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

By: Stephen E. Harvey

Part-1 of 3…

From afar I have known Sylvester Grigsby and closely followed his magnificent works in public service—which spanned over four incredibly fulfilling decades and counting. Assuming the role of Minister of State for Presidential Affairs for the second time in recent years, Grigsby brings a unique combination of unmatched depth of experience and compelling capabilities to his charge as Minister of State under the current administration of President Joseph Nyuma Boakai.

Without a doubt, Grigsby is arguably the most experienced in the Boakai-Cabinet having served multiple roles in succeeding governments. He has served with distinctions in various positions at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to include Deputy Minister of International Cooperation, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and would later climb to the top post of Minister of Foreign Affairs under the Administration of former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. Grigsby honored all his positions in public service with hard work, dedication, determination, humility, and patriotism. This mentality and posture catapulted him through the ranks and file of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs during his tenure of service there.

He would later move to the Ministry of State for Presidential Affairs as Minister proper following his appointment by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, to fill the vacancy left behind by the sad and shocking demise of former Minister of State Johnny McClain. Grigsby outstanding service to national duty over the years coupled with his long standing record of integrity in both public and private service spanning several decades, won the admiration and confidence of President Sirleaf who would not only consider him for the Post of Minister of State, but entrusted him with important international responsibilities which he executed effectively and efficiently. Grigsby earlier served the Interim Government of national Unity (IGNU) under Interim President Amos C. Sawyer as senior Minister in the foreign ministry and prior to then, he was Liberia’s Ambassador to the Kingdom of Belgium and the entire Benelux, a post he served with distinction.

He is academically sound and intellectually equipped. He knows and understands fully the cumbersome craft of governance. He is acutely abreast with the deep intricacies of International relations and has brilliant worldview perspectives on evolving international matters—from trade and commerce to peace and security. Having served as Liberia’s Foreign Minister and different portfolios in the realm of the Liberian Foreign Ministry for several years, Grigby is well-placed to substantively advise President Boakai on how to navigate the intrigues of Liberia Foreign policy especially in dealing with key allies and development partners like the United States, China, United Kingdom, Japan, and others.

In terms of helping the President structure the government, thoroughly evaluate the quality of appointments he makes, and managing the President Cabinet in line with public expectation, Grigsby is certainly the right chap for the top post of Minister of State, hence, President Boakai was in no error on the decision to appoint him in the coveted role. Grisby has all that it takes to substantially assist President Boakai effectively govern and deliver on his promises to the People of Liberia. It can be recalled, right before the eyes of the Liberian people Grisby effectively managed the Johnson-Sirleaf’s Cabinet and held public officials accountable to the performance bond they signed with the President. This man went to work as early as 8: am in the morning and departed the Executive Mansion by 11: pm night so as to ensure that the government was working effectively to meet targets and timeline.

Grigsby is calm and collected. He has a modest temperament as well as the discipline and fortitude to rise above the trappings of power and authority. He is not obsessed with power and knows how to equate himself in public office. He has no record of corruption or any form of malfeasance nor abuse of power in his long and lofty public service journey. Additionally and importantly, he has a protracted length of great relationship with his boss President Boakai. The pair has known each other for over six decades—since their memorable days at the College of West Africa (CWA) from where they both proudly obtained their secondary education in shining colors. This is exactly why many hold the view that the appointment of Grigsby as Minister of State for Presidential Affairs was a great choice by President Boakai with the argument that besides the professional qualification, such role requires someone that knows and understands the President very well, and of course, someone the President can confide in without fear that vital and sensitive information will be leaked out. Grigsby is Boakai’s buddy of many decades and over their epoch of friendship, Grigsby has remained loyal and supportive of his friend and brother’s political career. As an expert of State craft, a diplomat extraordinaire, a prolific speech writer, and a czar on how to juggle and humanize power, Sylvester M. Grigsby is certainly the man in the right role and at the right time. Liberia couldn’t ask for a better Minister of State!

Why Some Want Him Out?:

Over the last three months, Grigsby has faced fierce opposition from different forces within the government. He has come under a string of blistering criticisms from some adversaries who have vowed never to sheathe their swords until they see the head of Grigsby roll in the platter.

