Cletus Segbe Wotorson, former President Pro Tempore of the Liberian Senate last December honorably retired from the Senate and other active governmental posts after serving the country within the public sector for 62 years.
His journey to the Capitol Building started in 2005 when he ran for the Senate seat in his native county of Grand Kru and won.
In 2009, he was elected Pro Tempore of the Senate, a position he held up to the 2011 general and Presidential Elections, but because of ill health that kept him in the United States, Senator Wotorson did not contest the post in 2012, and rather supported former Grand Bassa Senator Gbehzohngar Findley.
Due to his rich educational background especially as Liberia’s only geophysicist, Sen. Wotorson was appointed to chair the Senate Committee on Lands, Mines, Energy and Environment, and during his term, the Senate ratified some oil block deals.
The former senator started his journey through the corridors of government from the 1950s.
From the 1950s to the time of his retirement, Senator Wotorson rose to several positions both in government and the public sector, such as Assistant Professor of Geology & Geophysics at the University of Liberia; Director, Liberian Geological Survey (1973–1975); Founder & President, West Africa Consultants (1975–1978), Minister of Lands & Mines, Government of Liberia (1978–1980), Chairman Liberian Petroleum Refinery Company (1978–1980), Chairman & CEO – Liberian Petroleum Refinery Company (1980–1983) and President, Nimba Mining Company (1988–1990).
Senator Wotorson was born on March 13, 1937 in Grandcess, Grand Kru County unto the union of Gabriel Sio Wotorson, a farmer and petty trader, and Agnes Glasnoti Chieh, a housewife.
The second of six children, young Wotorson came to Monrovia at age 13, where he slept on the bare floors, carried water and firewood on his head, scrubbed and polished floors and spread piassava just to survive.
For those who have known and interacted with him over the years, ‘He is seen as an example of a good and model citizen who was determined to succeed, and worked his way up in life.’
A practicing Catholic whose faith and religious orientation has shaped his personality, Mr. Wotorson is a champion of freedom of religion. During his youthful years Mr. Wotorson married Adelaide McGill from Clay Ashland and had three children, Snoti, Munah and Sima, and he is currently married to Cianna Sherman from Robertsport, Grand Cape Mount and has two children, Sio and Wehti.
His close friends who come from diverse backgrounds and all levels of the socio-economic strata, can readily vouch that he has a compassionate concern for people and has a depth of human decency; social justice, truth and fair play characterizes his interaction with all levels of people, especially the youth and their advancement in life.
Former Senator Wotorson’s humble background did not dampen his resolve to strive for excellence, believing that quality education is the foundation for nation building, and therefore, should be accessible to all at affordable costs.
St. Patrick’s Elementary School in Grandcess and St. Patrick’s High School in Monrovia where he graduated as valedictorian served as the foundation to his educational sojourn. He matriculated to the Michigan Technological University in Houghton, United States where he earned his Bachelor’s degree in Geology in the upper 3% of the class. He also holds a Master’s degree in Geology and Geophysics from the Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut.
Still further in higher education, Sen. Wotorson attended a social course in Public Enterprise Management at Harvard University in Boston, Massachusetts, and earned a certificate from Walstrom’s School of Formation Evaluation, Chevron Oil Company, San Francisco, California, and has published thirteen professional papers.
At the Geological Survey of the Ministry of Lands, Mines and Energy, Mr. Wotorson initiated the first contact with counterpart earth scientists and engineers at the Ivorian Geological Survey for joint technical collaboration, thus the birth of a minerals joint commission, the precursor of the Grand Liberian/Ivorian Joint Commission.
Mr. Wotorson’s Geophysical interpretation of the survey offshore Liberia in collaboration with his counterpart from the United States Geological Survey Dr. John Behrendt led to the first systematic oil exploration activities in Liberia, netting the Government of Liberia initial benefits of over three (3) million dollars from signature bonuses alone, not to mention the ancillary benefits of jobs for Liberians.
As Minister of Lands, Mines and Energy, Mr. Wotorson helped to secure a loan of five million dollars (US$5m) on behalf of Government to interpret, digitize and re-interpret all geophysical data in Liberia.
Mr. Wotorson instituted a minerals qualification program to assist potential investors in reaching investment decisions. He further reorganized and systematized the licensing of alluvial claims, and helped to secure the first crude oil contract with Saudi Arabia for the energy needs of Liberia.
In the 1970s and 1980s, Mr. Wotorson helped to establish the Liberia Petroleum Refinery Company where he served as Chairman and CEO.
“I am resigning as Senator, but I will remain active and will speak out in matters that concern the welfare of the common man,” he says.
In his last days at the Senate, Mr. Wotorson spoke highly on the need to empower and encourage Liberian entrepreneurs through the granting of loans with low interests.
Already, his colleagues at the Senate, Legislative journalists and visitors to the Senate are missing his entertaining command of words.
On Friday, March 13, at his retirement green top residence in Brewerville Community, dozens of friends and well-wishers joined him in celebrating his first natal day as a private citizen.