The West African Journal was a major magazine publication in the United States with a focus on the Mano River region and West Africa sub-region during the civil crises in Liberia and neighboring countries during the decades of the 1990s.
This was the period when many citizens and others in the sub-region were fleeing their homeland due to conflicts, and the magazine was a reliable source of information covering developments in the region and in the Diaspora. However, the magazine suspended publication several years ago but is now back.
It is, therefore, delightful that The West African Journal has been reactivated. The print edition of the magazine, to be published monthly and distributed in the United States, West Africa, and other parts of the world, will provide analysis of the major events of the period under review.
Due to challenges relating to availability of reading materials in the sub-region, a few hundred copies of every edition of the magazine will be distributed free of charge to libraries and reading rooms at schools and institutions of higher learning in the sub-West Africa sub-region.
The Journal covers government/politics, economics/international trade/investment and partnerships, women's issues, showcase of tourism and historic attractions in West Africa in particular, and Africa in general, as well as cover the Diaspora, entrepreneurship, among others.
The Journal also taps into growing interest in the Unites States regarding resource-rich Africa as the next frontier for global economic progress amid an increasing global competition for access to the continent’s abundant natural resources. The magazine will regularly cover bilateral and multilateral partnerships between the US/multinational agencies and Africa/individual African countries.
More importantly, in considering the danger of Climate Change and Global Warming, The Journal serves as a strong and unrelenting advocate to create international awareness regarding Climate Change, especially how West African countries and the African Continent as a whole are being negatively impacted. Through its environmental coverage, The Journal promotes education and awareness for people to be empowered.
Our experienced team of editors, reporters and feature writers are excited to bring the stories that impact politics, finance, economy, arts, health, education, climate change, women and youth issues in Africa today.
The West African Journal is registered and published in Washington, D.C., U.S.A. Plans are underway to open a bureau office in Liberia, from which operations in other West African countries will be coordinated.
Our journalists, who bring decades of high engagement of news and reportage, include former BBC veteran correspondent Isaac D.E. Bantu, former Daily Observer Features Editor and publisher of the West African Journal Joe S. Kappia, and Pana Press Editor Tepitapia K. Sannah, and respected Photo journalist and editor Gregory Stemn.
These experienced and internationally-respected journalists ensure a high standard of professional journalism.
Information and inquiries for The West African Journal should be directed to the following:
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Isaac D.E. Bantu: Publishing Partner; Email: WestAfricanJournalMagazine@gmail.com
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 55053, Washington, D.C. 20040-5053 USA
(Monrovia, May 24, 2019) A former Board Chairman and member of the Board of Governors of Booker Washington Institute (BWI), Jackson J. Paye has distanced himself from a decision to suspend the Principal of the nation’s premiere vocational and technical institute Mr. Harry Fomba Tarnue.
He is terming the decision as “preconceived, non-transparent, and strong-arm tactics” by some members of the Board.
It can be recalled that, the Board through a resolution on Friday May 17, 2019 suspended and subsequently replaced Mr. Tarnue with one James W. Walker as Officer-In-Charge of the school.
Our Correspondent reports that suspended Principal Mr. Tarnue has termed his suspension as “preconceived and political witch-hunt” by the Board.
However, following the suspension, a board member and Former Public Works Minister Jackson Paye disassociated himself from the Board’s decision, describing it as an act of injustice against the suspended principal. “In the instant case, it is my opinion, that the Board of Governors, BWI, did not do justice in the manner it had approached the suspension of Principal Tarnue,” he said.
According to him, though his stance may not make a difference, but it would be good for the public to know where he stands as a member of the Board, noting, his interest in his Alma Mater is second to none.
He explained that he was constrained to publically speak out because
of the many telephone, and email queries he has received from friends and fellow alumni both home and abroad about the Board’s decision.
“I am constrained to make my position public due to the many calls and email quires I received since the decision was announced on Friday, May 17, 2019”, he emphasized.
The former Nimba County Superintendent reiterated that while his dissenting view may not matter nor reverse the course of action taken, it will dispel the notion that the decision to suspend the Principal was unanimous as was reported in the local media.
Mr. Paye further said that the Resolution, expressing Vote of No Confidence” in the Principal was shrouded in secrecy, and circulated among select members of the Board and kept away from Statutory Members including him as the Immediate Past Chairman and a prominent alumnus.
