Weah to Unveil Plan of Action?

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Ahead of his address to the nation today concerning the COVID-19 pandemic, President Weah (left) has appoint Mary Broh (middle) and Finda Bundoo (right) to lead the effort

Latest appointments foreshadow COVID-19 strategy

As Liberia records 14 coronavirus cases so far, President George Weah is expected to address the nation today at noon to provide updates on the country’s fight against the coronavirus.

The President, who has not spoken to the nation since March 16, when he announced the country’s first index case, will speak at a time when health authorities have failed to adequately track those who came in contact with infected COVID-19 patients, owing to lack of robust political, logistical and financial support.

So far, of the 14 cases recorded, 12 are locally transmitted and six of the twelve have no epidemiological linkage to the country’s index case.

However, these numbers are expected to rise soon as health authorities await second tests on nearly a dozen already tested positive after one test. Two positive tests are required before an announcement is made.

According to Information Minister Eugene Nagbe, the President’s remarks which will be broadcast live today, will address “the nation on the status of the country’s fight against the Coronavirus disease” and explain about “the different efforts of our national response strategy.”

Min. Nagbe’s remark came less than two days after a group of influential Civil Society Organizations working on democracy, governance and accountability called on the President to show leadership if Liberians are to emerge victorious out of this crisis.

“At the moment, we are not seeing the level of leadership, coordination; community engagement and timely information sharing that characterized the fight against Ebola,” the group, through its spokesperson, Anderson  Miamen, said. “Therefore, we wish to call on the government to build on existing structures and resources used during the fight against the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) to save resources and timely eradicate the virus.”

The President expected speech also follows reports that the government is planning a to impose a state of emergency as an additional measure to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease and the lockdown on Montserrado and Margibi counties, the current hotspots of the disease, to break the chain of transmission that is surging at a seemingly uncontrollable rate.

Appoint Mary Broh to Enhance Gov’t Coronavirus Response

And in a bid to allay public fear and show his government’s seriousness to fight the coronavirus, the President has appointed the Director-General of General Services Agency, Mary Taryonnoh Broh, to serve as the National Response Coordinator for the Executive Committee on Coronavirus (ECOC) in Liberia.

In this role, according to a release from the Executive Mansion, Madam Broh will provide supervision toward a single set of national strategic objectives for defeating the Coronavirus disease and coordinate the National COVID-19 multi-sectorial response plan, in coordination with the United Nations (UN), donor partners, Ministry of Health and National Public Health Institute of Liberia (NPHIL).

Madam Broh, who is widely respected for her effectiveness in public service and is no stranger to controversy, has transformed many functionaries of government including sanitation in the city of Monrovia, administration of passports and birth certificates, the National Port Authority, as well as the General Services Agency, where she is in charge of national fixed assets. In all these positions, Madam Broh was hailed by Liberians for performing her task with due diligence and efficiency.

However, the President has also appointed Finda Bundoo, who is the current Presidential Chief of Protocol, as National Compliance Manager of ECOC, a position which many Liberians have said was created for the President to have his eye on Madam Broh, who is a close associate of former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and the erstwhile ruling Unity Party.

According to the release, Madam Bundoo, “is charged with the responsibility of monitoring the overall allocation and disbursement of the response logistics and resources and, in consultation with the National Response Coordinator, she will ensure timely delivery and accounting for supplies directed to the fight against Coronavirus in the country.”

“Both appointments, which have a term of nine months, became necessary following recommendations made by the United Nations, in particular the World Health Organization, which were aimed at further enhancing the national response as cases begin to spike,” the release said. “It is also based on a decision from a consultative meeting held between the Special Presidential Advisory Committee on Coronavirus and partners.”

Madam Bundoo once worked as an aide to former President Charles Taylor. Since her appointment as chief of presidential protocol, she has been involved in a lot of controversies, one of which led to the suspension of Jones Blamo, Deputy Director of the National Security Agency for “time indefinite” by President Weah, for arguing with the powerful and influential Chief of Protocol.

Also, Madam Bundoo, whose financial management background and experience is unknown, has had as many run-ins with people in and out of government, including having been accused of land grabbing and harassment.

