Amid frantic efforts by the Government of Liberia to tone down the tension from the near-murderous attack on Telia Urey and her supporters in Logan town on August 17, 2019, President George Manneh Weah has called for an investigation in the violence.
Meanwhile, almost all video footage clearly showing the Liberia National Police at the scene on August 17, in riot gear, but doing nothing to stop the attack against Telia Urey and her supporters, have been taken down (or hidden) from Facebook.
There have also been frantic efforts by the CDC to reframe its rhetoric by condemning the violence against the opposition candidate. The governing council of the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) has condemned the attack, though without explicitly taking responsibility for any damage done.
In a statement issued Monday, August 19, the CDC praised its chairman, Mulbah Morlu, for “reaching out to Telia Urey to express condemnation” of the attack on her and her supporters in District #15.
However, Telia Urey told the Daily Observer that Morlu’s gesture was purely coincidental.
“We coincidentally bumped into each other and he asked to speak privately. He came to meet someone at my Fish Market complex and saw me sitting outside… He did apologize and condemn [the attack].”
However, Urey believes that, for the magnitude of the attack against her life and those of others that were with her, any apology from the CDC, its chairman Morlu or President Weah, should be contained in a public statement. This has not yet been done.
In addition to the investigation, President Weah has called for a dialogue with both sides following the attack.
However, the four collaborating political parties — the Liberty Party, All Liberian Party, Alternative National Congress and the Unity Party — through Senator Darius Dillon, have advised that Urey decline the invitation to dialogue.
Dillon, in his first press conference since being seated as Montserrado County Senator, said “… until President George Weah retracts openly that childish, reckless and unthoughtful statement that he made against Telia that, as long as he is President and his name is George Weah, that she would never be elected in this country. He should retract it. He put the lady’s life at harm’s way and her happiness and safety and danger with his people.”
Telia Urey, in her own words, says there is no room for dialogue.
“How can we dialogue when you almost caused our deaths?” she wrote on her Facebook page. “How can we dialogue when you’re trying to steal this election from us? How can we dialogue when you cannot acknowledge your wrongdoings? There’s no room for dialogue.”
“I turned it down,” Urey told the Daily Observer yesterday. “I will not be lured into any surface meeting which will be a PR stunt for his gain. If he’s serious about making peace, he can take action on his own.”
Apart from blame cast by the National Chairman of the Liberty Party, Lofa County Senator Steve Zargo, on President George Weah for allegedly orchestrating violence in District #15, Teila Urey says the Liberia National Police has proven itself unreliable to rely on for protection.
In a press conference on the day after her near-death experience in Logan Town, Ms. Urey called out her political rival, CDC candidate Abu Kamara, whose supporters, she said, carried out the attack on her and her supporters.
According to Urey, when the attack began with throwing of stones against her and the rest of those who had gone to consult with Kelvin Bayoh, one of the contestants in the district, the police was contacted. According to her, it took about twenty minutes for the police to reach the scene.
The Liberia National Police is a law enforcement arm of government under the Ministry of Justice, and it is responsible to save and protect all citizens without discrimination.
Ms. Urey said when the police in their riot gear arrived; they did nothing to stop the violence or protect her from the attackers, but stood supinely watching the violence as it took place. “The police stood there for about an hour and a half, while we were under attack,” Urey said.
“Are we protected? If we are protected, by whom are we protected?” she asked.
According to Ms Urey, a senior officer of the Liberia National Police with a code “105” was on the scene. She narrated that, when she asked the officer to assist her by using his government-issued vehicle to evacuate her and the others who were trapped in the building, which the attackers were threatening to set ablaze, the officer deliberately refused.
Live Facebook video footage from the incident captured Liberia National Police officers, clad in riot gear with batons and teargas guns, standing about fifty meters away, making absolutely no attempt to stop the violence.
A clearly embarrassing scene for the LNP, all but one of these footages have been taken off of Facebook.
Urey recalled that there had been previous attacks against her headquarters and her supporters since June, with a recent attack occurring at the National Elections Commission (NEC) wherein a pickup truck belonging to the Unity Party was vandalized. And even though one of the perpetrators was identified from Facebook Live video, the LNP have made no arrests.
This, Urey and other members of the four collaborating political parties believe is the partisan posture of the LNP, which disqualifies them to serve.
Ultimately, Urey believes that the attacks on her and supporters are direct results of a statement made by President George Weah at his CDC Headquarters that, “I am not speaking as President, but head of the Congress for Democratic Change. As long as I remain President, no Urey or Dillon will win an election here in Montserrado; we will flog this little girl.”
Some political commentators believe that the President’s promise to “flog this little girl”, as received by his die-hard supporters, could be more literal than figurative. In another view, some suggest that the President’s preface, “As long as I remain President…”, suggests that Weah plans to use his presidential power to do anything possible that would prevent Teila Urey from winning an elected post, even if it meant breaking the law or allowing the law to be broken with impunity.
Ms Urey in her statement during a press conference on Sunday, August 18, said, “Nobody owns District#15. We will stand firm against the President, Justice Minister, and the Police; nobody will intimidate us, we are bigger than the President and the Justice Minister because we are the people they serve. If they have forgotten, it is their job to protect us because now we are not protected.”
At the press conference, Benoni Urey, father of Ms. Urey, who once supported of the Congress for Democratic Change during administration of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, expressed the emotional stress he came under upon hearing that his daughter was being attacked at the point of death.
In his expression, Mr. Urey described President Weah as like a son to him and, Telia being like a sister to Weah, it was bad that Weah was seen to be condoning the perpetration of violence against his sister.
The opposition community has called on the United Nations Commission on Human Rights and other members of the international community to investigate the issue, promising not to engage into violence but to protect and keep the peace.
