CENTAL Report Highlights Concerns Over Presidential Appointments

By: Jeremiah Sackie Cooper. Gmail: jeremiahcooper105@gmail.com

Liberia: The Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia (CENTAL), an anti-corruption group, with support from the Swedish International Development Corporation Agency (SIDA) has released a report scrutinizing the recent presidential appointments, revealing significant delays, controversies, and issues of transparency and integrity.
According to the report which was launched over the weekend in Monrovia, there were noticeable delays in appointments.

It highlighted that presidential nominations to most positions took place over three months following the inauguration, with some spaced apart by a week, delaying the proper structuring of the new administration headed by President Boakai.

Additionally, some appointments were not publicized, and there was a lack of transparency regarding appointments revoked by the President. CENTAL noted that this undermines the public’s right to know.

The report detailed that out of 1,306 appointments, 38 were affected by controversies.
Of these, 13 concerned appointments were changed, while 25 appointments were made ineffective by revocation, resignation, court proceedings, or refusal of current officeholders to turn.

“The volume and nature of appointment withdrawals bring into question the rigor of vetting procedures and raise doubts over awareness of the nature of restrictions on appointments to certain positions as well as the motivations for doing so,” CENTAL stated.

CENTAL expressed concerns over the integrity of some appointees. Notably, several individuals with checkered histories in government have returned to public service.
They questioned the appointment of S. Tornorlah Varpilah, Chairman of the Liberia Maritime Authority (LMA), previously designated by the National Legislature to restitute public funds, Daniel Johnson, appointed as Secretary General of the Roberts Flight Information Region, wanted by the United States government for defrauding USAID of approximately $1.9 million. Others include Nortu Jappah, head of the National Insurance Company of Liberia, who was forced to resign as Managing Director of the Liberia Water and Sewer Corporation (LWSC) in 2012 due to involvement in a corruption saga, Patrick Sandike, Deputy Managing Director for Technical Services to the LWSC, dismissed for corruption from the institution, Rudolph Merab, Managing Director of the Forestry Development Authority (FDA), reputedly involved in illegal logging activities during the war years and Mohammed Maladho Bah, Special Presidential Envoy for Investment, reportedly defrauded Liberians while posing as a dealer of used cars.

The report also highlighted appointments characterized by nepotism. While President Boakai has not appointed immediate family members, he has appointed an influential nephew, Jacob T. Kabakole, as Chairman of the Board of the Liberia Petroleum Regulatory Authority (LPRA). Further instances of nepotism include: Sirleaf Tyler, brother of Senator Alex J. Tyler, appointed as Minister of Transport, Nancy Moye, wife of Senator Prince Moye, named as a member of the board of the Liberia Petroleum Refinery Company (LPRC), Daybah E. Johnson, daughter of Senator Prince Y. Johnson, appointed as Assistant Minister for Regional Labor Affairs, S. Tornolar Varpilah, husband of Senator Darbah Varpilah, appointed as Chairman of the Board of the LMA, Nee-Alah T. Varpilah and Feetor Varpilah, children of Senator Darbah Varpilah, appointed as Director-General of the Liberia Institute of Public Administration (LIPA) and Deputy Director General of the National Insurance Company of Liberia (NICOL), respectively, and Gallah Varpilah, brother-in-law of Senator Darbah Varpilah, appointed City Mayor of Gbarnga.

The report further noted that of the 75 ministries, agencies, and commissions (MACs) to which heads were appointed, CENTAL identified the counties from which 70 heads hail. More than half (57 percent) of those appointed to head MACs are from the North-Central region comprising Lofa, Bong, and Nimba counties, with many appointees having supported President Boakai’s presidential bid. Conversely, those suspected of supporting opposition parties have been denied appointments.

At the same time, the report acknowledged some progress in gender and inclusion.
It revealed that President Boakai appointed the first female Minister of National Defense, Retired Brigadier General Geraldine Janet George.
Females account for 30 percent of the Cabinet, meeting globally accepted gender quotas.
However, this percentage drops to 17.3 percent for leadership of MACs and 18.5 percent for all appointments made by the President.
The President also appointed three physically challenged persons to top roles in government which include Samuel S. Dean, Sr., Executive Director of the National Commission on Disabilities; Dr. Luke Bawo, Managing Director of the Liberia Medical and Health Products Regulatory Authority (LMHRA); and Nowa Zawu Gibson, Deputy Managing Director for Operations at the National Transit Authority (NTA).

CENTAL’s report calls for greater transparency, rigorous vetting procedures, and a commitment to integrity in presidential appointments to uphold public trust and accountability.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *