The Missing McGill Stabilizing Factor -Pundits Extol Coordinating Role -As Others Want Sanctions Lifted on Him

MONROVIA –  Historical accounts tell us that there are always some people who serve as faces of great leaders, to either represent or execute certain tasks or assignments that turned out to be remarkable success stories for their principal. Jesus Christ used Peter as His principal disciple and confided in him most of the messages and assignments Peter carried out. The great Napoleon Bonaparte had Louis-Alexandre Berthier who was his chief strategist, and the list goes on. And so, it was nothing new when Mr. Nathaniel Farlo McGill, former Minister of State for Presidential Affairs and Chief of Office Staff for President George Manneh Weah emerged during his tenure as the most trusted lieutenant who dedicatedly served in his position, representing the president and executing major assignments that recorded resounding success stories in the process. His resignation from government due to sanctions imposed on he and three other officials of the Weah Government has seemingly opened national concern as to how far the presidency may cope, especially now that President Weah is seeking re-election this year. As the Analyst has gathered, some concerned Liberians are even calling on the United States to lift the sanctions on McGill to engender his reinstatement at the Ministry of State for Presidential Affairs.

As in every dispensation where there exists “gatekeepers” that serve as  direct point men of the leaders the world over, political pundits have said the former Minister of State for Presidential Affairs, Nathaniel Farlo McGill, no doubt was the most visible and influence-wielding cabinet minister in the Weah-led administration as was seen when he held sway over governance and political bottlenecks, embodying the symbol of power, carriage, persuasion in dedicatedly discharging all functions, assignments and tasks entrusted with him by his boss. But concerns are now being heightened that his absence from the government is creating a vacuum that may be difficult, if not impossible, to be filled.

Right from the onset of the Weah administration, McGill was a front runner for most of the activities of the presidency, especially those that had to do with the President’s direct involvement. He was the chief coordinating officer, the clearing house of major policies and programs, the President’s chief strategist, master of ceremonies, the bridge between the President and his many friends, associates and colleagues as well as the cabinet. McGill was believed to the link that kept together the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change and the Government. He was the trusted messenger of the President when it came to outreach activities where the president made contributions or fulfilled like the nationwide scholarship and financial assistance program for secondary schools across the country.

“He was the face of the Presidency, and when he was delegated to intercede in situations, or was sent as a messenger to deliver messages or execute an assignment for the President, he did it with such uncommon passion and utmost trust that the President did not have to entertain any second thought that his message was delivered or his assignment was well executed”, a key government official who did not want his name to be printed in the paper said last week. This was just an iceberg to what extent Mr. McGill was influential in the government.

The Analyst, flipping through recent history before the Weah presidency, can account to the fact that the position of Minister of State for Presidential Affairs which also makes the holder to be the Chief of Office Staff (COS) for the President has been in existence in previous administrations but none of the other occupiers of the position were so visible and commanded such huge influence and carriage as Mr. McGill.

Pundits who spoke to The Analyst on the impact of McGill’s departure from government said the coordination and intra-governmental synergy that he pioneered and spearheaded virtually disappeared in the government the moment he resigned. They described him as a man who possessed an impeccable personality and an appreciable work ethic that matched his guts and fierceness for executing the duties and functions of his office and even often performing marvelously outside the scope of assignment.

Lack of political synergy

Further checks by The Analyst revealed that some political actors have said that the once inter-party relationship that existed between the government and the opposition political parties that McGill encouraged has also broken down. McGill was credited to have initiated such a platform owing to his experience from the opposition background before coming into government, which underscored the existence of mutual understanding between political parties from all aisles, seeing each other as strategic partners to enrich the country’s fledgling democracy.

“From the initial stage of the administration there were some rough edges between the government and the opposition community to the extent that there were some instances of mutual distrust among them but McGill moved in and became a stabilizing factor to restore cordiality between the government and the opposition.

“But as of now, you cannot have such, especially where we are going to the election and tension is getting higher. This is something for me that is concerning and I feel for the polity. Politics aside, we are missing McGill for his stabilizing presence”, a female activist said.

