22 January 2013

Liberia: Whitefield's Death: Natural Or Foul-Played? -As Lawmakers Reminisce His Political Credentials

"From the dust cometh man and to the dust shall he return" is written in the Holy Bible, and by this saying, everyman should be aware that death is inescapable. However, what remains translucently unclear is how and when death will show its unclean hands. This is true to instances that characterized others' death, one of which is Senator John Francis Whitefield of Grand Bassa County and the National Patriotic Party (NPP). He was aware that death would have come his way one day, but certainly did not know when and how it would appear. True to this, the cold hands of death stuck him last week. About four days after his passing, questions are mounting about whether he died of natural circumstances or a result of foul-play. More besides, who was he; how did he present himself politically; for what will he be missed? The New Republic finds out from distinct and charismatic lawmakers who knew and worked with him.

Grand Bassa County Senator John Whitefield is no more, having given up the ghost last Thursday after a very compendious illness, and in a manner that continues to ignite concerns and suspicion, with many wondering whether he died of natural causes or a result of foul play.

He came to the post a little over a year ago, having been elected in 2001 during the general and presidential elections winning with a very small margin of votes. He had about eight years left to his credit but the cold hands of death has dealt him a blow  and that someone will have to fill the vacancy created by his passing to continue from where he stopped.
Though earlier report on the cause of death points to hypotension or pressure, there are still growing concerns in many quarters about the veracity of the information regarding the cause of death.

The Senate had to cut off last Thursday's Session upon hearing of the poor health condition of the late Senator.
But on Wednesday, sources said the Senator dropped his wife to a program she attended and later went to work.
Apparently, it was the day he held what became his last press conference, to specifically comment on the purported letter sent by former President Charles Taylor regarding his benefits and other privileges.

It is gathered that he did not return home on time as he did all of the time, or in some cases had to inform his wife when engaged.

His delayed return home, according to information, caused nervousness for the wife, who reportedly contacted a friend of hers for prayer, apparently for God to persuade her husband to return home, or make whatever intervention.
In less than minutes, a friend of the son of the deceased Senator reportedly called him and informed him that his father had fallen off and taken to the Catholic Hospital.

The son, according to the information, rushed to the room of his mother (the wife) and informed her of what he was told via the phone, and in no time, they took off for the hospital where they met him (the late Senator) on a stretcher, allegedly with noticeable yellowish water on his shirt.

More besides, sources closed to the family said the Senator before his death vomited profusely, but the information did not say what he put out.

But on the day of the Senator died, a caller who did not call his name told this paper in categorical terms that "he might have been tempered with" perhaps during the official opening of the Legislature, but that is yet to be verified.
However, Whitefield died a day or two after he threatened to take the government to court should it fail to see reason in responding positively to former President Charles Taylor's letter to the Senate.

The late Whitefield was Secretary General of the National Patriotic Party founded by Mr. Taylor who was Standard-bearer.
Reports say the late Whitefield was to step down this year and give chance to the party electing a new SG who would continue from where he stopped.

Since coming to the Senate, Whitefield has won the hearts of many Liberians because of his robust stance against societal ills.
He was one of the vocal Senators when acting City Mayoress Mary Broh took the law into her hand by slapping a staffer of Senator John Ballout.

It is known that the manner of death of other lawmakers in the pass caused tension across Liberia, and the death of Senator Whitefield has seemingly fueled the anxiety of Liberians.

It may be recalled that Representative Moses Tandapolie died in near-similar circumstances while attending a function of the legislature in Bong County The same is the death of Representative Nelson Y. Bah of Sinoe, who died days after his re-election.
Senator Isaac Johnson of River Gee County died few years back in a manner his family members, up to date, are grasping with.

The question about whether Senator Whitefield's death is natural or a foul-play will continue to resonate, as Liberia remembers his great deals.

Lawmakers reminisce

The 'untimely passing 'of Grand Bassa County Senator, John Francis Whitefield, in a manner that continues to beg questions that answers is being described as a great loss, not only to the people of Grand Bassa County where he hailed and represented, and the National Patriotic Party of Liberia he served as Secretary General, but to Liberia as a nation and the opposition bloc that makes up the political administrative architecture.

Representative Acarous Gray of the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) and District #8, Montserrado County said the deceased Senator will be remembered for his demonstration of resilience to the whims and caprices of the ruling establishment, as one of those resisted the relentless machinations to be bought over.

"Besides the fact we were members of the National Legislature, the late Whitefield and I closely worked together when I was Secretary General of the CDC, and he as Secretary General of the NPP," Gray told this paper Saturday via mobile phone conversation, adding he was an excellent character.

In a rather heavy voice reflective of loss of spirit and words over the passing of the astute Senator, Rep. Gray indicated the late Senator was one of unpretending endurance, and one who contributed so immensely to the democratization of Liberia after years of utter violence and destruction.

He recalled that the late Senator showed enormous prowess of excellent display of intelligence and integrity when they had the opportunity of being in a meeting with a visiting US Congressional team some part of last year.
"I admired him for his resilience and endurance. He resisted all sort of temptations, and this made him a great character," he said.

"This is a great loss to the nation, to the people of Bassa County, the National Legislature and the Opposition," he accentuated, and added "I always remember him for his resilience."

Senator Whitefield died last Thursday, January 17, 2013 at the St. Joseph Catholic Hospital following a brief ill-health situation reportedly caused by hypotension.

Also reflecting on the life and character of the late Senator, Maryland County Senior Senator John A. Ballout described working with him a pleasure, adding "he was a man of wisdom, intelligence, competence and understanding."
He said the late Senator understood the political chemistry of contemporary Liberia and presented himself in a balanced and profound manner of greatness.

According to him, the late Whitefield put aside his political linings whenever he had the chance of discussing the issues affecting Liberia.

More besides, he referred to him as a man of principle who did not get intimidated in speaking to issues, adding "of all my colleagues, he was one person I learned a lot from."

Senator Ballout told this paper in a brief chat Saturday that he received the news of his passing with a great shock because "all along, he did not show any sign of poor health."

Asked to draw an analogy between the manner of the abrupt passing of the Senator and former Representative Moses Tandapollie and what that portends, Senator Ballout noted that such situation speaks to the vulnerability all Liberians face in the face of health problems, adding "it shows a lack of capacity".

More than that, he indicated that it also presented the need for an action, in the area of developing a hospital that addresses some of the problems that are causing the lives of Liberians.

"There is a need to pay attention to the problem; we need to develop a hospital here," the Maryland lawmaker who introduced a bill last year to that effect noted.

This is the second controversial passing involving a member of the National Legislature, the first being Representative Moses Tandapollie of the CDC and District #8, Montserrado County.
 Contention surrounding circumstances of his death continue to persist, especially when it comes to the handling of an autopsy conducted on his remains by the government.

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