In the words of the former secretary general of the Alternative National Congress (ANC), Miss Meapeh Kou Gono, “If power was to last with those before us (the younger generation), it wouldn’t have reached us (the younger generation). Obviously, it goes at some point and our records outlive us!”
Miss Gono, who might have probably been quoting the originator of those wise words, later wished the man who she considers an esteemed colleague, “good luck,” posted as a consolation message to her dear friend, Labor Minister Atty Neto Zarzar Lighe upon hearing that he has been dismissed by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
Liberians were shocked late Friday afternoon when the Executive Mansion announced that President Sirleaf had with immediate effect, relieved Labor Minister – Atty. Neto Lighe from his position.
The only reason provided by the Mansion, which is the seat of the Liberian presidency, for Lighe’s dismissal is “due to his continued gross disrespect and participation in wicked attacks and false accusations levied against the presidency.”
Neto is the current Senior National Vice Chairman of the ruling Unity Party. He was elected along with other corps of officers at the 2016 UP Convention that was held in Gbarnga, Bong County that brought on board VP Boakai as the new political leader/standard bearer of the party.
The President has been whirling her axe these few days and the former Labor Minister is the latest victim. Others to have recently felt the wrath of the Iron Lady, who is living up to the wrath of that name, were former Minister Henrique Tokpa of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and former Deputy Minister for Public Affairs at the Ministry of Information, Culture, and Tourism (MICAT), Jedi Armah.
But many would hope that President Sirleaf would take a leaf out of this post, which central message is that power does not remain with one forever—this is why she will be leaving the political scene which she has dominated for the past 12 consecutive years.
It is, however, becoming clear that the only thing that stands between Ellen and her wish is an empty space. “This President can do anything to have her will and absolutely no one dare stand in her way,” a staunched supporter of the ruling Unity Party said upon hearing the news.
In response to his dismissal, Lighe said it was now “time to move on,” adding that there’s no singular honor than serving his country and he is proud that he was extended such an “opportunity to serve my country” and also extended his profound appreciation to President Sirleaf for such an honor.
“7 years ago, through a presidential appointment, I entered mainstream government as an Assistant Minister at the Ministry of Internal Affairs. 2 years later, I was promoted to the position of Deputy Minister and then Minister of Labor,” he wrote in his response on his facebook page.
He continued “There’s no singular honor than serving your country and I’m proud of the opportunity extended me to serve my country. Today, 7 years after, my service in government has come to an end. I want to use this occasion, on behalf of my family to extend my profound thanks and appreciation to Madam Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf for the opportunity extended me. To all my colleagues in government and employees at the Ministry of Labor, thanks for your cooperation and service during my stay. It is now time to move on.”
In spite of the Executive Mansion’s vague reason for Lighe’s dismissal, arguments were rife as per the real reason behind President Sirleaf’s actions of late. Impeccable sources indicate that Lighe and others are being dismissed because they have refused to submit to the desire of the President to support the presidential bid of George Weah of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC); and are bent on supporting the presidential bid of Vice President Joseph Nyuma Boakai.
“Word on the street is that it’s because he refused to cross carpet to CDC with her,” one partisan said.
Though these and many others would still be considered speculation, especially of the President not supporting the UP, what other “disrespect” could there be? “The Oldma take a young boy from nowhere and make him a big man, then realizes she suddenly cannot manipulate his political direction,” is a claim on the streets of Monrovia.
Meanwhile, consolation messages began pulling in immediately the pronouncement of Lighe’s sacking.
Saywhar Gbaa, a young Liberian female journalist wrote this, on the dismissed minister social media wall, “You are a Patriot, I respect you a whole lot.”
Another colleague, Mark Kanneo, wrote on his facebook page, “The life you live today will serve as the basis for your future judgment. You have served well bro, can’t do more than your best. Thanks for the service and keep your head up.”
Kanneo further indicated, “History will judge us all. From 1991 to now you are no stranger to me. I know who you are and what u stand for bro. It shall be well. Move on with pride and dignity. God is our supreme judge.”