The absence of Bomi County Legislative Caucus at the 4th Commencement Exercises of the Bomi County Community College (BCCC) in Tubmanburg last Saturday was not only felt by the people but by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
After 54 graduates were awarded degrees in education, nursing, agriculture, business and general construction, President Sirleaf before her special remarks wanted to know why the Bomi County Legislative Caucus were not present.
Bomi County Legislative Caucus includes Rep. Samuel Gaya Karmo, Speaker Alex Tyler, Rep. Haja Fata Siryon and Senator Sando Johnson (who were absent) and Senator Morris Saytumah, who spoke at the occasion as the guest speaker.
“Maybe they have their reasons for not being here at this important occasion,” President Sirleaf remarked, and commended those present for the graduating exercises.
In apparent show of disappointment, President Sirleaf noted that, having part of her roots in Bomi, the absence of the Caucus’ underscored the truism in the Liberian saying that, “If your house doesn’t sell you, others will not buy you,” and pointed out that she would seek explanations for the Caucus’ absence.
The Caucus’ absence forestalled the official announcement of a new chairman of the BCCC’s Board, who was present at the occasion in the person of Mr. Varney Arthur Yengbeh, Jr. He took over from Rev. Kortu Brown, who was also not at the occasion.
President Sirleaf also introduced the new president of the BCCC, Dr. Zobong Norman, who took over from Dr. Samuel K. Monwell. Dr. Monwell’s replacement did not go well with the Alumni of Bomi County Community College (ABCCC).
In a one page release questioning the reasons for his replacement, distributed by the ABCCC, it said Dr. Monwell’s ‘able leadership had had three successful and colorful graduations’ with the 4th one last Saturday.
“Is he wrong to empower the less fortunate Liberian children who cannot afford to go to school in Monrovia? What has he done?
“Dr. Monwell has managed, in the midst of series of false allegations, ranging from obtaining fake terminal degree credentials to plagiarism, yet he remained committed.
“He received USD150 then as a salary while his colleagues with equivalent qualifications around the country in other community colleges were receiving triple of his salaries, and yet he said ‘I will not go.’
“A president without vehicle, but yet he goes to work with deep passion for the people he did not know.” In a direct appeal to President Sirleaf, the ABCCC said, “Let us not show ingratitude for gratitude. History will erect lots of check points against us if we remain silent on this matter.”
Responding to the Alumni’s claims, President Sirleaf said change comes to every society and at every level. “Change is not necessarily bad; it doesn’t mean we do not love or praise those who laid the foundation.
“We have to allow others to move to other positions and I expect the Alumni Association to embrace change. You are working for the young people in Bomi County.
“Dr. Monwell did a good job and change doesn’t have anything to do with tribal affiliation. I don’t look at tribe when I make appointments. I look at the paper work and take it from there,” President Sirleaf said.
She meanwhile told Dr. Monwell, “We’ll talk,” as the crowd cheered and called on them to support Dr. Norman to further improve on what Dr. Monwell began to improve education in Bomi County.
She told the graduates not to rest on their achievement and must explore avenues to improve on their capacity, urging them to use the internet to take courses, if they decide to go that route.
Earlier, incoming Board Chairman Yengbeh, whose vision eleven years ago gave birth to the BCCC, expressed gratitude to the level of achievement at the school. He described his new position as a milestone in that vision, like a woman who finds her lost son after 11 years.
He also recounted his difficulties as a young student in Bomi County and the lack of educational opportunities that faced him, as a high school graduate. When he finally made it to the United States, he dreamed of one day encouraging the establishment of a community college in Bomi County to take care of the less fortunate. After much consultation, the elders in Bomi County donated a parcel of land for the college. He advanced US$1,000 for the survey and other related expenses.
Mr. Yengbeh in 2013 promised and delivered 100 bags of cement for the construction of a nursing annex which President Sirleaf inspected thereafter on Saturday. He was invited to speak as a guest speaker in 2015.
Meanwhile in a telephone interview yesterday Rep. Karmo told the Daily Observer that he was not invited to the occasion.
“The college is located in my district and I would have loved to be there but I did not know about the occasion,” he said, and noted that he just came from sick leave.
Efforts through phone calls to reach Speaker Tyler and Rep. Fofana to get their responses as to why they were absent were unsuccessful, as they did not return calls or text messages up to press time.
Other Bomi County officials present included Superintendent Samuel F. Brown and City Mayor Rebecca Benson.