Making Sense of President Weah’s Abrupt Dismissal of UL Prexy Weeks

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President Weah’s sudden and abrupt dismissal of UL President Dr. Ophelia Weeks, followed almost immediately by the appointment of Dr. Julius Sarwolo Nelson as her replacement, has once again drawn into the spotlight, the quality of President Weah’s decision making. It speaks to the very poor and shoddy advice being offered to President Weah, a virtual novice to politics and governance.

The unanswered question lingering on the minds of the public is just what warranted or warrants Dr. Weeks abrupt dismissal. To the best of information available to this newspaper, Dr. Weeks was not under sanctions by the UL Board of Trustees. Inquiries by this newspaper into reasons why she may have been dismissed yielded nothing tangible that one could point to.

It is instead being speculated in some quarters that her dismissal is due in part to her ethnicity (Congo/Americo -Liberian) and her relationship to former CBL Governor Milton Weeks, but more in part to widely purveyed allegations by top ranked CDC officials that non partisans holding positions in government are responsible for the country’s political and economic malaise.

But what those who old such views fail to understand is that the University of Liberia is an autonomous agency whose head should be appointed through a transparent vetting process. The President of Liberia as Visitor to the University is an ex-officio member of the UL Board of Trustees and he holds the power as titular head of the Institution to appoint its President in keeping with established policies and guidelines for selection of the institution’s head.

If, however, the dismissal of Dr. Weeks was for reasons linked to the decision by UL faculty and staff to abandon classes until their wages had been paid, then this newspaper can say without fear of contradiction that Dr. Weeks is simply being scapegoated because there is not an iota of evidence available to suggest that she is directly responsible for UL faculty and staff going unpaid for months.

More to this, the UL Board of Trustees cannot justifiably claim to have been unaware that salaries of faculty and staff were in arrears for several months. Additionally, it is an open secret that the University of Liberia is severely underfunded and, as a result, learning standards have declined as compared to past years, particularly during the seventies and eighties when the student population began to explode.

Currently, the University of Liberia, unlike other universities around the world, lacks an effective research and development (RAND) program. Only recently was a department of research created and its head appointed. Additionally, the UL faces a chronic shortage or lack of teaching materials including textbooks. Classes are generally overcrowded and most students rely on flyers or mimeographed texts for use as textbooks. Even sitting is a problem due to the lack of adequate chairs, desks, etc.

Indeed, the challenges facing the University of Liberia and other public universities are challenges that face us all as a nation, especially considering the fact that the UL population constitutes a microcosm of the larger Liberian society and, for this reason, greater attention and support should be provided to enable and enhance the University’s ability to achieve its objectives.

In this regard, the President of the University of Liberia should, under the circumstances, be someone with the knack and creative ability to raise funds to support education at the University of Liberia. But more importantly, and aside from the ability to raise funds, the chosen individual must be a visionary capable of leading the University of Liberia’s renaissance. This is why it is important to lay down or follow clearly rules and policies for the selection of the UL leadership and its required conduct while in office.

And it is against this backdrop, that this newspaper has expressed very strong concern at the manner in which Dr. Weeks was summarily dismissed. We recall the situation involving the summary dismissal by President Weah of the head of the secretariat of the Liberia Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (LEITI) and his replacement by a former legislator in which the President was forced to backtrack or face the country’s expulsion from the global body.

While the case of Dr. Weeks’ dismissal may be a long shot from the LEITI case, yet the principles of transparency apply just the same. At the time of Dr. Weeks’ dismissal, the nation was unaware of any search underway at the time for a new UL president. Neither was the nation made privy to reasons for her dismissal, nor were reasons for her dismissal publicly disclosed or whether she was granted due process at all.

However, this by no means suggest that the President of Liberia does not have the power to dismiss the President of the University of Liberia. He has but for cause. Also, the President has the obligation to adhere to established principles and policies governing the conduct of the University of Liberia’s affairs. The University should be a secure environment, free of political manipulation and interference in order to encourage a free and unfettered exchange of ideas.

Dr. Weeks, having previously served as Dean of the Thomas J.R. Faulkner College of Technology, had also previously taught courses in neuroanatomy at the A.M. Dogliotti School of Medicine since 2006 when she first sought engagement with the University of Liberia and then becoming a full time faculty member in 2012. She became the second female to head the University of Liberia, the first being the distinguished Dr. Mary Antoinette Brown Sherman.

Clearly, from all indications, it is not the lack of competence for which Dr. Weeks was dismissed. This newspaper has yet to see any iota of evidence suggesting that Dr. Weeks had proved incompetent and unfit for the job. Neither is this newspaper inclined to feed on asinine claims of her having come from a privileged background. We all come from various backgrounds and it is the richness of this diversity which should be celebrated, encouraged and not undermined by bogus pretensions to non-existent ethnic or indigenous purity.

11 COMMENTS

  1. Obviously, Weah doesn’t know what the hell he’s doing. He fires capable public servants (Dr. Weeks), and hires puppets (Dr. Julius Sarwolo Nelson) and goons (Zoely Zoe)!!. That’s what happens when someone who doesn’t know PUPU becomes your president.