The Center for Policy Action and Research (CePAR) has released the result of a recent research it conducted with gloomy pictures of decreased budgetary allotments for infrastructures, and key socioeconomic areas.
In the wake of the result that is yet to be officially released, and passed into law, the 2019/2020 draft national budget has not being passed into law for full implementation.
“Therefore, the giving whopping allotments in salaries and operational costs to the Legislature, Executive and Judiciary branches of government, has been passed by the lawmakers.
The 2019/2020 draft budget is US$532,906,966, which US$489,956,966 or 91.9% goes to recurrent expenditure is yet to be officially made public.
CePAR’s research result indicates that US$34,599,815 or 6.4% of the total budget is allotted to the Legislature to defray expense attached to salaries, attend to basic operations including committee hearings among others. Of the amount allotted the Legislature, compensation accounts for 77.74 percent.
For the Executive, the draft budget allots US$700,000 for the President to meet humanitarian efforts that are not defined, followed by the Judiciary that will be receiving US$15,467,612.00 in salary for the fiscal year. Consultancy cost in the budget will take US$3,177,716.
Among the 11 governing sectors, including Public Administration, Municipal Government, Transparency and Accountability, Security and Rule, of Law, Health, Social Development Services, Education, Energy and Environment, Agriculture, Infrastructure and Basic Services and Commerce and Industry Sectors that are expected to receive, budgetary allotments in the national budget for fiscal year 2019/2020, the agriculture sector has the second lowest budget allocation with an anticipated spending of US$6,208,754 or 1.16%. The least with a pocket change amount is the Tourism Sector of US$4,000.
All other spending institutions under the Agriculture Sector took huge cuts with proposed spending on supplies and inputs put at US$165,000 for the fiscal year.
Taking each sector categorically, allocation for the overall healthcare system is US$75,478,910 or 14.1%, US$6 million decrease from the last appropriation.
This allotment brings drastic decreases to spending entities across the health sector, except for the Ministry of Health itself whose budget was augmented as a result of USAID’s support of US$6.2 million, and the Liberia Pharmacy Board with a budget increase of US$1,600.
Spending entities affected by budget cuts, include, but not limited to the John F. Kennedy Medical Center, Jackson Fiah Doe Hospital, Phebe Hospital, National Public Health Institute, Liberia Medical and Dental Council, Liberia Board of Nursing, National AIDS Commission, etc.
Subsidies for most private healthcare providers were removed, while health centers that did not receive budget support in the past were allocated budget. Among them are Gbarzon and Konobo Health Centers in Grand Gedeh, Gbondoi Health Center in Bong, Zekepa and Karnplay Health Centers in Nimba County, and Marshall and Kakata Health Centers in Margibi County.
According to CePAR, compensation across the health sector was cut by 9.2% or almost US$5 million; the largest cut in compensation for health workers in more than two decades and the only cut in compensation for health workers in the last 14 years.
Transfers or grants to all the county health teams also decreased while the National Public Health Institute of Liberia (NPHIL) got the deepest cut of about 70%.
The Education Sector is expected to grab US$81,557,132 or 15.3% of the budget; nevertheless, compensation for staff took a cut of US$1.2 million when compared to the past budget year. Total compensation for the education sector is US$51,208,375, while last year’s spending was US$52,414,649.
All spending institutions under the education sector are said to be affected by huge cuts in line with what Finance Minister Samuel Tweah once referred to as “Salary harmonization,” and all other private institutions that once received subsidies were removed entirely except Cuttington University.
Youth and Sports sector takes US$2,487,918 or 0.46% of the draft budget with a slice in budget for developmental youth programs including the Monrovia Vocational Training Center (MVTC).
The National Football Team is receiving US$300,000 which represents 0.56% of the budget while all 29 National Sporting Federations and Associations will receive US$69,555.
Under roads and bridges, the amount of US$29,300,000 which constitutes 5.49% is allotted in the draft budget. This is slightly below what was appropriated in fiscal year 2018/2019 which was US$29,663,236, but higher than what was actually spent last year in the tone of US$12,380,420.
It is not clear how much is allotted to the Security and Rule of Law Sector; however, CePAR’s analytical comparison shows that fiscal year 2019/2020 reduced allocations to several institutions in the security sector. Those institutions include the Liberia National Police, National Fire Service, the Palace of Correction, Drug Enforcement Agency and the Department of Corrections.
Nevertheless, even as allocations to these institutions were reduced, compensations for staffs at DEA, Liberia Immigration Services, National Police Training Academy and National Fire Service were increased.
“Compensation for employees of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) and the LNP took significant cuts in the 2019/2020 draft budget,” said CePAR.
CePAR’s analysis according to its release indicates that allocation for the Special Operations Services; Intelligence Services and Security operations under the National Security Agency (NSA) remain very high, with total allocation standing at $8.08 million.
The analysis shows that the Liberia Water and Sewer Corporation (LWSC) has the lowest budget support among institutions under Public Utility and Institutions. When compared with appropriations of fiscal year 2018/2019, the draft budget has an allocation of US$411,061 representing 57% of previous appropriation.
Allocation for the Liberia Electricity Corporation (LEC) is increased by 21% in the draft budget, but compacted in a way that makes further analysis impossible to understand funds for transmission and distribution and other core activities of the LEC. Rural Renewable Energy Agency (RREA) took a huge cut of 42% in wages alone with only US$16,424.00 allocated for fuel and lubricants and no dollar for core operations of the institution according to CePAR’s research.
The release quotes CePAR as noting that revenue estimates in the budget are not informed by quality projections as was the case of fiscal year 2018/2019. The total envelope for fiscal year 2019/2020 is US$532,906,966, with a decrease of US$38,000,000 when compared with fiscal year 2018/2019 budget.
