Every political regime in Liberia often has got a “human ghost” that it regards fiery enemy and stumbling block on a haunting spree against them. Every regime worries about this “ghost figure” so much that the regime make the “ghost subject of constant target of verbal and even physical attacks. Tubman had Diwho Twe for instance, Tolbert had Baccus Matthews, Samuel Doe had Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf had John S. Morlu. At the time of George Weah, the episode makes 160 degree turn. It is the other way round. It is rather the opposition that feels psychologically haunted by a ruling party figure. That “ghost figure” is in Presidential Chief of Office Staff, Nathaniel F. McGill, on whom the opposition directs its propaganda missiles than anyone else, including the president. He’s the most insulted, most accused and most mischaracterized in Government. But it seems his cup is now full. In a radio interview, he growled and lambasted his critics and turned on the spotlight on transformative and unmatched strides the Weah government has embarked upon in just three years. The Analyst report.
The Minister of State for Presidential Affairs is seemingly taking the war to the feet of his adversaries in the opposition community. Nathaniel Farlo McGill, since the advent of the George Weah administration, has received the most volleys of criticisms and verbal attackers. They have made him of everything that is bad and unsightly. He’s corrupt. He’s arrogant. He’s disrespectful to others. He is a witchcraft. He controls everyone in government, even including President Weah. McGill is everything, as per the purview of government critics and foes.
On a radio talk show called ‘50-50’, host T-Max Jlateh flashed these innuendoes at Minister McGill as if the journalist wanted to institute the Minister bark back at his critics. And he did so most decidedly and profoundly, taking the war to the doorsteps of his foes.
“I Am Not Corrupt, I Challenge Dillon and Others”
Though allegations of corruption against the Weah administration or individual officials have been with empirical evidence, and underpinned by mere perception, critics of the government has not ceased to make accusations. The soft spot, the regular target of the perception-laden corruption allegation has been the Minister of State for Presidential or simply the Chief of Office staff to the President.
“It is like everyday people dream about me. Everything that goes on is McGill,” the Minister of State said, addressing a reporter’s question. “But this is an open challenge I am sending out to Dillon and others who said I didn’t have anything before coming to the government. Unlike Dillon who said he came to the government with only $3.50, my last bank account at the UBA before I was appointed on January 22, 2018 was not less than $20,000”.
Minister McGill, among other things, took time to speak on the way corruption is being discussed nowadays in Liberia. Trumped up allegations are thrown at people in government like raindrops falling on roofs.
He said over the years he worked so hard to keep his character and reputation intact. He mentioned the wide allegations going around falsely accusing him that he has been involved in corrupt practices since his appointment as Minister of State for Presidential Affairs in 2018.
He said he has worked in some places that gave him money like the Liberia Telecommunications Corporation where his monthly salary was $2,500 and it is from some of these sources he was able to build up his finances to start constructing his house.
Minister McGill asserted: “Let me dismiss this other lie about the so-called loan of $200,000.00 I got from the LBDI. The fact is I applied for the loan and LBDI told me people were talking about it so much that it became a political issue. So other banks came to me and said look Minister McGill, we can loan you the money you want and I got the loan from them just like how the former Vice President Mr. Boakai said he was taking loans throughout his tenure in office.”
He vehemently debunked rumors that he was a rich man, stating further that contrary to that, it was not true.
He said the fact remains that he normally likes to share the little God bless him with and most of the time he goes about meeting some business people who are his friends to borrow if he wants to undertake a project but lacks money.
He then threw an open challenge to Senator Abraham Darius Dillon and others who have peddled rumors that he is rich to use whatever integrity they have to prove him wrong.
“This is a challenge to Dillon since he said he has integrity to come forth and prove me wrong. I will make available all my banking details with UBA and give them to the PUL, LNBA etc. to verify all accounts; if it is found that I didn’t have up to $20,000.00 there before my appointment, then I will resign my position. Likewise, Dillon should also do an undertaking with the clerk of the Senate that if he is proven to be wrong, he will resign his position as Senator,” Minister McGill challenged his critics.
