The days of Cllr. James Verdier at the Liberia Anti-Commission LACC have finally come to an end, as the Minister of State for Presidential Affairs, Nathaniel McGill on Tuesday, February 26, 2019 announced with immediate effect, the appointment of controversial Cllr. Charles Gibson as officer-in-charge of the anti-corruption body.
According to a letter in the possession of the Daily Observer, Minister McGill said with a mandate from President George Weah, Gibson is to serve as the Officer-in-Charge of the LACC until further notice.
This is not the same Cllr. Charles Gibson who was nominated to the Justice Minister post in 2018 but later rejected by the Senate, having previously been suspended from practice by the Supreme Court for duping his client. That Gibson was appoint by the President as chairman of the National Oil Company of Liberia (NOCAL).
“The President has instructed that you serve as the Officer-in-Charge of the LACC, and mandates you to take charge of the tasks and functional responsibilities of the office thereof until further notice,” a portion of the letter signed by McGill said to LACC’s Charles Gibson.
The former Chairman of the LACC, Cllr. James Verdier has over the months, been on a slippery ground with the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) government on a number of issues, including policy differences.
Recently, Verdier had an interview with Darlington Tokpa, Radio France International (RFI) correspondent in Liberia, in which he said that President Weah’s administration is seriously undermining the fight against corruption in the country, His comments did not go well with McGill and others that are so close to President Weah.
He said funds intended for the Commission and a host of anti-graft institutions have not been disbursed to them as should be by the CDC government.
Verdier further pointed out that majority of government officials, mainly those working at the will and pleasure of President Weah are yet to declare their assets since they came into their respective offices.
He said Weah is in support of the alleged deliberate failure on the part of the government officials each to declare their assets and adhere to the tenets of democracy in the governance system simply because he has failed to mount pressure on them neither has he set a good example, himself.
With Verdier not being in very good graces the administration, because of what he realized was its deliberate attempt to strangulate the LACC by denying it funds to operate, made him more bolder to state the facts and be damned regardless, political observers told this newspaper.
With Gibson’s knowledge of the challenges, he would be starting with the assurance in McGill’s letter that informed him of “His Excellency (President Weah) expression of trust in Gibson’s ability to make a meaningful contribution in his area of responsibility.”
Cllr. Verdier, who was appointed by former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, served his tenure which began on February 24, 2014. He replaced Cllr. Frances Johnson Allison, but his being outspoken about corruption in government has drawn much attention, according to those who are familiar with his temperament.
Perhaps the government does not have trust in the titles of a managing director or executive director, because since Weah’s government took over, at least three of his managing directors, deputy managing directors for Administration, and now executive director have now replaced MD at the National Housing Authority and his deputy, now Officer-in-Charge (OIC), and LACC’s Gibson assuming the leadership there under the same OIC title.
It is the consensus of many Liberians that unless the government supports the LACC with its required funding and political will, the new administration would be frustrated in the discharge of its duties.