There is accordingly anticipation of a World Bank loan of US$40,000,000 to augment the 2019/2020 budget.
Tax revenue projections are much lower (US$25 million) for 2019/2020 than they were for 2018/2019; however, while projected contingent revenue for 2018/2019 of US$12.6 million was not raised, projected contingent revenue for 2019/2020 is US$47,000,000—US$34.4 million more than previous projection.
State-owned enterprises to contribute to the budget this year are the Liberia Petroleum Refining Corporation (LPRC), National Port Authority (NPA), Liberia Airport Authority (LAA) and the National Fisheries and Aquaculture Authority (NFAA).
Others including, but not limited to National Housing Authority (NHA), Liberia Telecommunications Corporation (LTC) and LIBTELCO are not to make direct budgetary support to the budget.
The lifespan of the Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) between the European Union (EU) and the Government of Liberia (GoL) through the Forestry Development Authority (FDA), has been graciously extended by another three-year period, an FDA release has said.
The ceremony marking the official launch of Phase II of the VPA takes place on Tuesday, August 20, 2019 in Monrovia. It is expected to be graced by an array of government officials and an EU delegation. This Long Term Technical Assistance to Implement the Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) in Liberia is a project, funded by the EU for the continuation of EU support to the forestry sector to assist the implementation of the VPA/Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (VPA/FLEGT).
GoL will be represented by FDA managing director, C. Mike Doryen and the EU by Ambassador Hélène Cavé.
The objective of this project is to contribute to the development of Liberia’s forest sector by increasing the value of traded timber products through the strengthening of overall forest governance, sustainable management of forest resources, law enforcement, and rule of law, and equitable sharing of forest benefits, among others.
This second phase of EU assistance will emphasize the trade rather than aid aspects of the program. This phase aims at enabling Liberia develop its capacity to issue FLEGT Licenses to help increase international trade with higher paying markets like the EU and others.
For this to happen, completing the building of systems and procedures and putting these into operation is needed, so that a Legality Assurance System is fully in place in Liberia. Private operators and community forest owners can then be encouraged to obtain FLEGT Licenses and benefit from added-value exports to premium markets.
The FDA is already increasingly taking over responsibilities for managing and financing the VPA implementation.
The EU assistance to the VPA process started in 2013 under a first phase of VPA support through a co-financing arrangement between EU and DFID by a total of approximately EUR 20 million, implemented through two main technical assistance projects; one to create a Legality Verification Department (LVD), and the other a VPA Support Unit (VPA/SU). This was complemented by funding of specific additional actions, like support to the civil society, and the independent auditor.
A key feature of the EU project is that it will help FDA to provide this coordination in its role as Lead-Agency. This will be achieved through the institutions and processes that were set up for VPA in the first phase; such as the VPA Secretariat, the Liberia Implementation Committee (LIC), National Multi Stakeholder Monitoring Committee (NMSMC) and the guidance provided by the Forward Planner (the VPA road map).
The main counterparts to this project are the Government of Liberia institutions administering the forest resources namely the Forest Development Authority (FDA), the Ministry of Justice (MoJ), Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MoFDP), the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Ministry of Labor (MoL). The present project is a second phase of the specific technical assistance, totaling around EUR 3.4 million.
Liberia, a country rich in natural resources with over 4 million hectares of forests, has successfully emerged from war into a peaceful democracy. With variable figures during the last decade, the current contribution of the forest sector to the GDP is estimated around 10 to 11% with ambitions from the current administration to increase this contribution to at least 12% in the coming years, hence the importance of emphasizing trade.
The export of commercial timber generates about US$8 million of government revenue annually, which is roughly 26% of the total earnings from natural resources.
Former residents of Fendall, whose properties were destroyed by the demolition exercise carried out by the Ministry of Public Works are to benefit an amount of US$8,000,000 should they agree with the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC)-led administration in an effort to settle them through an amicable agreement.
Over the weekend, the Technical Mediation Team (TMT) headed by the executive director of the Liberia Refugee Repatriation and Resettlement Commission (LRRRC), Festus Logan, presented its findings and recommendations to the victims, and has promised to submit same to President George Weah for the necessary redress.
It can be recalled that in February 2019, President Weah instructed the LRRRC and the Liberia Media Democratic Initiative (LMDI) to conduct a three-month long intervention aimed at finding a peaceful resolution to the Fendall land dispute, and and subsequently a redress each to the concerns of the victims.
President Weah’s instruction came about a month following a rare and unexpected apology to the victims.
The demolition was carried out on orders of former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf so as to allow the University of Liberia (UL) claim ownership of the land for the expansion of its educational programs, but unfortunately for the university’s administration, the deed presented into evidence bore 2018 as the time of purchase and ownership, whereas the victims had in their possession deeds that dated as far back as the early 1900s..
In a letter dated February 13, 2016 to Mr. Logan, the Minister of State, Nathaniel McGill instructed him to liaise with LMDI to carry out an independent investigation into the demolition, and come out with concrete findings and recommendations.
It is against this back drop that the LRRRC and the LMDI recently held a consultative meeting with over 200 of the affected individuals at a grade school near the Fendall Campus.
“The estimated cost of the damage done is US$16,610,783.96, but the Fendall Technical Mediation Committee would like to suggest that government pays half of the overall estimated cost of US$8,000,000 to meet the President’s ‘halfway policy’ statement,” Samuel Worzi, an executive of the LRRRC said in his presentation of the report to the victims.
Before the introduction of any negotiation by CDC-led government, the Fendall demolition victims sued the Liberian government at the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Court for a US$40,000,000 damage.
But as it went, President Weah sent a team of government lawyers to the ECOWAS Court in Nigeria with the mandate to appeal to the court in order for the case to return back home (Liberia) and be settled amicably.