He stated that his name was attached to the Resolution without his signature, and that some of the issues raised in the Resolution as ground for the Principal’s removal were not carefully adjudicated by the Board in keeping with the principle of due process.
This, he said, creates doubts in many minds that the suspension was preconceived; adding, since the re-constitution of the Board of Governors by President George Manneh Weah, the Chairman, John S. Youboty has consistently violated the Charter of the Institute; specifically Article III, Sections 4 and 5 by allowing a non-proxy in keeping with the Charter, to continue to act as such.
In a press statement released in Monrovia on May 21, 2019, Mr. Paye said, he has, on
numerous occasions raised the constant violation of the institute’s chapter in the presence of the Member Ex-Officio, the Minister of Education.
According to him the, the Powers and Duties of the Board, and those of the Principal are clearly spelt out in Articles IV and V of the Charter with the Chair Ex-Officio (President of the Republic)
and Member Ex-Officio (Minister of Education) playing overarching roles.
Therefore, he said, while it is the prerogative of the President of Liberia and the Minister of Education to make national decisions including the hiring and firing of individuals in the government sector, this privilege can be better utilized with advice from the Board of Governors of BWI.
BWI is one of Liberia’s premier vocational and technical training institutes that has produced some of the finest professionals in engineering, architecture, agriculture, politics, and other fields that have contributed significantly to the overall development of the country.
In a previous paper, I underlined possible trends impacting Liberia economy in 2019 and proposed series of recommendations which preceded the IMS report.
In this article, I focus on leadership and why it is important for leaders to “eat last”.
This is important because the circumstances unfolding in Liberia is disquieting and shocking. The lack of leadership is why we have economically and socially fallen of the cliff. It is unfortunate, because it doesn’t have to be this way. For over a century, we have failed to educate and improve the standard of living for our people. That is why the ability to make decisions that benefit them or know right from wrong is limited.
We cannot blame our people for the lack of social insecurity and failure. It is because of this confusion and indecisiveness that Liberia is in a chaotic state and given rise to the Yekeh Kolubah, Abraham Darius Dillon and Henry Costa of the world. It is because most Liberians under 30 (majority of the voting age population) feel they have no future and these individuals feel their pain, even if they are in it for themselves. And so I predict that we are in it for a long haul.
To correct the gross social imbalances of the past, individuals who aspire to leadership must understand Liberia’s lessons from a historical context and correct it. Neither this current government nor the previous ones have done anything to turn the tide; so history is destined for reappearance.
First, I’ll conceptualize leadership.
One can equate a leader to being a parent. He or she is the core of the family, who makes sacrifices to see that his or her child interests are advanced so that, later in life, they would follow the right path and become successful. So, in the process sacrifices are made by the parent; lot of them.
It is this kind of leadership Liberia requires to move forward. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. The CDC lead government under President George Weah came with all the hope and aspiration that they had the magic wand to solve Liberia’s problem only to drop the ball, because they were not prepared and had no plan; all talk and no substance. So, they are stuck.
Here is why I think that John C. Maxwell had a right when he said “A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” Similarly, Dwight D. Eisenhower the 34the President of the United States once said “The supreme quality of leadership is unquestionably integrity.” The rationale is that without trust and honesty first to yourself and others, success isn’t possible. You cannot force it.
In Simon Sinek’s book “Leaders Eat Last” he laid out evidently that leaders should create the environment that allow people to feel a sense of purpose, fulfillment and self-actualization from what they do and why leaders must build trust so that people can thrive. In order to build trust, a leader must be transparent and everything he or she does. When they have nothing to hide, they are challenged less because people are aware of what they do and there are no hidden skeleton in their closets. He or she is a teacher and a coach, not a dictator. They communicate what they want to do so the vision is clear.
A leader that eats last is selfless, self-sacrificing; not driven by honor and power with the single-mindedness upon making everyone better. Your success as a leader must come from the vision and accomplishment of your people. Put your people in the spotlight and you will shine. Surround yourself with the best and brightest and you will gleam and standout. A leader that east last is careful of abuse of public office for private gain, since it impacts economic growth and livelihood.
