Liberia: Unclench Your Fist, Mr. President, for Liberia's Sake, an Opened Hand Is Extended

It is an open secret the rapprochement between President George Manneh Weah and Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor is not as cordial as some would think it is.

This noise of lack of cordiality or unfriendliness between the "first" and "second" most important persons in Liberia is not helpful to the general welfare of the country.

This misunderstanding, which every side involved is yet to categorically confirm as real, goes back just few months after the Coalition of Democratic Change-led government ascended to the helm of power on January 22, 2018. This feud has been on for this length of time.

Few months following, in May 2018, the VP appeared on the Truth FM's Truth Breakfast Show and openly apologized to the President for some of the things she had done that he didn't feel please about. No official response came from the President himself nor his Office. But as it said, 'Silence means concern', so Liberians thought that the President accepted his second's plead.

During the interview, the VP went on to beg for compassion and forgiveness, with a promise never to repeat such acts, which are said to be disproportionate to democracy, and has called for consultations on relevant matters at all times.

Despite her apology, the VP pointed to some misunderstandings between she and her boss, but she said the situation had been "amicably resolved."

In December 2018, the Liberia National Rural Women (LNRW) with membership throughout the 15 counties prevailed on the President and his Veep to settle their "in-house political differences and move on with the country's development agenda."

Nevertheless, it became more real and open to the public when in February of 2019 a leaked audio recording in which the Superintendent of Bong County, Madam Esther Walker, who happens to be a long-time aide to the Vice President, is heard narrating an ordeal she said suggest that President Weah was unhappy that the nation's highest traditional honor was bestowed on Vice President Jewel Howard-Taylor - a ceremony that led to the dismissal of the county's Dakpanah (heads of chiefs in the country). This brought back the feeling that the issue hasn't been truly resolved despite the VP's apology and other interventions.

THE SUPERINTENDENT is heard on the recording explaining to her aides that she had attended a party organized by First Lady Clar Weah after President Weah delivered his second Annual Message. According to her, it was at the President's Jamaica Resort, along the Roberts International Airport highway, where at least three of Pres. Weah's trusted lieutenants - Finance and Development Planning Minister Samuel Tweah, Minister of State for Presidential Affairs Nathaniel McGill and Monrovia City Mayor Jefferson Koijee were seated.

HOURS AFTER THE recording went viral, the Executive Mansion announced the superintendent's suspension for time indefinite.

THE SUPERINTEDENT'S suspension was preceded by a Facebook post from the government's chief spokesman, Information Minister Lenn Eugene Nagbe, who issued a word of caution that the superintendent's days in the government were numbered.

THE MINISTER DID NOT STOP there. He went on to accuse the Superintendent of being a liar and a gossiper, even insinuating that VP Taylor was her puppet-master. Madam Walker was eventually indefinitely suspended. She has since been reinstated, however.

To show how deep the feud was between the pair is, a month before the rural women's plead in December 2018, President Weah submitted a bill to the 54th Legislature, taking away his Vice President's oversight of the national lotteries and granting to himself the powers to appoint its head.

Since 1993 when the legislature first enacted the bill, the Vice President has had oversight of the national lotteries. In the past 12 years, former Vice President Joseph Boakai had the deciding vote on the lotteries board.

Fast forward to 2020, and in the recent week, the issue has shifted to funding amid concerns from the Vice President that operational moneys for her office are being strangled by the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning. She is not getting what is due her office.

The prevailing issues have done little to ease the speculations that she and her boss has a sour relationship.

Speaking to FrontPageAfrica in an exclusive interview on Monday, January 20, the Vice President acknowledged that while the relationship between she and the President has been somewhat cordial, she wishes things would have been better than they are now. "It is cordial. But as his principal deputy, I wish it were closer," the VP lamented.

"I want to describe the relationship with President Weah as cordial. We had an opportunity to sit together at the 100th convocation of the University of Liberia. If you look at the pictures we were, you know, laughing and engaging. I traveled at that point to take part in some women empowerment initiatives in other parts of the world. And I came back at the beginning of December, and everyone was involved in their own personal celebrations for the Christmas. So, I haven't seen him since then. But I believe that we have a cordial relationship between the two of us."

She adds: "The Constitution states clearly that the Vice President shall assist the President in the discharge of his duties and serve as President of the Liberian Senate. It leads me to believe that those duties should be ascribed by the President as to how the engagement should be and what interventions are needed. Had I hoped that we would have worked more closely together? Yes, I do."

"I remember campaigning with him across the country, across the region, discussing all of the issues, arguing about it and getting to a point where both of us were comfortable enough to take it to the larger body. So, maybe I became spoiled. And I hope that as we moved into working for the people of Liberia, that that relationship would have been as close as it was. However, I must admit that - again, my father used to say, if you don't walk a mile in someone's shoes, don't criticize them because you never know, the demons that people deal with."

It is very clear that in this latest interview, Madam Vice President did all to be too diplomatic and she carefully chose her words. Not trying her best to point accusing fingers at her boss, she took some of the blames, too.

"I hope as we move into the third year that some of those issues will even out and we will begin to work. I'm hoping that I will get a little bit more involved in rebuilding our country as I do come to the table with quite a lot that I think can be beneficial. But I know that I must wait until the President feels maybe comfortable enough. I should say that to say let's do this and let's do that. I'm still hopeful."

Mr. President, Vice President Taylor is hopeful that as you both begin the third year of your leadership, you two will be much more closer in doing the Liberian people's works for which both of you were equally voted for in the Presidential Election in 2017.

Be reminded Sir, that after more than a decade of civil war, and a successful democratic transfer of power, Liberia is at a threshold of enormous possibilities. Lingering feuding between you and your Vice President is unhealthy of country's burgeoning democracy that you two swore to protect.

THIS IS WHY WE HOPE and pray that two of you will find a common ground for the good of Liberia.

TOO MANY surrogates with selfish agendas are on the prowl to create confusion and animosity where it is really unnecessary. Others are totting news between the pair and sowing seeds of distrusts that if not repaired could cause a leadership crisis in the not too distant future.

But we think from the Vice President's latest interview, she has sincerely extended her hand of friendship and we plead with you, Sir, to please unclench your fist for the good of Liberia.

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