There was a success as the legal team succeeded in working with the LMDI and the LRRRC on initiating a dialogue for the settlement of claims and counter claims.
The next recommendation from the mediation committee was that government carries out a traditional abolition and community cleansing through awareness, peace building, conflict resolution and community participation in the ten affected towns and villages, including the Fendall community.
As part of the report, the mediation team said it has observed that the affected residents of Fendall are prepared to be moderate in their legal claims of funds being requested for damage based on the good faith demonstrated by President Weah.
“The committee observed that of the 50,000 inhabitants said to have been affected by the demolition exercise, only 13,500 individuals were officially profiled,” the TMC said.A cross-section of the affected persons in the Fendall demolition carried out in 2016
They added that during their mediation and estimated number of 2,107 family heads representing 11,471 dependents or in total, 13,578 individuals were affected by the demolition exercise.
The team said tradition sites, graves, and other protected areas were destroyed.
“From all indications, a good number of the victims, including men, women and children are finding it difficult in their cognitive development because they are still living with relatives,” the TMC report continued.
They noted further that that of the number of those affected by the demolition exercise, there were two real estate land owners while 480 are original land owners.
Others are 1,441 squatters, 22 land renters, 148 traditional land owners and 14 were underdeveloped land owners.
In reply to the TMC’s recommendation that government pays US$8,000,000 rather than US$16,610,783.96 or the original US$40,000,000 for the extreme damages caused by the demolition, James J. Lablah, who is one of the affected residents, said the mediation committee should have left the amount at US$40,000,000 or at US$16,610,783.96.
“As one of the affected individuals, I think government should pay us either the US$40,000,000 or agreeably, US$16,610,783.96. We have sustained so much wounds. Our loss is even irreparable,” Lablah said.
Meanwhile, the head of the committee representing the aggrieved Fendall residents, Mrs. Viola Lincoln, in support to LMDI’s head, John Kollie and the LRRRC leadership, appealed to her fellow affected friends to accept the US$8,000,000 due to the challenging economic crisis confronting the country.
TMC is expected to submit its report to President Weah for final review and consideration any time soon.
Montserrado County District #15 candidate Ms. Telia Urey on Monday, August 19, 2019, announced a contribution of L$2 million as a contribution to the late Adolph A. Lawrence scholarship fund drive in the district.
The amount is intended to help deserving students in District #15, whose parents cannot afford to enroll them in this academic school year 2019/2020.
She said, “I am proud to announce a contribution of $2 million Liberian Dollars by me to Hon. Adolph Lawrence’s Scholarship Foundation. We will continue the good work of this great man, my idol.”
Ms. Urey is contesting on the ticket of the All Liberia People (ALP), with the support of the collaborating political parties, comprising the ALP, Alternative National Congress (ANC), the Liberty Party (LP) and the former ruling Unity Party (UP).
On her Facebook page on Monday, Urey said students and families that the late Adolph Lawrence helped so generously can rest assured that “we will not leave them.”
It can be recalled that the late Lawrence offered over a hundred scholarships to deserving students.
Also, during her campaign, Ms. Urey said that, when elected to the Lower House, 100 percent of her salary, allowances or benefits will be given back to the people of the district.
She said there is a need to engage the Ministry of Education on teachers’ salary and improve the health sector.
“In our district, there is no government hospital and we will engage the government to boost private clinics.”
According to Ms. Urey, the district is yearning and there is a huge void for development. She said the Legislature needs people with experience who cannot be compromised.
She said, “I don’t need a crowd but few committed people who believe in me and share my view. We are not looking to receive a salary; when the economy goes down it affects the poor people.”
Ms. Urey named the empowerment of women and people living with disabilities, health and education as her major priorities when elected.
The director general of the National Fisheries and Aquaculture Authority (NaFAA) has commended the government of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) for remaining committed to its pledge of bridging capacity gaps by ensuring the man power development of Liberians under the Coalition for Democratic Change government, led by President George Weah.
NaFAA Director-General, Madam Emma Metieh Glassco, who spoke on Monday, shortly after the arrival of the 25 NaFAA staffs from People’s Republic of China (PRC) following a month of training course in Mariculture, termed the training as timely.
Madam Glassco added, “China is a friend at the right time.”
Mrs. Glassco noted that said training of the 25 NaFAA Staffs has created a window of opportunities, as those trained are now capable to train other Liberians into basic fisheries skills, particularly mariculture.
While rating their experiences, some of the 25 NaFAA’s staffs, narrated that the mariculture training was intensive and rewarding, and afforded them an opportunity to interact with world class fisheries professors and experts.
The spokesperson of the 25 NaFAA staffs, Tete Babyte Doe, said the trip to China was an eye opener in the field of mariculture and, as such, they have gathered information that would be used to adequately enhance development in the Liberian Fisheries sector.
The head of the NaFAA delegation to China, commended the Chinese Government for the opportunity, but also lauded the Liberian government, through NaFAA, for affording them the opportunity to gain knowledge in mariculture.
It can be recalled in July 2019, 25 NaFAA Staffs departed Liberia for a month-long training in China as part of efforts of the CDC led-government towards achieving the Human resource development component of the Pro Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development, a statement from the NaFAA said.
The training beneficiaries include fisheries managers, technicians, enterprise supervisors as well as other professionals engaged in varying activities within the Fisheries sector of Liberia.
The training was aimed at enhancing participants’ theoretical knowledge and practical skills in mariculture, strengthening the friendly exchanges between China and Liberia, and expanding cooperation between the two nations in the marine fishery.
The training took place at the Fujian Institute of Oceanography (FJIO), located in Xiamen city – a special economic zone lying in the southeastern coast of China. Fujian Institute of Oceanography is a full-funding public institution affiliated to Fujian Provincial Department of Science & Technology, as well as a non-profit comprehensive maritime research and development institution.
