... The President's silence is not just a passive omission; it is a powerful statement that speaks louder than words. It is a message from President Weah that he prioritizes his personal interests over the collective well-being of the nation — signaling that political expediency trumps the rule of law and fairness that should guide our governance.
President George Weah’s conspicuous silence in the face of a glaring violation of the Governance Commission Act is both disappointing and a betrayal of the people’s trust.
At the heart of this controversy lies the President’s ruling party appointment of Atty. Garrison Yealue, who heads Liberia’s Governance Commission, as deputy chairman for operations for Weah’s reelection campaign. The Governance Commission was established with the noble objective of fostering good governance and inclusivity in Liberia’s political landscape. Its mandate explicitly prohibits political manipulation and interference, guaranteeing its independence in overseeing and advising on governance matters.
But President Weah could care less about how the actions of him and his party weaken and disregard the principles upon which the Governance Commission was founded. This sets a dangerous precedent for more undermining of the credibility of governance institutions and erodes public trust.
Yet, coming from a president who sought to undo the underpinnings of key autonomous economic and integrity institutions of government by firstly ousting the tenured officials of those institutions — one of them at gunpoint (LEITI) — could we expect any less of President Weah?
On the other hand, Yealue heads the Governance Commission, where there is hardly any funding for projects and operations, meaning there is hardly any work to do. Such an institution that wielded national and international influence, and which was also the nexus of national government policymaking is now deadweight on the national budget, simply because it has been sidelined as nonessential. Perhaps it took Former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to call the spade by its color during the funeral service of former GC chairman Dr. Amos C. Sawyer last year, when she asked, “Where is the Governance Commission now?”
Suffice it to say that Yealue may likely be incredibly idle at the helm of the GC, basically ‘marking time’ until after the elections — so why not keep him busy helping with the President’s reelection campaign? The bigger problem here is the issue of misappropriating government resources in favor of a private political entity. The Coalition for Democratic Change is not a government entity, even though, by virtue of its incumbency, its leaders including the President do not hesitate to take full advantage of the grey area, especially where the allocation of human and financial resources is concerned.
In contrast, the National Code of Conduct specifically prohibits the use of working government officials in political campaign activities. The logic behind this is that along with the personnel goes the rest of government resources appropriated to or by said personnel. This includes the use of government time, personnel, money, vehicles, and other resources for the political campaign of a single party.
The understanding is that no single political party represents all Liberians, therefore it would be unethical, unfair, and by law illegal to commit public resources to the political campaign of any person or group. Had Yealue taken a leave of absence from the Governance Commission, as CDC campaign chairman Eugene Nagbe did from the helm of the Liberia Maritime Authority, then there would be no wahala.
It is fair to conclude, then, in this case, that the President does what he means and means what he does. This speaks volumes about President Weah’s commitment to ethical governance since he took the helm of national leadership. A leader who truly values good governance and the rule of law would have been the first to condemn and correct such a blatant disregard for the commission’s mandate.
But his silence is not just a passive omission; it is a powerful statement that speaks louder than words. It is a message from President Weah that he prioritizes his personal interests over the collective well-being of the nation — signaling that political expediency trumps the rule of law and fairness that should guide our governance.
This also sets a dangerous precedent that emboldens those who seek to undermine the very institutions designed to safeguard our democracy, especially in the case of Yealue at the helm of the Governance Commission. Is Yealue, who has been at the Governance Commission for less than five months, the only competent Liberian for an administrative job — that he should be playing a dual role?
But for President Weah, the consequences of his action are less important to him since it involves his political future — which he believes can only be secured by his tacit approval of the erosion of democratic norms — and the potential subversion of the very institutions that safeguard the nation’s good governance future.
This situation should not be brushed aside as a minor issue; it strikes at the core of Liberia’s governance principles and sets a precedent that political loyalty outweighs the public interest — having far-reaching consequences for the nation’s stability and progress.
The existence of the GGovernance Commission speaks to the quest of the Liberian people to have a good entity with the responsibility of advancing the nation’s good governance ideals void of partisan influence. A true leader would understand that maintaining public trust is paramount, especially in times of controversy. The absence of a clear stance on this issue only serves to erode the already fragile trust between the government and the people, ultimately weakening the foundation of our democracy.
The time for silence is over; it is now up to President Weah to demonstrate his commitment to the ideals of transparency, accountability, and good governance that our country so desperately deserves. He must acknowledge the importance of the Governance Commission’s independence and the need to adhere to the principles outlined in the act that created it.
And also apologize to the Liberian people for such a violation.
On this note, we say: “Caveat Imperator.”