By Kadiker Rex Dahn, Ma, M.Ed, PhD
On March 16, 2020, President George Weah announced to Liberians and the world of the presence of theCorona Virus in Liberia. Liberians are in the state of confusion and uncertainty as a direct result of the confirmation. Liberians have been asking, “How did this deadly virus come to Liberia and what mechanisms if any did the government of President Weah put into place to prevent the spread and contamination”. It has been alleged and the speculations persist among Liberians that the government of President Weah was maneuvering to confirm the virus so as to be eligible to receive some funding from the World Health Organization. Whether true or false, President Weah and his health officials owe better, persuasive and compelling explanations to the Liberian people. Again, we ask,what was George Weah thinking in allowing his officials to attend a conference knowing fully of this world pandemic? We will argue in this article that for we know thus far, the questionable role of the health team and President Weah’s inability to critically and logically analyze the situation in Europe as it relates to the Corona Virus before sending his official, make us to think, believe and conclude that President Weah and his health team deliberately endangered national security.
When the Corona Virus broke out in China and eventually spread to Europe and the United States, Daily Observer repeated several editorials blowing trumpets for the government to take precautionary measures. These warnings by Daily Observer and other news outlets fell on death ears. In fact defiance to those warnings were clearly seen on March 7, 2020 when the Coalition for Democratic Change launched what they called CDC’s retreat. The party’s faithfuls approximately 15, 000 in number gathered at the Antoinette Tubman Stadium in Monrovia to show their might. This was a big leadership, health and security blunders in deliberate defiance to protectagainst the pandemic. President Weah and his surrogates not being satisfied with the willful challenge were determined and challenged professional opinions against this deadly, COVID-19. Case in point, the President approved the travel of several senior government officials to Europe to attend a conference eventhough Europe was declared as an “epicenter” of the Corona Virus. Certainly, other delegationswho attended the conference came from other European countries where this virus has been raging. Our Liberian delegation, we surmise interacted with their counterparts, sat on the same conference table deliberated and dinned together. What President Weah and his government planned to receive from that conference in the midst of death winds is yet to be soundly and logically explained to the Liberian people. The speculated allegation which is now gaining ground is that some of the attendees may be infected and by that process, the World Health Organization would donate money to the Liberian government to fight the disease. It is speculated that the WHO has already transmitted millions of dollars to the Central Bank of Liberia to help fight the Covid-19 virus.Certainly, Nathaniel Blama, the Director at the Environmental Protection Agency, one of the participants from the Europe’s conference on return to Liberia was “diagnosed” with the Virus. On March 11, 2020, the Daily Observer online carried the headline, “Liberia’ First COVId-19 Case Eclipsed by True Lies while FrontPage carried the headline, “Liberia’s Coronavirus: The Truth, The Lies”. Closely analyzing the so-called contamination of Nathaniel Blama with the Corona Virus in our opinion appears to be ambiguous. The ambiguity derives from utterances of the government and actions by the health authorities. In President Weah’s address to the nation confirming thepresence of the covid-19, he stated, “The infected person is Mr. Nathaniel Blama, Executive Director of the Environmental Protection Agency, who arrived in Liberia on Brussels Airlines on Friday night, the 13th of March. Along with several others officials of government travelling on the same flight, Mr. Blama refused to be quarantined, in keeping with the health protocols that were at the Airport.” Blama refuted the President’s claim that he refused to be quarantined. Quoting Blama, Daily Observer and FrontPage stated, “Why are you guys panicking, talk to Dr. Kateh, talk to Dr. Fallah, that’s what we agreed. And when they brought the ambulance to the community, the community members got concerned and started running behind it after even the health workers escorted me and I got in it. Then you guys have done enough damage by misinforming the public that I refused quarantine. That’s not true and that’s not fair.”
