Continuous Violations of Established Protocols by Pres. Weah: Is it a Deliberate Public Challenge or Mere Ignorance? (Part One)

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By Kadiker Rex Dahn, MA, M.Ed, PhD

Background

President Weah needs help with some of his decisions, especially those ones that have to do with appointments and dismissals of officials of the government.

When we speak of help, we are telling the President that whenever he is about to appoint or dismiss any appointed officials, he needs to consult trusted individuals not those, who will simply say yes. Based on that honest advice, the President will make an informed decision whether such appointment or dismissal is in line with established laws or protocols.

We will argue in this article that with what we have known thus far since his incumbency, President George Weah is prone to making errors as it relates to appointments and dismissals.

His decisions on these two issues are almost always questionable and demonstrate a level of un-sophistication. It seems to us that those errors are mainly based on mere ignorance, and the don’t care attitude.

Since I am an academician and interested in education, part one of this article will deal with education.

Discussions

Few weeks ago, President Weah dismissed Dr. Ophelia Weeks, President of the University of Liberia, and then appointed Dr. Julius Nelson to replace her in flagrant violation of an established protocol.

Usually as is the case, when there exists a vacancy at the University of Liberia, and other public colleges, a search committee is constituted to vet individuals qualified for the position.

In all these exercises, the Search Committee is keen on qualification and competence. The Search Committee after completion of its mandates, recommend to the Board of Trustees at least three names of qualified and competent persons for the position.

Usually, because politics can be a factor in such process, and not to put the Appointing Power in a box, the Board will submit to the President at least a minimum of three names where the President will have the leverage to select one.

This in part, are some of the protocols in recruiting qualified and competent individuals.

Sadly, since the ascendancy of President Weah as President of Liberia, all decisions regarding established protocols are no longer considered.

The appointment of Dr. Nelson without the initial involvement of the Board of Trustees was a major administrative blunder on the part of the President.

We know that Dr. Nelson is the President’s kinsman, and at all cost, wants to bring him at the University of Liberia.

Granted that the President wants to appease his kinsman! We wonder whether the President really knows the academic level, and competence of this kinsman in question?

Granted that Nelson once served as a Dean, but does that qualified him to be President of the University of Liberia? What we know thus far about Dr. Nelson’s records, we maintain he is not that academically qualified to be a president of the University of Liberia (UL).

We want to remind the President that the UL is a reservoir of knowledge, and almost all past presidents of the University, including Ophelia Weeks have earned terminal degrees with scholarships and sophistication embedded.

There are other well educated people from the Southeastern region since the presidency is entrenched with ethnicity that could be nominated, and eventually appointed as the President of the University of Liberia. If our proposition is true that the University is a reservoir of knowledge; we expect the President, who is the torchbearer to be academically inclined.

Such a president will be extending an invitation for our young people to join him/her at the end of the academic tunnel.

In our opinion, this is not the case with Dr. Nelson. What Nelson has is not an actual academic degree. It is a restricted doctorate intended for people, who want to be in a church ministry.

According to Union Theological Seminary’s website, the seminary Dr. Nelson is a product of, the highest degree is the Doctor of Ministry.

The seminary website states, “The Doctor of Ministry (Dmin) is a professional degree in the practice of (Church) ministry.”

In our opinion, the UL is not a church ministry, but an academy where rigorous scholarship and excellence are honored. What is seriously and equally disturbing is the conduct of the Board of Trustees of the UL. This current Board of Trustees under Sister Mary Laurene is Browne is an embarrassment, because of its acquiescence to President Weah’s deliberate challenge to established protocols.

Another excuse would be that there was an in-house discussion with the President even though he was  procedurally wrong for his action, but we let things go.

In our opinion, should that be the case, we term it as self-defeatism at the highest level. For Sister Mary Laurene Browne, known for her rigidity and honesty arms to be twisted in the twinkling of an eye to give in to  George Weah’s constant habit of undermining education is disturbing.

Not just Sister Mary Laurene Browne, but there are others, I mean well-meaning Liberians, who could have protested, and even resigned for such disrespect and blatant challenge to established protocols. With the Board of Trustees approbation, and appointment of Dean Nelson, we maintain that education at the UL is moribund, and just awaiting burial.

We equally wonder what Wilson Tarpeh and Ansu Sonii, who once worked for the University and current members of President Weah’s cabinet, said to the President with respect to Nelson’s qualification and competence? Something is inherently wrong in Liberia.

The current Board of Trustees at the UL is weak, sick and dead. We expect the alumni to forcefully weigh in.

President Weah’s continuous violations of established protocols can also be seen in the nomination and appointment of one Alvin Wesseh, Assistant of Research and Planning at the Ministry of Agriculture.

It can be recalled that this Alvin Wesseh was once a student (Sophomore) at the UL, and was expelled for bad behavior through legal means.

