Featuring Politician, Man, Minister and Lawmaker of the Year 2012, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, CBL Executive Governor J. Mills Jones, Foreign Affairs Minister Augustine K. Ngafuan and Maryland Representative Bhofai Chambers.
Dr. J. Mills Jones “Man of the Year”
Our ‘personalities vetting committee’ says it is no doubt to name Dr. J. Mills Jones, Executive Governor of the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL), as our “Man of the Year 2012” because the institution, under his stewardship, has not only demonstrated its statutory mandates, it has also created economic inclusiveness, thus giving financial access to Liberian-owned enterprises, who, in turn have the ability to employ thousands of Liberians. He is interested in putting the nation’s money at work by which the ordinary people will feel the economic growth.
For the year under review, the CBL, under the administration of Dr. Jones and through its credit stimulus package launched in 2011, provided US$5.0 million to Liberian owned businesses, the bridge loan of US$20.0 million to the Government of Liberia, the US$10.0 million for the development of housing market, US$7.5 million to the agriculture and fishery sector and L$200 million for the Microfinance Industry.
Some these initiatives are carried out through commercial banks, as the CBL’s way of empowering commercial banks; an encouraging condition that has increased the number of commercial banks in Liberia to 9 with a total of 78 branches operational in 10 of the 15 counties. The CBL was also able to relatively stabilize foreign exchange by increasing its auction to US$72.4 million during 2012, of which US$58.1 million was offered through the regular auction and US$14.3 million through the special window. COLIMBO, Liberia Petroleum Retailers, LMA (United Women and Cross Border Women), Faroug Business Center, Dollars Enterprise, Mariama Business Center, Star Plus Filling Station, Sampia Business Center, Lofo Business Center, Kalinko Trading, among others, are beneficiaries of the special window. Based on these achievements, we are of no doubt to select Dr. Jones as our “Man of the Year 2012.”
Augustine K. Ngafuan-Minister of the Year
Augustine K Ngafuan, as the Minister of Foreign Affairs, from our own assessment, has proven to be the best choice for the job. His capability for the current position is dated back from his leadership journey as a fiscal administrator, whose stewardship put Liberia on the map as far as financial sanity is concerned.
Ngafuan is one of the young ministers, and has been serving in the government for long. His leadership posture continues to motive young people in the country.
Since Ngafuan assumed authority at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in February 2012, the Ministry and its employees have been transformed to another level. Under his administration, government’s foreign policy on political and economic diplomacy continues enhance bilateral and multilateral relationship, thus attracting more international assistance. Also the nation’s Foreign Service is now being refined.
During the year under review, the Ngafuan leadership revised regulations on administration and issuance of the Liberian ECOWAS biometric passports. Considering the four categories passports including ordinary, service, official and diplomatic, the revised regulations outline requirements to obtain them- www.mofa.gov.lr or www.emansion.gov.lr-a commendable system.
Minister Ngafuan successfully wooed bilateral agreements, some of which include the US$60 ministerial complex expected to be constructed by China, among others.
The Ngafuan administration sealed several ties including the Liberia-European Union political dialogue. His diplomatic engagements saw Liberia’s strong participation in handling regional crises: in Guinea Bissau and Mali.
Furthermore, Liberia’s relief by huge debt during the administration of Ngafuan at the Ministry of Finance, saw the country qualifying in 2012 to borrow.
Judging from such achievements, coupled with his consistency in encouraging young people to be focus and transform positively, we are convinced the Ngafuan is our “Minister of the Year.” Politician Of The Year
The political atmosphere following 2011 general and legislative elections conducted in Liberia remained challenging thus beclouding a calm future of the post-conflict country which the international community has maintained its presence in to ensure genuine peace and stability aimed at avoiding a recurrence of anarchy.
There were many politicians competing during the year under review to be singled out for recognition at the end of the year. Of course, by In Profile judgment, the outstanding politician during the year has been President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf based on a number of critical factors to note.
President Sirleaf scored the foremost point in January 2012 when, amidst threats posed by stalwarts and supporters of the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) over election dispute to disrupt the inauguration of Madam Sirleaf and Ambassador Joseph N. Boakia as President and Vice President of the Unity Party- led government second term, she ensured that the threats were overcome evidenced by a successful inauguration at the time.
Moreover, knowing that the youthful segment of the Liberian population is influential in supporting violence, the President highlighted youth empowerment in her inaugural speech as a major priority during the second regime thereby giving young Liberians the hope that what they did not benefit during the first term of Madam Sirleaf will come to light this time round.
Of course, President Sirleaf’s political tenacity has a controversial posture that has secured her might no matter how people feel. The President has clearly demonstrated that politics is interest hence appointing people in positions of public trust depends on the president’s interest and not what the public would think must happen. A classic example is the appointment of her son- Robert Sirleaf as Chairman/ pro bono of the Board of the National Oil Company of Liberia. Absolutely no amount of pressure has coerced the President to withdraw her son appointment.
Moreover, whether little, ceremonial or insignificant, President Sirleaf was able to control opposition politicians by providing a number of them positions as a sign of government of inclusion she promised, even though critics have maintained that she has done very little to fulfill the promise. One of such appointments which came very close to 2012 end was that of the appointment of CDC George Weah as Peace Ambassador to spearhead Liberia’s challenging reconciliation process.
Above all, President Sirleaf deserves the “Politician Of The Year” title because she has a ‘thick skin’ in resisting criticisms and pressure, an attribute only a real politician possesses.
The Lawmaker Of The Year
Maryland County Representative Bhofai Chambers is suitably “ The Lawmaker Of The Year 2012” due to his consist representation and advocacy against national issues that over the year seemed to be inimical to the overall interest of Liberians.
Representative Chambers vehemently opposed to manipulations influenced by cash at the Capitol Building over the year in review. He has been one of those fearlessly calling for total overhauled reform in the emerging energy sector as the discovery of oil in the Liberian basin has trooped many oil companies that have secured blocks for exploration and subsequent production once commercial quantities of oil are found in Liberia.
Representative Chambers has also remained very vocal on criticizing President Sirleaf for appointing her son Robert Sirleaf as Board Chair and pro bono of NOCAL while at the same time appointing her relatives and cronies in key government positions thereby demonstrating nepotism, favoritism and bad governance.
Of late during the year in review, the Maryland Lawmaker campaigned for President Sirleaf’s impeachment for utterances she made in the United States of America when she revealed that some market women in Liberia confided in her that they confiscated their children’s (of voting age) voter registration cards in 2005 not to vote during the elections. It was an open secret that many young people who registered at the time were followers of the Congress for Democratic Change.
Representative Chambers has also opposed consistently against the operations of SIFCA, an oil palm company in Maryland County which he has indicated has not respected the rights of Marylanders. This campaign has also kept the citizens’ trust and confidence to regard Representative Chambers as their true servant despite his fallout with the ruling Unity Party which he served as Chairman of its Legislative Caucus during the first regime.