VP Taylor Breaks Silence

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Sen. Jewel Howard Taylor.jpg
VP Taylor: "All of us (citizens) are obliged to keep our country peaceful."

-Abandons LMA, laments on national issues

For someone who has been on the cusp of having it all and who has been on the verge of letting it all go, Vice President (VP) Jewel Howard Taylor’s vicissitudes of state power are unenviable. From massive dissent against her within the coalition she helped ascend to state power to being strong-armed for the right to exercise oversight of functionaries under the statutory control of her office as VP, hers is a job that requires wisdom and thick skin.

In a tell-all interview on a local radio station recently, the VP finally broke silence over issues pertaining the Liberia Marketing Association (LMA), other national issues, including the incident in which she nearly tendered her resignation.

VP Taylor was vocal on the Truth FM Super Morning Show on Monday, August 27, 2019 when she spoke on a wide range of national issues, with the LMA being so touching as she reflected on how the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) is running the country.

“I will no longer bother myself with anything that has to do with the LMA, even though it is by law that my office excises an oversight responsibility over that entity, and other agencies of government, such as the Liberia National Lottery and the ‘Group of 77.’

“As a lawyer, I must accept the Court’s decision. I have not been talking, because the Court was in charge of the matter. I could not have been talking on the radio. Everybody now knows that if LMA has a problem, it has to take it to their board. There are so many positive things I want to do. I don’t want to get dragged down into some things that might not be important. I am washing my hands out of its business,” VP Taylor said following the court ruling which declared her decision on the LMA case as “unconstitutional.”

According to her, her attempt to help settle the crisis in the LMA by calling on the Association’s president, Madam Alice Yeabahn, and her fellow workers to step aside from their respective positions until investigations into allegations of corruption were done, so as to bring sanity to the LMA, was done in good faith.

It can recalled that the Supreme Court on Friday, August 22, 2019 upheld a decision from the Lower Court, declaring as “unconstitutional VP Taylor’s suspension of LMA officers, noting that she had breached the 2010 Act of the LMA by unilaterally suspending three of its elected officers.”

“I got a large group of women in my office one day. I did not solicit them, neither checked on them. My issue at that time was to get the ‘Group of 77’ running, and then, they began to explain how the affairs of the LMA were run without the approval of the board, and they felt that there were corruption issues at the time,” she said.

VP Taylor said that the LMA’s board members are recommended for appointment by the president of the LMA and, as such, it is all too difficult for such a board to be free from the LMA president’s influence.

“The system is such that the President of the LMA recommends, who serves on its board. If the president is deciding who serves on the board, then there is no check and balance,” she said.

The Vice President added, “If you do your own assessment of the markets, you realize that there are millions of Liberian Dollars being collected every year, but there are always uncollected garbage all over the place. With the exception of the new markets the President recently dedicated, all other markets have been and continued to be in dilapidated conditions. Are we saying there should be no accountability?”

She noted that when she was approached on the matters of allegations of corruption at the LMA, she called on the General Auditing Commission (GAC) to conduct audits and make available its findings into a comprehensive report.

“Fortunately for me, the GAC, after difficult times in getting all the documents they needed, mostly with those in charge denying them access to those documents, were able to come up with reports, proved that there were very serious systemic problems at the LMA,” VP Taylor said.

She added, “This was early this year, but the LMA took that document to their convention in Zwedru, and the total delegates to that convention came together; reviewed the documents, and unanimously agreed to discharge everybody in leadership at the entity in the mean time.”

She said that her suggestion about the conduct of the audit and temporarily relieving Madam Yeabahn, and her colleagues of their positions did not go well with Yeabahn and her friends.

“The next thing was to take me to court, first as Vice President, and the government, and the second case, I took my case to court as Vice President and the other time, I was taken as Jewel Howard Taylor as an individual. You can imagine how long our lawyers spent with the Courts from the lower level to the top,” she said.

