Personalities Of The Year…Ellen Cockrum, Newsmaker Of The Year: Mill Jones, Man Of The Year: Bloh Sayeh, Reformist

As part of its tradition, the INQUIRER Newspaper during its last publication of each year honors those to whom honor is due for their dedicated, sacrificial and hard work over the year.

It is in this vein that with entries sent to the paper by the public and the prompt judgment of the paper’s editorial staff the following individuals and institutions have been selected as the INQUIRER’s Personalities of the Year 2013.

Those who came forth after tougher scrutinies are  Madam Ellen Cockum, Newsmaker of the Year; Dr. Joseph Mills Jones, Man Of The Year; United States Ambassador  Deborah Malac, Diplomat of the Year; Officer John Saah, Police officer of the Year; UNICEF, United Nations Agency of the Year; Center for National Documents and Records Agency (CNDRA) Director General P. Bloh Sayeh, Reformist of the Year; the President of the Liberia Bank For Development and Investment (LBDI) Mr. John B. S. Davies, Banker of the Year; The First International Bank (FiBank), Banking Institution of the year; Dr. Togba Nah-Tipoteh, constructive politician of the Year; Land Reform Commission, Commission of the Year; National Port Authority (NPA) Managing Director Maltida Parker, Managing Director of the Year; the Young Women Christian Association (YWCA), Women Group of the Year; NASSCORP Head Mr. Dewitt von Ballmoos, Director General of the Year; Liberty Party (LP), Political Party of the Year and Mr. J. Moses Gray, Foreign Service Personnel of the Year.

Others include Representatives Eugene Fallah Kparkar of the Lofa County and Senator Gbehsonhngar Findley of Grand Bassa County as Lawmakers of the Year; the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL), Professional Group of the Year; Plan-Liberia, non-governmental Organization of the Year; Liberia Football Association (LFA) President Mr. Musa H. Bility, Sportsman of the Year; Aminata Services Station, Liberian Business of the Year; the banning of Motorcyclists from the major streets of Monrovia, Government’s decision of the Year; and Dr. Isaac Wiles, humanitarian of the Year while Mr. Myers Chedar is our young and energetic Banker of the Year.

We have also named the Buchanan Road project as the Government of Liberia’s Project of the Year and the CICO Human Resource Manager Jacquline M. Sogbandi as Human Resource Manager of the Year.

Newsmaker of the year, Madam Ellen Cockrum

Our newsmaker of the Year in review, 2013, is Madam Ellen Cockrum, the ousted Managing Director of the Liberia Airport Authority (LAA) and current major in the chain of command in the United States Armed Forces Reserved Component.

Madam Cockrum, having served Liberia for sometime was accused of stealing and or misappropriating nearly US$1 million thereby defrauding the government, an indictment that was never heard instead she fled the country under the cover of darkness to resume her duty in the United States military.

Following sometime of quietude on her indictment which the Ministry of Justice had made the public to believe was already filed and copy sent to her, the former Managing Director began sneaking her secret recordings relating to conversations held with top government officials while she was in the country or just before her departure.

The first recording released was with Defense Minister Brownie Samukai which stirred public debate with many calling for the immediate resignation of the defense chief. The comments generated from talk shows on the topic made Minister Samukai to publicly apologize to his boss, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.

Madam Cockrum who was still not satisfied in her attempt to besmear the characters of those she considered her friends while apparently seeking refuge in her US military comfort from her indictment released several other tapes from her residence abroad along with her lover, Melvin Johnson, serving as her lawyer entertained several talk shows in Liberia thereby giving instances in which some Liberian government officials dished out public funds in the name of contracting fake consultancy company for RIA project as well as using profanity on the Liberian leader and her cabinet.

In this vein, Madam CocKrum also recorded President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf secretly while in a private conversation with the Liberian leader, something that many political and economic observers term as “unprecedented.”

Automatically, Madam Cockum was successful in diverting public attention from the indictment issued against her by the Government of Liberia through the release of her clandestine recording of Government officials.

While the public was engulfed in listening and paying keen attention to her recordings including that of Police Director, Chris Massaquoi, Madam Cockrum turned the hands of the clock by filing an Action for Damages of US$25 million against the management of the Liberia Airport Authority (LAA) and its Board chaired by Musa Bility in the Liberian Circuit Court.