One writer sums it this way with respect to how leaders must eat last “…Although leaders may not be asked to risk their lives or to save anybody else’s, they should be glad to share their glory and help those with whom they work, succeed. More importantly, in the right conditions, people with whom leaders engage with should choose to also share their glory and take risk. And when that happens, when those kinds of bonds are formed, a strong foundation is laid for the kind of success and fulfillment that no amount of money, fame or awards can buy.”
This is what it means to work in a place in which the leaders prioritize the well-being of their people and, in return, their people give everything they’ve got to protect and advance the happiness of one another; a kind of shared purpose.
This is why we all owe it the opposition in Liberia as well as well Yekeh Kolubah, Abraham Darius Dillon and Henry Costa because leaders must be checked or you will breed monstrosity and gargantuan.
I have been fortunate to engage with many organizations and have determined that those that are exceptional, whether public (government) or the private (business), are ones in which leaders set clear visions and where people implement those visions. And so, they push harder and harder, take risks to achieve shared-objectives and better the lives of their people. You can only achieve this if there are empathy and compassion for individuals; not self. People!.
Leaders that eat last see aggrandizement and braggadocio as obstacles to progress and not the other way around. This is fundamental to creating a culture in which folks effortlessly pull together to advance the public good; not the good of an individual.
Leaders that eat last create a sense of belonging that limit stress and reduce threats. Everyone feel a part of something bigger; a greater purpose. They give their all, more time, and energy to protect others from the constant dangers outside and seize the big opportunity to impact lives. Smart leaders can accomplish this because it is not about them. Unfortunately, most of our leaders don’t see it this way. They are mostly driven by tittle-tattle, scuttlebutt and gossip.
This is why we need leaders; good ones – Leaders who would look out for people on both sides of the political spectrum (ruling and opposition) and the willingness to sacrifice their comfort for others, even when they disagree with you; a kind of trusted leadership. Trust is not simply a matter of shared opinions. Trust is a biological reaction to the belief that someone has others well-being at heart. Trusted leaders are those who are willing to give up something of their own for others. Their time, their energy, their money, maybe even the food off their plate. When it matters, good leaders choose be the last to take from the plate; Not the first.
In addition, a leader that eats last encourage others to do the right thing even if it is popular. When human-beings feel that they have the control to do what’s right and supported, even if it sometimes means breaking the rules, they will more likely do what’s right. Audacity and courage comes from good leaders. Chaos and uncertainties exist from those that are unscrupulous and immoral. A person’s’ poise and timidity to do what’s right is determined by how a person trust his or her leader. A leader that eats last isn’t often fooled because he or she uses common sense and moral judgment.
It is often said that the environment has an impact on the individual. Sometimes if respectable and honest people work in a bad culture, one in which leaders do not relinquish control, lack respect for the law, immoral, shady and corrupt, then the odds of the good habits go down and bad habits go up. Individuals will be more likely than not, to follow the bad rules out of fear of getting in trouble or getting in trouble with the boss, losing their jobs rather than doing what needs to be done.
The current global economy will continue to see stock market volatility, decline in commodity prices, trade wars, falling oil prices, hyper-inflation, and the depressing economic prospects for Sub-Saharan Africa. The challenges of reducing poverty and the impact of high inequality across the region will continue to dampened progress and economic activity. And so the challenges of poverty reduction can only be realized through robust economic growth and equitable distribution of the national pie which would require effective and efficiency leadership.
We have by our own nature created a country that is politically and economically out of balance for ourselves and generation to come. It has been so for over 170 years. It will soon self-destruct unless we are smart enough to correct it methodically and with a sense of urgency. Given our inclination for instant enjoyment, satisfaction, pleasure and the weaknesses in our organizations, nevertheless, our leaders may not have the poise or patience to do what needs to be done even if it is the right thing.
For some reasons, there’s this strong feeling that Liberian leaders don’t see their people as individuals but rather pawn in a chess game; a means to an end and why empty promises are often made and they often take the bit and fall for the trap from individuals who are only in it for their own concealed motives. Now more than ever, the Liberian people live daily in a society in which they are total strangers in their own land; in which they struggle to make ends meet.
Liberia is in an imbroglio. How the current government overcome the current entanglement needs to be seen, but leadership should be at the core because effective policies requires sound thinking and facts based on the data to inform policy and drive decision-making.