She said from time immemorial, she has never seen the LMA improved in any strive to help clean the markets, renovate them or contribute significant amount to the national budget.

“I know that the former VP Joe Boakai also dealt with these issues, but the same story continues without any change. However, I am Jewel Howard Taylor. Maybe, people think they can ride on names. The President of the LMA many times went on the radio, and said a lot of negative things about me, but that is OK. I have no problem, and they will no longer see me interfere into their affairs,” VP Taylor said.

Almost resigned as VP

“It was too much for me. I had lots of tension, mainly when there were accusations coming from supporters and some top officials in the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC), with whom we are into this Coalition, that I was supporting the Council of Patriots (CoP) as they planned their protest on June 7 to call on us as a government to lead well,” she said.

Thereafter, she said many people, including some senators and other friends, “including my supporters within the National Patriotic Party (NPP),” appealed to her not to resign, and she listened to them.

“I was asked to receive the petition from the CoP on June 7, but with the speculations of instability associated with the protest, I was afraid. In fact, due to the worry, my pressure went up,” Taylor said. “At no point did I support any protest, neither any action against the government, which I am serving as its Vice President.”

“Darius Dillon is like my son, who I grew into politics, because he was my office chief of staff. And it also goes with Representative Melvin Cole, and Senator Henry Yallah of Bong County. I trained them, and so in no way I can go against them. I could not wish Dillon a failure, but at the same time, I have not given my support to him over Paulita Wie,” she said.

However, she said her own party, the National Patriotic Party (NPP), which is a member of the coalition, did not have any voice in the selection of the candidacies, Paulita C.C. Wie and and Abu Kamara, for the Montserrado County by-elections.

“I was not contacted about what we could do to nominate the coalition’s candidates, because my party had no voice, and so this has led to Senator Sando Johnson, and others within the NPP to call for our withdrawal. But I stand for peace, and so I am not deterred by all the challenges currently facing my office as the Vice President, and as the standard bearer of a political party (NPP) that played its part in campaigning across the length and breadth of the country to see us succeed as a coalition,” she said.

Limited funds to VP’s office

VP Taylor said that she has lots of things she is interested in getting done before she leaves the office, but she lacks the financial means.

“I understand the tough economic challenges, and so we cannot push too far for more budgetary appropriation, but in fact, many of the things we used to get are no longer coming forth, to the extent that we no longer receive gas slips. We don’t have the needed money to take care of our projects, but we are hopeful that things will get better. It is our prayer that our economy improves so we can make our impact before leaving office,” she said.

About the ‘Group of 77,’ VP Taylor said she has written some donor partners for support to engage in agricultural programs in Todee, where she said the disabled community has a huge portion of land.

“We have to find ways to become self-sufficient. We planted corn, which we have harvested. We are in the process of having them sold. We are trying to get involved with the cultivation of rice, she said.

She said there is no reason to blame anyone, because the support former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf received when the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) was here is no longer forth coming.

“Work for peace”

VP Taylor condemned all electoral, and other kinds of violence across the country by calling on every citizen to be law-abiding.

“One thing we all need to be mindful of is that we have had several years of civil crises. Some people had to seek refuge in other countries to live in peace. Those experiences were terrible, and as good citizens and other residents should all work for peace,” she admonished.

“We understand that people get frustrated by some rulings from court rooms, but we have to be civil by accepting those rulings. It is our daily prayer that Judges of subordinate courts and Justices of the Supreme Court need to be fair in their judgments, but whatever it be, we have to do away with personal emotions, and follow the rule of law,” VP Taylor cautioned.

“Freedom is not free”

VP Taylor also spoke of the need for the fundamental rights of every citizen to prevail.

“We need to be mindful of how we use the media. The genocide in Rwanda was triggered by just a few individuals using the radio stations to call people by very unpleasant names. They did not refer to their fellow country men and women as human beings, but animals or even less than animals. That grave mistake caused them almost a million lives,” she said.

