- Published on Monday, 02 December 2013 19:47
- Written by By Joe Bartuah
Former Managing Editor, The News Newspaper in Monrovia, Liberia
The sudden death in Monrovia on November 25, 2013 of Miss Musue Noha Haddad is, indeed, an irreparable loss to the entire global journalism community, especially to Liberian journalism and personally to me, for she was my friend and colleague at The NEWS Newspaper with whom I collaborated for three consecutive years. Musue’s death is an unexpected tragedy of devastating proportion. With her untimely demise in her 44th year (born December 17, 1968), a refulgent journalistic gem has so suddenly faded away; Musue was a star that flickered so unexpectedly when it was now the appropriate time to shine and illuminate the ills and shortcomings of our society.
Musue Noha Haddad was a qualified, capable and competent journalist of exceptional courage and unsurpassed passion for the Inky Fraternity. When other reporters chose to simply submit their stories to the editor and quickly retreat to the comfort of their homes, Musue Noha Haddad always preferred to stay in the newsroom until the dummy was taken to the printer. This was because she was meticulous; she was always determined to report news stories in a flawless fashion. Because of her zest for details, she yearned to be the last to read her story, even after her editors gone had through it. As an investigative journalist of superlative acumen, she never rested until every essential element in her story had been satisfied.
Through the superb quality of her journalistic work, I got to know Musue, even before seeing her in person. On one occasion in February of 1997, then managing editor, Mr. Y. Nyekeh Forkpa (now deputy managing director for administration at the National Port Authority) brought a news story to me in the newsroom; it was about the first batch of Liberian refugees returning from the Budumbura refugee camp in Ghana. The story was lengthy, but it was also excellently written; those sorts of stories that editors deem difficult to perform “surgery” on because of the flow of their narratives. I was instantaneously excited about the sheer quality of the story. That is, its syntactic contents and journalistic spicing. Forkpa then informed me that the author was a Liberian journalist in Accra who was desirous of returning home to work with us at The NEWS. Not only that the news story was professionally written, but it was also accompanied by three captivating photographs of some of the returnees boarding their vehicles. Three weeks later, Musue returned home and joined us at The NEWS as a Staff Writer.
Musue Noha Haddad’s three-year stint at The NEWS helped in astronomically propelling the professional features of the paper during the turbulent years of the 1990s. From 1997 until January 5, 2000 when Musue left Liberia to pursue further studies in the U.S.--having deservingly won scholarships—The News Newspaper won majority of the annual journalism accolades awarded by the Press Union of Liberia during that period. She was a reporter who left no stone unturned in her quest for reporting the truth. Whether it was the brutal murder of Manneh Zikay, the erstwhile NPFL commander by Joe Tate’s “suppressive fire” in New Kru Town, the mysterious death of Mr. David Eldorado, the veteran Special Security Service officer at the Executive Mansion during the reins of Charles Taylor, or the torturing, sodomizing of inmates at the notorious Gbartala base in Bong County under the command of Chucky Taylor, journalist Musue Noha Haddad gallantly went the extra mile to unearth and report the truth.
Musue’s untimely death is also a heart-wrenching family tragedy, because in addition to her sisters and brothers, she’s survived by a son who is less than 10 years old. With her sudden passing, the entire journalism world has lost a courageous reporter and a highly creative photo-journalist. For me personally, I have lost a partner and colleague of unmatched pedigree with whom I collaborated for three consecutive in setting higher standards at The NEWS.
As friends and colleagues of the late Musue Noha Haddad, the best tribute we can pay to the glowing memory of our fallen colleague is to ensure that those cardinal values that she so fearlessly fought for—democratic pluralism and fundamental human rights—remain the hallmark of our journey as a people and a nation.
May her precious soul rest in perfect peace.
- Published on Monday, 12 August 2013 01:06
- Written by Musue N. Haddad
Unlike in the past where the National Legislative sessions were covered only during “big events,” this time round, the Governance Commission (GC) in collaboration with its partners has set up the Legislative Monitoring for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia (LEMTAIL) to regularly monitor Legislative sessions at the Capitol.
The LEMTAIL Project, one of the Governance Commission’s many projects is undertaken by the National Integrity System mandate area of the GC to promote transparency, accountability and national integrity.
