By Kadiker Rex Dahn, MA, M.Ed, PhD
On May 18, 2019, President Weah nominated several individuals in various ministries and agencies in government. One of those agencies, in which our attention is drawn, is the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL.) The CBL, as we know of recent, has been besieged by claims of systemic flaws, corruption and incompetence. President Weah concurred with critics when he announced to the nation that Governor Nathaniel Patray, and those appointed there were not up to task and thus accepted the resignation of Deputy Governor, Mounir Siaplay.
Those nominated by President Weah as a new team to lead the CBL included: Timothy Thomas, James Dennis, Richard Dolley, Nyemadi Pearson and Musa Dukuly. We wonder whether these new nominees are the best economists with proven records that can ably revive the Liberian economy or these nominees are yet another cohort of friends, acquaintances, relatives and partisans? We also wonder whether, one year from now, President Weah will not claim in another address to the nation that these individuals are again not up to task?
The purpose of this article is twofold: first remind the President that he was not truthful in his pronouncement to the Liberian people on recruitment at CBL and second, President Weah missed a golden opportunity to correct previous errors of regional or geographical nepotism, partisanship, friendship and social connections at the detriment of competency and competition.
In President Weah’s May 29 pre-recorded address to the nation, he told Liberians that appointments at CBL would be competitive and encouraged qualified Liberians to apply. The President stated: “The new CBL leadership will be recruited by a vetting committee to be established shortly. Any qualified Liberian interested in becoming a part of this new leadership team may submit applications to the vetting committees, whether resident in Liberia or abroad, and regardless of gender or political affiliation. Meanwhile, I will announce a new Board of Governors next week.”
The President’s statement and actions are incongruous. We said incongruous because the vetting processes were done in secret and not public as the President made us think and believe. We thought President Weah could have taken complete leadership of this recruitment process and ensure that competent and qualified Liberians were considered. We ask, who were members of the vetting committee? Were integrity institutions represented on the vetting committee to ensure that best brains with impeccable financial records were considered? Were there public service announcements on various radio stations and in newspapers as it relates to the recruitment? Is there proof to show that the process was open, free and fair or, again, was this another recruitment based mainly on geographical, partisan, tribal and social connections? We ask, are those that the President’s “vetting committee” vetted the best financial brains in Liberia to redeem us from this economic enslavement or, as is always the case, would the President again shoot himself in the legs by condemning these very individuals he and his team have personally vetted?
What actually is the difference, if any, between the outgoing leadership of the Central Bank and those that are coming in? Certainly, we know that the outgoing has been accused of malfeasance, systemic flaws, corruption and inability to deliver. Yet, the outgoing, like the incoming, passed through the office of the President, which is quick on passing judgment on appointees. If the vetting did not take place to correct the ills from the past selection, as we tend to believe, the economic woes will continue and the question would not be about President Weah’s appointees’ inability to deliver, but on the President’s preparedness, critical and analytical ability to recruit competent and qualified individuals to help in the governance process. Also, if honest vetting did not take place, citizens would begin to doubt President Weah’s honesty in addressing the nation’s problems. What is also disturbing is the inability of His Excellency, President Weah to honor his own timetable.
The President on May 29 announced that in one week, the new leadership of CBL will be announced. The President kept the nation waiting and wondering and that did not happen as he pronounced. Instead, it took 20 days for the President to actualize his promise. Here, we maintain that when citizens begin to doubt their leaders with respect to telling the truth, it becomes a conduit where respect will be diminished. When a President speaks, citizens listen and, if what the President says is not acted immediately upon, again we say it is a recipe for distrust, because when citizens begin to distrust their leaders, it equally paves the way for disenchantment.
A moral philosopher once said, “Trust and integrity are precious resources easily squandered, but hard to regain.” Also, progressive father, Togba Nah Tipoteh, once said, “The worst crime a government can ever commit is to lie to the people.” We wonder why, in his address to the the nation, the President said one week, and actions were not taken until 20 days later? We wonder why it was pronounced to the nation of a competitive recruitment process, and only to know that it was done under the canopy of darkness and secrecy? Is the government under the watch of His Excellency George Weah in the Poro and Sande societies, where it now functions in secrecy? Where is the good governance embedded in transparency as enshrined in the African Peer Review Mechanism? Our prayer and anticipation is for trust and integrity to accompany the Presidency of Liberia.
In this article, we expressed doubts on the recruitment process carried out by President Weah and his team. We expressed doubts because of the President’s inability to make the recruitment process transparent and competitive to have the best financial brains in Liberia to take over the leadership of CBL. We do not know of any tangible financial records these new nominees to the CBL have set to serve as a reference and reliance. Instead, it seems compelling to us until proven wrong that most, if not all of those named, were named because of social connections and not experts with proven financial records to deliver us from the economic evil that has engulfed Liberia.
We also expressed doubt on the President’s inability to honor his own timetable of one week, but instead acted on his pronouncement 20 days later. Be as it may, we maintain those that President Weah has nominated, and eventually will be confirmed and appointed are not best financial brains in Liberia. We wonder whether these nominees were the highest bidders or perhaps passed through the lenses of regional or geographical connections, partisanship, friendship and social connections and not experts in the field of finance as we have been made to think and believe? If affirmative, President Weah has missed a golden opportunity to correct the errors of the past. With such broad daylight mockery, one could be naive to entertain a call for dialogue. THEREFORE, IT SEEMS TO US THAT THERE IS NO NEED FOR THE ECONOMIC DIALOGUE, BECAUSE “THE VETTING COMMITTEE MAY HAVE DRILLED THESE NOMINEES,” AND BECAME CONVINCED OF THEIR ABILITIES AND COMPETENCE TO REVIVE THE ECONOMY.
About the author: Kadiker Rex Dahn holds two masters and a PhD in Historical, Philosophical and Social Foundations of Education from the University of Oklahoma. He formerly served as a Deputy Minister of Education and Deputy Director General, National Commission on Higher Education. He is a member of the North America Scholar Consortium, membership with the Highest Honor. Contact: [email protected]