Liberia: Nyenkan Re-Shuffled From LEITI to President's Office

Shortly after President George Weah relieved Gabriel Nyenkan of his controversial position at the Liberia Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (LEITI), the President has again appointed him as advisor on communications to the Presidency, an Executive Mansion said in a release over the weekend.

According to the release, appointment takes effect as of Monday, September 16, 2019.

Meanwhile, the President has directed the Ministerial Steering Committee, also known as Multi-stakeholders Steering Group (MSG), to replace Mr. Nyenkan with immediate effect.

The President has urged the MSG to follow all procedures, including a competitive vetting process to find the LEITI's new Head of Secretariat.

LEITI was created by an act to support government's effort in promoting transparency and accountability over the management of revenues from Liberia's extractive resources, ensuring that all citizens benefit from such resources.

It can be recalled that the Liberian integrity group, Center for Transparency and Accountability, recently called on President Weah to reverse the "illegal appointment of Mr. Nyenkan as Head of Secretariat of LEITI."

In a press statement issued Tuesday, September 10, CENTAL said dismissing Nyenkan would allow the MSG to independently recruit a new Head of Secretariat for LEITI and other key staffs to help restore the institution's sanctity and declining image under Nyenkan.

CENTAL executive director Anderson D. Miamen, said in a statement that LEITI has been and remains a key pillar of Liberia's integrity system, and must therefore be allowed to independently play such critical role, moving forward.

Mr. Nyenkan, accompanied by armed police, forcibly took office at LEITI in 2018 shortly after President Weah appointed him in flagrant violation of Chapter 6.3d of the LEITI Act of 2009.

Section 6.3d of the LEITI Act says, "The power to recruit the Head of Secretariat, Deputy and other staff members of the LEITI Secretariat, therefore lies with the MSG, which should comprise of members of the legislature, Civil Society Organization and the Executive."

Since Nyenkan's ascendency, CENTAL says its attention has been drawn to continuous negative developments at the LEITI that have undermined the entity's independence, and lowered stakeholders' confidence in its activities and processes.

"Since the appointment of the Nyenkan leadership, against Chapter 6.3e of the LEITI Act of 2009, LEITI has been engulfed by controversies and gross under performance. The illegal change in leadership and institutional brain drain, caused by undue significant changes in personnel, resulted to the institution's failure to publish its report for the fiscal period ending June 2016 within the 1 July 2018 deadline," the CENTAL statement reads.

CENTAL further observes that as a consequence, Liberia's membership with the Global Movement was suspended in September 2018.

"Disturbingly, also, at a recent news conference, a visiting Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) delegation said Liberia risks being delisted from the group's process if 'significant corrective measures' are not implemented in a timely manner to revive the institution and improve governance of the Extractive sector," CENTAL warned in its press statement.

In another development, President Weah departed the country on Friday, September 13, 2019 for Ouagadougou, Republic of Burkina Faso, to attend the Extraordinary Summit of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of the Economic Community of West African State (ECOWAS).

According to the release, President Weah joined other leaders of the West African Bloc for the one-day Summit, which was held on Saturday, September 14 in Ouagadougou, the capital.

The Summit, the release said, "specifically focused on terrorism in the ECOWAS Region. Gravely concerned about the unprecedented phenomenon of terrorism in the region, the Authority of Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS in Yamoussoukro on February 28, 2013 adopted the ECOWAS' strategy on the fight against terrorism."

While President Weah is away, the Minister of State for Presidential Affairs, Nathaniel F. McGill, will act as chair of the Cabinet in close consultation with Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor via telephone contact with the President.

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