A pioneering exercise undertook by the New Republic Newspaper intended to enliven and add impetus and credibility to the traditional way of awarding personalities and institutions came to a close last Friday with several institutions/personalities being awarded. The January 31, 2014 colorful event held at the Liberia Chamber of Commerce was in recognition of the exceptional work done by these institutions and personalities during 2013.
More besides, the ceremony graced by high-ranking dignitaries from the diplomatic, business, governmental environment as well as members of the media community in Liberia was an outcome of a month-long voting exercise done by the public both online and by text messages. It also preceded a rigorous vetting of several personalities and institutions out of which the finalists were selected.
Winners of the ground-breaking award exercise in Liberia include T. Nelson Williams, Managing Director of the year, Green Advocate, the Environmental Group of the year award, Center for Transparency and Accountability of Liberia (CENTAL), the Civil Society Group of the year, while the Woman of the year award went to Madam Mary Broh. Traffic Director, John Saah walked away with the Law Enforcement officer award for the year, Cllr. Tiawan S. Gongloe voted the Human Rights lawyer of the year closely followed by Cllr. Nebalee Warner while Company of the year and ECOBANK of the year went to Sime Darby and Ecobank-Liberia.
Justifications John Saah, Chief of Traffic
His selection and victory was based on the smooth flow of traffic in the country, coupled the reduction in accident rate. Not only that, but also due to education campaign done by the Traffic safety division of the LNP. In addition to that, traffic officers were educating drivers and passengers of their responsibilities.
Cllr. Tiawan S. Gongloe:
Justification: They believe he is a man of principle who only does what his conscience tells him to do. His role in defending the Grand Gedian who are being tried for mercenary activities gave him further edge over his main contender-Cllr. Nebalee Warner.
Those who voted for him based their decision on his resounding accomplishments in and outside of the legal profession during the year under review. Since leaving government, he has focus his services to the wellbeing of Liberians, speaking out and providing legal protection for indigent Liberians.
Environmental Group of The year
Green Advocates Justification: This group is headed by Cllr. Alfred Brownell. Those who voted for him and his group said that his advocacy role has brought to attention many companies in the country. That several companies would have been violating the rights of people if his group had not been engaging them on a regular basis. This position was closely contested by Sustainable Development Initiative came second. Both entities had the same percentage online, but GA received more text than SDI. GA, they wrote, has been an exceptional player in the business of protecting Liberia's green forest reserves and seeking the welfare of communities against government and concessionaires. Accused of jeopardizing investors' interest, many regard it as the truth defense between poor communities and concessionaires. It challenged companies that traversed their duties to communities of their operations. The cordialities enjoyed by concessionaires and community dwellers are credited to strong advocacy of this noble institution.
As one of the oldest foreign banks in the country, Ecobank has the largest network among all banks. Its cash base is very liquid as compared to other financial institutions; this was attested by the Central Bank sometime ago.
In other places, where there are no financial institutions, Ecobank was visible and at the service of customers. Its expansion drive helped to take the lead from their competitors.
Ecobank was followed by LBDI, GT bank and International Bank Liberia Limited. The only concern was its consistency in dispensing cash at all times without technical hitch.
Civil Society Company of the year
CENTAL: The Center for Transparency and Accountability of Liberia: it is headed by Thomas Doe Nah
Justification: CENTAL and Find, foundation for International Dignity-FIND were both at the same level in the online voting. However, CENTAL message senders moved up faster to spring ahead of their competitors.
That CENTAL has been constantly calling government's attention to do the right thing. For example, on the new NOCAL draft oil bill, CENTAL resisted it and called on the lawmakers not to pass it. That, it was against the interest of the country.
Moreover, several lawmakers were called on to work in the interest of the country and not their personal interest. The fight against corruption has been its main drumming echo. Its leader, Thomas Doe Nah has never been quite on the fight against corruption. He has told the president to do more in her fight against corruption. Also, on education, his voters said he has made great impact in it, as well as the constitutional reform process which is going on. Company of the year:
This award went to Sime Darby: The company was closely followed by Golden Verolum, Arcelor Mittal and China Union. Justification:
Those that voted for Sime Darby as company of the year provided several reasons: They have transformed the development landscape in its operation areas, have withstood the challenges it underwent in the hands of both the communities and NGOs as well the employment of several thousands of people.
Not only that, but also, abiding by the laws of the country. More importantly, they have RSPO -Round Table on sustainable Palm Oil. An international entity which sets rules for oil palm companies to follow. They have been implementing their corporate social responsibility well and above all, their willingness to learn.
Woman of the Year:
The completion was between Mary Laurene Brown and Madam Mary Broh. But the speed at which Madam Broh's voters went so high that none of her competitors could come closer to her. She won with wide margin, about 85 percent of the total votes, text and online.
Justifications: That she has proven to be exceptional in the performance of duties. From all positions she has occupied over the years, she has shown to be hard working. Some voters described her as ever ready lady, the lion of juda, Iron woman, among others.
She has always exhibited robust action in her career. Her domineering spirit at all jobs, which are result oriented, made her to take the day.
Managing Director of the Year: T. Nelson Williams, Sr.
This award went to the Liberia Petroleum Refining Corporation.
One of the categories which was very competitive. The National Port Authority boss, Madam Matilda Parker won in the online voting, but the total percentage from text messages and online, placed the LPRC in the lead with over 200 votes. NPA was followed by National Social Security and Welfare Corporation-NASCORP
LPRC text messages came in five days to the closure of the voting period on January 29, 2014. Justification: That there has been regular flow of petroleum product on the market at reasonable price. LPRC has been vigilant in controlling the petroleum market; which led to the arrest of some dealers that attempted to hike petroleum prices.
More to that, they leadership of Mr. T. Nelson Williams level of professionalism exhibited at the company made him move further step ahead of this main contender, Madam Parker. But Madam Parker five years Port master plan took up higher in the online category. At the end of the day, LPRC was awarded the prize.