I have always argued that good governance and effective headship is essential for success in any organization and for implementing policies whether fiscal or monetary. In most instances, crafting effective policy option takes time and requires weighing the pros and cons so that prescriptions drive results and outcome.
So my recommendation for every Liberia leader is to do the following:
Fight to bring people together
Create balance between selfish pursuits versus selfless pursuits
Talk less and listen more
There’s always two sides to a story. Listen, listen, listen
Get the job done
To sum, leadership is not about doing less. It is striving to do more. And that’s the dilemma. Leadership takes effort and work. It takes time, energy and a ‘get-up-and-go’ attitude. The effects are not always easily measured and they are not always immediate. Leadership is always a commitment to people to do the right thing.
This is the change Liberia yearns for; – “A leader that eats last, not first.”
Firestone, Kakata, Liberia – May 21, 2019: It appears that the Management of Liberia’s largest concession companies Firestone is eliminating the provision of rice to its employees as the company cuts back on its expenses due to the global fall in rubber prices.
In March, Firestone Liberia announced the layoff of about 13 percent of its workforce.
Almost since its operations began in Liberia, the concession had been providing the much preferred American parboiled rice at a reduce price to its employees to supplement the low wages it pays them. Payment for rice is deducted from the salaries of employees at a steep discount. Rice is the staple in Liberia.
According to a source, Firestone switched to an indian variety of rice almost a year ago and resumed provision. But it now appears that this benefit is being curtailed.
When contacted to ascertain the veracity of this suspension of price provision to employees, a public relations officer at Firestone told West African Journal Magazine in a statement on Monday that, “ We cannot comment on ongoing (CBA)Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations.”
All indications point to some kind of negotiations current underway over the issue between the Workers Union and the Management team of Firestone.
In 1926, Firestone entered into a 99 year countract with the Government of Liberia signed a 99-year contract with the Liberian government for operations of a rubber plantation which covers almost 200 square miles east of the capital Monrovia.
Thousands of supporters, on Thursday, May 16, 2019 came out to welcome the man who is seen by many including the government of Liberia as the “instigator” of the much publicized June 7 protest.
Supporters Of Liberian Talkshow Host Henry P.Costa
According to our correspondent in Monrovia, the Liberian popular talk show host and political commentator, Henry Pedro Costa returned to Liberia from the United States of America to join his colleagues to lead the June 7 protest in demand of change. Many supporters who spoke to West Africa Journal Magazine said, they came out in solidarity with the planned June 7 protest.
Speaking to our Monrovia Correspondent, scores of supporters,mostly young men and women said, their courage to welcome Henry Costa is driven by what they term as the “unprecedented economic hardship” being experienced under the GeorgeWeahgovernment.
Banner Carrying Supporters of Henry P. Costa
A motorcyclist who identified himself as Nathaniel said he parked his commercial motorcycle only to come and welcome the man he called his hero. According to him, his motivation to stand in the hot sun for hours waiting for one man is based on the message that he (Costa) preaches on the radio about corruption.
“Iam motivated to stand in the Hot sun because Costa is the voice of the voiceless”, said Nathaniel.
He told our reporter that he will be part of the June 7 protest, and called on other well-meaning Liberians to join what he termed a campaign for “emancipation of the poor people.”
Chelsea William, a lady who joined the welcoming crowdfrom the Monrovia suburb of ChocolateCity told PresidentWeahto see the momentum of Costa’s arrival as a clear message.
“GeorgeWeahmust see thisasa message for our desire for change”, she intoned. According to Ms. William, she was tired of the difficulties and would appreciate if President GeorgeWeahcould see reason to resign if he is not capable of leading the country.
Young Liberians Welcoming Henry P.Costa
Bystanders who trooped in from their various quarters were heard describing the crowd as a prelude to June 7 protest. The arrival of Costa was characterized by parade fromjust outside of the city center In Sinkorto Central Monrovia where he addressed crowds of supporters.
Political spectators described the euphoriasurrounding the welcome of a “common” talk show host as a display of frustration by the young people who are said to be feeling the difficulties associated with the country’s economy.
Monrovia, Liberia – In the wake of comments from allies and Government officials which have embarrassed the President and Government, the President is now moving to instill some control of the narrative of his officials, especially on issues of national concern.
