Blama’s Dismissal: A US$100M Question?

7
1520
President George Weah (left) appears to be on a roller-coaster of allegations against EPA Executive Director Nathaniel Blama (right), starting with 'Coronavirus' and now 'Corruption'.

“The only thing I said in that agreement was that whatever proceeds come will be used for environmental work.” – Sacked EPA Boss, Nathaniel Blama

President George Manneh Weah’s recent diatribes against Nathaniel Blama, who was yesterday morning fired from his post at the helm of Liberia’s Environmental Protection Agency, may be saying more than meets the eye.

In a rather vague exposé of alleged corruption, as told in an Executive Mansion press release yesterday, citing Blama’s ‘unilateral’ signing of a US$20 million contract agreement without the signatures of the Ministers of Justice and of Finance and Development Planning, President Weah describes the alleged action by Blama as “unscrupulous behavior” and used the opportunity to tout his “zero-tolerance stance against corruption”.

And while Mr. Blama has responded to the effect that the agreement he signed was non-binding to the government and that the allegations against him do not bear the whole truth, the chips have fallen where they have and Blama must pick up the pieces and move on.

This is the second instance in which President Weah has made an example of the former EPA Executive Director, who has so far maintained a rather distinguished profile at the Agency. In February this year, under his administration of the EPA, the Green Climate Fund (GCF) Board converged in Liberia for a three-day informal board meeting, followed by five days of technical meetings with the Government of Liberia. That arrangement in itself was a remarkable feat by the EPA leadership. What was even more remarkable is that, that informal Board meeting of the GCF in Margibi ended with a commitment by the GCF to fund three major projects in Liberia worth over US$100 million.

The funding would be used to implement three projects, namely: the climate information system, integrated agricultural eco-tourism, and Monrovia’s metropolitan climate resilience, respectively. The third project, costing approximately $40 million, aims to address the problem of coastal erosion in the community of West Point, a slum off the coast of Monrovia. The integrated agricultural eco-tourism project is one such project, which the Board of Directors of the GCF is expected to focus on when its members meet for their 28th meeting in December this year. All three projects, however, would require formal approval by the GCF.

Present at that meeting in Margibi, in addition to Blama, was Finance and Development Planning Minister Samuel D. Tweah Jr.

Fast forward to the second week of March, Blama was in Geneva Switzerland to attend the 25th meeting of the CGF Board, reportedly as an observer. It was from that meeting he returned and, three days later, the President of Liberia personally descended on him, announcing his suspension “for time indefinite… for repeatedly violating prescribed health protocols and endangering public health.” In that same announcement, the President disclosed that Blama had become Liberia’s index case of the Coronavirus.

While Blama claimed that the President was misinformed to make such a pronouncement, he (Blama) received the reprimand in good faith and a clear conscience, as he spent his required 14 days in quarantine and remained off the job until his suspension was lifted on Thursday, July 30.

But barely a week after he was reinstated, the President issued the second, more drastic punishment on Wednesday, August 5 — dismissal from office. The crime? “Fraud… Corruption,” the President said.

“Mr. Blama, on March 7, 2020, unilaterally signed a US$20 million contract without the signatures of the ministers of Justice and Finance contrary to law and established governmental principles and procedures,” the Executive Mansion press release said. “Investigation conducted by the Ministry of Justice established that Mr. Blama did not adhere to legal requirements, standards procedures regarding the selling of the Government of Liberia assets.”

Was the President yet again misinformed?

While Blama is yet to fully expound on these happenings, he has said this much: that his sudden dismissal is due to what he called “vindictiveness” from within. He has thanked President Weah for the opportunity accorded him to serve but maintained that he has done nothing wrong for which he deserved the dismissal from his post.

“I did not commit any crime,” Blama said. But the more telling part of his initial response to this allegation was what he said next. “The only thing I said in that agreement was that whatever proceeds come will be used for environmental work.”

The “proceeds”, a well-placed source told the Daily Observer, Blama was talking about would be none other than that US$100 million commitment from the GCF.

Truth be told, the money in question would be managed by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), not the EPA.

“I did not commit the government’s action to that agreement and, by the way, it is a non-binding agreement that calls for any or either party to withdraw at will without having any cause to worry,” Blama said.

Although Blama did not specifically name those who he thinks behaved vindictively against him, he loudly opined that it is unfortunate that the decision from the President came as it did.

“I think somebody wanted to get at me and that person has probably succeeded. But I am not worried because I have served diligently and the records are there to show anyone how I proceeded as head of the EPA,” he said.

He added that the contract was a normal deal, as it is in the case with climate fund and the global environment facility fund, among others.

“I did not unilaterally act, as they claimed,” Blama went on. “The Finance Minister, Samuel Tweah and the Minister of State for President Affairs, Nathaniel McGill were aware. I signed that document on March 7 before traveling to Switzerland and upon my return, I was sick and had to stay at the hospital for a long time. I could not discuss anything further with anyone but when I recovered I went to McGill, after sending him a number of text messages without any reply, and we talked about it.