The training course focused on the culture technology for “Fish, Shrimps, Shellfish and Crabs”, which was conducted through lectures, teaching practice, field trips and so on.
The Lecturers were Scholars and Experts from universities and scientific research institutions such as Fujian Institute of Oceanography, Xiamen University, Fisheries Research Institute of Fujian, Guangdong Hisenor Group Co., Ltd. of Guangdong Haid Group, Xiamen Kehuan Marine Biotechnology Co., Ltd.
The head of the NaFAA delegation made presentations on basic national conditions, administrative organs and managerial methods of governmental maritime sectors; fundamental profile of sea areas and marine fishery resources.
Other areas were, Fishery production, marine fishing, mariculture, fisheries infrastructure construction, trade and processing of aquatic products, Marine economic development planning and strategy, Marine related policies, laws and regulations, International cooperation, main cooperative countries, present cooperation ways and management modes in marine related industries.
Those who made the trip to China for the month long training were John Pekey Glayflor Jr., Human Resource Officer; Tete Babyte Doe, Associate Fixed Assets Director; Patience Wilson Kennedy, Customer Service Officer; Zubah Kollie Yennego, Procurement Assistant; Anthony F. Williams, Monitoring and Evaluation Officer; Yarkpawolo Kpasaquio Johnson, Manager, Aquaculture Extension; and Oscar Dargbah Daryoue Aquaculture Extension Officer.
Others were John S. Morley, Fisheries Observer; Fred B. Wright, Aquaculture Technician; Glanedea Nancy Kolleh, Data Field Coordinator; Rachel Leela Suah, Enumerator; Zoe Yarwhere, Executive Secretary, Director General’s Office; Emmanuel Tony Hallawangar, Receptionist; and Tony Bright Cole Jr., Office Assistant.
The rest included Richard Nelson Kargbo, Fisheries Officer; George Adtudu Armah, Technical Officer; as well as Alice Bropleh Weah, Deborah Tarmen Armah, Annette M. Johnson, Abraham M. Johnson and Monibah Leo Keymah.
Contestants of the just ended 2019 ‘Miss Liberia United States of America (USA) Scholarship Pageant’ are encouraging others to follow their dreams, exhibiting self-discipline and respect throughout their journey.
The contestants, representing the States of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Indianapolis, and Georgia; also stressed the importance of hard work and passion as drivers of success in the quest to achieve goals and dreams.
The contestants expressed the belief that while it is important and noble to serve in the Government, young people should realize that working in the Government is not the only source of making a living. They urged young Liberians to use their gifts and talents to become entrepreneurs and employers themselves.
The young Liberian ladies spoke during a courtesy call on Dee-Maxwell Saah Kemayah, Sr., Liberia’s Ambassador to the United Nations.
During the interactive visit, many of the contestants who indicated that they’ve gone public with their stories to positively impact other young people, tearfully shared their life experiences–how they survived homelessness, sexual abuse and violence, neglect, and lack of confidence and self- esteem.
The contestants also shared their dreams and aspirations for Liberia. They envisaged, among others, a country that will experience a change in the minds and attitudes of its people; a more unified people; more investments in infrastructure and the educational development of young people; and a liberated Liberia that is not exploited by outsiders.
On their contributions to ensuring a better Liberia in line with their dreams and aspirations, the contestants spoke of initiatives they have taken to support education and tourism; ranging from educational advocacy, distribution of books, uniforms, and desks; to awareness creation on the culture and richness of Liberia in various spaces. One contestant, Vivian Smith, an entrepreneur, spoke of the ongoing construction of a building in Liberia that will explore and enhance the talents of young Liberians.
For his part, Amb. Kemayah welcomed the organizers and contestants of the ‘Miss Liberia USA Scholarship Pageant’ to the Permanent Mission of Liberia to the United Nations; and expressed that he was pleased and honored by their visit.
Ambassador Kemayah thanked the organizer of the pageant, the Liberia United Women in Progress, for using the platform to promote young Liberian women in the United States; and bringing out their hidden talents. The Liberian Diplomat encouraged the organizer of the pageant to explore linking the event with the Ministry of Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism, which has the mandate to conduct National Miss Liberia Pageants in Liberia.
Ambassador Kemayah also encouraged the Liberia United Women in Progress to include undertaking a tangible project in Liberia as part of its Pageant activities, to make it more visible in Liberia.
Ambassador Kemayah then assured the contestants that President George Manneh Weah, as Liberia’s Feminist-in-Chief, has an unflinching practical commitment to women and youth empowerment.
On their dreams and aspirations for Liberia, the Liberian Envoy assured that the Government under the leadership of President Weah is already making genuine efforts to address huge inherited challenges affecting the economy, the infrastructure, the educational and health sectors, among others.
Ambassador Kemayah highlighted that the government’s national development agenda, the Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (PAPD) has at its core, the people; and assured that the Government of President Weah will continue to work to ensure the empowerment of all Liberians.
The Liberian Ambassador to the United Nations encouraged the contestants and all Liberians in the Diaspora to join the development drive of President Weah and contribute to addressing the inherited challenges in Liberia. He also encouraged Liberians to speak positively about the country to people they meet and on social media; stressing that such actions would encourage foreigners and investors to develop an interest in Liberia.
Following the meeting, Ambassador Kemayah hosted the ‘Miss Liberia United States of America (USA) Scholarship Pageant’ delegation to a dinner.