The Nathaniel McGill Factor in Ensuring a Resounding Weah 2023 victory

Serious political analysis from panelists of the renowned Spoon Radio Talk Show took the center stage in the evening of Monday, January 10, 2023 when the hosts were analyzing the roles of some of the major actors in the various political parties as the 2023 election is fast kicking off.

Mr. Stanton Witherspoon, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), before asking his fellow co-hosts about their views on Mr. McGill with respect to his role in the CDC as the party heads to the crucial democratic process this year, spoke exceedingly about the political sagacity of the former cabinet minister as a key point man who initiated all the negotiations and agreements that consummated into the formation of the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change as well as the initiatives that enlisted the support and endorsements of President Weah and the CDC during the second round vote against the former Vice President Joseph Nyuma Boakai which led to the eventual victory of President Weah in 2017.

“Get the facts, to get the CDC back on the table in 2016 and 2017 it took McGill to give Weah the victory. You have to look at the negotiations he made to bring the NPP of Mrs. Jewel Howard-Taylor, he brought the LPDP of Alex Tyler on the table and even the MDR of Senator Prince Johnson and other parties were brought in the picture of CDC during the second round in 2017. So, he was the perfect go-between that ensured the CDC victory. I will reserve my comments for others to contribute but I don’t see that kind of person right now in the CDC that can replicate the magic wand”, the tough talking chief host said.

Speaking further about the persuasive qualities of McGill, Witherspoon highlighted what he described as the delicate issues popping up in the CDC in the wake of reported the withdrawal of support and collaboration from all arrangements with the CDC by Senator Johnson and the LPDP led by former House Speaker Alex Tyler and noted it is only McGill who had walked that path of bringing these politicians and their institutions before can be able to reconcile and broker peace for the contending parties.

“I am told CDC Chairman Mulbah Morlu went to see Senator Johnson and the senator just paid his transport to go back and that he is only willing to talk to President Weah himself or McGill. These are the people he wants to speak to so as to get the guarantee he needs before making any reconsideration. And that I am also told that Prince Johnson is meeting with Alex Tyler and others this month. That shows how delicate McGill’s role will be going into 2023”, he said.

For his part, Ben Sanvee, former National Chairman of the Liberty Party (LP), said McGill occupied the “nerve center” of the ruling party right from the time of his ascendency as national chairman of the party and he played an extremely exemplary role in marketing the CDC in the hearts of the electorates culminating into the party’s victory in 2017. He also said that McGill took similar zest and enthusiasm into governance when President Weah assumed leadership in 2018 and impacted governance from the frontline.

“The ecosystem around President Weah was centered around Nathaniel McGill and you could see that when the sanction thing happened there was a shock within the ecosystem; you could see that a lot of things were shut down. Nobody saw it coming. In fact, McGill was on tour with the President”, Sanvee said.

He said McGill was the only person in the CDC who went across the aisle to talk to people in the opposition camps which was an instrument to maintain an appreciable cordiality and harmony that existed between the government and the opposition community. “He was a central person in that ecosystem who connected people both in the government and the opposition,” Sanvee said.

Asked if McGill would be factor in the electoral project for the President’s re-election bid as well as the participation of CDC in the 2023 election, Sanvee said definitely he will and for the fact he will also be contesting for the senatorial seat in Margibi, he will also be campaigning and making the case for President Weah and the CDC.

“Yes, of course yes he will. Remember he is also contesting for the Senate in Margibi County and he is still being seen out there as someone who knows the game and can bring the experience in play during the election”, Sanvee said.

For his part, another panelist, Tomalin George, said though there could be some differences among top members of the CDC, including McGill, but the party will see every reason to reconcile their differences and McGill as usual will be a key factor in leading the party to the electoral process.

“We know there were some issues in the party involving some top members of the party, including McGill, but there will be the need for them to reconcile their differences for the sake of the party going into the election.

 “He was the focus of the party in 2017 and when he was in government, a lot of people looked up to him both in the opposition and government. Some people in the opposition can attest to that, he was reaching out and he still has that will and the persuasiveness to work for the party which will be key towards their participation in the 2023 election”, George said.

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