In her 13-page lawsuit which covered general and special damages for “Defamation of Character” against the LAA Director, Musa Bility and every member of the LAA Board in their individual names and corporate capacities and the Liberia Civil Aviation Authority, Madam Cockrum accused all Liberian websites and newspapers of ‘falsely writing, leading, publishing, or maliciously informing the Liberian people and the world that she privately took, stole and appropriated nearly US$ 1 million amounting to defrauding the Government of Liberia.”

While this issue became a daily argument in the country, Judge A. Blamo Dixon, Presiding Judge of the Criminal Court ‘C’   issued a ‘Gag’ Order prohibiting publication of any matter relating to the activities of co-respondent Ellen Cockrum in Liberia as former Managing Director of the Liberia Airport Authority including meetings and discussions of officials of the   government of the Republic of Liberia as it relates directly or indirectly to the above mentioned case.

This again drew the attention of the Press Union of Liberia as well as the general public creating huge public outcry that led to the intervention of President Sirleaf immediately upon her arrival back into the country.

With the intervention of President Sirleaf, the judge again released another order this time revoking the ‘Gag’ Order in its words that the Ministry of Justice had filed a Notice of Withdrawal before it to revoke its previous order prohibiting all media institutions from discussing or publishing any recordings growing from the case of Economic Sabotage involving Madam Ellen Cockrum.

As the matter processed, the Circuit Court again issued another order prohibiting the public from calling for the resignation or dismissal of those connected to the secret recordings sneaked into the Liberian society while the case is pending before the court and also pending final disposition by the court or any court.

Since Madam Cockrum’s ‘Action for Damages’ seemed to have grown out of the indictment from the Government of Liberia, Criminal Court ‘C’ is now delving into the latter in the absence of plaintiff Cockrum but demanded co-defendant Musa Bility to be present at all time when the case is called as well as taking judicial notice of a Writ of Summons issued against Diaspora Consulting LLC by and thru Momar Dieng and Melvin Johnson both residing in the United States of America.

Meanwhile, as we enter 2014, Madam Cockrum has informed the Liberian public through her usual medium that her secret recordings containing conversation with Liberia’s Finance Minister, Amara Konneh will be released but Mr. Konneh has challenged her to do so.

Dr. Joseph Mills Jones: Man of The Year

Dr. J. Mills Jones, the Executive Governor of the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) an economic transformer, is our Man of the Year due to his dedicated and selfless efforts aimed at empowering local businesses, from the local entrepreneurs to the ordinary village women or men who are determined to make a difference through business. His anti-poverty campaign has taken him to several parts of Liberia where he continues to spread the message of ensuring access to finance. He is not only spreading this message which everyone loves to hear but with his farsightedness organizations such as the Liberia Marketing Association (LMA), the Liberia Business Association (LIBA), the National Petty Traders Association of Liberia (NAPETAL) and several others continue to have access to finance in a bid to expand the Liberian economy. Indeed every village and hamlet has felt the economic inclusion and transformation policy of this son of the soil whose administration at the Central Bank has been characterized by reform.

A major remarkable achievement of Dr. Jones during the year under review is the opening of Liberia’s first rural finance institution in the remotest town of Karnplay in northern Liberia where he was given a hero’s welcome during the opening ceremony of that institution, the first ever given by a Central Bank Governor in Liberia’s 166 years history.

Despite criticisms from detractors and those who can be considered as anti-nationalists, Dr. Jones continued his anti-poverty campaign and economic transformation exercise saying, “There is no turning back”.

What is his view on transformation? Dr. Jones, our economic transformer recently told a national gathering of journalists that the partnership with the Press is for the long haul, because transformation takes time. “Transformation does not come from repetition; it comes from innovation,” Dr. Jones said.

Dr. Jones further said “transformation is not spontaneous; it requires agents of change. Transformation requires courage, because it challenges the status quo. Transformation requires policies that take account of the important context.”

Another reason for Transformer Jones’ selection is the manner in which the CBL building construction work is progressing. That complex is in a serious way changing the sky-line of Monrovia.

US Ambassador Deborah Malac; Diplomat of the Year

Ambassador of the year, Deborah R. Malac

This year the INQUIRER Newspaper has chosen US Ambassador accredited to Liberia as Diplomat of the year 2013.

During this year Ambassador Deborah R. Malac signed a grant agreement in the amount of US$75,000 to provide assistance to several community-based groups across Liberia.