The core motivation for these cascading criticisms targeted at Grigsby is the fact that some within the very Executive Mansion do not want him occupying the post. At the same time, there are some at the legislature who are hellbent on pestering the President to remove his Minister of State because, according to them, he is unfit for the job. How can a man with such unparalleled depth of experience in public service and who served in similar roles and performed with exemplary distinctions be unfit for the job now? It is sheer absurdity for anyone to argue with a straight face that Grigsby is unfit for the job. The man unarguably possesses a towering pedigree that speaks for itself, to argue otherwise is inconceivable.

Investigation has established that there are some staunch allies of the President in the Executive Mansion who are cruelly masterminding these deadly conspiracies and machinations for the removal of Grigsby. They have been gathering overnight and plotting negative narratives with the vicious intent to malign the reputation and image of Grigsby. The singular motive is to put President Boakai against his Minister of States and subsequently his confidence will dwindle in the man with whom he has had a long and enriching bromance. We have been reliably informed that they have been paying media institutions enormous sums of money to publish and air incriminating and condescending stories against Grigsby. In their burning desperation to battle Grgisby out of the Mansion, they would even cross over to the Legislature to co-opt some lawmakers to issue harsh resistance against Grigsby. It is against this backdrop, some lawmakers publicly called for the dismissal of Grisby. These folks at the Mansion are of the illogical opinion that Grigsby doesn’t merit the job he occupies and he is not politically savvy enough to ensure a harmonious relationship between the Executive and the other Branches of government. However, the assertion that Grisby cannot effectively manage the political relations of the Executive is not only weird, but simply a blatant misrepresentation of the fact. Grisgby worked in a similar role under Ellen Johnson Sirleaf who is arguably the smartest politician Liberia has ever known, and he ensured a cordial relationship between the Executive, the Legislature, and Judiciary. The truth of the matter is that they want a foothold of the presidency to build a circle around the President for their selfish aggrandizement, and with Grigsby managing the Presidency with solid proximity to the President, their intention is almost impossible. From all indications, these reactionaries pretending to be loyalists of Boakai are not interested in the President’s legacies, but rather finding means at the expense of the President to advance their embedded agenda. Beneath their barrage of attacks lies the evil and myopic motive to have Grigsby removed to create for them an unhindered access and control of the Presidency, nothing more.

Contrary to their selfish and ulterior motives, Grigsby is essentially concerned about helping the President to etch in stone his legacy. He is fundamentally inclined to lay down the necessary frameworks that will lead to significant accomplishments by the Boakai administration. Unlike these power-drunk reactionaries at the Mansion, Grigsby is potentially keen on President Boakai keeping his electoral promises to the people of Liberia, i.e. the establishment of the war crimes court which he (Grigsby) worked tirelessly to achieve just in 110 days following the inauguration of the government. Liberia’s development partners have described as a decisive and definable move, the political willingness to establish the War and Economics Crimes Court, adding, it has presented a good image of the Boakai government in the eyes of the international community. Grigsby is also working hard to ensure that President Boakai upholds his pledge to embark on a comprehensive audit of the George Weah administration to retrieve state funds and assets stolen by former officials. He is concerned about the rule of law working once again so as to make Liberia a safe and free country for all its citizens, but even more importantly, for attracting of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) to put Liberia on an irreversible path of economic growth, job creation, and poverty reduction. Grisby is also working diligently to see education, tourism and other things laid out in the government ARREST agenda work to the delight of the people of Liberia.

President Boakai is a man of deep wisdom who came to the presidency with an enviable wealth of experience that none other compels. He knows the capabilities of the man he prefers to serve as his Minister of State for Presidential Affairs. He knows Grigsby is loyal and shares in his vision to elevate Liberia to nobler heights and lift its people from the decadence of socioeconomic destitution.

Grigsby is no doubt the man with the steep and depth for the job and no amount of wicked machinations, maneuverings, and mendacity would cause President Boakai to remove him. He is a noble statesman and a true patriot who is and has always been interested in the forward march of his country Liberia, and not what he can get to line and fatten his pockets while the unsuspecting Liberian masses grapple with the unbearable pinch of economic hardship. He has no other interest but the success of the ARREST agenda, which is President Joseph Nyuma Boakai’s Agenda. So, give Grigsby a chance to do his job and let the Liberian public be the ultimate judge and not the clique of desperate reactionaries seeking to remove him at all cost in a vicious effort to commandeer the presidency.

In part-2 of this three part series piece, I will unmask the other group of people at the Legislature who want Minister Sylvester M. Grigsby out of the Executive Mansion and why they want him out.

To be continued…

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