-Over Independence Day Orator
By R Joyclyn Wea
It is glaring that the Liberian Government is getting confuse over the selection of this year’s Independence Day orator as the committee mandated to carry on the vetting process for this year’s orator is saying different thing while the office of the President is saying another.
The vetting committee headed by Monrovia City Mayor, Jefferson Koijee and Assistant Gender Minister Mamina Carr loudly told the Liberian people at a well-attended press conference that they were soliciting applications from Liberians between the ages 15-35 years to serve as this year’s Independence Day orator; something they said they were giving chance to qualified Liberians to showcase their talents instead of the ‘handpicking lifestyle’ exhibited by former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
Following that pronouncement, many Liberians reportedly sent in their applications and the vetting process kicked off, but out of the blue sky, tough talking Finance and Development Planning Minister, Samuel Tweah has been named as the orator for this year’s Independence Day.
It’s not clear whether Minister Tweah went through the process as announced by Mayor Koijee and Minister Carr, but his selection as this year’s orator is said to be a shock to Liberians at home and abroad.
The selection of Independence Day orator squarely lies in the office of the President, but the announcement by Mayor Koijee and Minister Carr and immediately condemning the practice by former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf shows a total contradiction by the Coalition for Democratic Change led administration.
However, it is alleged that the selection of Minister Tweah as this year’s orator was done by President George Weah who thinks Minister Tweah is the ‘best person’ to serve as orator despite a vetting committee reportedly setup by him (Weah) to carry out the processes leading to who becomes orator.
Many political pundits think the government needed to have selected a non-state actor to serve as orator in order for him or her to provide corrections to some of the alleged missteps by government.
Meanwhile, speaking Thursday, July 12, 2018 at the Ministry of Information Cultural Affairs and Tourism (MICAT), the Chief Protocol Officer of the Republic of Liberia, Jarvis Witherspoon maintained that it is in line with normal practice for the President to choose someone to speak on that day and that there is no standard set for people to be designated to serve as orator.
According to Witherspoon, the President of Liberia has the right to choose anyone he wants or feels best to serve as national orator for the Independence Day celebration adding “as we are under the new dispensation, President George Weah saw it best to select Samuel Tweah, Minister of Finance as the national orator for this year’s July 26 celebration.”
He argued that all of the past orators were chosen by the past leaders and that as leader of Liberia, this is the orator he (president Weah) has chosen as part of his first Independence Day celebration.
The vetting committee headed by the Monrovia city corporation (MCC) was allegedly setup to conduct the vetting of individuals and come up with name of an individual best to serve as orator for the 171st independence of Africa oldest Republic Liberia.
Critics also questioned how the Minister of Finance and Development Planning was selected and see such action as being in support of Vice President Jewel Howard-Taylor saying that “two must agree and that in order for them to walk and discuss one have to come on board or in order word become partisan of the ruling regime before holding key positions.”
Critics further wondered as to whether the Finance and Development Planning Minister falls between the age ranged set as benchmark or it is based on party line.