Liberia: Rep. Bility Warns Boakai over Risky LTA Appointments

Nimba County District #7 Representative, Musa Hassan Bility

…. Says it would cost gov’t over US$1.8m to remove current Commissioners

Nimba County District #7 Representative Musa Hassan Bility has raised concerns over President Joseph N. Boakai's decision regarding the potential costly removal of Commissioners from the Liberia Telecommunications Authority (LTA). Rep. Bility warns that the government could incur over US$1.8 million in unnecessary expenses to dismiss Commissioners with remaining tenure.

President Boakai, on Tuesday, February 20, announced the appointments of a new chairperson and four commissioners of the LTA, practically sacking commissioners, most, if not all of whom, still have years left on their tenures. Those appointed by the President were Abdullah Kamara, Chairperson; Patrick Honnah, Commissioner; Clarence Kortu Massaquoi Commissioner; Ben A. Fofana, Commissioner; and Angela Bush Cassell, Commissioner.

It may be recalled that, in 2022 former President George Weah, reappointed Madam Edwina Crump Zackpah and Hon. Zotawon Titus Commissioners at the LTA. Also appointed were Osborne Diggs and Israel Akinsanya as Commissioners. This means that the commissioners still have almost three years out of their five-year tenures remaining.

It is against this backdrop that Bility told Legislative reporters on Tuesday, February 20, that the decision of the President, amid the challenging economy to spend millions of dollars, to dismiss six commissioners who have tenure of five years and two years remaining, is tantamount to deepening the already troubled economy.

Pointing out that Commissioners with set tenure must be fully compensated for their remaining years upon dismissal, Rep. Bility‌, who is also chairman of the House’s Committee on National Security, suggests that the President reconsider the appointments to avoid unnecessary expenditure, especially during challenging economic times.

The Supreme Court has ruled in the past that those in tenured positions are to be paid off fully of their remaining years before removal (dismissal).

Bility, who had earlier posted his concern and disagreement with the President’s decision via social media, also emphasized the importance of upholding constitutional requirements regarding tenured positions. 

“Dear Mr. President, please be reminded that some of your appointments announced a few hours ago are in tenured positions,” Bility said in a Facebook post. “For instance, the LTA. I trust you mean very well for this country. Please don’t let pressure from your supporters for ‘jobs’ make you flaunt our laws. Liberians expect the very best from you. You see, Mr. President, like you, I swore to uphold the Constitution of the Republic of Liberia. So, if these appointments are not withdrawn in time, I will be constrained to take the necessary actions to DEFEND AND UPHOLD the laws. Mr. President, we condemned and criticized the past administration on this issue of tenure and we must ensure that the mistakes of the past are not repeated.” 

The Nimba County Lawmaker has, however, vowed to communicate his concerns formally to the House’s Plenary, urging colleagues to advise against excessive spending and encouraging Senators to consider rejecting the LTA nominees.

“We will write the House’s Plenary to advise the President against spending over US$1.8m for the Government of Liberia not to pay remaining months and years of the tenured positions and appeal to the Senate to reject the LTA’s nominees.

He cites past criticism of tenured positions and seeks to ensure that the mistakes of prior administrations are not repeated. The latest appointments at the LTA by President Boakai mirror similar appointments during former President George M. Weah’s administration — and these have prompted Bility to advocate for adherence to legal and constitutional guidelines to prevent unnecessary financial implications for the government.