A Patriot’s Diary
With Ekena Wesley
Liberia is sadly the only country amongst emerging cum infant democracies where a Chief of Staff in the Office of the President is more powerful than the Vice President and seemingly would be at liberty to act as President deliberately. Power has a way of revealing the true nature of humankind. The small West African nation has come to experience various phrases of such unprecedented phenomenon. Such is the truism of our human complexity as it were.
We saw C. Wellington Campbell under Tubman; Willie Tolbert’s brother – Stephen Tolbert was posturing as Prime Minister; Samuel Doe produced Gray D. Allison until his fall from grace; Charles Taylor invoked his own kind – Chuckie Taylor; many saw sitting Bomi County senator, Morris Saytumah as former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s de facto Prime Minister; while today in Weah’s Liberia, Minister of State Nathaniel McGill has become the President in disguise.
Good-intentioned as Nathaniel McGill might be to support education in Liberia through a scholarship fund; it is high time the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC), Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), General Audit Commission (GAC) as well as the Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia (CENTAL) started to question or raise eyebrows as to whether Nathaniel McGill’s asset declaration filed with the LACC in 2018 reflects recent announcements in Gbarnga and Nimba respectively as to LRD$5 million and LRD$50 million scholarship fund.
For argument’s sake, at the current exchange rate of 147.65 to a dollar; LRD$50 million is equivalent to US$338,638.672. A sitting Minister in Liberia salary after taxes would be under US6,000.00. McGill has no history of investment(s) prior to 2018 when the CDC government came to power. Even if McGill were not surviving on his salary, which could be a magic formula – he is not supposed to receive gifts in contravention of the Code of Conduct – provided it is still a living document. Assuming the CDC-led government has been in power for four years; let’s do the math (6 x 12 x 4=288); and this is with the proviso that McGill did not spend a dime from his monthly salary. This is too good to be true if you may! When McGill buried his late mother recently, he said the Mausoleum was built – kind courtesy of his friends. Where were those friends when he could not afford rent? But the LACC did not invite him though for clearly confessing receiving gifts after all.
Isn’t that sufficient reason for the LACC, FIU, GAC, CENTAL et al to question the source of such funding in the name of scholarship? Worse still, even our political parties are busy with in-fighting and seem not to care about fundamental issues that they ought to be addressing in our country as it were? McGill cannot be manufacturing money in his home after all. The ultimate source is frankly dubious.
In what seems the Minister of State’s latest ‘scholarship Casanova;’ Nathaniel McGill, strangely, at a recent public event in Gbarnga, Bong County along with Vice President Jewel Howard-Taylor, donated LRD$5 million toward a scholarship fund when the VP pledged LRD$1 million. Surely, it was a singular disrespect and affront to official protocol by the Acting Chair of the Cabinet when the sitting Vice President who was in attendance pledged LRD$1 million. Does he know what he was doing? Perhaps McGill is consumed by the zest for power, which President George Weah is less concerned about anyway. Weah should be concerned amid ‘Etu brute?’ Alpha Conde’s overthrow did not come from afar just as Thomas Sankara’s– but under his nose.
The latest battleground of Weah’s all-powerful Minister of State, Nathaniel McGill’s newfound scholarship bonanza purportedly to score political cards – is vote-rich Nimba County. Lest we forget, Nimba was in the news for all the good reasons on the ‘integrity’ front. This time, what culminated into a political rally for the impending by-elections – became an epicenter for Nathaniel McGill’s newly introduced scholarship fund. The Minister of State announced LRD$50 million scholarship support for the education of sons and daughters of Nimba County.
Nimba’s history has been replete with elements in the fight for social justice in Liberia. Nimba believes in justice for all as well as the equitable distribution of state resources to the benefits of all. It was in the name of the pursuit of social justice the late Gen. Thomas Quiwonkpa, Wuo Tappia, D.K. Wonselly et al became a sacrificial lamb in our country’s sad chapter.
In as much as Senator Prince Johnson thinks a LRD$50 million scholarship fund makes sense; as a lawmaker, he should be advocating for such allotment to be reflected in the national budget for accountability purposes. On Bushrod Island, then rebel Gen. Prince Johnson executed civilians for looting because he denounced corruption. While LRD$50 million might appear so huge with a view to supporting education in Nimba, the bodies of the likes of Thomas Quiwonkpa, Wuo Tappia, D.K. Wonselly et al would be turning over in their graves because such an offer remains questionable.
Today, in Liberia at the pinnacle of our social justice push is Cllr. Tiawan Gongloe; a son of Nimba who epitomizes ‘integrity, accountability, transparency and rule of law.’ Nimba must stand towering in defense of transparency, integrity and accountability. Arguably, while Nimba could be looking forward to gifts in support of education for its children, we urge the good people of Nimba and Bong to be extremely careful how they receive gifts from the Greeks.
Literally, President Weah whose monthly salary according to the Constitution is LRD$10,000.00 – cannot raise US$338,638.672 in four years. The rat smells somewhere and the sooner the better. The LACC, FIU, GAC, CENTAL et al cannot sit idle why a few plunder and loot as hundreds of thousands of Liberian children go hungry. When did Nathaniel McGill envision a scholarship fund? Our politics is becoming impregnated! Beware! Sheep in wolves’ clothing!
McGill might be blaming colleagues in the cabinet for the administration’s poor MCC scorecard but the real truth is he’s building a secret empire and a castle in Spain. Only time will tell when he will hatch whatever his real motives in Weah’s Liberia.