The “Ambassador’s Special Self Help Fund” provided US$50,000 in grant money to implement various community development initiatives in areas of income generation, agriculture and skills development,  while the United States African Development Foundation has contributed US$25,000 for community-based food security projects here.

This year’s projects focused on a variety of income generation opportunities, including support to those in the agricultural sector for cultivation of cassava, peanuts, beans, vegetables, plantains and bananas.  Other income generation projects include skills training in sewing, fish farming, animal husbandry and the provision of cassava grinders, pineapple suckers and other agricultural equipment.

Counties benefiting this year’s grants are Margibi, Bomi, Nimba, Lofa, Bong, Grand Cape and Grand Bassa, respectively.

Ambassador Malac visited Sangai Farm in Bong County and encouraged women to play a key role in the rebuilding of Liberia’s agricultural sector.

UNICEF; UN Agency of the Year

“Year 2013 was the start of UNICEF Liberia Country Office’s new US$ 150 million five year country programme (2013-2017). As enshrined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child, UNICEF continued to advocate and work towards fulfilling All Rights for All Children in Liberia. In the past one year, UNICEF has achieved impressive results for the women and children in Liberia through the provision of equitable health; education; water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) and child protection services. These results would not have been possible without the close collaboration and efforts of partner ministries of the Government of Liberia, other UN agencies, national and international NGOs, local, religious and traditional community leaders/members and the people of Liberia.

UNICEF co-chaired the human development pillar and supported the implementation of the Agenda for Transformation (AfT – Poverty Reduction Strategy II: 2012-2017), ensuring increased support towards poverty reduction programmes and essential services for most vulnerable and disadvantaged children, in key sectors such as health, nutrition, water and sanitation, education, and child protection.

UNICEF’s advocacy efforts resulted in children’s issues on nutrition, education and child protection receiving high prominence and wide media attention at the Post 2015 MDG high level panel meeting in Monrovia. Similarly, commitment to accelerate reduction of U5 child mortality rate received further impetus with the official launch of ‘A Promise Renewed’ initiative by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

UNICEF, in collaboration with the Government and WHO organized three national polio vaccination, Vitamin A and deworming campaigns with over 95% coverage. Consistent support toward annual vaccination campaigns has successfully prevented polio outbreaks in Liberia over the past three years.

The continued financial and technical support from UNICEF and partners has contributed to reducing the percentage of children suffering from chronic malnutrition from 42% to 36%.

With support from the European Union, UNICEF supported the Ministry of Gender and Development to expand the Social Cash Transfer (SCT) programme to Maryland. The programme now benefits about 4,000 extremely poor and labour-constrained families comprising close to 15,000 vulnerable individuals with cash grants in Bomi and Maryland Counties. The programme has enabled the families to send their children to school, have adequate food and better shelter. Some families have even started small businesses.

In education, over 10,000 students in 11 counties now study in newly constructed or rehabilitated classrooms with access to clean water and sanitation facilities, new desks and benches and learning materials.

Officer John Saah: Police Officer of the Year

An Officer of the Liberia National Police (LNP) John Saah is the Officer of the Year due to his dedication, and commitment to duty no matter what hour of the day. His work in the traffic division has been remarkable and hailed by the public and vehicle owners who consider his call to duty as exceptional during our polling exercise to select the personalities of the year. He became exceptionally dutiful during the Christmas Season when he designed and put into place a proper traffic control that eased the movement of people and minimized accident.

Dr. Togba Nah-Tipoteh: Constructive Politician of the Year

Veteran politician, Dr. Togba Nah-Tipoteh during the year under review was constructive in his engagement with the Government of Liberia (GOL) on decisions that were taken, be it economic or political. His prompt engagements were some things that could not only be criticized but provide a solution or a remedy to the numerous problems confronting the country.

Dewitt von Ballmoos; Director General of the Year

Under the prudent management skills of Mr. Dewitt von Ballmoos at the National Social Security and Welfare Corporation (NASSCORP), the corporation was able to pay on time benefits to those who deserved same at the NASSCORP. Such benefits included death, pension and injury benefits. The von Ballmoos administration also expanded NASSCORP’s investment throughout the country and the construction of the NASSCORP Building at the ELWA Junction is gradually progressing and might be completed soon.

Rep. Eugene Fallah Kparkar; Lawmaker of the Year

Consistent with our form of governance, the Legislature is considered the first branch of government because it represents the citizenry and a conduit for articulating and voicing the aspiration of citizens. Lawmakers have three responsibilities or functions. They make laws, represent, and carry out oversight.

