Liberia: Senate Rejects Education Minister

Education Minister George Werner
1 September 2017

Members of the Liberian Senate overwhelmingly declare vote of no confidence Thursday, 31 August in the Minister of Education, George Werner. Minister Werner had earlier posted on his Facebook page weeks back, "Da book we will eat?" Werner continued: "To the book people, education does not promote equality and share prosperity." The Minister then goes on to categorize the debate as "Tabata," (in the Kru dialect means nonsense).

The post did not go down well with Montserrado County Senator Geraldine Doe-Sherif, a strong supporter of the governing Unity Party Standard Bearer, Vice President Joseph Nyumah Boakai.

Senator Dor-Sherif subsequently wrote plenary of the Liberian Senate, complaining that the post speaks to the fact that the education boss does not care about educating Liberian kids, and that his post has a propensity to divert the minds of school-going kids from furthering their studies.

She further argues that the minister's comments are demeaning and offensive to the education sector of the country. Based her argument, plenary summoned Minister Werner to give reason why he should not be held in contempt.

It may be recalled that on August 17, Deepening Democracy Coalition, an independent pro-democracy group organized a debate among the six top presidential candidates in the upcoming elections, to showcase their platforms to the Liberian people.

Four out of the six candidates participated in the presidential debate and the absence of Coalition for Democratic Change Standard Bearer, Senator George and Standard Bearer of the Movement for Economic Empowerment created serious public outcry.

Werner, who appeared before the Liberian Senate on Thursday as mandated by the body to show reasons why he should not be held in contempt for undermining the educational sector, argues that his comments on social media were not offensive and did not, undermine the nation's educational sector.

Minister Werner reneges in giving an open apology to the senators, saying "I have listened to your advice and I will contemplate on it." In another response to the Senate, the Minister reluctantly said, "I take your advice into consideration and I thank you for it."

Following his comments, the body then voted to pass a "Vote of no confidence" in him on grounds that he has failed to proffer a direct apology for his acts. Meanwhile, Lofa County Senator, George Tengbeh, files a motion for reconsideration against the decision of the Senate, but has been advised by the body to do so within the statutory period.

Under the standing rules of the Liberian Legislature, there is nothing calls vote of no confidence, which is borrowed from the British parliament. Statutorily, it is constitutional power of the President to accept the vote of no confidence or continue working with Minister Werner.

During the Interim government headed by Dr. Amos Sawyer in the 1990s, members of the House of Representatives declared vote of confidence in then Finance Minister, Dr. Byron Tarr, but Dr. Sawyer retained him as finance boss until the elapse of the interim arrangement.

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