Our Final Word over Mobutu’s Passing
IT IS GROSSLY an understatement to say many hopes are dashed and much tears sparked in the death of the first Public Works Minister of the George Weah Government. The issue is not merely because he was Public Works Minister. In fact, there had been several works ministers in the past. THE POINT RATHER is that Mobutu Vlah Nyenpan was not an ordinary Liberian public servant. He was someone who deliberately distinguished himself as a different member of a presidential cabinet in his incredible commitment and incomparable hard work to do and see marked change and improvement in governmental service delivery.
NORMALLY, LIBERIAN GOVERNMENTS, including the present one, don’t have mechanism by which public service or labor in the public service is measured. As a result, there is not only the problem of labor theft—individuals using time of work do other things not related to their fiduciary responsibilities or official terms of reference—there is also the problem of low productivity that leads subsequently to political failure. In most instances, the overall results and tangible outputs of a Liberian government only become known through the isolated endurance, diligence and hard work of a few public servants.
IF THE ADMINISTRATION of President George Manneh Weah were to be graded on the merit of substantial developments achieved during its last three years, it would be because the likes of Mobutu Vlah Nyenpan were enlisted into the Executive Branch, which is the implementation arm of Government. It is not too clear how the former Sinoe County Senator got the job, because he was not a widely known stalwart of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC), not even a member of its forebear, the Congress for Democratic Change. There are a number of theories about how he got that highly demanding public office. Nevertheless, none of such theories defined his work ethics nor his loyalty to President Weah and his Government.
WHAT IS VERY CLEAR, and which is a solid truth, is that Mobutu Vlah Nyenpan did not tarry nor fumble on the job. He took up his assignment and held it firmly and compassionately with his two hands. He was never trapped by the toxicants of public office, which too often sway too many public servants into lethargy. Even the President of Liberia, who appointed him from a pool of other compatriots and perhaps amid stern opposition to the appointment, soon discovered that Mobutu Mon-Vlah Nyenpan’s passion and commitment to the job was unarguably superb and unrivaled. By the end of the government’s first year, the President publicly announced him his favorite and loyal servant who achieved his task clearly and powerfully in time.
THE INDEPENDENT MEDIA including were also not oblivious of, and could not ignore, the exemplary, sterling public service deportment of the Public Works Minister. Most mainstream serious media organs in the country, including The Analyst, variously singled out Vlah for honor and decoration owing to his unchallengeable and unqualified achievements on the job. He frequently appeared on front pages of big newspapers and in the headlines and newsrooms of many widely listened to radio stations for standing out distinctly and substantively in making the Weah government a success story in Liberia’s geopolitical history.
THE WEAH GOVERNMENT’S first Public Works Minister cleverly combined his engineering acumen, legal expertise, political activism experience and legislative insight with his diehard commitment to Government development programs to make himself a shining example of public service that anyone can copy. And the marks of his handiworks are visible, commonplace and undebatable.
THERE ARE COUNTLESS first-time development projects visible in urban and rural communities which the Weah administration has done under the forerunnership of the late Minister. Yes, it is true that President Weah is an extremely passionate national leader who is also unmatched when it comes to infrastructure development. Unarguably, the President is a linchpin in the unprecedented roads and other infrastructure development taking place in the country. Nevertheless, the role of the fallen minister could not be measured in any small way. With the Government inheriting a broken economy vis-à-vis tattered infrastructures, and all the international goodwill in the aftermath of the civil conflict having evaporated, development prioritization process has begun an uphill task, with various heads of sectors embroiled into competitive lobby for first attention. It took Vlah’s aggressive, oratory and persuasive skills and his honesty to duty and attention to results to win the President’s and international partners’ attention over other sector heads and inner-circle rivals to make roads a matter of urgency and priority.
UNDOUBTEDLY, THE PASSING of Vlah has created a serious void. It will take a long time to have a perfect replacement. As President Weah said once, a lot of people will miss the fallen Public Works Minister. It is not only the family and Government that will miss him. Folks in various domains of the population will do also. Indeed, he was a very kind man, who hardly passed by anyone without speaking—without throwing some jokes that made intimacy with him so widespread across the political and social aisle.
WE WISH VLAH a restful time in the bosom of the Almighty. To the family, we say, “never mind yaa!!”, and to President Weah, Vice President Howard-Taylor and entire administration, we say, “have our condolences.”
IT IS OUR PRAYER, that the Government will find someone qualified in deeds to replace Vlah. And it is our wish that his legacy—his iron commitment to infrastructure development with priority for the underprivileged people and communities of Liberia will be upheld. It is our fervent hope is also that people of the Southeast whom Mobutu represented would not be forgotten. And please, let’s keep the fallen Minister’s family in our hearts, for he would be glad if those who survived on his stewardship and labor would not be dashed on the wayside.
VLAH, GOODBYE. COMRADE, we will all meet during the resurrection morning.