Couple of years ago, an obscured Liberian health practitioner George Werner, saw and thrust himself into the orifice of Liberia politic as a low level civil servant at Liberia Civil Service Agency (CSA).
Mr. Werner, like many Liberians, who left the shores of the once burgeoning Liberia when the nation was plunged into self-destruction, returned home after "pursuing successful careers" to contribute his quota to Liberia; a tiny West African nation emerging out of a blood pool of civil strife.
Upon his descent on home soil, he was quickly swamped by the frustration of working in Liberia, the slow pace and "don’t care attitude". The nation fraught with the ghost of the civil war had yet to dust itself up and embark on a whole new epoch of development and prosperity. The education sector like virtually every fabric of the society, which was downgraded by years of conflict, remained in tatters and was simmering in the abyss due to poor planning and poor policy decisions on the part of stakeholders.
Despite the frustration, George plunged himself into a lecturing position at the Catholic-run Stella Maris Polythenic- molding minds for “Leadership and service” hence contributing his quota to the nation anemic education sector.
Before his arrival on home, the Liberian bilateral scholarship was run by the Scholarship Department at the Ministry of Education. The system at the Education Ministry was replete with bribery and corruption. Even though there were exams for awarding scholarship, many reports had it that the biggest bidders were the ones arrogated the scholarships.
This plagued the two branches of Government until President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf formed an Inter-Ministerial Scholarship Committee headed by Robtel Pailey, one of the world's rising young foreign policy tsars, a Liberian clean slate; and author of the acclaimed novel —-Gbagba- to lead the new committee with George playing second fiddle to her.
Following few months of occupying their new portfolios, the committee saw a revolution and overhauling of the scholarship scheme as they formulated new policies in awarding scholarship based on merit and increased allowance of Liberian students abroad.
Prior to their appointment and even today, There are a lot of talks of President Sirleaf thrusting American Educated in government at the expense of locally educated Liberians, who go through rigorous humiliation for education in the rough terrain of Liberia -battered by endless protests by students at various campuses of higher education.
However, while on a visit to Education Ministry, I engaged in discussions with the Ministry head of scholarship- as we hobbled on. He muttered: “The children from America know how to manipulate the system and get their way.” Just that -I think in this case Robtel and George manipulated the system for the better to cater to the welfare of Liberian students and land scholarship to deserving students. His dispensation- led me to think he is out of touch with reality and only corroborating what have been said of the fraud at the scholarship committee under the Ministry of Education.
Fast forward, Robtel would later go on to Britain for further education hence thrusting George into the limelight.
When I first met George at the time he was still a fiddle tactician to Robtel, as expected, with my awful pronunciation which used to send utter annoyance through the spine of Kenneth Y. Best (KYB)- I struggled to pronounce George’s surname (Werner).
As he tortured me on how to rightly pronounce his surname name, he made the horrible mistake of telling me the origin of his surname. He remarked: "It is a German name". That got me pissed because we are trying to find our place and identity in the galaxy. I felt it was troubling to hear a senior brother muttering such verbiage.
Though I despise his utterance of Werner been German, George is certainly displaying an aura of German discipline, creativity and industry ever since taking over the Scholarship Committee and now as head of the Liberia Civil Service Agency (CSA), giving a bout of hope and inspiring many young Liberians.
Where he has lacked the German character is the myth that German are humorless because anyone who met George will attest that though the Liberian German chap is of the Jesus belief, he enjoys our vulgar and permissive society of rude jokes and free expression and that might be one reason while he is being successful at his jobs.
Recently, it was amazing to hear President Sirleaf has named George Werner Health Minister-designate to replace the anemic Dr. Walter Traub Gwenigale. This is a tough position even more so when the country is experiencing the scourge of Ebola. George, who was recently christened the human Ebola has now been given the lead role to purge the lethal virus out of the country.
As the Daily Observer noted in its editorial: “The New Minister’s Next Challenge Is to Develop a Master Plan for the Rebuilding of Liberia’s Entire Healthcare Delivery System. This must ensure that modern hospitals are built in places where they do not yet exist, including Grand Gedeh, River Gee, Grand Kru, River Cess and Sinoe Counties. And where they do exist, the hospitals must be seriously revamped and modern equipment installed, including specialized equipment for radiology, dialyses, heart, dental surgery and ophthalmology procedures, to list a few”.
When he is confirmed by the Liberian Senate, George will also need to set up a robust Nutritional, Herbal and Alternative sector in the Health Delivery system. As someone who is battling ailment for ages now, I have taken affinity to novel herbal and alternative medicine which has given me a shriek of relief. Liberia is blessed with a raft of rain forest and great trees, flowers, which possess powerful medicinal properties that could be used to poach diseases.
I am not against conventional medicine but as we all know Pharmaceutical companies have been raiding nature ladders for years and it will be great were George to formulate a program to support and train young Liberians in the discipline of Alternative and herbal medicines.
This will not only aid our health sector, it will provide income for Liberians and contribute to the country Ecosystem as more flowers, trees, and herbs will be grown. Another area, The new Health Minister could concentrate on is to set up special scholarship scheme at the Ministry of Health pen agreements with most Scandinavian countries which have Free universal tertiary education that will ensure health workers and medical students get education in a whole host of areas in the medical field.
This is a critical juncture in our nation’s history especially for the health sector- and with the outpouring of good will from friendly nations, we should not let this window of opportunity shut down without making the proper and perennial changes to our health care system.
It is our hope the Legislature will rescind their earlier decision thus confirming George for the position.