Miss Liberia New York; Nupol Kiazolu, won the 2019 ‘Miss Liberia USA Scholarship Pageant’. The 19-year-old is a student at Hampton University in Virginia. She is also a Civil Rights Activist and President of the Greater New York Chapter of Black Lives Matter. She is also the first Liberian to make the ‘Teen Vogue’s 21 Under 21 Class’, which spotlights extraordinary young women, girls, and femmes making waves in their industries or passions of choice. As part of her reign as Miss Liberia USA, Miss Kiazolu is expected to make a ten-day trip to Liberia.
The 2019 ‘Miss Liberia USA Scholarship Pageant’ is the 17th edition for the Liberia United Women in Progress, the official organizer of the event. The Head of the Organization, Pageant Director Ms. Renee Wilson explained that the event presents the contestants and winners with exposure and a platform to share and achieve their life’s goals.
According to Ms. Wilson, the Pageant also provides the contestants and winners with amazing opportunities to travel and network at all levels—High-level, Middle-level and low-level; creating relevant partnerships to enhance their work.
Miss Wilson expressed appreciation to Ambassador Kemayah for the exceptional hospitality accorded her team; and the motivational session which allowed the young women to speak up and share their stories for the young people in Liberia. She described the exceptional reception received as the first of its kind for the Miss Liberia USA Scholarship Pageant team, in its seventeen (17) years of organizing the pageant.
“It was a memorable experience for the contestants; and the generosity you showed us was amazing. I hope to work with you again” Ms. Wilson stressed.
The 2019 ‘Miss Liberia USA Scholarship Pageant’ was held on July 26, 2019 in Philadelphia, United States of America.
Government and Other Institutions Should NOT Use Public Email (GMAIL or YAHOO) As Their Official Communication Medium
By Dr. Darren Wilkins | 0886703789\0777129092 | DWilkins@SaharaTechnology.Com
A few months ago, I tried to register for a course in Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning at a renowned university in the USA, using my GMAIL account. During the registration process, I was asked to enter my institution of employment in addition to other required information. When it was time to finalize the registration process, I received an error message informing me that the process could not be completed because an INSTITUTIONAL EMAIL was required; that the system could not accept my GMAIL email address. Prior to that experience, I had received a similar error message when I tried to subscribe online to a white paper on the topics mentioned above.
In today’s article I try to inform if not educate, my readers on the essence or the imperatives of using institutional email rather than public emails, for official communication purposes. I shall briefly define public email; give you examples of them; and delineate some of the dangers of using them as an institutional communication medium. I will also suggest ways of obtaining an institutional email system for your institution, assuming you already don’t have one. So, here we go!!!
Despite the advent and presence of other communications tools such as texting, video-conferencing (WhatsAPP, IMO, Skype, Messenger, etc), blogging, microblogging, etc., email remains yet a popular platform for business communication. Two types of emails are frequently used by individuals and organizations: institutional emails and public emails. Institutional emails are those specifically owned by the institution using its own domain name. For example, DoeJX@UL.Edu.Lr, or DoeJX@Busycorp.Com.Lr, DoeJX@MFDP.Gov.Lr.
Public email systems are those that are offered FREE OF CHARGE by their providers. Some examples of pubic email systems include GMAIL, Yahoo, Hotmail, (DoeJX@Gmail.com, DoeJX@Yahoo.Com, etc.). Since these email services are provided by external providers, they (the providers) remain in complete control of all emails and account data, which are stored externally on their servers; and they (providers) are not subject to our regulatory restrictions.
Visit the Emansion website’s jobs page or read some of the local dailies. You will notice that official communications emanating from Government agencies or other public institutions, especially job advertisements, often include something like: “Contact human resources at: HR@Yahoo.com” or “MINISTER@Gmail.com”. Oftentimes we see Government communications or business cards with individuals listing their GMAIL or YAHOO! account(s) as their official email contact. And when I say officials, I am not just talking about low level officials, I am referring to some top officials of Government, businesses, academia and other sectors. While the use of public email system is not illegal (not to my knowledge of course), it is absolutely UNPROFESSIONAL and from an IT/ICT standpoint, it allows room for a lot of problems.
No doubt, public email systems have increased and improved communications since the advent of the internet. They have made the traditional postal system relatively useless since they are faster, less cumbersome and cheaper. Yet, like most “free” things on the internet, public email systems come with a lot of stress. They provide a medium for scamming, cyber-impersonation, hacking, malware distribution, phishing, cyber-extortion and other cyber-crimes. Moreover, an institution’s use of public emails as official communication medium not only leaves room for data breaches, legal issues, etc., but it also takes away the professional image that is supposed to be inherently exhibited by institutions.
Some folks would argue that public emails such as GMAIL or YAHOO are provided by large companies that have tremendous resources to prevent cyber-criminal activities, hence it is safe to use them in ANY institution. It is true these are companies with humongous resources, but immunity from cyber-attacks has not always been the case with all of them. You see, for many years, many of us thought that companies like Yahoo!, Google, et al, were totally untouchable or impenetrable. This perception endured until September 2016 when Yahoo confirmed that its system had been attacked and that, no less than half a billion user accounts had been compromised in what was one of the largest cybersecurity attacks ever known. What was very alarming about this incident was not only the fact that detailed account information was stolen, but rather, the fact that the breach itself occurred in 2014, two years before being discovered.
The other obvious reason why pubic email, especially public email accounts of individuals should not be used in institutions is the possible threat on continuity. For example, if an employee uses his/her public email address to set up an account for a service that’s critical to the institution, the institution runs the risk of losing access to that service if individual’s email account is compromised or if the individual leaves the institution. To ensure that the institution retains ownership of its services, it is best to use the institution’s email and not a public or an individual email account.