Looking beyond on how the 53rd lawmakers worked during their first and second sessions, the INQUIRER newspaper has selected Lofa County District #1 Representative, Eugene Fallah Kparkar as the “Lawmaker of the year 2013.

Rep. Kparkar’s participation in plenary debates has shown how knowledgeable he is when it comes to legislative representation. The Lofa County lawmaker has always been there to voice out his thoughts or that of his constituent by speaking on specific agenda items.

As guaranteed by their standing rules, each lawmaker at the  House of Representatives is entitled to speak on a particular issue only once except others would have not spoken yield out their speaking time or sit quietly and watch their colleagues speak repeatedly. Fallah Kparkar has spoken about 70 times during the two sittings at the House.

Among other bills Rep.  Kparkar was able to re-introduce a bill seeking the rights for Liberians in the Diaspora to vote in all Presidential elections of Liberia.

According to Rep Eugene Fallah Kparkar, chief sponsor of the proposed law, when passed, new precincts in all foreign missions of Liberia will be created to allow Liberians register and vote.

The Lofa County Representative who also heads the Liberian delegation of Lawmakers to the Pan African Parliament noted that the introduction of said bill is an amendment to the new Electoral Reform Law of 2004.

The Liberty Party (LP) lawmaker has been present for work 44 times with only two excuses.  He has sponsored and co-sponsored several bills originating from the House of Representatives.

Government’s major decision of the Year

A major decision taken during the year was government’s action to ban motorcyclists from plying the principal streets of Monrovia as their movement was creating serious problem and a major recipe for fatal accidents on a daily basis. The Government of Liberia first stopped the commercial motorcyclists from plying the major routes with emphasis on Monrovia. The government first restricted the motorcyclists from plying the streets after 10 p.m. in a bid to curtail the high rate of armed robbery and that has subsequently subsided.

Liberty Party: Political Party of the Year

The opposition Liberty party (LP) is the political party of the year. After losing two major elections the party was recently restructured under the dynamic chairmanship of Cllr. Fonati Koffa; the LP seems poised to contest in no small way the pending special Senatorial election slated for 2014 and the elections of 2017. Already its seems that the party is now seriously out for business when during the year under review it captured a senatorial seat from its strong hold of Grand Bassa County. The party’s stance on national issues also tells one that it is no turning back after all of those defeats in 2005 and 2011.

Aminata Service Station: Liberian Business of the Year

One of the most improved Liberia Businesses is the pre-war Aminata Service Station that has improved its facilities and is taking a frantic competition with a Multi-national company like Total. Headed by Liberian Businessman Siaka Toure, the company continues to make strive during the year under review and has constructed modern service station around the capital and is very serviceable with its chain of modern shopping centers.

Commercial Bank Of The Year

The First International Bank Liberia, Ltd. is a duly licensed banking institution by the Central Bank of Liberia as a Commercial Bank which is a member of FiBank Group which has banking and insurance subsidiaries in four African countries including Gambia, Sierra Leone, Guinea and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

FiBank Liberia Limited was established in April, 2005 and has since become one of the leading banks in the country.

The bank has expanded its services out of Monrovia establishing several branches in the following locations: Buchanan; Grand Bassa County, Ganta; Nimba County, Paynesville-Redlight, Montserrado and Sinoe-Greenville, Sinoe County.

FiBank Liberia has expanded its operations to now include eight (8) branches and five (5) Money Gram and Western Union Retail Outlets in the capital suburbs and in the counties.

In recognition of the booming banking opportunities in Liberia, FiBank Liberia recently sought and obtained from the African Export-Import Bank a USD 10 Million Facility on non recourse basis and a USD 3Million Trade Finance Facility to stimulate import-export activities throughout Liberia.

It established its outlets at the various locations, Money Gram Outlets at the various locations: Money Gram Outlet-Duport Road, Money Gram Outlet-Gardnersville, Money Gram Outlet-Jamaica Road, Money Gram Outlet-Logan Town and Money Gram Outlet-Wroto Town.

The bank’s vision is to target customers, by offering innovative products and excellent customer services through a team of highly motivated staff backed with state-of-the-art technology, in order to achieve optimal shareholder returns whilst promoting good corporate citizenship and industry best practices. Its mission is to be a world-class institution making customer value and maximum returns to stakeholders her guiding star.  The Company’s Head Office is the 4-storey Luke Building, located on Broad Street, Monrovia, Liberia.

