Who Is Sylvester M. Grigsby and Why Some Want Him Out of The Executive Mansion?

Part-3 of 3…

By: Stephen E. Harvey

As I wrap up this three-part piece which significantly provides a substantial depth into the life, works, and wealth of experience of Liberia’s current Minister of State for Presidential Affairs Sylvester M. Grigsby, I must state that it has been a profound honor of my pen to share my perspectives about a noble statesman with unmatched credentials in public service and an unassuming character who for over forty years of service to his country and people, has been a towering epitome of exemplarity.

In part two and three of this piece which were published in several local dallies, I intimated with profound emphasis that Grigsby brings a solid personality to the current Cabinet of President Joseph Nyuma Boakai as he is the most experienced in terms of understanding the deep complexities and fascinating intrigues of state craft. Grigsby is also one of Africa’s finest diplomats with compelling insights into the advantages, intricacies and implications of international relations, international politics and security as well as global peace and conflict dynamics. He is also a prolific speech writer who has penned brilliant speeches and thematic papers. With these peculiarities under his belt, Grigsby proudly offers a unique combination of skills set and a resounding wealth of experience to the administration of President Boakai.

Consequently, it must be noted that Grigsby is not a newbie to the position of Minister of state for Presidential Affairs. He honorably served in this role under President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf following a magnificent career journey in Liberia’s foreign service which saw him rose to the extraordinary rank of Foreign Minister having served as Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and Deputy Minister of International Cooperation coupled with multiple Ambassadorial posts he held under successive governments or administrations. Here I must point out, as I did in part two and three of this piece that Grigsby served these various positions in government with the highest degree of distinction and a deep sense of patriotism. Without a doubt, Grigsby public service record blossoms with integrity as he has served with probity and managed to thrive above the temptations that often attend state power, which the epistemology of political science describe as the “trappings of power”. He has zero record of graft and theft as well as any form of malfeasance or shady dealings while serving in these respective senior state positions.

He is a man of humility, simplicity and grace, and has never allowed power to consume his head. For instance, Grigsby was recently designated as acting Head of the Cabinet while President Boakai was in the United States for fifteen days to attend the annual US-Africa Business summit held in Dallas, Texas this year and to honor other engagements in the U.S. State of Atlanta, Georgia, but no one knew Grigsby was acting Head of State because he did not go to work with police and EPS escorts, which he was entitled to as ‘Acting President’. He was seen nowhere with huge state security forces. Not even employees in the Ministry of state knew Grigsby was holding the charge while the President was away. He went about his business as usual, slow but sure, humble and simple. He knows how to humble and humanize power, something that is uncommon in Africa where people are fond of abusing power and overtly exercising authority.

All of these substantially argue the point that Grigsby is quite fit and qualified for the role he currently occupies contrary to the weak and daft propaganda being heralded by some confused reactionaries and fifth columnists that he is not qualified for the role, as such, want him removed. They also argue that Grigsby is not politically savvy to manage the coordination between the Executive, Legislature, and Judiciary branches of government. This is sad misunderstanding of the act of politics which emphasizes interest and outcome. This means one’s ability to smartly maneuver his/her way through the realization of desire results. It is not shouting in the public space or loudly grandstanding that makes want a politician. A good politician is one who is able to cleverly rally or convince others on his/her side in an effortless manner. It does not call for being hawkish or combustible against others with dissent. As a well-grounded diplomat, Grigsby does not shout around the place. He strategically engages behind the scenes and get things done for the Executive Mansion or the President in a smooth way. He is crushing down barriers without shouting around the place or showing off to take glory. Grigsby is reaching out to opposition and critics of the administration in a professional manner and intelligently engaging them with the view that we are all Liberians and owned the country together irrespective of the divergent political and ideological views each of us holds. He is whispering feedbacks to the President and appropriately advising the President on how, who, and when to engage. This is how it should work in the Executive Mansion and this is how the Minister of State is meticulously proceeding. This kind of engagement is called ‘political diplomacy’ and no one does it better than Sylvester Grigsby, the man whose pedigree speaks for itself and a hardworking man who doesn’t take any pride or consolation in self-glorification.

President Boakai with whom Grigsby has had an incredible span of bromance was in no error to appoint this noble and intelligent man to such a significant and sensitive position. He has the quantum of experience, intellect, skills set, credibility and more importantly, a trusted buddy of the President. Grigsby’s foremost interest is to see President Boakai succeeds. He is working diligently to ensure that the President ARREST Agenda which is the acronyms for Agriculture Roads, Rule of Law, Education, Sanitation, and Tourism, works for the country and its striving citizenry. The government has only sat for five months, but with such shot span of time, Grigsby has ensured two major cabinet meetings followed by a three-day cabinet retreat that ended last Saturday with a litany of epic accomplishments.  The retreat was meant to take an honest stock of what has been accomplished over the last five months with focus on the 100-day deliverables, evaluate efficiency across government, identify the challenges across various government institutions, establish the possibilities, and strategically lay the path to meeting target goals and timelines consistent with the ARREST Agenda. This is a serious governing process in play and it is happening simply because you have a Sylvester M. Grigsby sitting at the Ministry of State and providing the direction required to make the ARREST agenda works. Additionally, besides the two cabinet meetings held in previous months and the just ended Cabinet Retreat, routine meetings are constantly held with cabinet ministers and heads of State Owned Enterprises (SOEs), and other governmental agencies under the knowledgeable and mature leadership of Minister Grigsby.