I may sound a bit trite or redundant but the primary goal of this article is to discourage Government officials and officials of other institutions from using public emails for official communication purposes. Emails from institutions should be sent through their own email system using their own domain (@yourinstitution.gov.lr, .edu.lr, .com.lr, etc) and not at GMAIL or at YAHOO. You see, just like an institution’s name or logo, an email address is often one of the things that people see when dealing with an institution for the first time. Hence, a branded email address usually gives the right first impression.
Obtaining an institutional email system using your own domain name these days is not as difficult as it used to be back in the day. These days, all you have to do is first obtain a Liberian internet domain if you are operating in Liberia (something with the .Lr extension…. www.xxx.gov.lr or www.xxx.com.lr or www.xxx.edu.lr). This is done at the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications through the Chief Information Office. The CIO submits a request for a domain to our domain registrar who then creates the domain. I know this because I wrote the procedure to obtain a domain. After obtaining the domain name, you can purchase an email service from a reputable company, assuming you do not have an email server in-house.
The process of obtaining a .LR domain as I said earlier is not as cumbersome as it was in the past. There are few requirements of course and they are as follows: an entity requesting a .LR domain must be registered in Liberia and have a physical presence here. In addition, the institution must have a hosting (web or email) platform that is connected to two international backbones situated in two geographical locations. Now the two geographical locations is a requirement that many web hosting companies including GoDaddy do not meet. So, it is imperative that your institution speaks with the authorities at the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications for guidance with this endeavor.
Finally, this email is not intended to discourage you from using your Gmail or Hotmail or Yahoo email accounts for your own personal reasons. No! In fact, I too have my Gmail accounts that I use for personal reasons. I just won’t use it when I am performing tasks for an institution that employs me. If you are conducting business on behalf of the institution, you should use the institution’s email because it reduces the chances of data breaches and other disruptions; it provides better legal protection; it gives the IT/ICT department better control over institutional communications; it provides email continuity; it provides a safeguard for critical institutional functions and it enables the institution to exhibit its professional image. So, let me end by stating succinctly that NO GOVERNMENT, BUSINESS or ACADEMIC institution should use GMAIL, YAHOO, or HOTMAIL to send any serious business communication to external partners or stakeholders; that’s a NO NO!!
Until next week,
The violent attack over the weekend on District#15 lead candidate Telia Urey by hooligans and thugs widely believed to be supporters of CDC candidate Abu Kamara which left several of her supporters wounded and the lady herself bruised and badly shaken and properties destroyed has left the nation wondering just where the country seems to be headed under the leadership of President George Manneh Weah.
This is not the first, second or third of such incidents of violence perpetrated by supporters of the CDC which have been reported to the Police but to which Police response has either been withheld or has been at best lukewarm or feeble. The Liberia National Police display of bias and partisanship is serving to dangerously undermine public trust and confidence in the Police under its current leadership.
In all of these reported incidents of violence perpetrated by thugs and hooligans including the weekend violence in District #15 perpetrated by elements believed to be acting at the behest of the CDC leadership, there have been no Police arrests thus leaving the public with a distinct impression that the Police cannot be trusted to protect their lives and properties.
As the events in Logan Town District#15 amply demonstrate, the growing wave of violence especially political violence is having a destabilizing effect with communities unsure and uncertain of the future given what appears to be a gradual slide into renewed civil conflict. That such developments are occurring under the watch of the most popularly elected president in the nation’s history is what most Liberians find unfathomable.
And, the fact that such negative developments are occurring in less than two years into his six-year term of office strongly suggests, as some are inclined to believe, that these are but attempts to sanitize the political environment through the use of force and violence in order to ensure uncontested CDC dominance of the country’s political landscape. Whatever the case, this newspaper holds the view that violence is absolutely unacceptable as a means to enhance the achievement of political ends.
The CDC leadership has to come to terms with the fact that times have since changed and that the CDC, by its own making, is fast losing the relevance it once had. And it must indeed be a frightening reality that the recent losses at the polls show that power appears to be slipping away so fast from their grasp and that sooner or later the “choo-choo gravy run” will be all over.
Apparently, the CDC leadership is caught, trapped between a joyful and glorious yesterday that is no longer and a highly uncertain tomorrow bereft of the promise and glory of yesterday. Fighting tooth and nail to forestall the advent of a tomorrow removed from the seat of power, the use of unprovoked and unbridled violence has now become a viable option and resort to its use to ensure political dominance is being tested with the political opposition serving as guinea pigs in what appears to be a ECO experiment gone awry.
Thus, against the background of the weekend political violence in Logan Town, the public is left wondering just what the disposition of the US Ambassador on these developments is given her reticence or stony silence quite unlike earlier in July led when she threw herself into the fray and openly chided the opposition for selecting last July 26 as a protest date.
This newspaper is also concerned about the disposition of ECOWAS with its early warning crisis prevention mechanism, who have not said a word about the unprovoked violence unleashed by the CDC in the just ended Montserrado County by-elections. In the opinion of the Daily Observer, these developments should be of utmost concern to ECOWAS, especially troop contributing countries, given contribution in lives and material resources over the years to restore peace to Liberia.
As can be discerned, the violence in Logan Town over the weekend has served to escalate tensions and all sides must do all they can to prevent any further escalation in tension. The Daily Observer, in this regard commends Ms. Telia Urey for exercising restraint and calling on her supporters to stay calm and refrain from any form of retaliatory violence.
The Daily Observer, having learnt that CDC Chairman Morlu has since extended and apology to Ms. Urey, commends him but calls on him to not only tone down the rhetoric but urges him to also seek to engage the opposition in meaningful and constructive dialogue aimed at de-escalating rising tension in the country. Violence and its use, he should know, is not the exclusive preserve of any political party let alone any Liberian and any thinking in such direction should be strongly discouraged.
