As part of several measures in combating the spread of Ebola in the country, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has with immediate effect fired 10 government officials for failing to return home to help in the fight against Ebola.
This comes as a follow-up to her directive regarding restrictions on travel of government officials, including their return within a week for those who were out of the country without an excuse. The President has at the same time instituted several measures on those officials of various agencies, commissions, and parastatals not subject to presidential travel approval.
The Executive Mansion said the dismissed include:
- Dr. Othello Gongar, Commissioner, Governance Commission
- Ms. Kona Beysolow, Commissioner, Public Procurement and Concessions Commission
- Cllr. Wheatonia Dixon-Barnes, Deputy Minister for Administration and Public Safety, Ministry of Justice
- Ms. Victoria Sherman-Lang, Deputy Minister for Economic Affairs, Ministry of Justice
- Mr. Hilary Sirleaf-Siakor, Assistant Minister for Prisons, Ministry of Justice
- Ms. Ardia Kaikai, Assistant Minister for Afro-Asian Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
- Ms. Lauretta Reffell, Assistant Minister for Administration, Ministry of Public Works
- Mr. James H.R. Cooper, Assistant Minister for Administration, Ministry of Post and Telecommunications
- Ms. Meapeh Gono-Glay, Assistant Minister for Administration, Ministry of Labor; and
- Mr. Ebenizar Z. Gibson, Assistant Minister for Trade Union, Ministry of Labor
According to the Executive Mansion, these government officials “showed insensitivity to our national tragedy and disregard for authority.”
For members of various Boards not subjected to direct Presidential travel approval, they are to forfeit salaries, compensation, benefits and Board fees until they return home. Five persons, including Ms. Jackie Khoury, Member of the Board of Directors, NOCAL; Ms. Massa Roberts, Member, Monrovia City Council; Mr. James P. Cooper, Member of the Board, Liberia Telecommunications Corporation; Ms. Miata Beysolow, Chairman of the Board, National Social Security and Welfare Corporation; and Mr. James Thompson, Member of the Board, Liberia Water and Sewer Corporation, are to undergo this measure from the President.
The Executive Mansion also said junior officials who are also not subject to Presidential approval will forfeit all compensation and benefits until they return home to join in the fight against the Ebola virus disease. These officials falling in this category include Ms. Christine Norman, Mayor, Bensonville City, Montserrado County; Mrs. Ade Jones Captan, Commissioner, Congo Town, Montserrado County; Ms. Alexine Howard, Commissioner, Caldwell, Montserrado County; Ms. Annie Dillon, Commissioner Dixville, Montserrado County; Mr. Amos Forkay, Commissioner, Bolloh District, Grand Kru County; Mr. J. Kaydio Wreh, District Superintendent, Grand Kru County; Mr. Moses O. Z. Reeves, District Superintendent, Rivercess County; and Mr. Nathaniel During, District Commissioner, Rivercess County.
“It is noted that for senior and junior government officials, including those from various agencies, commissions, and parastatals who have claimed serious, sometime, life-threatening medical conditions, they will be examined on a case by case basis.”
In another development, the Executive Mansion said, President Sirleaf has suspended on the job for one month three eligible officials who have not declared or re-declared their income, assets, and liabilities. This is as a result of an updated report received from the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission on September 5, also posted on its website. The President has furthered ordered them to file their income, assets, and liabilities within one week. The affected officials are Dr. Antoinette Weeks, Minister of Public Works; Mr. Claude Langley, Deputy Minister for Technical Services, Ministry of Public Works; and Mr. Francis Okai, District Commissioner, Margibi County.
Part X-10.1 of the National Code of Conduct Act states: “Every Public Official and Employee of Government involved in making decisions affecting contracting, tendering or procurement, and issuance of licenses of various types shall sign performance or financial bonds and shall in addition declare his or her income, assets and liabilities prior to taking office and thereafter at the end of every three years; on promotion or progression from one level to another; upon transfer to another public office; and upon retirement or resignation.”
The Mansion said a total of 321 government officials who are eligible under the Code of Conduct Act have declared or re-declared their income, assets and liabilities.
“Additionally, those government officials suspended earlier and have declared or re-declared their assets in categories B and C, are to provide to the Ministry of State for Presidential Affairs evidence of payments into government revenue their fines and penalties as directed by the Liberian President. Failure to do so, within a week, the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning will be authorized to automatically deduct two months’ salary.”
Reacting to the President’s action, Mr. Vandalark R. Patricks, a staunch critic of the President’s handling of the affairs of the nation, texted the Observer: “I want you remember that the sacking of the officials of the government is a damage control mechanism. She must hold herself responsible for the spread of the Ebola [virus]. Had she listened to the many suggestions proffered by her critics and eminent people from the beginning [of the outbreak], Ebola would not have claimed more lives. She, too, must be fired by the Liberian people for refusing to fight Ebola.”
He further told the Observer in a phone chat that those the President sacked are out because “they observing the first law of nature: ‘self-preservation.’ If they are being sacked because they didn’t stay to fight Ebola, the President herself needs to resign because she has failed too, to stop the spread the virus as evidence by her letter to President Obama.”