He went to court to compel the UL to reinstate him, but the Court upheld the University’s decision of expulsion. This student in question transferred to a mushroom university, and was given admission.

President Weah knowing all of these things, nominated and eventually appointed the man Wesseh as an Assistant Minister for Research at the Ministry of Agriculture. What are his qualifications that a sitting president can appoint such a person as a research officer?

Certainly, it is under George Weah and his presidency. The President’s actions in ignoring the University’s decision against Wesseh, as well as that of the Court undermines and demonstrates President Weah’s continuous violations of established protocols without any compunction.

Conclusion

One of the dangers of ignoring established protocols, is that when those who have arbitrarily been selected for appointment do not perform, the culpability is on the President. Some of us do not like the office of the President and the President to be mocked and ridiculed.

It is in this vein, President Weah must learn to listen and take in advice. The president does have advisors, many of them have legal knowledge on all of these issues under discussion.

We wonder whether these advisors are really advising the President, and the President too, on the other hand is not listening or simply, they too are not performing and just want this president to fail?

Sadly, this is how President Weah has been appointing individuals as president of public universities and colleges. There is  serious confusion emanating from the Office of the President, and the onus is on him to do the right thing in accordance with established laws and protocols.

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 Deputy Minister of Education and Deputy Director General, National Commission on Higher Education. He is an author of the Book, “Learning from the Lives of Exiled Liberian Women: An Oral History from 1979-2006.” He is also a member of the North America Scholar Consortium, membership with the Highest Honor. Contact: [email protected]

13 COMMENTS

  1. If mistakes are made by anybody, the courts should be the ones to correct those errors. Take your cases to the courts; does not matters who it is against.
    We are all learning the democratic processes; take you cases to the courts.
    Lets correct each other?

  2. Liberians shouldn’t be surprised of president George Weah behaviour towards the university and other educational institutions in Liberia. In one of the president public speech, he told the audience that, Liberia was not about education but how to get your needs and wants. Now is there any chance for president Weah to really put education first? I will say no because he see it different since he is not an academician or scholar. He is a professional footballer or soccer player and even in his presidency, don’t respect the executive surrounding considering the things he still engaged in as president of our republic.

  3. Dear Dr. Dahn,
    For your reading pleasure, let me paste an excerpt of a piece of work by Woodrow Lucas

    He Who Knows Not
    An ancient proverb states that he who knows, and knows that he knows, he is
    wise follow him,
    But how do we know that he knows? And knows the fact that he knows, and
    once we know that, then we know and know that we know, so why follow him?

    He also states that he who knows and knows not that he knows, he is
    uninformed inform him,
    But how are we to inform him, unless we know and know that we know, for if we
    don’t we are in no great position to inform him than to inform ourselves?

    It also states that he who knows not and knows that he knows not he is ignorant
    teach him,
    But in order to know that you know not, you must know a little so if he knows a
    little, then he’s on the right track so why teach him when we could teach
    ourselves to know and know that we know,

    It states in conclusion that he who knows not and knows that he knows not he is
    a fool shun him,
    But if he knows not and knows not that he knows not then he does not know even
    as much as he who knows not and knows that he knows not so why not help the
    fool instead of he who knows not but knows enough to know that he does not
    know.

  4. Dear Dr. Dahn, thanks for your information. It speaks volume. First, your writing needs serious editing. Your shifting in terms creates subject verb agreements consistently throughout your attempted article. Second, you failed to state when and who appointed you Deputy Minister of Education and Director General, Commission on Higher Education? Hopefully it was NOT former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. If so, she graded your work as a failure. Remember what she said, that her education system of which you may have been a part “…a mess…”. For a “Dr.” who is criticizing another person’s competence, you think would do intellectual due diligence by repeatedly editing a major critique of oneself before going public. Unfortunately, you chose to criticize and attempted to denigrate another person’s academic credentials. In academia, this is rare. Also, you attained all of your degrees from one university. That’s my friend, is considered an academic incest. Finally, Oklahoma is not an institution from which one should be braggadocious.

    • Okay, Dr. Dahn could’ve done a better job editing because I believe “established precedent” is a better choice of words than “established protocol” as he tries to explain President Weah’s disregard for norms. But that’s beside the point. He does support his thesis by providing proof such as explaining the appointment of Alvin Wesseh, and Dr. Nelson. The latter’s PhD in Ministry he questions and most academics will agree. Most Liberians by now have come to realize that president Weah is ill-prepared for the job.

  5. Maybe Dr. Dahn has the best of intentions for Liberia. Also, maybe Dr. Dahn wants the president, Mr. George Weah, to do the best that he can do for Liberia. It’s all good to wish the president well. After all, Liberia is going through difficult times. The difficult times should not be allowed to go on. Whether we like him or not, we can help our brothers and sisters in Liberia by doing a variety of good things. Example, there’s a scarcity of food in Monrovia. In order to stop that from happening, politics can be ignored or put aside for a moment. A huge farm of one main consumable item can be made unlike a farm of a variety of crops.