She said while government may not take interest in hunting people for what they say on the radio, newspapers or on social media, it behooves everyone to protect the peace by being very careful of what they say or do.

“We have to stop abusing freedoms in the name of satisfying our human rights. Freedom itself is not free. People paid for the chance you have to post anything on social media today or go a radio or write in a newspaper whatever you want. People were jailed and some even lost their lives but I don’t think all was intended for all of us to abuse their sacrifices in the past, today,” she said.

To be continued… 

14 COMMENTS

  1. Madam Vice President you are the voiceless. You have been discredited by Mr. Sunshine. He needed your votes and now he is in power, he ridicules you. Demeans you, ignores you. Save your sanity and not be a part of a losing battle. Dont be associated with failure.

  2. The VP is not serious. She fired chiefs in Bong who didn’t join or support CDC. She coined the term “our time to eat”. I believe has been packed on the roadside by Sunshine. It’s difficult for she and her people to do the type of eating she wanted to do.

  3. 1.This is what you get when you wished evil for other people. You became an ardent critic of EJS and did not support most of her agenda; simply, because she signed the paper giving the UN the authority to arrest your husband; failing to know that EJS was coerced by the US and EU of withholding assistance to Liberia, if she had failed to do so; therefore she had the option to choose between Liberia and Charles Taylor; she did the right thing to choose Liberia over Charles Taylor, that made you angry! And you opposed her almost everything, using the media that you are blaming today.

    2. When you were first lady of Liberia, I saw the potential of you becoming President of Liberia, because you possessed those qualities of a state-person, that potentials were damaged when you openly opposed another woman of Liberia, in that role; did you assist her in championing women issues in the country? now you have overnight turned to be a women advocate and you want women support, will you get it?

    3. You again openly opposed the former V.P.-JNB, and said all sort of things against him, and even intoned that he was ineffective, as V.P. and therefore could not be an effective president, if he was to win elections in Liberia, because in that position, an effective person could do a lot, you are now V.P. why are you not doing a lot, you are now V.P. of Liberia!

    4. Lawyers are all the same, they almost always want to win case after case, even when they do not have the evidence to do so; so they end up criticizing the courts and judges, calling them all sorts of names and imaging all sorts of crimes against judges; only in Liberia, this can happened! So it is Lawyers who are damaging the reputation of the judiciary. Former and Late LNBA’s President, T.C. Gould, once said that Lawyers should not be quick to criticize the court, but be patience for the outcome of the trial, this same Lawyer, who criticized the court in a case he/she had just lost, will praised the very court and judge that they criticized yesterday, if they win today! so is the case with Atty. Jewel Howard-Taylor today.
    Thanks.

    • Mr Flomo et All,
      Liberia is Not setup properly. It has to be setup by the best educated. Liberia is down since 1822; it was never setup.
      Look at the Skillsets of people running the country.
      Do NOT look at CoP as the solution of the country. They also do not have the resumes.
      God bless us.

