The Inquirer is a leading independent daily newspaper published in Liberia, based in Monrovia. It is privately owned with a "good reputation".

Unregulated Campaigning Paralyzes Weah’s Gov’t

By Bill W. Cooper

With 26 more days to the Presidential and Legislative Elections, almost all government ministries and agencies are being run by office assistants.

This intriguing turn of events record government officials’ prolong absence from their regular duties which is against even the civil servant law of Liberia, worse more their absence is due to their active campaigning activities.

This decision has captured the attention of several citizens, raising questions about the implications for governance, electoral fairness, and the democratic process in the country.

Our reporter, who visited several Ministries, including the Ministries of Commerce, Finance, Education, Gender and Health, among others yesterday, September 13, 2023, observed the absence of the Ministers and their deputies; especially presidential appointees.

For instance, some of the key Ministers and deputies who deliberately abandoned their work for political reasons, since the start of the campaign period are Finance Minister, Samuel Tweah; Commerce Minister Mawanie Diggs and Gender Minister, Williametta Saydee-Tarr.

Others are Education Minister, Ansu Sonni; Garrison Yealue of the Governance Commission; Randolph Debayou of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); Jefferson Koijee of the Monrovia City Corporation (MCC); Eugene Nagbe of the Liberia Maritime Authority (LiMA); and Foreign Minister, Dee-Maxwell Kemayah, among others.

While others who are still in government positions, yet have been qualified as candidates have to go about campaigning as well as the 73 Representatives and 15 senators who are seeking reelection.

Additionally, the decision of these government officials to prioritize political campaigning over their official responsibilities has also sparked debate and controversy, with some critics arguing that the move compromises the integrity of the government, as they should remain impartial and focused on serving the best interests of the nation.

Furthermore, one of the key concerns arising from this situation is the potential impact on public services and the overall functioning of the government, unlike the 2017 Presidential Election where Ministers were actively working in the face of the campaign period.

With officials redirecting their time and energy towards campaigning, there is a risk that essential public services may be adversely affected, as said action by the Weah-Taylor officials have further raised questions about the ability of the government to effectively address the needs and concerns of the Liberian people during this crucial period.

Some Liberians were seen frustrated, after being ignored at some Ministries, due to the absence of the bosses, lamenting, “The decision of government officials to campaign, even though it is their right, also raises concerns about the fairness of the upcoming elections.”

While others argued, “Incumbency advantage is a reality in any political system, and when those in power actively participate in election campaigns, it can tilt the playing field in favor of the incumbent.”

“And this situation may raise questions about the level of fairness and equal opportunity for other candidates and political parties, potentially undermining the democratic process and even driving away investors, especially so, if you have people who are occupying integrity positions leaving their positions for campaign purposes,” they said.

According to them, the decision of the officials to abandon their work to campaign also has significant implications for the functioning of the government.

They added that said decision also raises concerns about the balance between political loyalty and impartial governance, as well as the potential impact on public services, as well as the risk of scaring away potential investors.

As Liberia approaches the 2023 elections, it is crucial to critically examine the actions of government officials who have chosen to abandon their regular duties in order to campaign.

Many view that said decision underlines the need for robust mechanisms and regulations that highlights the importance of fostering a political culture that values professionalism, meritocracy, and the wellbeing of the nation, above personal or partisan interests.

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