There has been serious public concern over the delay by President George Manneh Weah to make substantive appointments in key and top government positions long after the positions became vacant as the result of either death or dismissal of persons who previously occupied those positions. The continuous presence of individuals functioning in acting capacities is being seen as affecting the activities and responsibilities of those affected Ministries and Agencies of government.
Investigation conducted by The Analyst across key ministries and agencies of government have revealed that the Ministry of Public Works, the Governance Commission, the Liberia Airport Authority, the Internal Audit Agency, etc are yet to have substantive bosses many months after their former bosses left the positions owing to either death or dismissals. Our checks further revealed that the President was swift in announcing new appointments to replace some dismissed former officials but has not been able to take similar actions with other positions, some of whom were named previously.
A breakdown from the foregoing shows that Mrs. Ruth Coker-Collins has been functioning as Acting Minister of Public Works about 10 months after the former Minister, the late Mobutu Vlah Nyenpan passed off, Ms. Elizabeth Dorkin has been acting as officer in charge at the Governance Commission(GC) for about a year after Cllr. Ndubuisi Adolphus Nwabudike was appointed as Chairman of the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission(LACC), while the Internal Audit Agency, is being currently headed by Clarence Wilfred Williams in acting capacity, since the death of its former boss Emmanuel Bartee Nyeswah in October 2020, the Liberia Airport Authority is yet to get a substantive head after its former boss Bishop Allen Klayee was dismissed in July, 2021. Mr. Martin Hayes is the current acting Managing Director.
The longer time taken to fill vacant positions in government took a toll on the Ministry of Agriculture some time ago when it took more than 5 months for the President to appoint Madam Jeanine Milly Cooper as Minister of Agriculture after Dr. Mogana Flomo was relieved of the position.
Our information has also revealed that it is only in a few cases the President made prompt replacements after he dismissed some officials such as replacing Eugene L. Fahngon, erstwhile Deputy Minister of Information for Public Affairs with Jallah Tonpo and Isaac Redd taking over from Boima JV Boima at the Liberia Broadcasting System (LBS) as Deputy Director General for Rural Communications.
The absence of substantive heads at the affected institutions of government is said to be impacting negatively on the undertakings of the government especially in dealing with the country’s development partners. A top member of the management of one of Liberia’s committed development partners who didn’t want to be quoted in the press said that there is normally the tendency of development partners to hold back their support if they are dealing with government when the decision maker or focus person is not the substantive or proper person to deal with.
“Consistency is very important in decision making that affects donors’ commitment to any country. If you are working with someone whose appointment or being around when the project takes off is not sure, there can be every good reason why support or funding should not be committed to that project”, he said.
A Liberian development consultant, Paul Hayes, who has consistently been working with some international non-governmental organizations for the past 17 years, concurred with the assertion of the expatriate. “Similar thing happened at the Ministry of Agriculture when it took more than 4 months for the President to replace Dr. Mogana Flomo with Madam Jeanine Milly Cooper. Most of the projects from the development partners were on hold because there were some decisions that needed the participation of a substantive Minister, not someone who was in an acting capacity”, he said.
David Gbah, a public affairs analyst, was concerned why the government would not put priority on filling positions in government that are key to the performance of the government. “Just imagine that this government says road connectivity is a major priority to her program but you still have the person in charge of the project being the Minister of Public Works still in acting capacity. What confidence are you building in our partners given the fact that almost everything in this country is donor driven?” he asked.
A general consensus from engaging the public and other key stakeholders point to the need for the President to urgently announce the names of persons to permanently take charge of the vacant positions in government so as to provide the much needed development the country deserves.