Liberia: 'Dismissed With Dignity'

Ruling party stalwart Jamima Wolokolie gladly accepts her dismissal after rants that raised the ire of President Weah

The President of Liberia, George Manneh Weah, has dismissed with immediate effect Deputy Commerce Minister, Jemima Wolokollie. President Weah's decision follows "a string of actions incompatible with Deputy Minister Wolokollie's status as a senior government official," a release from the Executive Mansion said.

"Deputy Minister Wolokolie was earlier suspended by the President for insubordination and unprofessionalism," the release recalls, adding that the President "urges all officials of government who bear the public trust to conduct themselves properly."

Recently, Minister Wolokollie spoke out, claiming that all the CDC primaries for the upcoming midterm senatorial election have been engulfed in manipulations. Appearing on a local media program, Minister Wolokollie said she does not believe that the upcoming CDC primaries will be fair and transparent because Mayor Jefferson T. Koijee, who is selected to conduct the primaries this year, comes from Lofa County, the same county of her "major contender", Representative Thomas Fallah.

The Liberian media recently reported of a misunderstanding between Wolokollie and the CDC party chairman, Mulbah K Morlu. There were speculations that the CDC has selected Thomas Fallah to contest on the party ticket in the pending midterm senatorial election for Montserrado County.

Suspended for disrespect

President Weah on May 18, 2018, suspended Minister Wolokollie for "insubordination" towards Minister Wilson Tarpeh, after she had accused the minister on radio of conniving with shady foreign businesses in the country at the detriment of Liberian-owned businesses. Wolokollie's action was described as "unprofessional," and resulted in her indefinite suspension.

On October 9, 2018 the President reinstated Wolokollie to her post, Deputy Commerce Minister for Small Business Administration (SBA), with immediate effect.

In a one-line statement issued by the Executive Mansion, the president emphasized the need for all deputies to accord the highest respect and courtesy to their leaders (in this case their ministers) and refrain from taking internal disputes and/or disagreements to the public space for redress.

In her rant on a local radio at the time, Wolokollie said "I am asking Minister Tarpeh to open the market for Liberians to be able to do rice and petroleum, to bring in onions, but he has refused," she alleged. "It is very disturbing; why is Professor Tarpeh giving me a problem?"

She also claimed that Minister Tarpeh was blocking all her efforts to prioritize the interest of Liberianization - a policy that provides exclusive trade and commerce privileges for Liberian entrepreneurs - and does not want her to succeed in her functions.

While Deputy Minister Wolokollie's revelations found a way in the public, Minister Tarpeh at the time refused to comment on the allegations made against him, "because doing so would be giving relevance to unsubstantiated allegations," he said.

Untouchables in the CDC

Once again, Wolokollie believes she is being persecuted for speaking her mind, citing what she calls "the wrongs within the our party, Congress for Democratic Change".

"If by expressing my views about the wrongs within our party, Congress for Democratic Change, has warrant my dismissal, then so be it. I have no regret," she said in a post on her Facebook page.

According to her the world knows that what she said is the truth in terms of certain people being untouchable in the CDC.

"I spoke about the ills in our party and they are angry. The President is angry an he has fired me because of that," she said. "And I spoke about the untouchables. The untouchables are Mayor Koijee, Rep. Acarous Moses Gray and Chairman Mulbah K. Morlu; and the President just proved me right," she said.

Madam Wolokollie said she is very proud of the fact that she was not dismissed for stealing public funds or for corruption, being a woman of integrity and dignity, who stands for something and can't just fall for anything.

She said she stands by everything she said about the party and has no regret, although she has no plans of leaving the party.

In spite of her dismissal, Madam Wolokollie said she remains a founding member of the CDC because this is the party she has given birth to and will continue to support it, stating that people who just joined the party want to rule over them.

Now, with her sights set on the midterm senatorial elections slated for October senatorial midterm election, she is churning her dismissal into a platform of integrity on which to launch her campaign as an independent candidate for the senate. Calling on her supporters to continue to support her, she says "they need to look among the candidates and see who will be faithful to them and also truthful to them. They have to be the judge."

"Maybe they will stop me at the NEC because they have the power to do that. Maybe they will. They all there are appointed by the President of Liberia, who will tell them to not allow me to go as an independent."

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