With the above information provided for the bank, the INQUIRER Newspaper has chosen it as the Commercial Bank of the Year.

Young Professional Banker Of The Year

It is said that the youths are the bed-rock of any nation; Myers D. Chedar is one of those young Liberians who is living according to that saying.

Born unto the union of Mr. and Mrs. Brown S. Chedar (the late) and Madam Teta B. Chea, Mr. Myers Chedar is a graduate of the United Methodist University (UMU) and the University of Liberia in Banking and Finance.

He has contributed to the society in general through his generosity to others. Mr. Chedar has provided scholarships to several students, supported schools’ initiatives and community development in his community.

He is currently the bank’s Relations Manager and has also served as a Credit and Recovery staff and all of the levels of the bank.

Mr. Chedar was honored this year by his former school, Arthur F. Kula in Hotel Africa for his numerous contributions to the school.

He is a citizen of Sinoe County and a strong family man.

Based upon the activities mentioned above, the INQUIRER Newspaper has chosen Mr. Myers Chedar as our Young Professional Banker of the Year.

Land Commission — Commission of the Year

On May 21, 2013, the people and Government of Liberia endorsed the Land Rights Policy which covers four (4) categories of land tenure: Private Land, Customary Land, Government Land, and Public Land with a cross-cutting sub-category called Protected Land. The Land Rights Policy is the clearest and most comprehensive categorization of land rights ever articulated in public policy in Liberia. It provides an innovative distinction between public land rights and government land rights.

In order to strengthen the Policy, the Commission has drafted a New Land Rights Law which is awaiting public consultations. Also, a. Land Administration Policy is nearing completion.

The Commission is anxiously awaiting the passage by the House of Representatives of the Criminal Conveyance of Land BILL, which has been passed by the House of Senate. The passage of this Bill will enhance access to land and improve tenure security.

The Commission has established five (5) Land Coordination Centers in Bong, Lofa, Margibi, Nimba and Maryland Counties, which are staffed and fully operational. Urban Land inventory with support from UN-HABITAT was also conducted in Gbarnga and results from there are impressive.

Madam P. Bloh Sayeh

Reformist Of The Year

Having closely followed the works of Madam P. Bloh Sayeh, as Director General of the Center for National Documents & Records Agency (CNDRA) in 2013, The INQUIRER has chosen the hard-working woman as its Director General of the year.

Under the year in review, the Center for National Documents and Records Agency (CNDRA) was able to launch its digital scanning and customer service center at its headquarters in Sinkor.

The modern documents’ keeping system has been processed through a digitalized data base system that is providing easy access to existing land records and national documents. The Archives was being hosted at the Law Library on Ashmun Street, but Maday Sayeh and her team took the center back to its original building on 12th Street, Sinkor.

The digital system includes processing the customer’s information at the modern digital scanning center within CNDRA. The center is now preserving land records and makes them publicly accessible. This we think is one of the major boosts for Madam Sayeh who is so passionate about her job at the CNDRA. And that is why we have decided to carry Madam Sayeh as our Director General of the year 2013.

Managing Director of the year

Madam Matilda W. Parker, NPA Boss

The Managing Director of the National Port Authority (NPA), Madam Matilda Wokie Parker is no doubt our Managing Director of the year for her splendid and sound administrative performances during the year under review at the NPA.

It is no secret that the abled leadership of Madam Parker at the NPA has brightened the image of the entity since her ascendancy as Managing Director nearly five years ago. Her professional leadership at this important entity has indeed brightened it to the international community.

This young but energetic lady’s managerial skills and her humanitarian services to the most needy have proven her worthy to win our hearts as the Managing Director of the year 2013. Madam Parker’s numerous humanitarian contributions over the years to people who are non-employees of the NPA has touched many Liberians as was demonstrated recently when she was honored by 21 groups in the country including media organizations.

Based on her many contributions to the country, especially the NPA, which has transformed the NPA giving it a new image, coupled with her humanitarian contributions across every spectrum, we are proud to carry Madam Parker as our Managing Director of the Year 2013.

Women Organization of the Year- YWCA

The Young Women Christian Association (YWCA) is no doubt our women organization of the year for its hard works and dedication in 2013.