    Suggestion:
    The best way in which Dr. Dahn’s advice can be taken seriously is if Dahn sits around or across the table with the president. It makes no sense to advise someone through a newspaper article. Neither does it sound to reason to berate someone while pretending to help. In my view, advising someone/anyone via the media sounds like a destructive criticism.

    Peace.

  6. Mr.Author,

    12 years ago there was a vacancy at the university of Liberia for Dean of Student Affairs and Dr. Nelson
    was among several candidates that applied for that position. He was vetted by the search committee, chosen and approved by the Board as Dean of Student Affairs. During those 12 years while serving as Dean of Student Affairs, Dr. Nelson also taught Philosophy as Associate Professor and Head of the Philosophy Department.

    Under the Presidency of Dr. Dennis, Former President of the University of Liberia (Rtd), Dr. Nelson was
    Elevated and Appointed as Vice President of Student Affairs before his Preferment as President of the University of Liberia by the President of the Republic of Liberia, His Excellency, Dr. George Manneh Weah.

    Mr. Author, this semi background of Dr. Nelson proves that his work is not limited to the Church.

    i find your opinion to be full of Buffoonery, Tribalistic especially in post war Liberia, Divisive, perhaps jealousy, envy and false accusation.

    You accused the President of Liberia, Dr. George Manneh Weah of bringing Dr. Nelson to the University
    of Liberia to appease him because they are kinsmen. It is my hope that you remember that because, it is far from the truth. Dr. Nelson was already at the University of Liberia for 12 years before his Preferment by President Weah as President of the University of Liberia

    You accused the Board of Trustees of been weak, sick and dead.

    Questions Mr. Author
    why you did not express these concerns when Dr. Nelson serve as Dean, taught as Associate Professor and serve as Vice President for Student Affairs of the University of Liberia for the Past 12 Years ?

    Why you only listed one of Dr. Nelson”s Degrees to partially talk about ?

    Have you taught at the University of Liberia before ?

    Since you are so qualify and knows everything to the extend that each time you write your name, you have to list your awards like you the only negro that is qualify or have a monopoly on education, Did you apply
    12 years ago when the university was in search of a Dean of Student Affairs ?

    How come you did not question the integrity of the Board when they approved of Dr. Nelson”s as Dean of Students Affairs and his Elevation to Vice President for Student Affairs ?

    I will not go low this time around to play your so called tribal game but rest assure I will not hesitate to remind
    you of your kinsmen and the destruction they brought to Liberia including lost of many lives and properties.

    Excuse all or any typo, at least I”m humble and have a teachable spirit, compare to Mr. I know it all.

    i

    • Dear Aaron,

      You made some good points but decided to soil them later and I am compelled to humbly bring you back to the debate.

      Dr. Nelson’s criteria qualify him to hold the position of Dean of Student Affairs and Associate Professor of Philosophy.
      But to head the Philosophy Department? Ehm, well I don’t know them.
      Moreover, to head the University of Liberia? We are watching to see.

      This is the debate. Leave it right here. Don’t cross the line next time.
      If you write here that the author’s kinsmen brought destruction to Liberia, I will bitterly join in the debate.
      Liberia needs peace and true reconciliation. Stop venturing into topics we wish to put behind us.

      Thank you!

  7. Dear Petarus,

    Thanks for acknowledging some of the points I made in my post. The ending of my post was intentional for the fact that the author disregarded the experience, qualification and work of Dr. Nelson at the University of Liberia for the past
    12 years and engaged heavily with misinformation about President Weah appointing Dr.Nelson based on tribal lines. If he”s is entitled to go that route, his tribal background and kinsmen are equally fair game.

    I do not have a problem with your opinion about Dr. Nelson qualifications, you are entitled to it but obviously the Board differs with based on their decision 12 years ago and still differs with you today.

    I am Kru, love my tribe, will defend my tribe as much as I can and I do not shy away from it.

    i believed your warning is misdirected, It should rather go to the Author who I think should know better with the laundry list of awards after his name each time he writes a sentence to recognize the sensitivities of one”s tribe or kinsmen in post war Liberia and he should be the one not crossing your line next time.

    I don”t go around looking or venturing into topics against the peace of Liberia but will step in particularly if it is tribal based, counter productive to the peace of post war Liberia.

    Thank You

    • Thank you brother.

      I have seen another cool-headed Liberian.
      May we all pray to see our country take another trend, a positive one.

      God bless you!

  8. Bro. Petarus,

    I have read several of your posts encouraging peace in Liberia and even frowning on actors of the civil war in Liberia occupying position of trust, I must commend you for that bold step. I believed from your postings and comments I have read, you love your country and have the fear of God in you.

    I definitely agree with you to keep our country leadership, including opposition in prayer and keep the positive note going but at the same time speak up if somethings don”t seem right.

    God bless you as well.

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