President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has nominated Tolbert Nyenswah as deputy minister of health for Disease Surveillance and Epidemic Control, a position that does not exist at the Ministry of Health.
The nomination of Mr. Nyenswah, who was at the frontline of the Ebola Epidemic outbreak, comes in the wake of accusations that he violated several parts of the country’s Public Procurement and Concession (PPC) Act while he controlled funding intended to fight the Ebola virus disease (EVD).
In her letter of nomination to the Senate read Tuesday, President Sirleaf justified that her action was in keeping with an Act to amend the New Executive Law, which provides for the appointment of more than one deputy minister within a ministry as was approved on May 16, 1974.
“In keeping with an act to amend the New Executive Law to provide for the appointment of more than one deputy minister within a ministry, approved May 16, 1974, I hereby nominate Mr. Tolbert Nyenswah as Deputy Minister of Health for Disease Surveillance and Epidemic Control, “President Sirleaf’s letter stated.
Some ranking members of the Senate are already arguing that such a position does not exist within that ministry, and that if one should be created, an amendment to the Act creating the Ministry of Health is needed.
The named position, according to the lawmakers, has to be legislated, and until the President proposes an amendment to that law, Mr. Nyenswah is not considered a candidate for confirmation hearings.
Mr. Nyenswah who headed the Incident Management System (IMS), the body that coordinated government’s EVD response, has been implicated in the long-gone 2006/2007 and 2007/2008 fiscal years’ audit reports conducted by the General Auditing Commission (GAC) for financial and administrative malpractices.
Mr. Nyenswah served as deputy head of the National Malaria Control Program (NMCP) at the Ministry of Health, and according to the GAC audit conducted during that period, thousands of dollars were used without supporting documents for which he and others are being held to account.
The latest nomination comes on the heels of uncertainty over whether the Senate has finally resolved to confirm Dr. Bernice Dahn as Minister of Health. Her confirmation has been put on hold following a protest from Senator Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence, who is contending that she was not part of the proceedings leading to the Health Committee’s recommendation to confirm her.
There are, however, indications that Dr. Dahn may receive the Senate’s blessing today.