YWCA under the able leadership of Mrs. Roseline K. Toweh, National Secretary General of the institution was very instrumental under the year in review in getting hundreds of girls off the streets.

YWCA as a means of empowering young women in the country established three additional branches in three counties including Bomi, Grand Bassa and West Point in Montserrado. Under the leadership of Madam Toweh, the main headquarters of the YWCA was renovated thus, bringing several destitute girls and young women where they are being trained in several areas as a means of empowering them for future challenges.

YWCA now operates a Mental Health Center and Youth Camp. With such great achievements in just a short time, we are of the conviction that indeed, the YWCA is our women organization of the year.

AFL- Professional Group Of The Year

I’m very sure that you will accept the fact that the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) is the most professional and disciplined group of the year as can be seen from its level of achievements of the force in 2013.

The AFL has during the year in review, achieved a lot at home and abroad in terms of training and service to the nation, Africa and the rest of the world. And that is why we are also lauding the Ministry of National Defense for its support to the Armed Forces of Liberia that has brought pride to the nation.

Due to its discipline and professional institution, the AFL is now part of an international peacekeeping body presently deployed in the troubled West African country of Mali with news of achievements, professionalism and high level of discipline of the Liberian soldiers.

This has made all Liberians proud and that is why we have chosen the AFL as our most professional, disciplined group of the year.

Banker Of The Year

John B.S Davies LBDI

Our Banker of the Year 2013 is Mr. John B.S. Davies, President of the Liberia Bank for Development and Investment (LBDI). Since his ascendency as President of the LBDI, Mr. Davies has been very instrumental in transforming the bank into a modern bank for fast and efficient service.

Under the leadership of Mr. Davies, the Bank, also during the year, in partnership with the Government of Liberia, funded several of the road infrastructure works under its Development Infrastructure Lending Program in conjunction with the Central Bank of Liberia. This enabled construction companies to enter into pre-financing arrangements with the Bank for earthmoving equipment, rock crushing plants, asphalt generation facilities etc.

As a way of ensuring that Liberians take charge of the economy of Liberia through private sector investment aimed at creating a middle class, the Bank was requested to superintend the divestiture of GOL shares in Cemenco. The role of the Bank is not only to serve as the custodian of funds to be received during sale, but to ensure that interested Liberians, irrespective of their status have an opportunity to buy into CEMENCO. The shares were traded for US$12.00 per share to the public.

The Bank, as a policy, has increased the granting of loan facilities to Liberian Businesses to grant them competitive advantage in the economy. To achieve this, the Bank has improved its new business development coaching and mentoring program to aid new entrants in business to improve their capacity in developing business plans and gain management.

During the year, under the leadership of John B. S. Davies as President of the Liberian Bankers’ Association, the coordination within the Liberian Bankers Association improved tremendously. Key areas of collaboration and coordination include automated credit portfolio reference process, staff character cross referencing, KYC information, Bank security, etc. Other areas of collaboration include collateral registry, proposed insolvency law, bankers tariffs and proposed economic and financial crimes commission.

The Bank made another landmark history by ensuring that its staff prevented the attempts of armed robbers to rob the bank in broad day light. The staff and law enforcement authorities prevented the robbery of depositors fund by engaging armed robbers and effecting of citizens’ arrest of two of them.

Mr. Davies, believed to be the youngest bank’s President in Liberia has achieved a lot in the year 2013 as can be glaringly seen at the LBDI which is now delivering efficient services to its thousands of customers.

With all of these achievements by Liberia’s youngest bank’s President, it is no doubt that indeed, Mr. John B.S. Davies is our Banker of the Year 2013.

Sportsman of the Year

The INQUIRER Sports Desk has selected Mr. Musa Bility as its Sports Personality for the year 2013.

After carefully observing various persons for the year under review, one name stood tall amongst all, Musa Bility, a man to reckon with, who has contributed immensely to the development of the passion for life, the largest contributor of the year 2013.

Mr. Bility, for the many years and especially, 2013 has brought pride to the Football House by his commercialization policy which for the first time has boosted the Liberian football by providing additional funding in cash to the Football House the LFA.

Under Mr. Bility’s leadership, the Liberia Football Association (LFA) signed a commercial agreement with Cellcom GSM worth US $650,000 for an extended three-year period, a fund deal which boosted the moral of the Football for the first time under the tenure of a single President of the FA in Liberia.