Grigsby is not bent on using his current position to garner fame and neither is he on a personality contest with anybody in the government. He is primarily and deliberately concerned about the deliverables of the Boakai administration. He wants the job done and he is unrelentingly marshalling everything required to get the job done effectively and efficiently. Grigsby is not easily distracted, as he is a focused and structured state bureaucrat. As a result of his hard work and commitment to the government agenda, we recently saw the government mustered the political will and courage to establish the office of the War Crimes Court which was achieve just in 110 days following the inauguration of President Boakai. This is a watershed feat the successive two governments of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and George Weah could not accomplish in eighteen years. Liberia’s development partners have described as a definable move, the political willingness of the current administration to establish the office of the War and Economics Crimes Court, adding, it presents a fine image of the Boakai government in the eyes of the international community. The establishment of the office of the war Crimes Court significantly falls in line with the Rule of Law component of the ARREST agenda. Grigsby with the backing of his team is also working hard to ensure that President Boakai upholds his pledge to conduct a comprehensive audit of the George Weah administration, as was promised the Liberian people, in a bid to retrieve stolen state funds and assets by corrupt former officials of the regime. He often tells colleagues of the cabinet that the Boakai government must ensure that the rule of law works once again so as to make Liberia a safe and free country for all its citizens, but even more importantly, to create the necessary ambiance that would essentially attract bundles of Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs), to put Liberia on an irreversible path of economic growth, job creation, poverty reduction, and infrastructural development with the overarching goal of propelling the nation on par with Ghana, Cote d’ Voire and other fast developing countries in the Sub-region. Grigsby is also working diligently with the sector ministers to see education, tourism and other things laid out in the government ARREST agenda work to the delight of the people of Liberia. On every passing day, he works the hardest to help his boss and buddy, President Boakai succeeds. And without a doubt, President Boakai knows the unparalleled potential of his Minister of State for Presidential Affairs. He knows Grigsby is loyal and shares in his vision to uplift Liberia and its striving people from the oubliette of socioeconomic degeneracy to the buoyancy of nobler heights.

With all that he is doing and the many wonderful things he is capable of doing to engender prosperity for the government and people of Liberia, it beats my imagination that people do not want Grigsby as Minister of State. Some do not want him in the mansion at all. Some want to see his head role in a platter. As such, they are doing their worse to impugn on his hard earned character by splashing mud on him in a bid to put the President against him. They have been weaving fallacious and negative narrative to blemish the character of Grigsby. They have been holding press conferences at the Legislature uttering gibberish against this fine statesman. Grigsby is a man of steel with a reputation built in probity, so no amount of negative propaganda fashioned up by his adversaries at the Executive Mansion and the Legislature can hurt him in any shape, form, and manner. He has paid his dues and did so with distinctions. He has served with credibility and grace over the years, and has done nothing to defraud his country and people. He never used public office to promote himself or to amass wealth at the detriment of state coffers. He is a patriot of eminence who has only involved himself with good dealings that foster the overwhelming interest of Liberia unlike some of them who want him out because they want to use the Presidency to advance their selfish political ambition and shadowy economic interests.

Thankfully, President Boakai knows his Minister of State and longtime buddy far better. He knows what Grigsby stands for and what he is capable of doing and what he cannot do. He knows Grigsby is a man of high justices who has always distinguished himself in public office, which is why he would prefer the man to be his Minister of State, a role that is reserved for principled, experienced, trusted and regimented individuals.

So, let me end by saying to all of you desperately seeking to have Minister Grigsby removed from the Ministry of State for Presidential Affairs, that you are fighting a losing battle and sore losers you will all end up. President Boakai knows far better to turn against his Minister State or terminate his service only because some greedy and egotistic individuals claiming to be confidants of the President do not want Grigsby there. The President knows these individuals very well and know they have embedded motives for which they want Grigsby out. He knows that the want Grigsby out of the way so that they can commandeer the presidency to execute their shady agenda. Their plan is dead upon arrival as President Boakai will never submit to their machination, deception, mendacity, and subterfuge. Grigsby just in five months has proven to be an effective Minister of State with room to do far better. He will remain on the job to help President Boakai succeed, as he is the right chap for the job. Leave Grigsby alone, for he is going nowhere!

This brings to an end the three-part series piece entitled; “Who Is Sylvester M. Grigsby and Why Some Want Him out of the Executive Mansion?” It has truly been an honor profiling this fine statesman and standing in defense of his hard earned reputation. The writer is a Liberian academic residing in the U.S., Washington DC.


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