Government Will Create Job Creation to Outlive Weah’s Tenure
One of the most important obligations of any leadership is to account for stewardship so as to inform the people what has been done since a mandate was given to steer the affairs of the state. In some of these instances this comes against the backdrop of the opposition maintaining its stance that the government in power has not lived up to the expectation for which it was elected. In so doing, it is their considered opinion that there is a compelling need for the ruling dispensation to give way for what the opposition normally called the necessary alternative arrangement that will not betray the trust of the people.
This has been the contest between the opposition block and the President George Manneh Weah led government since its inauguration on January 22, 2018. The government has been under severe pressure to tell the Liberian people what it has done in the past 3 years and have even gone to the extent of stating unequivocally that the period under review has been a wasted era, thus calling on the Liberian people to terminate its social contract they entered with the government in 2017.
The government on the other hand has taken the rebuttal to the next level, flaunting its scorecard and challenging the opposition to come clean with a realistic dissenting perspective of what is trending in the country. The government has been making use of every opportunity available to it to drive home what it called the unprecedented achievements any government in Liberia has ever accomplished since 1847.
On Monday, April 26, 2021, no less than a personality in Mr. Nathaniel Fallo McGill, the Minister of State for Presidential Affairs and Chief of Staff to the President, appeared on a live call in program via SKY FM 50-50 hosted by talk show host, T. Max Jlateh on a variety of trending national issues in the area of jobs creation, Health, education, economy, rule of law, infrastructural development, security, etc.
The first question that asked Mr. McGill was to address the high level of unemployment in the country which was in contrast to what was obtained under the dispensation of Mrs. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. He admitted that it was a challenge the government is concerned about and was working towards correcting the situation because this is the area critics of the government have focused their attention most.
He admitted that Madam Sirleaf was able to pull in a lot of investment opportunities into the country on the strength of the augmented security set up at the time which was provided by UNMIL and so it was much easier to convince the investors to bring in their money and other resources. He said the era witnessed the arrival of the China Union, ArcelorMittal Steel, the Buchanan Renewable Energy (BRE), etc.
“Yes, there were some investments that came in during the administration of Madam Sirleaf but almost all of them that came in have left. There was excitement when the China Union came, they employed about 300 persons but when ebola struck in 2014 they left and never came back again. The Western Cluster also came but nothing materialized. The BRE also left. So we want to change the story where we will create jobs that will outlive the tenure of President Weah. We do not want to create jobs where after the tenure of the President, the jobs are all gone,” Minister McGill stated.
When asked why it has not been possible to attract investment like how former President Sirleaf did, Minister McGill blamed it on the distraction and series of demonstrations and strike out actions carried out by the opposition in the wake of the alleged LD16 billion that was said to have been missing at the time.
“You know investment can be attracted to a country if there was adequate security. We had about 10,000 troops in the Country before we came to power. The UNMIL left in March 2018 which means the government was assuming the security responsibility of the country. That coincided with the noise about LD16 billion getting missing. The opposition staged a series of demonstrations and strike out actions which dissuaded investors from coming into the country. That seriously affected the opportunities of investors coming into the country”, Mr. McGill said.
The tough talking strong confidant of the President said for the fact that people will want to create the impression that the country was not stable that drove investors away, the President took some bold decisions to invite companies to come in and assure them of maximum security to protect their businesses and they have shown positive sign of willing to come and invest in the country. He continued that when all was on deck, the Covid 19 struck and the country has been experiencing the negative effect of the pandemic for more than a year now.
Minister McGill however said with all the setbacks, the President will soon make major pronouncements on the upgrade of the investment activities of ArelorMittal Steel and the return of China Union in the country, two developments that will further improve the economy and provide opportunities to the citizens.
He also spoke of the recent signing of a trade agreement between Guinea and Liberia that will see iron ore from Guinea going through the Buchanan Port that will bring more money and provide job opportunities to our people.
Expanding further on the strategies to promote private sector jobs, Mr. McGill said that the government is approaching the small business sector approach to put money into Liberian businesses to improve on their capacity and increase employment opportunities for the citizens. He stressed that this will be a radical departure from the old ways of how Liberians think that support to local businesses can only be possible from the international community.
He said the government has done extremely well to provide employment in the public sector despite the challenges the country is experiencing. He said there were two main issues the government faced upon coming to power in 2018, the over-bloated civil service and the huge government wage bills and disparity that existed at the time.
