Open Letter to the House of Senate
From: Abdoulaye W. Dukulé, PhD, Washington, DC, USA
Counselor Tiawan Gongloe will soon appear before you for a second time, re-nominated by Her Excellency President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf for the same post you rejected him for last week. Either the President could not find anyone better or she is truly convinced that in order to carry out her vision of how the labor sector should function, she could never find anyone better than Counselor Gongloe. There are occasions in our system of democracy when a President feels the need to nominate again and again someone that has not been deemed qualified for the job by the Honorable Senate.
Mr. President Pro-Temp and Honorable Members of the House of Senate, we, the people of Liberia, who have entrusted you with our utmost confidence to serve as guardians of our nascent democracy cannot and should never second guess you. We cannot and must never question your judgment or your qualification to take the best decision in the best interest of our nation. The People of Liberia have decided to trust you and therefore, whatever decision you reach, is for the best interest of the country.
Many people have brought forward reasons why Counselor Gongloe may not have been confirmed. According to some quarters, his brother being Assistant Minister in the same Ministry of Labor could lead to a conflict of interest. This argument cannot stand. First, in the American democratic history that we model ours after, the brother of John F. Kennedy served in his government as Attorney General of the US and never once there was a talk of conflict of interest. The Gongloe family must not be punished because it produces children who loves their country and have the professional capacity to serve. Denying Counselor Gongloe his appointment of the account of his brother being in the same agency is tantamount to the worst kind of reverse-nepotism.
One set of opinion has it that Tiawan was rejected because some members of the Honorable House of Senate hold a grudge against him because he prosecuted one of their colleagues accused of murder. Yes, politics is always personal. But shouldn’t the House of Senate congratulate Tiawan for doing his job, to not allow himself to be swayed by the title or political standing of someone accused of murder? The trial was free and fair and when it was over, Tiawan never made any noise. As a good legal person, he accepted the verdict of the people who spoke through the jury. Isn’t that what we are looking for in our budging democracy? People who will speak the truth, carry out the law no matter who is on the other side?
Finally, there is this issue of the Ministry of Justice having not won some big cases in court. In a recent article published on many sites, Tiawan underlined the fact that the Ministry actually won more than 70 percent of the cases it prosecuted in court. There are two sets of arguments we can put forward here: the first is that Counselor Gongloe applied the law to its fullest extend, but unlike in the past, he did not go in to bribe jurors to buy a verdict. That is the ancient Liberian judicial system, whenever government was involved; the second argument is that government losing cases and not putting the judge in jail or dismissing him or her is what we have been lacking in our judiciary. Tiawan cannot and must not be rejected for being a modern Prosecutor in the New Liberia.
The argument about qualification could be raised about any political position. How does one qualify for the position of minister? It is the same one could say about being a member of the House, Senate or any other public office. One does not know before you get in there. That is why there are technocrats at various levels to provide the technical support needed. The primary function of a minister is to give leadership, provide the vision and carry out the president’s agenda in a team work. There is no training ground for ministers, they all learn on the job.
Counselor Gongloe is nationalist, respectful of human rights in every environment, a decent man with the greatest sense of fairness. He will not cheat Liberians workers and he will not side with them if they are in the wrong. He will uphold the law. He is humble and throughout his history in government, he has never been linked to any act of malfeasance, corruption or abuse. He had the opportunity to do lots of things in his former position but never did. A man like that must not be let go.
Honorable Members of the House of the Senate, the President Pro Temp could introduce Counselor Gongloe to those of you who don’t know him. Almost twenty years ago, Tiawan served as one of the closest persons to his friend, during the IGNU era. He knows Tiawan and if you were listen to him, he might tell you two or three things about this young man and you would have no hesitation in giving him the chance to serve.
Honorable President pro Temp and Members of the House of Senate please give the President her Minister; allow her to carry out her vision and allow Counselor Tiawan Gongloe to serve under her leadership and your guidance. Open the doors to the era of greatness where every Liberian will be able to serve to his or her full capacity. There is nothing in that ministry that Tiawan cannot do. Give him a chance and call him to order if you have to, but do not deny him this rare and historical privilege.
As a patriotic Liberian, as one who has been involved in the struggle for democracy for a few years and believe that we can all do much better, this is my humble contribution to the debate on the Tiawan Gongloe hearing. Thank you for reading.
May God Bless Liberia!