  4. And so to put it bluntly, She Is Mad. Saying “I will no longer bother myself with anything that has to do with the LMA , even though it is by law that my office exercised an oversight responsibility over that entity, and other agencies of government, such as the Liberian National Lottery and the Group of 77 ” . When the VP said even though by law , my office exercised an oversight responsibility, then that is where she is wrong and does not understand both the constitution and the law. And here’s why . According to Article 50 of the constitution, “The Executive Power of the Republic shall be vested in the President who shall be Head of State, Head of the Government and Commander-in- Chief of the Armed Forces of Liberia…” . That statement has defined the authority and political position and power of the Presidency. Meaning there can be no law or laws made by anyone to be given to any else, be the Vice President or janitor. This statement recognized that there can only be one President of the Republic of Liberia. Meaning no law can be created for the office of the Vice President as part and functions of her duty. All Executive Powers are vested in the President. And here’s why again. According to Article 51 of the constitution, ” There is shall be a Vice President who shall assist the President in discharge of his functions”. That statement does not mean a law or special law be made for the Vice President in order to assist the President in the functions of his duty. And here’s why. Article 51 again. ” He ( the Vice President ) shall attend meetings of the cabinet and other governmental meetings and shall perform such functions as the President delegate or deem appropriate; provide that no powers specifically vested in the President by the provisions of this constitution shall be delegated to the Vice President”. The President delegate his functions or authority as deemed appropriate. Now law or laws made to request that . Perhaps, the former President wanted her Vice President to have piece of the action so he served in that capacity with oversight responsibility of LMA or the Group of 77 . If there was a law made just for the office of the Vice President outside of the Executive Power vested in the President of the Republic of Liberia, then , the law was unconstitutional. As the Supreme Court found that in the governmental structure there was no such act. But the Vice President still of the opinion that there is a law that recognized her oversight responsibility. The last portion of Article 51 which reads ” provided that no powers specifically vested in the President by the provisions of the constitution shall be delegated to the Vice President ” explained why the President when traveling out of the country can not delegate his functions to the Vice President. The constitution forbids that. Now Madam Vice President James Davis feels your frustration, but constitutionally when the President delegate his functions to you concerning LMA, you will have to do that. It will be considered as refusal to carry out a legal order by your office. And may be charged with gross misconduct under Article 62. Or some other fancy words. As it stands, don’t see central Liberia candidate being elected as President, especially from Bong County. Don’t what of Liberia is Grand Bassa County is, but right now, that county is likely to produce the next President. Standing with the no nonsense people of the great Bassa people and their county.

    • Mr. Davis,
      It looks like you are seriously against Bong County? Why?
      I believe this is my second time seeing statement against Bong County from you?
      You wrote:
      “As it stands, don’t see central Liberia candidate being elected as President, especially from Bong County”

      We should be uniting our people. Bong is not against anybody. All counties voted for President Weah.; they didn’t take his tribe against him.
      Gob bless.

        • Mr. Mulbah, which counties didn’t vote for Weah?
          Maybe Lofa didn’t because Boikai comes from Lofa?

      • The political leadership of Bong County is too divided to field one candidate and present that candidate to the rest of the country. There are some within the leadership of that county calling for one part of the county to divorce itself from the other part of the county. Bong County is too divisive to even hold the whole country together. The citizens of that with the level of corruption that led government to close its higher educational institutions was disgraceful both to the citizens and the political leadership. Bong County received more attention under the former regime than most other counties. This observation of James Davis is not a tribal thing or a George Weah thing. The political utterances that comes from some of the politicians of political leadership, ones only wonder what the Hell they saying. The latest is what coming from the office of the Vice President. Who is under constitutional obligation to assist the Presidency in its functions, will go public and say that she will not be bothered with this or that . Sure Bong County or Central Liberia is not ready. Don’t know if Grand Bassa is in Central Liberia, but if that county is, look up to that country for better leadership and stability. Not even considering Nimba County in this discussion. Bong County should had positioned itself as the next County in the waiting. But something is actually wrong with that county and its political leadership. Grand Bassa is it .

  5. Gbada Flomo, you seem so obsessed with EJS till you define legal political opposition as doing evil to Ellen. I wonder what would you say when the political parties go for convention to select one candidate from a pool of opposing candidates? Would you aver that opposition based on political ideology or axiom make candidates evil as a result of the contest? So Jewel going against Ellen made her Evil?

    Secondly you said Ellen turning Charles Taylor to the WCC was a matter of choice she had to make between Taylor and Liberia and of course she chose the latter. You are categorically wrong. Ellen chose Power (she craved for) over Charles Taylor (her foot soldier). Ellen’s only interest at the time was to protect her power. If it was another leader in power, Ellen would have chosen Taylor, like she did before.

    In the name of change Ellen orchestrated a war that destroyed over half the population and millions of dollars worth of properties, why did she not choose Liberia instead and prevent the war, knowing that the path to change she chose was never good for the country. In fact other neighboring countries like Sierra Leone and Ivory Coast were eventually affected.

