The reported poor human relations of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s designated chairman of the Land Authority, has claimed the attention of some Senators.
Dr. Cecil T.O. Brandy’s thorny interaction with co-workers came under scrutiny when he appeared before members of the Senate for the first of four confirmation hearings headed by the Senate Committee on Lands, Mines, Energy, Natural Resources and Environment.
Dr. Brandy is the former commissioner of the defunct Land Commission, but his nomination to chair the LAA is hitting a snag as several Senators have grilled him about his difficult interactions with colleagues.
For almost an hour during the marathon hearing at the Capitol recently, Senators Conmany B. Wesseh of River Gee County and Henry Willie Yallah of Bong County questioned Dr. Brandy about what they said were mounting reports from former workers about his awful working relations.
Senator Wesseh informed the Senate Committee that former employees visiting his office have nothing good to say about Brandy, adding, “in fact the only person who I think will understandably say something good about Dr. Brandy is Dr. Brandy himself.”
He said the truth in his statement is qualified by the fact that none of the former co-commissioners who worked with Dr. Brandy for five years is on the Land Authority.
Dr. Brandy tried in vain to convince the committee members, who might have had a dossier of unfavorable comments about him, that the nomination of other members from the Land Commission to the Land Authority was the sole responsibility of President Sirleaf, who he rightly said, “has the Constitutional right to do so.”
The land expert was, however, non-committal when asked whether he made any personal representation to the President on behalf of his co-commissioners.
“In fact as far as I can recollect, Commissioners on the Land Commission served on a part time basis; some for the five years at the Commission did not write a single paragraph, others reported to work twice a week, but as a professional person, I made sure that I reported to work as early as 7 o’clock a.m. daily,” Dr. Brandy told the Committee.
Dr. Brandy then requested the committee to allow him to face those who are accusing him of poor human relations.
He, however, thanked the Senate for its support and cooperation in advancing the country’s land reform agenda, and for working with him in previous capacities as chairman of the erstwhile Land Commission and most recently as chairman of the Interim Land Taskforce.
Dr. Brandy recalled how during the tenure of the Land Commission the objectives of the land reform programs were determined and significant progress was made in developing land policies and laws, adding: “The establishment of the Land Authority provides the institutional framework that will enable further development of policies, laws and regulations as well as facilitate the implementation of programs and activities to carry out the needed land reforms.”
The new agency, Dr. Brandy asserted, has a huge responsibility such that will break with the past and give land rights to all citizens, saying: “This agency now as designed will be probably the best instrument that will implement the land rights law.”
The Chairman of the Committee on Lands, Mines and Energy, Grand Kru County Senator Albert Tugbe Chie, recalling the passage of the LAA last year, said it calls for the appointment of five commissioners, including the chairperson and the vice chairperson.
Senator Chie said that all the functions of the Land Commission which were exercised by the Ministry of Lands, Mines and Energy have now been transferred to the Land Authority.
“Our citizens know the problem we face in the land sector is not due to new laws, because existing legislation can be used to resolve most of the land issues. But key problems arise from lack of appropriate land information, and once we acquire that, some of these issues will be resolved.
“So we take this confirmation hearing seriously, and we want to use it as a model for our new approach towards confirmation hearings in accordance with the laws of the land and the standing rules of the Senate,” Senator Chie said.
He added that the hearing is the first of four, and told the nominee that the committee will investigate everything that concerns the process.
Meanwhile, Dr. Brandy has told reporters that he has no regrets nor will he hold bad feelings against anybody if he is confirmed, adding: “I will sleep well and the next day you will see me around. I don’t belong to a political party. I am a professional man.”