President Weah’s Greatest Challenge

first_imgThe announcement by President George Weah sometime ago setting up a Special Committee to probe allegations of wrong doing by former officials tasked to fashion out the ExxonMobil oil concession agreement had taken the public by surprise. Why, because it was hardly ever imagined that President Weah after having publicly declared on several occasions that he was committed to protecting the interests of his predecessor, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf would have dared venture to raise the curtain on her past stewardship of the nation’s affairs.The Committee has long since completed its assigned duties and recommended that the former officials restitute monies paid to them by ExxonMobil through the National Oil Company of Liberia (NOCAL). To date no former official has paid back a cent, notwithstanding President Weah’s declared commitment to transparency and the fight against corruption. In yet another instance, President Weah is on record for having called for the prosecution of perpetrators of human rights abuse. His call was made long before he ever became President.However, there are now worrying signs that President Weah appears to be withdrawing his call for accountability and is instead seeking accommodation with perpetrators on grounds that there are more pressing national concerns to attend. One such individual has called attempts to ensure accountability a “fiasco”. Some of his officials have even argued that because former President Sirleaf ignored the TRC recommendations, President Weah should likewise do the same and abandon calls for accountability. In just a few days from now, President Weah, currently in China, will be headed to the UN General Assembly in New York upon completion of his visit to that Asian country.But President Weah will be going to the UN at a time when the country’s Judiciary finds itself in rather dire straits with threats of impeachment by the House of Representatives hovering over the Associate Justice Kabineh Ja’neh. Without realizing it, the issue of accountability has however, taken center-stage with the impeachment process of Associate Justice Ja’neh proceeding at pace. The Supreme Court Bench led by Chief Justice Francis Korkpor is digging in their heels, insisting that the House Speaker appears before the Court to answer to Justice Janeh’s claim of violation of his rights to due process.The House for its part has refused to budge, insisting that it will not appear before the Court, arguing that the power to impeach falls strictly within the purview of the Legislature. Under Article 43 of the Constitution the power to prepare a Bill of Impeachment is vested solely in the House of Representatives, while the power to impeach is vested solely in the Senate. When the President, Vice President or Associate Justice is to be tried, the Chief Justice shall preside.Now that the Bill of Impeachment has been prepared and forwarded to the Senate, and with both sides digging in, it remains to be seen whether Chief Justice Francis Korkpor is going to preside over the trial of his colleague as required by the Constitution or whether he is going to refuse to do so on grounds that the House is in error and has disrespected the Court. And without uttering a word, a huge precedent is being set with far reaching implications for the growth and development of the country’s fledgling democracy.But just what President Weah, a virtual newcomer in politics, should make of these developments which, for all purposes, are sorely testing the resilience of our nascent democracy. In the opinion of this newspaper, these problems or developments are but symptomatic of the corrosive and erosive effects of impunity on social cohesion including our national political and economic well-being. It is impunity for example which has seen government officials including legislators and judicial officials place themselves above the law.As noted in US State Department Human Rights reports, justice is on sale to the highest bidder and in ways more than one, Judges and Justices as well have interfered in court cases in which they have vested interests. Likewise also are members of the Legislature who, from all intents and purposes have placed themselves above the law. They have without any degree of conscience passed into existence very bad concession agreements that have placed the future of the country in jeopardy. They have also refused to submit to audits by the General Auditing Commission.As for the Executive, what more can be said? It has over the years exercised unbridled powers and bent its coequal branches to its will. These developments have taken on appearances of a tragic comedy — the Legislature up against the Judiciary with the Executive looking on with bemused interest. The towering figure in this drama is President Weah who came to the job with almost impeccable credentials — having no part in the violence of war, corruption free and self-made. He now has a charge to steer the nation from the path of endemic corruption, impunity and recurrent conflict to a path of peace and development.How he intends to go about this will of course continue to remain a subject of intense concern. He has to tackle impunity head-on. As a first step in this direction, President Weah should implement the recommendations of the Special Presidential Committee (SPC) calling for restitution. His is indeed a tall order to which he has to measure up.His colleague and former team mate James Salinsa Debah summed it up in these words:“George has achieved a lot in football and the people love him for it. But should he become president of Liberia, the public will forget his performances on the football pitch and judge him by what he achieves in office. People in the country are yearning for change and want it very quickly. If he doesn’t deliver it, the people could turn on him. It is a big risk he is taking and I wish him well.”This is indeed President Weah’s “Greatest Challenge”.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Foya, Kolahun Districts, Suffer Acute Water Shortage

first_imgOne of several Hand pumps in Foya that Faces an acute Shortage of safe drinking waterFoya, Kolahun residents search for water in old, abandoned wellsWidespread and acute water shortages continue to affect the densely populated districts of Foya and Kolahun in Lofa County. Residents in the two districts on March 28, 2019, told the Daily Observer that since the dry season started sometime last year, most of the hand pumps constructed by aid agencies in the early 1990s have run dry having outlived their usefulness.“We have sought for safe drinking water in old, abandoned wells, small ponds and streams in efforts to relieve stress caused by the lack of access to safe drinking water,” Francis Nyumah Tamba said.In separate tour of Kolba and Airfield cities, it was observed that most of the hand pumps, wells and rivers were completely dried owing to the intensity of the dry season.Water and sanitation experts say due to current population growth, both cities in Lofa now require pipe borne water to prevent sickness and disease caused by water borne pathogens. Residents of the area, it was recently observed, wake up as early as 4:30 a.m. to fetch safe drinking water from the dilapidated hand pumps, wells, ponds and streams.For example, on March 30, 2019, hundreds of Kolba City residents were seen in long lines at some of the old and dilapidated hand pumps, and open wells in search of safe drinking water. At one of the dilapidated hand pumps in Kolba City, Kolahun District, cook-shop operator Madam Helen B. Kolliewala angrily declared that her city has all what it takes to benefit from pipe-borne water.An abandoned hand-pump at the Child Development Institute elementary school, Foya City, Lofa County“We are really suffering for safe drinking water in Kolba City, especially during this long dry season, and I want for our government to take steps to address the water shortages in the rural areas of our country,” Madam Kolliewala pleaded.In Foya City, residents said that the government should make concrete commitment to provide pipe-borne water to rural communities.Austin Kondoh Sando Paylay, a teacher in the district, pointed out that almost of all of the schools in Kolba City do not have a single hand-pump, a situation which has worsened the water and sanitation crisis faced by schools in Kolahun District.Paylay also stressed the need for the Ministry of Education (MoE) and other education stakeholders to consider the provision of safe drinking water to the school system as promotion of health and sanitation of teachers and the students.In a statement regarding the grave water hardship, Madam Cecelia T. Hallie of City Mayor of Foya City told the Daily Observer that a few months ago, prominent international non-governmental organization, Samaritan’s Purse, expressed interest in the provision of safe drinking water for the growing population of Foya City.But, Madam Hallie pointed out that the Samaritan’s Purse said residents of the city must stop burying dead bodies in key places in Foya City in order for the group to carry out its intervention.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more