US Lobbyists Won’t Help Liberia: Wisner Warns -Urges Weah Administration to Do Housecleaning

MONROVIA – In the wake of trending news that the Liberian Government has signed a US$900K contract with Ballard Partners Incorporated, an American lobbying firm, to build its image in Washington, the County Coordinator of the Liberian Renaissance Office Incorporated (LIROI), Mr. George Gyude Wisner II, says the PR lobbying engagement only shows the desperation of the Weah administration that has “embarrassingly demonstrated a lack of strategic focus, employed imprudence, and pedaled gross incompetence”.

The lobbying contract was signed June 24, 2022 between the Liberian Government and Ballard and Partners, with the Government agreeing to pay the American firm a monthly fee of US$75,000 to be paid quarterly for a period of one year.

Reacting to the news, Mr. Wisner, a former official of the erstwhile Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf administration, is peeved over the rationale of the Weah administration spending much needed resources on paying lobbyists amidst rising poverty, insecurity, and inadequate medical and education facilities in the country.

“Anyone who cares much about the well-being of Liberia would wonder: what the heck they think they would achieve, doing the same thing over and again and expecting a different outcome! Well, the truth is that the Government is stubbornly refusing to accept the reality that lavishing public resources abroad on lobbying firms in Washington DC without first establishing the core basis, nuances, and dictum for diplomatic intercourse with the White House is a useless venture.

“At the core of international relations is the pursuit of a Country’s strategic national interest and core values. In the case of the Biden administration, its interest in Liberia has been laid bare during the confirmation hearing of Ambassador Michael A. McCarthy (US Ambassador to Liberia) before Congress in 2020 as well as during his subsequent presentation of Letters of Credence to President Weah. The centerpiece of US engagement with Liberia is the promotion of democratic governance, accountability, and the rule of law. Numerous other key US officials, including Linda Thomas Greenfield (US Permanent Representative to the United Nations and former Ambassador to Liberia), Dana Banks (President Biden’s Rep. to the Bicentennial Celebration), and ranking Congressman Chris Smith have echoed this policy goal of the Biden’s administration and the corresponding culpability of the Weah’s Government. How come Weah and his government doesn’t get it, only God alone knows,” Mr. Wisner fumed.

Expounding further, the former Executive Director of the National Investment Commission, who now leads a think tank to assist the opposition camp organize itself to democratically oust President Weah in 2023, wondered how can lobbyists help President Weah when his own Foreign Minister reportedly cannot travel to DC because of questions over allegation of sexual misconduct during his tenure at the UN Mission in New York.

“The public is also still in the dark about President Weah’s own child support case brought against him, in a US court, by one of his ex-girlfriends. Then the wife of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, commissioned by him as a diplomat to the US, was ordered to leave to avoid being declared Persona Non Grata (unwanted) by the US government. Furthermore, an alleged criminal and holder of Liberia’s diplomatic passport under, hitherto, dubious circumstances, is in US custody spewing the beans about his ties to higher-ups in the Weah’s Government. A choreographed committee, set up by the President to investigate the saga, is yet to come clean with the public. Moreover, numerous other passport scams in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs which forced Washington to issue redcard still remain unresolved. This is compounded by runaway corruption, including the 25 million mop-up fiasco investigated by American tax dollars and which was found to have the covering of money laundering wrapped all around it; and numerous unresolved murders of personnel of integrity institutions directly involved with investigation of suspicious transactions and corruption cases.

“One would think that the priority of the Government would be to cure their governance defects, chronic appetite for corruption, and widely held international public perception of gross incompetence as a condition precedent for achieving their dream of endearing themselves to Washington. You would also think logically that they would begin by ensuring that Liberia’s Missions in New York are fully and adequately staffed with competent personnel and Liberia’s Mission on 5201 16th Street N.W. Washington DC has the necessary wherewithal to conduct fruitful diplomacy with Washington. But again, this is wishful thinking for a government that has already lost its way and is now consumed by illusions of grandeur and conspicuous consumption while those they govern are walloped in poverty and despair. But disguising their inadequacies by hiring multiple firms to do their bidding in Washington DC is an exercise in futility. The writing is already on the wall,” Mr. Werner cautioned.

According to the terms of the contract signed between the Government of Liberia and Ballard and Partners, “The Firm shall receive from the Client a fee of $75,000 a month, payable in quarterly installments for this agreement, plus the reasonable costs associated with the representation, including but not limited to, necessary registration fees: and travel expenses such as overseas hotel, airfare, car services, and meals, excluding costs typically associated with the operation of an office, such as overhead, staff, and equipment. The fee shall be paid in quarterly installments of $225,000 with the first installment being due immediately upon execution of this agreement; the second installment due on September 24th; the third installment due on December 24th; the fourth installment due on March 24th; and continuing to be due on a quarterly basis until the termination of the agreement. The Firm will bill its costs quarterly.”

Consummation of the new lobbying deal comes as President Weah attends the United Nations General Assembly in September this year.

It can be recalled, last year CNN Analysts Bakari Sellers was hired by the Weah administration to sell the country’s image in Washington.


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