Funded by the Open Society Initiative of West Africa, OSIWA, GC’s LEMTAIL project marks a new beginning for the openness and transparency of legislative proceedings in Liberia. In addition to monitoring, the GC’s project will also ensure that the general public can have greater access to all public debates and deliberations, as well as public votes under legislative deliberation through reports by the monitoring group.
The LEMTAIL Project is engaged in research and making information from the Legislature available, and disseminated to the widest public. LEMTAIL is expected to provide a high-quality and up-to-date information on the Liberian legislative sessions to the Governance Commission, who will then transmit the “Legislative “discussions” to the Liberian public.
What this means is that, through the Governance Commission’s Legislative Monitoring group, Liberians can now follow the bills and issues they care about most, and the contributions of their representatives during discussions on pertinent issues. The public will also be made aware of recent information on important upcoming bills and hearings, and what their representatives are ‘saying and doing’ at the Capitol building.
Additionally, the GC hopes that by communicating promptly and frequently with the public – Liberians about discussions at the Legislature — they [Liberians] will be able to engage those that represent them at the hierarchy of power. Furthermore, the public will be fully informed to participate more effectively in issues that make their constituencies and the country prosperous.
As anticipated, LEMTAIL’s report covering March to May 2013 [Quarterly Report] illustrates series of activities held during the Legislative Plenary Proceedings, including the appearance of government officials, introduction and or review of bills, arguments and counter-arguments by members of the Legislature on variety of issues.
For example, on March 5th, Health Minister Walter Gwenigale appeared before the Plenary of the House of Representatives in honor of an invitation from the House to explain reasons for many abandoned health projects in the country. The abandoned projects, according to the members of House, include a construction in Rivercess County and ten other clinics in the country.
The Minister's appearance before plenary came as a result of a communication written plenary by Representative Francis Paye of Rivercess County , who asked his colleagues in the House to cite the Health Minister to provide reasons why ongoing projects for health facilities have not been completed in his county.
Making reference to the clinic in Rivercess County, Gwenigale said the contract for the construction of health facilities was awarded to a Liberian construction company; Monweh International Engineering Company, but the company has failed to carry out the project, and was currently on the run. Gwenigale also disclosed that funds that are being misapplied or stolen by construction firms were donated by the British and Irish governments to construct 10 clinics across Liberia.
Members of the House of Representatives gave Health Minister Dr. Walter Gwenigale a three-month ultimatum to complete all unfinished health projects in Rivercess County.
Other activities during the Legislative Plenary Session included the introduction of a bill seeking for the establishment of Liberia National Maternity and Children Hospital by Representative Bhopal Chambers of District #1, Maryland County.
Chambers argued that the bill would protect the lives of children and pregnant women; increase the life-span of mothers and children, and prevent children and their mothers from contracting fatal diseases.
While Representative Richard Tinge of District #9, Nimba County supported the bill introduced by Chambers, Representative Corpu Barclay of Bong County, District #7 did not support the bill. Barclay’s argument was that J.F.K Medical Center already had maternity and pediatric departments, therefore creating another center similar to the existing one at J.F.K wouldn’t be necessary.
Regarding the creation and reviews of bill, the Committee on Lands, Mines and Energy and the Means were mandated to review a bill entitled: “An enactment for Costal Counties to get oil Benefit;” the Committee on Agriculture was mandated to review a bill to create, “Rural Agriculture Development Program” for the increment of food productivity;” the Committee on Labor was mandated to review the report it submitted to the plenary on the “Decent Work Bill” within a week. Whether the Committee on Labor has reviewed its report within the one week period will be determined in GC’s LEMTAIL next report.
LEMTAIL’s work is not limited to the Legislative sessions held at the Capitol Building. The Governance Commission in collaboration with the Institute for Research and Democratic Development (IREDD) is also engaged in organizing and hosting legislative town hall meetings around the country. The town hall meetings are intended to engage legislators on the activities recorded in LEMTAIL’s report, and bring them face to face with their constituents.
- Published on Thursday, 25 April 2013 07:48
- Written by The News
The dark- days in our budding democracy seem to be viewed by many as the periods intended for the “survival of the fittest”. “Survival of the fittest” is a concept introduced by a British Scientist, Charles Darwin during his study on evolution, in which he said, species adapt and change by natural selection with the best suited mutations becoming dominant.
- Published on Friday, 02 August 2013 12:07
- Written by George E. Taylor
Liberia! A loving country and sweet as it was considered, at the start of the 80s encountered its first and perhaps most difficult and then bloodiest political shift with the emergence of the “Second Republic” bringing into effect a PRC led government. Political observers claimed this new governance occupied its agenda with the trashing of basic human rights into a pile of rubble and publicly slept with corruption displaying the outmost pride as they went along. Out from this rubble of social injustice, strengthened by the echo of cries from the masses, rose a woman; tiny in physical appearance but huge and giant like in might, with dreams so big that they frightened her, she set out to challenge this new form of governance that she personally found to be filthy, inhumane and outright stupid. This decision to challenge the system gave birth to a new concept of the Liberian Womanhood, her role in politics and the strengths within her.
The Liberian opposition, no longer a monopoly of men received a new perspective and a female political prisoner was born with the dreadful “Belle Yallah” prison serving as her birthplace. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was given birth as a new force on the Liberian political landscape. In her, many found hope and saw a reason to see the future of a better and brighter Liberia. She cried against corruption and she made no secret her personal hatred for corruption while her projected desire for transparency won her the hearts of many at home and far away. Over two decades later, Liberians were given an opportunity to consider this very distinguished Liberian for leadership of their loving land, which was now engulfed with many challenges resulting from a prolonged civil war. Top of the list of all post war challenges stood the cancerous human addiction we all know as CORRUPTION.
The scramble for the top office brought a list of diversified distinguished Liberians and the race was tight, but Liberians had recognized the country’s problem and decided to select the one Liberian they believed had shown a history of extremely high intolerance towards this problem and its resulting elements. And like many anticipated, she swore to address this problem and declared it, “PUBLIC EMENY NUMBER 1"!
More than seven years later, it seems the president I voted for is on vacation, replaced with a corruption accommodating, excuse‐making, empty‐promises, and legacy‐failing president. Where is the president I voted for? Where is that brand of the Liberian Iron lady? Where is she? The iron lady I know does not fail to provide the basic needs of her people after 7 years and make tons of bankrupted‐excuses, while senior public service managers live in luxury at the expense of ordinary Liberians. The president I voted for had always had her priorities straight because positive consistency is the hallmark of a true and genuine leader. The president I voted for cannot fritter fifty million dollars on government vehicles without realizing that a fraction of that could be used to improve the Liberian healthcare delivery system which is an urgent basic need of the Liberian people.
Where is that president who does not entertain corrupt members of her cabinet and does not give lip service to performance contracts she signs with her cabinet? Where is that president who believes in accountability and transparency? Where is the president who returned the “excess” from her foreign travels? Was my president kidnapped and someone is allowing an “imposter” to slowly sink Liberia into the chaos we all fear? This is surely not EJS; no, it is not! I simply refuse to accept that. EJS is not a person; EJS is a brand. It is a brand that represents the Liberian Iron Lady and the Liberian Iron Lady is no bedfellow to corruption. She is no lip‐server to fiscal armed robbery. The Liberian Iron Lady is a symbol of freedom. She is the voice that never hides and she is the strength that inspires others to do the right thing.
Why are we being robbed of our favorite Iron Lady? The Iron lady I know is not any October rain, because she is consistent while the October rain is not.
Nearly 8 years and papa is still coming? Is the road that long or papa has lost his way home since mama seems to no longer care? I guess by the time papa comes, he might arrive as grandpa. Nearly eight years and government offices have no clear org chat but yet we complain of ghost names? We right‐sized by introducing a “government dieting” and became oversized. Quite a paradox it seems to me or is it a humor that lacks the essence fun but yet told as a terrible joke.
How are we supposed to fight ghost names on government payroll that serve as a food source for corruption when we have no effective system of employment within our government? Nearly eight years and there is no sound fiscal policy that delivers, while the public procurement system seems to be a donors’ satisfaction concept rather than system of accountability. How can my president I voted for not see the financial and human development benefits of having standards? What is the essence of a leader when every member of her cabinet has the right to do their own thing? It pains me to know that my president thinks it is a good policy to buy government property and resell it to Public Service managers far below the actual value while regular public servants do not have means of public transport to and from work.
The reason people form government is because they have decided to live by standards and the head of government has a duty and an inexcusable responsibility to uphold those standards decided. Does my president I voted for no longer recognize this obligation?
Public service managers are shamefully and frequently recycled from a limited list of qualified but inefficient “buddies” after repeated failures. How can my president I voted for do nothing to change a culture of bribery with over 74% of the population engaged in it as published by Transparency International. How can my president appoint an inefficient comedian of an Auditor General and ignored the ills resulting from his appointment only take action when the embarrassment is beyond accommodation. The EJS brand would never approve of this joke‐styled governance we are happily parading with.
Many cheered the dismissal and I wonder why? Was that a favor to us? No, it is an obligation to get rid of damaging individuals. I do not in any way find it meritorious.
The president I voted for needs to reemerge from the rubbles of corruption, abuse of public office, efficient policy bankruptcy, embezzlement, social injustice and masses abandonment because if the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf from the Samuel Doe’s era walked into Liberia now, she would be completely disappointed and in tears, fully disgusted that her hard earned brand is being disgracefully dragged through the mud of disgrace. My president I voted asked us to give her leadership and it simply fair that she provides us a leader we truly deserve because we simply do not deserve this.
All, I ask is that you return my president I voted for to leadership because this is not why she fought injustices in the past and ran for president and definitely not what I voted for. The clock is ticking and all excuses are invalid as this was never a vision for Liberia. The general impression from the masses is that my president I voted for no longer cares; this is an opinion I have refused to accept and I am therefore making this public announcement that anyone who knows the whereabouts of the president I voted for, to kindly convey to her that the Liberian people are desperately awaiting her arrival because the current prospects of the future do not look so bright as promised by her, and the president I voted for is known for keeping her promises.
The president I voted for is the one who committed herself by saying, “we know that if we are to achieve our economic and income distribution goals, we must take on forcibly and effectively the debilitating cancer of corruption. Corruption erodes faith in government because of the mismanagement and misapplication of public resources. It weakens accountability, transparency and justice. ...”
GAC On A Paradigm Shift: An Objective And Concise Analysis Of The General Auditing Commission Since 2007
- Published on Wednesday, 17 April 2013 08:02
- Written by Dwana B'akongo Sesay, BA, CFE - Senior Public Information Analyst, General Auditing Commission
There is a common saying that 'if you refuse to assess historical fact and interpret its antecedents, you are inherently bound to repeat it.' Equally so, it is a historical truism that “historical facts never speak for themselves for they need to be embedded in some historical context” (Elliot D. Cohen, 1992).
- Published on Friday, 02 August 2013 12:03
- Written by Lorpu Kollie
I am a student of Biology but I have keen interest in politics. Not that I want to be a politician, but as a Liberian citizen, I made it my habit to follow local and international developments in the media.
I believe anybody who ignores events at home and abroad is simply an ignoramus. Long before July 26, barrage attacks have been launched against President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. Some of the issues raised are ambiguous and unjustified. Some of those who have raised issues against the President did so only to draw public sentiment, but logically their arguments lack substance and are basically immaterial. I am not suggesting that criticism of the government is unnecessary or anti-government; after all, Liberians have their fundamental rights under the constitution to say what he/she feels; it is a right that everyone must exercise. However, in the exercise of our fundamental rights, it is advisable for us to be objective in the analysis or argument we propound and avoid superfluous criticism that lacks any moral value or intellectual benefit.
I know that this government has got some problems and President Sirleaf, who happens to be my role model, appears lethargic to deal with some of the serious issues that confront her government. Notwithstanding, I believe the President has the ability to deal with those issues. This President that I know and voted for twice cannot and will not act because someone said the government is corrupt. She acts at her own will and time; never influenced by public sentiment. For me, I think the President should consider some important suggestions from prominent citizens and/or from other individuals and credible groups. But those who want to simply criticize because they want be heard should be ignored.
In his July 26 oration, Cllr. Varney Sherman, the Chairman of the governing Unity Party, spoke on several issues. He criticized corruption in the government and said the government is trying but more needed to be done. Interestingly, the erudite lawyer provided a feeble alternative to the corruption. He made some good points but his statement appears to be sarcastic of the government.
Why didn’t Cllr. Sherman espouse these ideas long before now? Is it because he’s not in the driver’s seat or he and the president have had some differences? Differences in opinion do not negate the reality of what’s happening in government and some of the issues raised by Sherman are true but, my contention is that there should always be a solution to the criticism we make, because Madam Sirleaf does not have monopoly over ideas.
For example, Sherman’s suggestion for the full implementation of recommendations of the defunct Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) is the right way to deal with the issue of impunity. The president must consider the full implementation of the TRC recommendations. If she fails to do it, I believe, the next government would implement the recommendations, and she and others indicted by the TRC could be prosecuted.
In his statement, Sherman said despite two cycles of general and presidential elections in Liberia, the social challenges which face the people of Liberia are still huge. True, but he failed to provide the economical recipe to address this problem.
- Published on Wednesday, 10 April 2013 08:26
- Written by Sherman C. Seequeh--A Critical Appraisal
On Thursday and Friday last week, the nation's capital was submerged in the seas of trepidation when the security machinery of the state growled over the top of its throat and stampeded, drilling with trucks of armed police in the streets of Monrovia respectively—all representing their “robust” official responses to pronouncements by a group of citizens to protest against corruption and bad governance.
- Published on Friday, 07 June 2013 07:08
- Written by The NEWS
--Truth Liberians Don’t Know
For several decades Wologizi has been the ‘hottest commodity’ in the sub-region. Past Liberian governments have had offers from leading companies and governments to take over the country’s largest iron ore reserve.
Former President Charles Taylor had offers from several companies but he turned down those offers because at the time his government was under immense international pressure. The transitional administration of Charles Gyude Bryant couldn’t initiate any discussion because its lifespan was short and wasn’t authorized by the Accra Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA).
When President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf took office, she decided to stall all discussions on Wologizi including those initiated by past administrations. At the time, the President thought that she needed to deal with Liberia’s atrocious international record and restoring confidence in the public before turning to the mineral sector.
According to investigation, more than twenty companies have expressed interests in the operation of Wologizi over the past decades. However, none of the previous companies that developed interests in Wologizi has received such a massive outpouring of public outcry as Jindal.
Sources within the Johnson-Sirleaf administration, hinted The NEWS that Jindal’s proposal might be accepted without competitive bidding. Our source said the government is impressed with the company’s proposal; therefore the likelihood of signing the Wologizi deal is obvious.
Sources said two senior officials of government recently visited Jindal’s complex in India, where they assured executives of the Indian steel giant that Wologizi will be given to them.
This information was collaborated with other senior administration officials. However, opposition against the Jindal continues to swell amid reports that citizens of Lofa County would resist any deal that excludes them and the county. Last month, Lofa County Representative Eugene Fallah Kpakar blew the whistle about a secret deal on Wologizi.
He said that the son of President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, Robert Sirleaf was heading the discussion on Wologizi with Jindal. There are also reports that Mr. Sirleaf along with another official of government may have visited Indian.
Our investigation revealed that Indian Counsel General to Liberia and businessman, Mr. Uptij Sachdeva, alias Jeety is the middle man between Jindal Steel & Power and the Liberian government. Jindal, India’s second largest steel company is taking advantage of Liberia’s desperate need for development to invest US$2.1 billion in power.
According to reports, the company plans to undertake a 150 MW of imported coal based power plant project in Liberia with an estimated investment of US$0.40 billion. The Power Plant would be built in Bomi County and would supply Cape Mount, Gbarpolu and Lofa Counties.
Jindal is said to be experiencing problems in countries they operate. There are confirmed reports that the company’s operation in Bolivia has dwindled because it lacked funds to continue its operation and not due to pressure as stated by Jindal’s officials. The company has looked exhaustively at reserves in nations including Sierra Leone, Ghana, Mauritania, Sudan, Gabon and Liberia.
