled from the family yard for unruly behavior)” who the family noted is not a member of their family and was therefore asked that he and others desist from disrespecting and dishonoring the legacy of Senator Nyenpan.