Liberia: Tolbert Nyenswah Resigns

... Also Deputy Education Minister Kesselly 'quits'

Tolbert Nyenswah, Director-General of the National Public Health Institute of Liberia (NPHIL) on Thursday, October 17, 2109, tendered in his resignation to President George Weah, referencing "family problems and personal issues," the Daily Observer reliably learned.

Also, it was gathered that Alton Vanie Kesselly, Deputy Education Minister for Planning, Research and Development since March 2018, quit his job. No official reason has yet been released to the public.

As for Mr. Nyenswah, who he tendered his resignation, it has been reported that he would have left office before the end of November 2019.

Our sources within the Executive Mansion said Mr. Nyenswah only cited "circumstances and family obligations" as reasons for this immediate resignation. But earlier, there were growing public concerns about the resignation of Mr. Nyenswah, owing to the allegations concerning against his style of leadership at NPHIL.

It is not clear whether President Weah has accepted his resignation, but Mr. Nyenswah is the second high-profile official to have resigned from the Weah-led administration.

It can be recalled that Alex Cuffy, who served as Director-General of the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), was the first to resign, a resignation which the Executive Mansion kept as "secret," even though the resignation letter was leaked on social media. Mr. Cuffy also cited "family reasons" as being responsible for his resignation.

The NPHIL was established on January 26, 2017 by an Act of the Legislature to prevent and control public health threats following the 2014-2016 Ebola epidemic that devastated Liberia's already faltering public health system, resulting in over 11,000 cases and close to 5,000 deaths.

Mr. Nyenswah served as the institution's first Director-General. Prior to heading NPHIL, he headed the Incident Management System responsible for leading and coordinating every aspect of Liberia's National Ebola Response activities which brought the epidemic to a halt.

Under his stewardship at NPHIL, Mr. Nyenswah succeeded in securing from the United States government and the World Bank Group over US$20 million, to construct the National Reference Laboratory and NPHIL headquarters in Congo Town, now in its second phase of construction.

NPHIL also secured US$15 million from the World Bank for a three-year epidemiology surveillance activities program throughout the country.

Mr. Nyenswah served as Deputy Minister of Health for Disease Surveillance and Epidemic Control in the Department of Public Health, created within the Ministry of Health as a new Department, following the World Health Organization's (WHO) first declaration in May 2015 that Liberia was free of Ebola in the human population.

He has served in various capacities at the Ministry of Health, including office assistant in the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare (now Ministry of Health) in 1999; Assistant Minister of Health and Deputy Chief Medical Officer for Preventive Services (2012-2015); Deputy Program Manager of the National Malaria Control Program (2007-2011), serving concurrently as Acting Program Manager for two years (2009-2011).

Ministry of Education

Alton Vanie Kesselly, President Weah's first appointed Deputy Minister for Planning, Research and Development since March 2018 has reportedly quit and subsequently left the country.

Though authorities at the Ministry of Education (MoE) have yet to make public pronouncement about the sudden departure from the country of Mr. Kesselly, in July 2019, he wrote a communication to Minister Ansu D. Sonii, seeking permission to travel to the United States for his annual leave.

Insiders said Minister Sonii approved Kesselly's request, adding that: "This leave period was from August 1-31, 2019." But up to the publication of this story, he is yet to return and resume his duty.

In the absence of the deputy minister for Planning, one Dominic N. Weme has since been acting in his stead.

"The time frame given Mr. Kesselly to stay away from work has ended, and he is still absent. Again, there is no information about his return; but there are reports that he may not return during this administration until he obtains his PhD," the source said.

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