Liberia: Governance Commission Gets New Chair

Dr. Yarsuo Weh-Dorliae

It was a moment of sober reflection but also spiced up with laughter when President George Weah, while speaking at a program celebrating the legacy of the late Dr. Amos Sawyer, declared that Dr. Yarsuo Weh-Dorliae should become the new chairman of the Governance Commission (GC).

The occasion was “The posthumous 77th birth anniversary of Dr. Amos Claudius Sawyer, a former professor of Political Science at the University of Liberia (UL), held on June 15.

It was the celebration of the Man and his Legacy: A reflection on the Life and Works of Professor Dr. Amos Claudius Sawyer (77th Birth Anniversary of sainted memory.)

With the Ballroom of the Monrovia City Hall packed to capacity, President Weah sent the audience into a burst of side-splitting laughter when describing Dr. Dorliae as a brave man for standing and stating that he would become Weah’s campaign manager in 2023 if he, Weah, ensures that the Revenue Sharing Bill is passed into law and the dreams and aspirations of Dr. Sawyer on how the Governance Commission should function are given due attention.

The President was deliberate when he noted that Dorliae lacked the fear, even though Alexander Benedict Cummings, political leader of the Alternative National Congress (ANC) and chairman (by default) of the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP), and Musa Bility, the embattled chairman of the Liberty Party were present and listening to him.

“In life, you get some people who volunteer or some send their CVs but since Dr. Yarsuo Dorliea volunteered to make sure that the Commission works well, and to walk Sawyer's path, I think he deserves to be in that position. So he can continue to walk in the footsteps of his mentor and his leader,” said Weah as a thunderous applause from the majority of the audience in the hall ensued.

He added: “But Dr. Dorliae, I can see and I believe that you are brave like Dr. Sawyer and this is why you stood up here and claimed that you will run a campaign for me. I am sure Hon. Cummings will not like that, not even Musa Bility.”

He noted that Dorliae’s action was unique and harmless as it is the environment Dr. Sawyer created for Liberians — a democratic society where all have their rights and choices to make.

The Governance Commission (GC) has been without an executive chairperson proper since the end of service tenure of controversial Cllr. A. Ndubusi Nwabudike. Nwabudike later on served the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) as its acting Executive Chairperson but lost public consideration when he was appointed to serve as the Chairman of the National Elections Commission (NEC) due to conflicting nationality claim.

At the Senate Confirmation Hearing, he claimed that he is a Liberian but failed to prove his claim to Liberian citizenship by birth, naturalization or whatever.

President Weah disclosed that he had earlier spoken with Mrs. Thelma Duncan-Sawyer, widow of Dr. Sawyer, to take over the Governance commission — hoping that perhaps a life of more than 40 years with Dr. Sawyer has given her what it takes to run the GC, but registered that Mrs. Duncan respectfully turned down the offer, noting that she was not prepared to succeed her late husband in that line of work. 

“This was why I called you, Mrs. Sawyer, if it was possible for you to keep the Governance Commission. I did so because you have been with Dr. Sawyer for thirty something years. You said to me you never wanted to be in your husband’s shoes but you wanted to be with your husband. I understood you. This is why today we have to look for the best one that will get in the shoes of Dr. Sawyer,” he said.

Yarsuo Weh-Dorliae is a former Commissioner of the Governance Commission and a former Cuttington University Lecturer of Government studies. His appointment is subject to Senate confirmation as provided for by law.

The appointment of Dr. Weh-Dorliae was strange in contemporary Liberian politics, more so that it took place on an occasion rather than receiving a recommendation from anyone to consider the learned teacher and public governance expert for the post.

Apart from Weah’s appeal to Mrs. Sawyer to have taken over the Governance Commission and continue with the legacy of her deceased, something she declined to accept, he also appointed Dr. Toga McIntosh and he too refused to accept the offer on the grounds that he too has a political ambition, particularly for the Presidency in 2023.