Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor in her opening address during the first session she presided over at the Senate urged her former colleagues to work in the interest of the country. She told the 54th Senate to recommit their energies to working for the fulfillment and aspirations of Liberians and play well their respective parts in ensuring the smooth operations and realization of the government’s Pro-poor Agenda.
According to the Vice President and President of the Senate, the Pro-poor Agenda may require the reassessment of existing laws and statutes, and or formulation of new legislation which reflects the current realities. In addition, the Senate has set up a committee to revise its standing rules against reports that the Senate will not confirm anyone who is “Not a Liberian” and will reject any appointee whose credentials and character will not be convincing.
If such high sounding words are not the usual unfilled political promises, Liberians will be delighted to see their government working in their interest, having waited for such a change over a long period of time. In order to convince Liberians as work begins in the new administration, the Senate should be vigilant to carefully examine whom it confirms for a public position in consonance with its promise not to confirm anyone with tainted character and faked credentials.
In fact, the first test has come for the Senate and President George Manneh Weah, and that is the issue of Cllr. Charles Gibson, who has been appointed as Justice Minister. This is a man who had duped his client by misappropriating US$25,400 intended for the client for which the Supreme Court suspended his license and placed a ban on his practice of law in Liberia.
Not having the conscience to pay this money since last year, he has waited until he saw signs that he would be appointed to such a critical and prestigious public position before he restituted the money, just less than a week ago.
In a civilized society, such an individual with a tainted character would never be considered for appointment to such a position of trust, but in Liberia nowadays it is different. Nevertheless, the Senate, having declared they will not confirm Presidential nominees with faked credentials or tainted character, has raised hopes that this time around it will not be business as usual.
Holding its words in high esteem, we remain assured that the Senate is firm on its promise to do the right thing, and it will begin it by rejecting Cllr. Gibson on the basis of his tainted character that is evidenced by court records. Many Senators during the campaign in the runoff pledged their support to the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) and George Weah because they were convinced that the party and Weah can bring the needed change.
So, as the change has come, Liberians are hoping this is the time to reassure their confidence that the government means business and it stands to work in the interest of the people.
Also is the issue of Foreign Minister-designate, Gbehzohngar Findley who, according to reports, has just been confirmed although, by his own admission, he lacks the requisite experience and training for the job. Why have you confirmed him in such a hurry when you have not done sufficient due diligence to ensure his credentials are not fake, as some in the public suggest?
Public declarations that you will remain unmoved by distractions appear to suggest, however subtly, that such distractions, like “brown envelopes” to confirm Presidential nominees, referred to as “common law practice,” are a thing of the past.
More to that also, there were perhaps, during the past administration of President Sirleaf, confirmation of officials with faked credentials or questionable citizenship, like that of National Elections Commission (NEC) Chairman, Jerome G. Korkoya, and others.
Since the gavel of authority has now passed over into a new set of hands, it is our hope that the Senate will remain conscious of its lofty promises to make proper and appropriate decisions that will reflect its integrity in doing the people’s work.