But granted Morlu, on behalf of his party, apologized to Ms. Urey, the question now is what follows in the wake of the violence that resulted in many injuries and damage sustained to property. Who, for example, is going to shoulder the costs for the damages sustained to property and underwrite the medical bills of those who got injured during the fracas?
On a final note, the Daily Observer reiterates its call to President Weah to break his silence and speak to the issues as the Liberian people have indicated onvarious radio talk shows and other media. He can no longer afford to lead from the back. He should lead from the front and take charge because from all indications, he is being led to an untimely and a very unkind fate by others.
Enough, there is no more to be said!
TRC REFLECTIONS-10 YEARS LATER PART 2
By John H.T. Stewart, Commissioner, Former TRC of Liberia
The response or reaction of the public to Part 1 of this series, “TRC Reflections-10 Years Later”, has been mixed with a few individuals raising questions about my motives for providing such reflections while others have urged me to abort further publications.
For the most part, a lot of encouraging signs have been received not only suggesting but urging that I continue to throw light on the entire report since there is not much public awareness of what it actually contains other than what is currently being widely discussed-that is the establishment of a war and economic crimes court for Liberia.
However, it is important to provide some historical background in order to provide a proper context within which the report and recommendations can be fully understood. Detailed accounts of this history from personal reflection and recall will however be discussed in a later publication.
This caveat, notwithstanding, the public needs to know that all the information generated by the TRC which includes county reports, investigative reports, witness testimonies, in-camera hearings, 22,000 statements, etc are deposited not in the archives of the Republic of Liberia but in the archives of the Georgia Tech University in Atlanta, Georgia.
It may interest the public to know that following submission of its report to the Government of Liberia through the National Legislature in December 2009, several appeals made to the GoL to take official possession of the information generated by the TRC went unheeded.
The lease on the building occupied by the TRC had expired and with the exception of documents, and other relevant printed material, the General Services Agency(GSA) had taken possession of everything else including vehicles, a 50kv power generator, air conditioners, office furniture, computers and related equipment, etc.
But the reality soon dawned on Commissioners that the GoL had no interest in securing the documents and fearing destruction of documents by the elements, arson attacks, burglary or other untoward criminal acts against the TRC officers, Commissioners made the decision to enter into an arrangement with the Georgia Tech University which had partnered with the TRC to safeguard the documents until such time when it could be turned over to the GoL.
That said, just what does the TRC report contain aside from recommendations on Lustration and Criminal Accountability is the lingering question on the minds of the public. And it is this question which I shall be attempting to answer in subsequent publications.
The public firstly needs to know and understand that the mandate given the TRC through the TRC Act required that the TRC provided the opportunity for victims as well as perpetrators of human rights abuse committed during the period of its mandate (January 1979-October 2003) to have their voices heard and to speak directly to the Liberian people through sworn testimony before the Commission.
To enhance this process, the TRC conducted statement taking around the country, taking as many statements as possible from individual statement givers about the violence/atrocities which they either experienced or witnessed during the conflict. Each of those statements provide detailed accounts and deep insight into the nature of the violence/atrocities experienced or witnessed by the particular statement giver.
In order to make meaning of all this information being generated, the TRC engaged the services of Kristen Cibelli, Amelia Hoover and Jule Kruger of the California based Benetech Human Rights Program to provide descriptive and quantitative analytical accounts/statistics from the 17,416 statements submitted to the TRC.
The quantitative analytical account presented to the TRC can, according to the analysts, “identify patterns and trends of violations experienced or perpetrated by the statement givers collectively and together, the aggregate group of statements can magnify the voices of victims and provide a body of empirical data that can help in processes of acknowledgement, accountability, understanding and closure” according to the analysts.
But the TRC however acknowledges that the information or data it generated represents only that given by individuals who gave statements to the TRC and they do not necessarily represent the overall pattern of violence committed during its mandate period, 1979-2003.
It must be noted that the TRC documented tens of thousands of violations. For the record, the TRC documented more violations than any previous truth commission anywhere in the world. These violations, although overlooked by policy makers, represent the experiences of about twenty thousand Liberians which cannot be overlooked or dismissed by a wave of the hand.
Out of 17,416 statements presented to the TRC 17,160 were entered into the TRC database for statistical analysis and interpretation. Thus, the analysis presented by the TRC is reflective of 17,160 out of 17,416 statements entered into the TRC’s database. The 17,160 statements contain information about 86,647 victims and 163,615 total violations. Total violations include 124,225 violations suﬀered by individual victims, 39,376 suﬀered by groups, and 14 by institutions.
The information generated by the TRC which is disaggregated by sex shows 46,188 female victims which account for 37.2 percent of total violations reported, while the figure for male victims stands at 76,905 males, accounting for 61.9 percent of total violations and the figure for unknown victims by sex stands at 1132, accounting for 0.9 percent.
Further to the above, and based on the nature of the violence that occurred during the TRC mandate period from 1979-2003 and also based on the TRC’s analytical objectives, it developed a set of definitions based on the types of violations recorded during the conflict and based also on the TRC’s analytical objectives. Accordingly, twenty-three types of violations(crimes) were identified as having been committed during the period of conflict. The type and percent accounting for each violation is also clearly identified in the report.
Amongst these violations, “Force Displacement” stands out as the highest accounting for one-third (1/3) 36, percent of total violations while 28,000 killing violations were recorded, accounting for 17.1 percent of total violations and ranking as the second highest recorded violation. Ranking third in order is “Assault” standing at 13,222 victims and accounting for 8.1 percent.
Standing fourth in ranked order at 8 percent is “Abduction” accounting for 13,045 victims; fifth in ranked order at 4.7 percent is “Looting”, accounting for 7,619 victims followed by “Forced Labor” accounting for 7,560 victims and ranking at 4.6 percent of total violations.
To be continued: