Liberia: President Weah’s County ‘Governmentally Marginalized’ On Public Information Officer

Monrovia — Grand Kru County, the native home of Liberia’s Head of State, George Manneh Weah, has no Public Information Officer (PIO), some Grand Grand Kruans, living in and outside of the County, reported to this writer five days ago.

A Public Information Officer is a Government official who gathers information about the Freedom of Information (FOI) Law of the about the County and informs Central Government through the Ministry of Information, Cultural Affairs & Tourism. The FOI law was created in 2010. The Employment Terms of Reference demands the PIO to be based in the County.

After the ordinary Grand Kruans’ complaints, I spoke to Montserrado County-based Central Government’s representative in the County, County Superintendent Doris Nyaplane Ylatun, to confirm the reports from the civilians.

On the Journalist’s question of whether Grand Kru County is the only Liberia’s geopolitical region without a PIO, Superintendent Ylatun replied: “I don’t have knowledge about Grand Kru County being the only geopolitical region with no Public Information Officer. I have not done investigations on each of the other fourteen Counties on this matter.”

The now-Superintendent, a member of the Wedabo ethnic group of the County, has deeper knowledge about the County, from on her long stay in the County during part of the civil war time, and her extensive development-related tours during “Grand Kru County Coordinator” position of the Southeastern Women Development Association (SWDA), a body of development-oriented women of the four Counties that make up Southeastern Liberia. They are Grand Kru County, Grand Gedeh County, Maryland County, Rivercess County, and Rivergee County. SWDA’s ‘intervention projects’ were education of women on the Rule of Law and agricultural empowerment of individual women and women’s groups. SWDA was founded in 1996; it obtained its Article of Incorporation in 1997.

To get the Ministry of Information, Cultural Affairs & Tourism’s side of the PIO-related story, I called the phone number of the Minister, Hon. Ledgerhood Rennie Monday, October 10, 2022. He replied, “Please text me.”

I honored the Minister’s instruction–introduced myself and informed him about what I was writing about, and requested the MICAT’s side of the story on the PIO of Grand Kru County.

However, MICAT’s response, through Minister Rennie, couldn’t reach me in four hours following my engagement with him via text message by my mobile phone.

The information about the absence of a Public Information Officer in Grand Kru County is similar to information of the National Registration Identification (NIR) in the County. NIR documents the total number of citizens and issues ID card to each person who had gone through the interview process and qualifies for the ID card.

“Grand Kru doesn’t have a liaison office of the National Registration Identification Registry based in Monrovia or Montserrado County,” the County’s Superintendent told me during an interview about this at her office during the Press Union of Liberia’s celebration of the World Press Freedom Day Liaison Office in Grand Kru County in 2021.

“Up to the time you and I are speaking, there’s no NIR’s Liaison Office in Grand Kru County,” Superintendent Ylatun informed me on October 10, 2022.

Grand Kru County is currently in the ‘Governmental Leadership’ of Liberia–Head of State (George Manneh Weah) of the County, Senate Pro-Tempore (Hon. Albert Tugbe Chie) of the County, and Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives (Hon. Jonathan Fonati Koffa) of the County. However, the County lags behind each of the other Counties on modern roads, better public health facilities, improved education sector, modern agricultural activities, national security, and many other human’s living-enhancement things. Majority of Liberia’s International Development Partners do not venture into the County due to “deplorable road conditions in the County”.

On health-related issues of the County, for example, the County’s Senior Health Officer, Mr. J. Woyee S. Wreh, lamented the County’s chronic health lapses to a gathering of Journalists at the Wilmot Blyden Forum during the Press Union of Liberia’s celebration of the World Press Freedom Day in the County (2021) “No motorbikes for most of the Field Health workers, so sick people are transported in wheelbarrows or on the backs of relatives or friends. No Ambulance to transport chronically sick people living in remote parts of the County,” the County’s Senior Health Officer reported to the body of Journalists at the County’s Administrative Building in Barclayville, the County’s Capital.

For electricity, only the County’s Capital enjoys regular electric current, but the number of houses that has light (during night time) is less than 30 percent of buildings–residential structures or business center.

On education, the County’s representatives (from various High Schools) to the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) or the West African Senior Secondary Certificate Examinations (WASSCE) has led other Counties in the number of students who failed in majority of the subjects over six years from 2015. For the 2015/2016 WAEC, only two students–Fred Wesseh and Kieh Wisseh (of the Barclayville Central High School) passed.

However, the County broke the spell of National and African Regional Exams failure in 2021/2022 WAEC by clinching ‘2nd Place’ next to Rivercess County.

Samuel G. Dweh, Development Journalist (Freelance)


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