President’s ‘birthday reshuffle’ has many wondering about the wisdom behind his choices
President George Manneh, on his 54th Birth anniversary, announced the names of some Cabinet Ministers and other appointees to take on new posts in his government following confirmations by the Liberian Senate where applicable. Many of those announced are the same officials serving in previous capacities in his government — a reshuffling, so to speak.
The wisdom behind Weah’s decision to reshuffle, as announced on his birthday (October 1, 2020) is yet to be known; however, it appears that the President has selected to reward those appointed for some reasons.
One of the said reshuffled officials is Professor Wilson Tarpeh, who has been nominated to head the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), even though he has no background in environmental studies or the equivalent.
Tarpeh, the outgoing Minister of Commerce, is an accountant by profession with vast experience and knowledge in finance. Sources tell the Daily Observer that he was at one time or another considered by President Weah to head the Ministry of Finance and the Central Bank of Liberia but was later assigned at the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. So why would the esteemed professor be asked to head EPA?
Some believe it is a demotion. We think not so.
The position of Executive Director appears to be a low profile portfolio only as far as the funding reaches. However, compared to the post of Minister, it is more or less on par and has an upper hand be virtue of it being an autonomous agency. But with GCF’s US$100 million grant committed to the EPA, it appears that Prof. Tarpeh is the best-suited government official to manage said financial portfolio.
The money is said to have been committed to the EPA through the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) to implement three projects, namely: the climate information system, integrated agricultural eco-tourism, and Monrovia’s metropolitan climate resilience, respectively. The third project, costing approximately $40 million, aims to address the problem of coastal erosion in the community of West Point, a slum off the coast of Monrovia. The integrated agricultural eco-tourism project is one such project, which the Board of Directors of the GCF is expected to focus on when its members meet for their 28th meeting in December this year. All three projects, however, would require formal approval by the GCF.
Mawine G. Diggs, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, has been picked by President Weah to succeed Prof. Wilson Tarpeh at the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
Diggs comes with experience from the diplomacy and it is expected that she will use that skill to pursue Liberia’s agenda at the level of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and other regional and international trade bodies, creating opportunities for Liberian SMEs to thrive beyond the country’s borders.
It is a known fact that some or many diplomats accredited to Liberia have trade policies that can benefit Liberia through partnerships, concessions and other economic opportunities.
And, considering the business community, mainly high profile businesses owned and controlled by many foreign nationals, including Lebanese and Indians, Diggs might bring a new dimension, tapping into trade diplomacy to help the government realize some of its development goals.
Although it is unclear what may happen in the long run, Diggs was one of the top officials at the Foreign Affairs Ministry accused by at-large former passport director, Andrew Wonplo, of being involved in the alleged sales of Liberian diplomatic passports to non-Liberians.
The new appointment list which was released yesterday morning, October 1, also has Information Minister Lenn Eugene Nagbe transitioning to the helm of the Liberia Maritime Authority (LMA), a lucrative position as compared to the former.
Nagbe who stayed on as Information Minister since the last few years of former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf into the first three years of President George Weah, has arrived at a point that he is now been rewarded for his consistency in defending the agendas of both administrations. Some members of the Liberian media have found him to be rather abrasive in dealing with the press, and might be glad to see him go. Truth be told, the dapper-clad minister has been looking forward to sliding into his new portfolio for a while.
Succeeding Nagbe at MICAT is the Director-General of the cash-strapped Liberia Broadcasting System (LBS), Ledgerhood Julius Rennie, while Rennie’s Deputy for Administration, Estella Liberty Kermoh, has been elevated to the helm of the state broadcaster.
Rennie has been struggling to keep ELBC running simply due to its underfunding by the government, but at the Information Ministry, he he will still have to push for funding to make MICAT run as efficiently as it should, including the Cultural Affairs and Tourism departments. The appointment of Mr. Rennie may come with an opportunity that, as a media executive with a more empathetic disposition toward the press, he could help shift the dynamics and politics between the Liberian media and the Weah Administration.
At the National Public Health Institute of Liberia (NPHIL) Jane Macculay has been appointed as Director-General.
Crucial among the issues raised by the investigative team were that Dr. Mosoka Fallah did not provide proper oversight on the management of COVID-19 test results and, as a result, there were missteps including the issuance of COVID-free travel certificates to people who did not deserve them, while others were said to have been denied certificates, even though their earlier results showed that they were negative.
Others appointed are, Prince K. Vincent, Deputy Minister for operations, Ministry of National Defense; Debra Nebo, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Commerce and Industry; and Comfort Sawyer, Deputy Minister for Administration at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Tarnue Marwolo Bongolee was appointed to serve as Assistant Minister for Planning at the Ministry of Education, while Hannah Macculay Karbo has been named by President Weah to serve the post of Deputy Minister for Manpower Development at the Ministry of Labor.
Also on the list are Binta Nah Jalloh, Deputy Director, National Security Agency (NSA); Marcus Zehyuoue, Director-General of Liberia Drug Enforcement Agency (LDEA); Atty. George H. Dahn, Commissioner, Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC); and Atty. Lecrezia Thomas Anderson, Judge, Juvenile Court, Montserrado County.