Can President George Weah maintain James Dorbor Jallah as head of the PPCC is a haunting question strongly akin to that of Shakespeare’s in Hamlet, “To be or not to be, that is the question”.
On January 3, 2019 the Executive Director of the Public Procurement and Concession Commission (PPCC), James Dorbor Jallah received a letter announcing that his four-year tenure has come to an end and should therefore turn over the position to an acting executive director.
The Executive Director position at the PPCC is a tenured position, and the President of Liberia under Article 54 of the Liberian Constitution mandates the President to appoint a new person or reappoint the incumbent to be confirmed by the Liberian Senate.
The PPCC is one integrity institution set up by the past administration to review and approve all government contracts to ensure that the right company gets the right contract under a transparent process.
The birth of this integrity institution can be traced to needs assessment undertaken by the National Transitional Government of Liberia (NTGL), the United Nations and the World Bank in 2003, which determined that public procurement reform was critical to Liberia’s transition from war to recovery.
This, according to the three institutions, was because public sector corruption was singled out as a major factor fueling conflict in the country. This was a salient point raised by leaders of warring factions during the Accra Peace talks in 2003 and by their account greedy politicians were stealing the country’s resources and creating conditions for conflict.
While some have argued that the Constitution supersedes the Accra Peace Agreement they appear to easily lose sight of the fact that it was the Accra Peace Agreement which made it possible to restore the operability of the Constitution which by all accounts was being trampled with respect for human rights and the rule of law greatly imperiled to the point where it had to require the intervention of an international Peacekeeping Force to restore order and the rule of law and of course the eventual operability of the Constitution.
Therefore by the reasoning of leaders of warring factions politicians also needed to account for their stewardship of the nation’s resources and it was for this reason primarily that accountability for war and economic crimes were included in the remit of the TRC.
Further to that the fourteen years of civil war in the country had not only left the public procurement policies, practices, and procedures loosed ended but virtually the entire apparatus of government..
Replacing the Contract and Monopolies Commission (CMC) that was established by the Gyude Bryant led Transitional government; the PPCC was approved on September 8 and printed into handbill on September 21, 2005 during the tenure of President Sirleaf.
It was meant to curb such corrupt practices, especially in public sector procurement which contributed significantly to reasons behind the brutal and devastating civil war fought in the country. The procurement process is an area where many corrupt people compromise the interest of the state to solicit bribes and defraud government of its needed revenue.
James Dorbor Jallah’s presence at the PPCC has generated public interest. Jallah has been noted as one of the few Liberians who have demonstrated sincerity and honesty in their work—values that are essential to such an institution of public trust.
Listening to a couple of radio stations on January 4, 2019, we heard many callers expressing the need to retain this young respectable Liberian whose integrity has caught the eyes of nationals and international partners.
Last December the Integrity Idol sponsored by the British Embassy in Monrovia honored Dorbor Jallah as the person of integrity for 2018.
This honor, coupled with recognition other groups and people have given him, sets the basis for the President to think carefully to consider nominating him for the position since he has built some public trust amidst reports of rampant corruption in the public sector.
We recalled the time when the President openly told the Liberian people that “We must fight corruption and end it.” During this time of the statement, he added that the public sector needs people of integrity who will not be concerned about self enrichment but seek the interest of the public.
If a citizen can set a good public record by demonstrating integrity, we believe such a person is in line with the President’s development agenda for the country and should therefore be maintained to set an example that many will follow.
While we cannot dismiss that there is another person of interest to the President for the position, we remain supportive to his Pro Poor Agenda for prosperity that needs committed and reliable people to foster, and Jallah is one such committed and respectable person to hold on to in meeting up with this people-centered agenda.
However, if Dorbor Jallah cannot be maintained, we hope President Weah will bring Jallah’s kind on board to do exactly as he did at the PPCC not to open loopholes for corruption and bribes that will only make the government more unpopular to the Liberian people.