20 February 2012

Liberia: Jobs Ration Hullabaloo

Photo: Boakai Fofana/allAfrica.com
The launch of the Unity Party campaign in Monrovia. (file photo)

There is hardly any other democracy in which the maxim,politics is interest, is jealously pursued--and maximized--than in Liberia. In the center of this maxim, as far as Liberian politicians are concerned, is job--public service job--which comes with abundance of amenities and remunerations and less work and less accountability. Even the most critical opposition which claims defrauded at elections and vows to render the nation ungovernable can settle down easily in no time with the mere promise of a couple of jobs here and there. This insatiable appetite for job is dealt a bloody punch this year as President Sirleaf has become to show signs suggesting a firm and flagrant disregard for the rather politics is interest ideology. This unusual demonstrated jobs-related meanness--others call it parochial rationing of jobs--by President Sirleaf has provoked enormous restlessness and disenchantment that is shaking the very existence of the ruling Unity Party as well as the moderate opposition community that defected towards the UP. The Analyst reviews the saga.

Criticisms and dissatisfactions abound mainly amongst mainstream as well as peripheral supporters of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf over the manner and form she has been dishing out public service positions towards her second term of office.

The President's second term was preceded by a highly contentious, if not riotous, electoral period which saw a display of extreme fanaticism amongst her supporters both within her Unity Party and erstwhile critics and opponents--some called political defectees.

Though the elections have since ended despite the accompanying discontent from the critical opposition alleging massive fraud, the newly inaugurated President has become to form her new Government amid rife appetite for jobs from hundreds if not thousands of supporters who braved the storm--some claiming putting their lives at high risk--to get her reelected.

But it appears Madam Sirleaf is not dispensing public jobs, perhaps this time around, according to the level of fanaticism supporters demonstrated during the elections as might have been highly expected. In fact, there are reports that those in the ruling Unity Party as complaining and gone mutinous.

Looming Party Mutiny  

There have been incessant reports--which the unusual silence of the ultra-reactionary UP is giving credence to--that there are plans to expel President Sirleaf from the party.

According to the reports, corroborated by unimpeachable insiders, throngs of partisans are expected to storm the central headquarters of the party to announce the expulsion of the President and her sons.

A well-placed insider, who does not want to be named in print because he's not authorized to speak to the press, told The Analyst that the party was withdrawing its confidence from their newly elected standard-bearer because the President has sidelined the party and reneged on a number of policy decisions reached with her after the elections.

Our party is disappointed in President Sirleaf because the Old-Lady is demonstrating a high degree of ingratitude and nonchalance, the insider said.After benefiting from our sweat and blood for this long and more, today she is treating us like Dump Truck that built the mansion and is prohibited from entering the premises.

Last week young men claiming to be, as they call it,mainstream partisans of the party, announced plans to stage a big demonstration in Monrovia not only to express their disapproval of President Sirleaf unilateral formation of the new Government but also for breaching her promise to award certain public service jobs to key partisans.

They said instead of nominating hard-core partisans of the party to ministerial and public managerial positions, she has been naming what they call peripheral members to take prestigious jobs.

Insiders revealed to The Analyst that nominations made by the President to the Ministry of Finance and other places are amongst reasons the President is drawing disgruntlement from her partisans.

It is reported that under President Sirleaf's instruction, the new financial management team at the Ministry of Finance is carrying out appointments and other personnel shifting affecting zealous partisans planted there by ex-Minister Augustine Ngafuan.

Insiders also told The Analyst that the discontent is also brewing over what some describe as misplaced appointment of the Party's Secretary General, Wiltmot Paye.

The insiders say President Sirleaf and Paye agreed that she would take Paye, who is a Geologist by education, from the Ministry of Commerce where he had served as Assistant Minister for Trade to a very high senior if not ministerial post at the Ministry Lands, Mines and Energy but the President reneged on the agreement.

There are reports that as a result of the President's exclusion of UP in the formation of Government, many are planning to support her expulsion anytime soon.

Already, according to some insiders, the Chairman of the Party, Varney Sherman, has begun preparations for the formation of a new political party. The insiders said many disgruntled members of the ruling party are on the standby to follow Sherman whose defunct COTOL party was co-opted by the UP in a merger deal.

But those who are not inclined to waive the ruling party to Sirleaf and her lackeys are vowing to light enough fire under Sirleaf to quit.

Provincial Disequilibrium Hulling Ire

As the so-called mainstream partisans of the ruling Unity Party are lamenting and threatening munity, outcries are coming out from political subdivisions of the country that feel unprecedented or adequately recompensed with political placement for their role in the reelection of President Sirleaf.

Recently the group of citizens of Margibi County issued a strongly worded press statement in which they criticized the bias apportionment of public service officials, particularly at the cabinet level.

Margibi County is a stubborn stronghold of President Sirleaf, their support dating as far back as 1997 when she first contested presidential elections as a candidate.

The citizens said in spite of their lavish electoral support to Sirleaf during the elections, she has denied their county representation at the cabinet level and urged her to rediscover her political affinity to the county.

Also a number of Southeastern counties, particularly River Gee and Sinoe Counties, are said to be grumbling for their marginalization in the President's second term cabinet.

The President won a number of Southeastern counties, specifically Sinoe and River Gee which had traditionally voted otherwise in elections Sirleaf contested in the past.

A citizen of River Gee who prefers not to be named due to his placement said River Gee County is given what he referred to as pseudo-cabinet post of Minister without Portfolio to Commany Wesseh, a staunched supporter of Sirleaf and the Unity Party.

Minister without Portfolio is not a better job, particularly when it is the only top government post an entire country can boast of, the source said, This is politically outrageous--and disincentive for a people and county that donated their hard-earned suffrage for Madam Sirleaf.

Even though Unity Party's Chairman Emeritus and crony of President Sirleaf, Charles Clarke, hails from Sinoe County, that human resource-rich county is an unfortunate underdog since the advent of the President over six years ago.

President Sirleaf won the County in the 2005 elections, even outvoting a prominent son of the seaport province, D. Tuan-Wleh Mayson.

Reports say the citizens are murmuring for their non presentation in Sirleaf's cabinet.

Family Cleavage Replaces UP

Critics of Sirleaf, particularly as regards the formation of her second term Government, say nominations so far suggest that her administration is shedding its UP-led appellation for a new one--family/cronies-led.

Having thrown out the official nomination list prepared by a Unity Party committee, President Sirleaf, one source told The Analyst, the President has taken confidence in one prepared by her children and pal Willie Knuckles.

According to one source, the Careyburg residence of Knuckles can be mistaken for a 5-star hotel by strangers who might not know that it has become an attraction of caravans of plush vehicles for job-seekers. Hundreds of private and public vehicles troop to Careyburg, outside Monrovia, to negotiate their placement in Government.

Results coming from the Congo settlement indicate that non-familial persons are being cast away for personal favorites and relations.

The President's two children have taken seats in the cash-heart of Government, one being named as Deputy Governor of the Central Bank and another as Co-chair of the Board of the country's oil company, NOCAL.

Several other boards, a credible source revealed, are constituted to accommodate cronies and family members.

Party members left out in their anger say President Sirleaf knows she is not opting for a third term and is doing all within her power to plant your main family members and political allies without considering the generality of the party and its welfare.

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