Jindal’s investment in the region will involve building a transport line and developing a port, and the iron ore supplies will feed its factories in Oman and back home, Executive Director Manish Kharbanda said in an interview recently, without identifying the seller. The spending will be staggered over a period of time, he added.
Jindal disclosed in July that it was “forced to terminate” its $2.1 billion contract signed in 2007 to develop 20 billion tons of iron ore reserves at El Mutun because Bolivia’s President Evo Morales government was “unwilling to fulfill” its obligations. [see Source: JSW Steel Ltd. via Bloomberg]
Jindal, which wrote off more than US$90 million after abandoning a Bolivian project in July following a dispute with the government, is struggling to get new mining permits in India because of environmental regulations. A purchase agreement will help the company secure reserves of at least 1 billion metric tons.
“It’s becoming increasingly evident that getting a new iron ore mine in India will be difficult,” said Prasad Baji, an analyst with Edelweiss Financial Services Ltd. in Mumbai.
Securing assets is crucial to the alloy maker controlled by billionaire lawmaker Naveen Jindal as it plans to more than quadruple capacity in the next two years and reverse a slide in profit that dropped to the least in at least eight quarters.
Rio Tinto Group (RIO) and ArcelorMittal (MT) are among companies with projects in West Africa, a region that Oslo-based DNB Bank ASA said in a research report is the “most important growth” area for iron ore in the world.
Jindal Steel shares fell 1.7 percent to 400.45 rupees in Mumbai, extending this year’s loss to 12 percent, compared with a 22 percent advance in the benchmark Sensitive Index. (SENSEX) X Net income at the New Delhi-based company unexpectedly dropped 58 percent to about 4 billion rupees ($74 million) in the quarter ended June 30 from a year earlier because of an impairment charge on its investment in Bolivia.
Jindal said in July that it was “forced to terminate” its $2.1 billion contract signed in 2007 to develop 20 billion tons of iron ore reserves at El Mutun because President Evo Morales’ government was “unwilling to fulfill” its obligations. Bolivian Mining Minister Mario Virreira said that the Indian company withdrew because it lacked funds and not because of government pressure. That was the biggest project to be canceled in Bolivia since Morales took office in 2006.
In addition to developing the El Mutun iron ore mines, Jindal had planned to build a 1.7 million ton-per-year steel plant in the South American country, a sponge-iron factory, a pellet unit and a power project, according to the company’s website. Jindal had spent $90 million on the project, according to the company.
The company and its units together had a long-term debt-equity ratio of 0.75 as on June 30, according to an investor presentation on their website. Cash reserves and equivalent were at 1.3 billion rupees as of March 31, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
“The question is not whether it can digest it financially, but whether it can execute the project,” said Edelweiss Financial’s Baji. “The investment in West Africa is manageable from a debt-equity point of view.”
Jindal’s experience in Africa and its familiarity with the local culture is luring the company to the continent, said Kharbanda in the interview. The Indian company already operates coal mines in South Africa and Mozambique.
“The lesson we learnt from Bolivia is not to put all our eggs in one basket,” he said. “One shouldn’t consider western Africa if one is looking at a time span of less than eight to 10 years.”
Projects in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Cameroon will increase iron ore shipments from West Africa, DNB Bank said in its report. Total African ore deliveries will almost quadruple from last year, while global exports of ore and coal will be 3.48 billion tons in 2017, compared with 1.76 billion tons last year, according to the report.
“Being dubbed ‘the new Pilbara,’ the region is considered by many to be the most important growth region for iron ore in the world,” the bank said of West Africa, referring to the area in Western Australia where Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton Ltd. have ore mines.
- Published on Tuesday, 26 March 2013 08:54
- Written by Jeremy Fahbulleh
No state, by all standards of rationality, functions to full-blown political, social and economic productivity without the involvement of internal and external players such as civil society organizations as well as local and/or international non-governmental organizations that undertake projects and programs that aim to bolster government's efforts, and most particularly, investment companies that come into the country with their exceedingly abundant resources; not only to get more or less of that country's natural endowments, but also contributes in manifold ways to the economy of the state, providing necessary oasis of employment benefits for the citizens regardless of technical and educational barriers.