Late on Wednesday the Executive Mansion in Monrovia issued a press statement in which it said, “The President of Liberia, H.E. Dr. George Manneh Weah, has issued an Executive Memorandum directing all Ministers, Deputies and Assistant Ministers, and Heads of Agencies and Commissions, and their deputies to refrain from making public comments on policy issues of national concern on both conventional and social media without first seeking authorization from the appropriate authorities. The President’s Executive Memorandum, issued Wednesday, May 8, 2019 through the Director General of the Cabinet, Hon. Jordan Solunteh, also instructs all government Ministries and Agencies to direct their communications on public policy matters to the Minister of Information or his designee. The Memorandum further indicates that there would be grave consequences for any member of the Executive Branch of Government found in violation of the directive. The President therefore cautions all members of the Executive Branch to take heed and govern themselves accordingly…,” the statement concluded.
Earlier during the week, the U.S. Embassy chastised some Government officials and lawmakers over their public comments. “…It is unacceptable for Senator Prince Y. Johnson, Representative Yekeh Kolubah, “ex-generals” or other former actors in Liberia’s civil wars to incite unlawful acts through ill-considered rhetoric that could jeopardize Liberia’s hard-won peace and security. It is equally irresponsible for people within leadership positions in government or the ruling party to promote such division as Deputy Minister Eugene Fahngon has done on social media. To take such a public stance and suggest it is a private opinion or a personal right reflects a misunderstanding of the nature of public service in a democracy…,” the U.S. Embassy said.
The Chairman of the ruling Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) Mulbah Morlu and Representative Kolubah have both welcomed the statement of the U.S. Embassy.
The Presidential directive does not cover the ruling CDC but observers say they expect the fiery rhetoric and accusations against the opposition of Chairman Morlu to be toned down.
Some observers say the action by the Liberian leader may have come following a closed door meeting with members of the Senate on Tuesday in which they made some suggestions to address the political tension in the country.
Monrovia, Liberia – May 8, 2019: The West African Journal Magazine has heard and is in possession of an audio recording of a telephone call which discloses an alleged ominous scheme to violently attack and disrupt the June 7th peaceful protest organized by some Liberians under the banner of Council of Patriots. (COP).
The undated audio recording which cannot be independently authenticated is that of an unidentified female informing an unidentified male on the other end of the call in which she states, “ …Please take it down. Jefferson Koijee have crossed over 200 men at Lugatuo…They crossed over 200 persons yesterday…Lugatuo. They used a guy by the name of Steven,. His real name is Kesselly Mulubah. He is the one they used to bring the men in from Cote d’Ivoire. They intend to give them uniforms to attack protesters in the form of police officers…. I’m not in town. They just called me and give me the information and so I say let me call you right away so I can’t keep it to myself…,” the female is heard concluding the call on the audio recording.
Liberian-Ivorian Border Area
The town of Lugatuo is a porous immigration crossing point between, Nimba County, Liberia and neighboring Cote d’Ivoire. Nimba County was the beach-head for Charles Taylor led rebels who launched an attack on Liberian soil in December, 1989. The devastating war led to the deaths of over 250,000 and the international and external dislocation of nearly 1 million others.
It is unclear if the release of the contents of the audio recording is diversionary or real. A source told West African Journal Magazine that the alleged scheme may also have others involved in the planning of the importation of the men from Cote d’Ivoire.
Jefferson Koijee is the current Mayor of the city of Monrovia and was appointed by President Weah when the new Administration took office over a year ago. He is a former Youth leader of the now ruling Congress For Democratic Change (CDC).
Earlier on Wednesday, four opposition political parties announced their support for the peaceful protest organized by the Council of Patriots (COP) and scheduled for June 7th. There have been some threats issued against the protesters and which have not been disavowed by the Government of Liberia. Organizers of the protest say they remain resolute and will exercise their constitutional right to protest against poor governance and the deteriorating economy.
Protest organizers say their action is not designed to call for the resignation of President George M. Weah but to demand redress for the deteriorating conditions in the country.
The contents of the audio recording are being discussed on various Liberia social media fora. Neither the Government of Liberia nor Mr. Koijee have responded to this development.