It seems compelling to us that in addition to endangering the Liberian people, President Weah may have something personal against Nathaniel Blama, his own appointee. The President made us to believe that the several officials of government in question who were not named may have complied with health workers while Blama on the other hand refused. Health workers at the airport are witnesses whether those on the flight with Blama availed themselves to health protocols while Blama refused. In fact it was Blama who went to health workers to be tested. We tend to believe Blama’s narratives because we feel that President Weah was prejudiced against Blama. We wonder why the president named Blama even though it is a violation of confidentiality in the medical field but refused to name the other several officials of government? Is it that Blama is not a true member of the CDC and blackmailing him would be an attempt to remove him from his position? This may equally be a conspiracy theory engineered by Mr. Weah and his surrogates. What is sickening is the conduct of the health workers. Blama claimed that Francis Kateh and Masoka Fallah allowed him to drive his own vehicle. Francis Kateh who is the Chief Medical Officer of the Republic of Liberia and Masoka Fallah, a Director of the National Public Health Institute, allowing an infected person in such form and manner in the midst of a global pandemic is condemnable at the highest level. Based on what we know thus far, it was from Blama that the Virus spread. These men action equally endangers the security of the people of Liberia.
FrontPage in its March 17, 2020 edition stated that Masoka Fallah admitted to a crack being in the system. The Paper also informed us that Nathaniel Blama’s driver, William Ballah who expressed the desire to be tested was left in an ambulance for six hours without treatment. Here again, we urge the Medical and Dental Council of Liberia to look into this lackadaisical attitude on the part of these two licensed professionals and their surrogates. Medical professional must stand firm and oppose any manipulation even from the government. We made this assertion because Liberian medical doctors’ reputation will be at stake at both the national and international levels if the health system is perceived and believed to be a manipulated system.
Our concern is also drawn to Liberian medical professionals’ claim of testing for the Corona Virus. Does Liberia prior to Blama’s diagnosis and confirmationhave the testing laboratory, capability and experts to conduct such test? Fever and coughing are some of the symptoms. However, because routinely Liberians suffer from malaria and typhoid, to avoid misdiagnosis, it wouldn’t it be prudent for further testing in the laboratory? If affirmative, do we have such laboratory in Liberia prior to Blama? How equipped and trained are the technicians? I am told by a medical professional that in the laboratories in the United States, though it is now 15 minutes, it used to take two days for the test result of the Corona Virus to be established.How long does it take to confirm the result in Liberia? If it is less than two days during the diagnosis of Blama, is that an indication that Liberia is now sophisticated andequaled to that of the United States or another attempt by disgruntled individuals to deceive, corrupt and enrich themselves? Sinceresources allegedly allocated to Ebola in Liberia were squandered, Liberians and our international partners must be alert.
Daily Observer in its March 17, 2020 publication warned against stealing. Thomas Nyensuah was the reference and the government was urged to contact INTERPOOL for Nyensuah to face justice in Liberia. This proposition may be difficult because this government of George Weah, in our opinion does not have moral authority to make such claim to the international community; the very government in question is besieged by claims of corruption. We urge the international community to follow every penny and dollar sent to Liberia. Corruption is very high and this unfortunate situation we are faced with, some unscrupulous individuals may use it to enrich themselves. Be as it may, there is claim that Corona Virus is in Liberia. Whether true or false, we maintain that President Weah sending his officials to an infected country for a conference was deliberate, intensional and willful attempt to endanger the lives of Liberians. Such action by a sitting President undermines national security. Equally so, health professionals’ inability, negligence and preferential treatment of government officials from following established protocols at the Robert International Airport amounts to asquience in undermining the security of the state. We maintain that if the whole intent of the perceived duplicity, cover-up, contradictory and convoluted statements and allegations surrounding the Corona Virus is to make money, then we say sooner or later, Liberia will be declared a Rogue Nation. We should not squander partners’ resources. Covid-19 is real and there is no joke about it. We say to President Weah and health authorities, that the world is watching. Whatever is contributed to fight this deadly virus must be used for its intended purpose and anything on the contrary, Liberia maybe perceived and believed to be a Rogue Nation. In the cause of the people, the struggle continues!!!
About the author: Kadiker Rex Dahn holds a PhD in Historical, Philosophical and Social Foundations from the University of Oklahoma. He served as a Deputy Minister of Education and Deputy Director General, National Commission on Higher Education. He is a member of the North America Scholar Consortium, membership with the Highest Honor. Contacts: [email protected]