“He read through the document and said there was nothing wrong with it because I did not commit the government to anything. It was a non-binding agreement,” Blama stated with emphasis.

Ministers McGill and Tweah could not be reached to confirm Blama’s assertions concerning them.

Although the Executive Mansion press release did not say what would be the penalty Blama would be subject to other than his dismissal, it stated that President Weah reiterated his zero-tolerance stance against corruption and informed the public that Mr. Randall M. Dobayou, Deputy Executive Director of EPA will act as head of the entity pending the appointment of an Executive Director.

Author

  • David S. Menjor is a Liberian journalist whose work, mainly in the print media has given so much meaning to the world of balanced and credible mass communication. David is married and interestingly he is also knowledgeable in the area of education since he has received some primary teacher training from the Kakata Rural Teacher Training Institute (KRTTI). David, after leaving Radio Five, a broadcast media outlet, in 2016, he took on the challenge to venture into the print media affairs with the Dailly Observer Newspaper. Since then he has created his own enviable space. He is a student at the University of Liberia.

7 COMMENTS

  1. My friend Nat, you should have known better. Why go to the defacto president only to discuss the deal without anything “raw” for the chief? That is a poor conjugations of the “59” Verb. You suffered for the “cow” only to eat dried bread. Your consequence is the result of ridding on the back of a tiger. Don’t ask me for the meaning.
    Like · Reply · Delete ·

  2. There is more to the firing of Mr. Blama than what the president is telling the Liberian people and the public because, the reason for the dismissal don’t just add up. Why will Mr. Nathaniel Blama signed such a contract all by himself knowing what he knows about administrative procedures? Mr. Blama will speaks at some point and the entire story will eventually unfold. For now, every one remained second guessing the reality of the reason surrounding the EPA former boss.

  3. Mr. Akoi,
    Do you have any proof to show? Since you know for sure, let me ask this question……why did Blama get terminated by Mr. Weah?

  4. C.Y. Kwanue

    Your parable, “You suffered for the “cow” only to eat dried bread” makes one laugh but it holds a serious truth. In many instances, speculations turn out to be true in our society.

    Here is what I am gathering from some speculations in and around Monrovia. Election time is around the corner and as politicians do, they try to exaggerate their strengths and down-play their weaknesses in areas where a public perception exists they are incapable of tackling the challenges. And unfortunately for the CDC, corruption is one of those areas.

    I am currently in Liberia, and everywhere one turns, the talk about wide-scale corruption involving President Weah’s reputation abounds. And so, some speculations do exist in some quarters that Mr. Blamah might have been used as a sacrificial lamb or caught in a vicious subterfuge whereby a desperate government is looking for the weakest links to shift the blame on for his administration’s dismal performance and to impress on eligible voters and foreign lending institutions that this president is still serious about combating corruption.

  5. Mr. Hney! Why will the persident reinstate Mr. Nathaniel Blama from suspension just few days before firing him for alleged corruption as claimed? So all the time Mr. Blama was serving suspension, the president did not know about Mr. Blama corruption activities only after being reinstated, that’s when president Weah was informed about Blama’s corruption which led to his disimissal?

    This is simple reasoning Mr. Hney and you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to understand the very dynamics of this political game. My prove will clarified the entire episode the day Mr. Nathaniel Blama speaks out about his side of the sega. Remember, there are 2 side to every story and one side has been told by president Weah, remaining the second side to be convey by Mr. Blama. Trust me, Mr. Blama side will be the smoking gun, if ever told.

  6. Joe Akoi,
    Your reasoning is based on pure supposition. That’s not concrete evidence brother. Your argument is not too convincing man. Joe, In order for you to convince me and the readers of this newspaper, you have to do a lot more. At first blush when I read your post, I thought maybe Joe Akoi has some “insider information”. As it turns out, you don’t have an FBI agent in government. I respect you, but I disagree with you..

  7. Brother Hney! That’s what intellectual supposed to do. Agree to disagree upon views and maintain the ties. Did you read the article today about, “Weah must fight corruption or corruption will end his administration”. I supposed you have read it and now the clear pictures are beginning to glare in the eyes of the public on the reason why Mr. Blama was dismissed by president Weah. Mr. Blama has not yet said anything surrounding his dismissal and people are already second guessing the real cause not to be corruption, as claimed by president Weah. This is excatly what I was trying to convey about more reasons than just corruption. By the way bro Hney, I have no FBI agents in the administration, I don’t depend on hear say or they say versions of events rather evidence & hard facts from common sense. If you have in already read the article, pls give me your intake about the reasons why Mr. Nathaniel Blama was dismissed. Was it for corruption as alleged or more than that? The article is just the prelude of what is yet to come out. Again, I maintained that, there is more to this than just corruption. For once Mr. Hney, I never dispute the facts for dismissal, rather saying, there is more to the reason giving for dismissal and not just corruption alone. Keep safe and be blessed.

Leave a Reply