Freetown, Sierra Leone – May 7, 2019: The International Monetary Fund (IMF) just concluded a Review Mission to Sierra Leone in West Africa and has published a report of its findings:
The Sierra Leone authorities and IMF mission concluded discussions, ad referendum, on economic policies to pave the way for consideration by the IMF Executive Board of the first review under the ECF-supported program.
Continued actions to mobilize revenue and manage public finances remain key priorities to reduce public debt and create fiscal space for investing in people and infrastructure.
Stepping up structural reform efforts will be crucial to managing fiscal risks, ensuring greater accountability, and diversifying the economy for the benefit of all Sierra Leoneans.
An International Monetary Fund (IMF) mission, led by Karen Ongley, visited Freetown during April 23-May 7, 2019 to conduct the first review of the Extended Credit Facility (ECF) arrangement approved by the Executive Board on November 30, 2018.
At the end of the visit, Ms. Ongley issued the following statement:
“The economic landscape in Sierra Leone remains challenging. Yet, the authorities navigated these difficulties well in the year since taking office, helping to stabilize the economy. Real GDP looks set to pick up this year to 5.1 percent, thanks in part to the resumption of iron ore mining. After peaking above 19 percent last September, inflation moderated to 17.5 percent in March and is projected to continue tracking down over 2019.
“Faced with serious constraints on budget financing, the authorities kept the budget in check through stronger‑than‑programmed revenue performance and spending well below the budget. As a result, the overall deficit narrowed from 8.8 percent in 2017 to 5.8 percent in 2018. However, delays in donor receipts and uneven liquidity in the banking system, posed challenges for deficit financing and monetary policy, and impacted program performance.
“While program performance is broadly on track, slower than expected progress on structural reforms reflects the magnitude of policy challenges. Nine of the ten quantitative targets were met for end‑December 2018 and end‑March 2019. However, the Net Domestic Assets of the Bank of Sierra Leone (BSL) at end‑December 2018 exceeded the program target (performance criterion), partly due to BSL’s credit to government and continued foreign exchange market sales to stem depreciation of the Leone. Moreover, three of five structural benchmarks—the forensic audit of the BSL, developing a strategic plan for the two state-owned banks, and a strategy for clearing domestic arrears—have been delayed, as the underlying issues are proving to be more complex than anticipated.
“With this in mind, the Sierra Leonean authorities and the mission reached understandings, ad referendum, on economic policies aimed at enhancing accountability in managing public resources, diversifying the economy and promoting more resilient and inclusive growth. The authorities’ commitment to mobilizing domestic revenue and improving expenditure management to achieve a gradual reduction in the deficit will help ensure that public debt returns to a sustainable path. Notwithstanding pressures on the budget, the authorities will safeguard poverty-reducing spending and other priority spending under the Government’s National Development Plan. Limiting the recourse to domestic financing will also reinforce the BSL’s objective of bringing inflation down to single digits by the end of the program. Maintaining a flexible exchange rate system and increasing foreign exchange reserves will boost resilience to economic shocks.
“The authorities have calibrated their policies to address longstanding vulnerabilities, but this also requires maintaining policy discipline and stamina. Notwithstanding their ambitious revenue goals, the program reflects a more cautious revenue assumption as a buffer to deal with fiscal risks, such as reliance on donor financing, the large outstanding stock of domestic arrears, and high prospective debt service payments. Stepping up efforts on the structural reforms underpinning the program is crucial to the goals of managing fiscal risks and ensuring greater accountability for the benefit of all Sierra Leoneans.
“The IMF’s Executive Board is expected to consider first ECF review by end-June 2019. Completion of the review would make available SDR 15.56 million (US$ 21.5 million), bringing total disbursements under the program to about SDR 31 million (US$ 43 million).
“The mission met with Vice President Jalloh, Minister of Finance Jacob Saffa, Deputy Minister of Finance Patricia Laverley, Governor of BSL Kelfala Kallon, Finance Secretary Sahr Jusu, other senior government and BSL officials, representatives of the financial sector, civil society, and development partners. Mr. Kingsley Obiora, Alternate Executive Director representing Sierra Leone, also joined the concluding meetings.
“The mission wishes to thank the Sierra Leonean authorities for their warm hospitality, and the constructive and rich discussions during our visit to Freetown.”