“We were looking at how do we bring on board our partisans that ensured our victory which is the normal thing when political parties come to power, they bring their own people in just like how Mrs. Sirleaf and her Unity Party came in with their downsizing , dismissed people and brought in their own people. But the President said firing people to bring in our people was a very bad policy because Liberians should not be sacked based on their political affiliations or leaning. So we kept those we met and brought some of our people,” Mr. McGill said
Minister McGill told his audience that the policy of the government to create jobs in the public sector saved the jobs of some 2,000 health workers who were engaged with the Global Fund, an International NGO and were dropped by the institution when it was pulled out of the country at the end of its project in the country. He said the President made it clear that it was totally unacceptable to see such a large number of trained health workers out of jobs passing around aimlessly.
He said the issue of the huge wage bill and salaries disparity was solved with the harmonization program which he termed as the most successful policy undertaken of this administration. He said there was no way the government had gone anywhere if it had maintained the huge wage bills and the salaries disparity. He furthered that it would brought massive lay off of government workers and more troubles were to occurred in the country.
On the health sector, Mr. McGill said that the government is taking the health sector to the next level to provide state of art medical facilities throughout the country. He named the Modern Bopolu Hospital as one of the many facilities that will come on board in the not too long future. He said the hospital once completed will not only serve the people of Gbarpolu but will extend as far as Sierra Leone where patients will come from to experience cutting edge technology in health care delivery.
He spoke glowingly about the education sector where he said have witnessed much improvement and accessibility of quality education. He said as the result of the President’s tuition free initiative for public tertiary institutions, student enrolment in those institutions has increased and mentioned about the University of Liberia which according to him that have struggled to have up to 6,000 students in an academic session, can now boast of an average 18,000 students in an academic year.
“At the same time, the passes of our students in the WASSCE in the category I and II have increased due to the payment of the WASSCE fees that have been a major challenge to parents who could not afford to pay,” He boasted.
Touching the economy Minister McGill said the President has been concerned about the welfare of the citizens and will do everything possible to make sure that Liberians will not continue to toil under hardship. He stressed that the country has a very bad foundation that it will take some time before the dividend of what the president is pursuing becomes a reality.
“There is a huge infrastructural deficit and imbalance in the development planning of the country. Abandoning the interior to place emphasis on the urban was a fundamental mistake. The growth trajectory would have been high if we have also invested in the rural areas, put in roads and other infrastructure. That is why we are putting priority on agriculture. Once people see agriculture to be a profitable venture in this country, many people will leave the cities and go to the rural areas to farm and make money,” Minister McGill said.
When asked whether the 2023 election should be something of a worry to the President and his party, especially so after the midterm senatorial race that went against the CDC, Mr. McGill said there is a wide difference between Presidential election and legislative election. He said for the legislative election, communities go out for someone they want to make their lawmakers but not necessarily voting for the preferred lawmaker’s presidential candidate.
He said much besides, the President is not even bothered by the fear of 2023. He stressed that what occupies the mind of Mr. Weah right now is how to deliver on the promises made to the people because that will be his selling point. For now, Mr. McGill said everything is on the right track as the President is going from county to county building hope in the people with impactful projects.
On the issue of security, especially the unsolved cases of deaths in and around Monrovia, Mr. McGill it was worrisome and it is not to the happiness of anybody that these things happened especially the death of the former Director General of the Internal Auditing Agency (IAA), the late Emmanuel Bartee Nyeswah whom he called a very friend and brother.
Mr. McGill who was seen sharing tears and wiping his eyes on the video footage, said the late Nyeswah was one of the trusted lieutenants that President Weah depended on that was passionate about his job and the success of the administration. He said he was an added asset to the government such that to think otherwise about his death was just unrealistic.
“He was a trusted and true friend and a reliable asset to the government. We relied on him to give us information about the leakages in the system where money hidden in some places were unearthed by his hard work. He and Cyrenius Cephas went to my house to see me on Friday Morning but they did not meet me. We planned to see later on but the next day, I heard from my wife that he was dead. So sad”, he recounted his acquaintance with the late Mr. Nyeswah.