  2. It is this CDC-led Government that is once again raising the ugly head of ethnicity in Liberian politics; this is also being encouraged by the likes of Sylvester Moses, who claimed to be from the South East of Liberia. This has been one of the challenges facing our country since independence: Congo(Americo-Liberian) vs. Country(Indigenous- Liberians), yet, Liberians in this 21st Century has not graduated from it; this President is one of the major proponent of this ugly idea, most of his appointment comes from the South-eastern Counties, that is one of the reasons, he has appointed J. Sarwolo Nelson, as the President of the U.L. He is the Chief Tribalist!
    Hon. Tolbert Nyenswah, resigned from NPHIL, he has appointed Dr. Fallah to act, while he is looking for another South-easterner to appoint to this position. It is Weah who failed to educate himself; that is promoting this tribal dynasty!

    • Gbada Flomo,
      I think everybody is watching. Most Liberian from all tribes voted for him. Its left with them to be honest with diversity and honesty to the Liberian.
      We are taking notes of what you are saying. We all have to continue until 2023.

      God bless the nation.

  3. Gbada Harris, alias Flomo,

    As Gordon Gekko – a character in Oliver Stone’s 1987 movie “Wall Street – says, “Stop telling lies about me and I’ll stop telling the truth about you”.
    However, since, in a sentimental and specious attempt at playing victimhood, you brought up “likes of Sylvester Moses who claimed to be from the South East of Liberia”, let me oblige you with few autobiographical facts.

    My father Jah Wetoe, who changed his surname to Moses in Freetown, hailed from the Weaw Clan of the Kru Tribe (son of Gbarlee Jah) in King William Town, Sinoe County where he died 1982 at the age of 86 years. The town’s name, which is in honor of King William 1 of England, predated arrival of our Founding Fathers, shows a pro-British bent. My mother Nimneh Seekloh’s father was a Sitorn Clan Chief commonly called ‘John Bull” because of a lighter shade. I accompanied her home in 1976 and we met him at Point Four, New Kru Town; she died on Center Street during the Civil war. Jah Wetoe’s father, my paternal grandfather, uncle of Counselor JN Doe of Douala, paid visits to us in Freetown.

    Not to mention that the three adult kids I had in Monrovia were by ladies with Congo (America-Liberians) parentage. And God knows they weren’t ladders to jobs for me.

    I’m not for or against any ethnicity, including mine which language I speak fairly well. I just want to see a stable Liberia with opportunities for all. What gets my goat about for-nothing talk-talk self-entitled guys is that facts don’t mean a crap. I helped in running NSA for six years, MNS for 1 year, and the NSAB from 1991 to 1994 where I surrounded myself with senior staff members from various ethnic group, yet you yell tabatta about “Tribalist”! Go and enquire, for heaven’s sake…

  4. Being a brother of Dr Weeks and seeing in general what she has sacrificed to serve; My willingness to return home and use my expertise to any use in Liberia is next to nil even knowing your skills could be of use in nation building and its your duty. But i ask, What duty do we have to give for an atmosphere like this in our country; I can say i am rapidly approach the point of giving up on the prize – One Nation, One People , One Destiny – war on ignorance , poverty and disease, leaders do not care about this.

    But i know what most likely will happen, you will see a last name, Weeks and think “ill” instead of hard-work, toil and perseverance.

    Why bother any more…is this where we are headed.

    God Bless us, Insh’allah .

    • Do not give up! Most of us have similar feeling as you but we must stand up and be part of fixing the issue.
      She is jobless in such an illiterate nation. In 2017 elections, the majority of liberian said education was not important. Think about that.
      Yes, God bless Liberia.

  5. Lest I forget, Gbada Harris, my mother adamantly refused to leave, because her aunt ran with her to Freetown during another conflict in the southeastern region. She calmly said, “As a child I ran, but am not running as a grandmother”.

    Some people love stoking confusion when power isn’t in their hands, and, rumors are rife that secret maneuverings going on to bring commotion on poor people again. Probably, witches and wizards doing what they know best: Witchcraft!

  6. Less we forget ÷

    “I believe that in a developing country, Where the circumstances dictate, the construction of buildings may be suspended the erection of monuments may be postponed, or the procurement of certain equipment may be curtailed. But I nevertheless believe that we must never suspend or postpone, or curtail, or abandon, even for a moment, the provision of sound and relevant education of our youth of today — our leaders of tomorrow — Without disastrous consequences to development, national stability, economic and our all-consuming struggle against
    ignorance, poverty and disease!”

    Extracted from Former President Dr. Rocheforte L. Weeks, University of Liberia (1959-1972), 1982 Commencement Address to L.U an February 16, 1983.

  7. Wow, John Stewart, everyday your writings are very instructive. Why hasn’t the government stolen you from Observer to try o change its image, sometimes I’d wonder. Beautifully written editorial in defense of your fellow Croziervillian.

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