These are no doubt two strong-willed women and it remains to be seen how they would get along. According to the Executive Mansion, Mesdames Broh and Bundoo are required to liaise with health authorities on the Incident Management Team and heed their counsel, where necessary.

“The appointees will report directly to the President,” the release said. “During the discussions, a decision was made to move away from the current system of advisory and consultative meetings to operational and community-oriented outreach. Both persons have the full support and backing of the UN.”

Editor’s note: Robin Dopoe contributed to this story.

Author

  • Anthony Kokoi is a young Liberian sports writer who has an ever-growing passion for the development of the game of football (soccer) and other sports. For the past few years, he has been passionately engaged in reporting the developments of the game in the country. He is an associate member of the Sports Writers Association of Liberia (SWAL). He is a promoter of young talents. He also writes match reports and makes an analysis of Liberian Football.

3 COMMENTS

  1. It seems that they have appointed two bulldozers. People who like to speak and give orders rather than listen to expert advise and allow proper discussion. Although the Corona crisis requires a robust strategy, it also needs to be an intelligent and well informed set of measures at the appropriate time. Too much and too hard is also damaging to society. It will be a constant delicate equilibrium of the minimum what needs to be done and the maximum that should be done. Economy and livelihoods against health issues. Death by virus against death by starvation. Are the appointed the right people to find the right middle way?

  2. George to unveil plan of action, but what that plan of action will consist of financially as a commitment of the regime to fight the virus is what the nation would like to know. Since it seemed that lockdown is the common and easy agreement, the planned action from George must include services distribution centers in every community that is being affected by the lockdown. The role of the Red Cross, community leaders , churches and venues where distribution centers are located. This is not and must be seen as a way to recruit friends and family members for employment opportunities or purposes. Services have to be brought to the communities. It seemed everyone is calling for a public lockdown, but are failing to present the other ideas what to do about the communities that are in a lockdown. What coordinations are there , and through what agencies apart from the hand pick unprofessional team that lacks coordination capabilities as it relates to both urban and communities lifestyle. It is easy to say everyone stay home or else. It is easy to carry out a total shutdown, or else. But where does the community in the lockdown goes from there ? They want to know. How much is the regime of George willing to spend ? They want to know. In all of this called for a total shutdown or lockdown, children are also involved. They too want to know about their welfare. About transparency and accountability of funds, the World Health Organization and the World Bank, they too want to know . Come on George, tell the nation about your plan for action, the nation too wants to know. Lay it out there George, lay it out there, your leadership demands that. Everyone calling for a total lockdown with security forces every where, is the easy part. Getting services to the people and children are what they want to know about in the plan for action.

  3. James David

    Very good Mr. David. Your suggestions sound like some of the ones recommended by the renown Dr. Chris Nyan. He recommended that any measures taken by the government to combat the pandemic should be combined with food and other humanitarian assistance.

    However, here is the question: Is Weah’s government prepared to spend the money in order to allay the impact of this crisis? People could die in their homes thus exacerbating the problem.

    When the issues of the missing 16 bln LD’s and 25 mln USD’s came about, many Liberians particularly those under the Weah’s CDC camp became defensive of him, and they sought avenues to produce some of the flimsiest and most irrational explanations for why such funds got missing out of the national coffers in the midst of the many prevailing challenges facing the citizens. Little did Weah and his coterie of CDC doctrinaire foresee that no superpowers or individual nations will be more interested in the affairs of other nations than the affairs of their own nations.

    Now, the true test of time has arrived. Citizens of all walks of life are calling on the president not to only move decisively, but he should move with the same lightening speed, action, and bravado with which he built the magnificent mansions and bought the private jet while the average citizens perish under backbreaking labor and strenuous living conditions.

    If he could undertake those none essential, private projects in no time, they also expect him to find the monies to help the poor masses as they go through these tragic times. All over West Africa, stories are being heard of heroic deeds and sacrifices made during these tragic times by other leaders of the region in providing tax relief, letting their some of their compensations go, and raising the salaries of health care workers.

    And with the amount of wealth Weah has accumulated in such a short time of being in office, he cannot convinced anybody that he cannot make the least sacrifice at this time to lessen some of the financial burden this pandemic is starting to wreak on the less fortunate of the country.

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