    Its unfortunate to note that some folks are still committed to the euphoria that Ellen was all about Liberia. You better know that Ellen has always been a dirty politician. Pushed Prince Johnson to kill Thomas Sankara of Burkina Faso just to create a passage way to transport rebels to Liberia. She used the UP as a catalyst to propel her into power and after 12 years of leadership, she kicked the UP aside. You still have not learned anything from Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf yet?

    Lastly, Jewel suspended the officials of the LMA which was alleged to be unconstitutional. According the the report, the court stepped in and resolved the issue, therefore she should continue on with her duty.

    • Bobby, you are obsessed with Jewel to the extent of distorted history, is it possible for one individual to bring war on a whole country? That is what makes you a poor student of history, especially, Liberian Political History. Do you know what led to the civil crises in Liberia? it is the likes of you that are painting SKD to be a “Saint”. I did not say EJS was perfect, when someone is complaining about marginalization, I am relating their non-cooperation to other leaders that is haunting them today. When Blaise Compaore Killed his brother Thomas Sankara, in Burkina Faso, you blamed it on EJS? If you want to read about how Charles Taylor was turn over to the UN, ask me I will give you the document to read, not street gossips. Thanks.

  6. A wise person once said, ““And what physicians say about disease is applicable here: that at the beginning a disease is easy to cure but difficult to diagnose; but as time passes, not having been treated or recognized at the outset, it becomes easy to diagnose but difficult to cure. The same thing occurs in affairs of state; for by recognizing from afar the diseases that are spreading in the state (which is a gift given only to a prudent ruler), they can be cured quickly; but when they are not recognized and are left to grow to the extent that everyone recognizes them, there is no longer any cure.”

    VP Taylor, problems in Liberia are bigger than disagreements you have with The Coalition For Democratic Change (CDC).

    Problems in Liberia are mostly structural/systemic than weak leadership problems. Not until all Liberians demand structural changes in our weak system of government, Liberia will continue to lack in every facet of political, social, and economic developments.

    The will, know-how, competency, zeal, and creativity to restructure our poorly implemented political, social and economic system, that will help us revitalize the weak national economy and develop a viable social structure, have been put on the back burner. At the same, there exists a perpetual political struggle for power, fame and riches which takes precedence among the hierarchies (government officials) in Liberia.

    There are too many semi-autonomous associations like the Liberia Marketing Associations (LMA) that have no business of self-regulating (collecting fines/taxes, and garbage). Government is losing tax revenue to unscrupulous market association leaders.

    Why is the city government not regulating those entities like the LMA? Where is the health ministry to inspect these markets for contaminated food? Where is the city waste management system that is responsible for trash collection? Are these entities not functioning in Liberia? If not, then structural changes are needed.

    Yes indeed, the V.P. presides over the senate and cast a tie breaking vote in the senate. However, the V.P. serves at the discretion of the President and the president can give the V.P. certain functionaries. Due to budgetary constraint, it is wise that austerity measures are put across the entire government entities (except emergency services) and not only the V.P. office which seems like a personal vendetta against the V.P. to force her out of the current administration.

    It is beneficial for all Liberians to maintain the peace. No nation prospers in the midst of political instability. There is an urgent need to scrutinize our entire system and make structural changes for it to benefit all Liberians: Liberians and blacks in the diaspora. Ghana has opened its door for economic development by welcoming all blacks in the diaspora (THE YEAR OF RETURN); while Liberia is closing its door to Liberians in diaspora.

    Big Corrupt Government and Big Debts are not the answer to solve Liberia’s economic problems. Small/Smart, Less Corrupt Government, Peace, and Small Debts are the keys in removing the shackles of political and economic oppression in Liberia.

    V.P. Taylor, remember, “United we (Liberians) stand, divided we (Liberians) fall.” Let unity be our strength in Liberia!!!

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