According to the LFA Media Officer, Henry Flomo, the amount was divided into two portions: direct and indirect. The direct portion involves US $585,000 which was used to run the National Leagues for three seasons while the remaining portion of US $65,000 is to be used by Cellcom for promotional and marketing purposes for the league for the first time in the history of the Liberian football.

Meanwhile, since the 2013–14 Liberian First Division League (known as the LFA-Cellcom First Division League), there have been competitions amongst the local club teams with massive funding given to the teams for preparation by the Bility’s led leadership.

This and many other developments in the Liberian Football has left this paper’s Sport’s Editorial Desk with no regret to mention this professional and dignitary as our Sports Personality for the year under review for 2013.

Dr. Isaac Wiles: Humanitarian of the Year

Dr. Isaac G. Wiles is the founder of the Dr. Isaac G. Wiles Foundation for Education and Community Empowerment (DIGWFECOE), a non-profit corporation which was incorporated on October 1, 2012 only and solely supported by the Founder, Dr. Wiles with headquarters on Broad Street, Crown Hill.

This paper has deemed it necessary to select Dr. Isaac Wiles as the humanitarian of the year, because of the fast improvement his organization (DIGWRECOE), has made just in the space of time.

His organization (DIGWFECOE), since its inception has embarked upon the initial establishment of adult literacy programs in Montserrado, Bómi, Margibi and Gbarpolu Counties distributing reading books, pencils, dusters, pieces of chalk and other instructional materials including 2.7KVA generators along with gasoline, bundle of wires and other accessories with which to operate.

Counties that benefited from his humanitarian assistance included Kpokor, Sayebeh, Lavumah, Bonjeh Town, Wolala, Koliekata, Zuana Town among others. He also engaged in the repairing of hand pumps in Borpher Town and in Voinjama was the only humanitarian organization that went to that county when the citizens were displaced after flood damaged some of the communities.

He made distribution of used clothing, slippers, medication, a generator and some rice.

Dr. Wiles is presently in partnership with a church engaged in both feeding and counseling of street boys and girls, drug addicts, car loaders and others every Friday.

His organization (DIGWFECOE) is now awaiting after communicating for the approval and support from government, embasies and well-meaning Liberians, for him to commence a National Family Meeting to discuss what is being termed as a “Fragile State”.

The organization now is not only known nationwide in article publication locally but also internationally through a popular Newspaper known as the New York Beacon in the United States of America.

International NGO of the year:

Plan International Acting Country Director Oumarou Koala

After the 14 years of civil unrest in Liberia, many young people especially women and girls were marginalized and their rights were violated leaving them vulnerable to the society. With that situation in the country, Plan International had devoted its service to providing health care, quality education and other essential trainings for young people across the country in order to minimize the life challenges caused by the war.

As the result of this, the management of the Inquirer Newspaper has selected Plan International as International NGO of the year 2013.

Plan International started working in Liberia in 1982 to help poor children to access their rights to education, health and protection.  Due to the civil unrest in Liberia, Plan was forced to close down in 1993; however, plan reopened in December 2006 and continues to help children living in poverty.

Since 1993, Plan has been working with other partners to ensure that the rights of children are protected. Currently, Plan is focusing on supporting the growth, development and wellbeing of war-affected children in 77 communities across Liberia. This is a reality with the  restoration of some 954 primary, secondary and vocational schools, and 2 teacher training institutions; 82 health facilities, including 6 hospitals, and over 20,000 wells, which were ravaged by the civil war.

Plan has embarked on several  empowerment programs for girls including the  A ‘girls’ empowerment through education, a project which is currently being piloted, which aims to provide girls with additional learning support in order to attract them to, and keep them in school until completion.

Plan International has over the year worked with several youth groups in order to ensure that the rights of children and young people are protected. Plan also devoted her time to protecting children and young people from abuse, neglect, exploitation and violence.

On June 16, 2013, Plan supported a little over 50 young people to join other African countries to celebrate the Day of the African Child and in July of 2013, Plan also supported youth groups in the country including the Liberia National Children Representative Forum and the Girls Making Media.

It is because of Plan International that Universal Birth Registration (UBR) campaign that Children in Liberia can now enjoy their right to birth certificates. Thanks to Plan’s Universal Birth Registration (UBR) campaign; children have more potential to succeed and to be heard in the future.

Foreign Service Person Of The Year 2013

Since the introduction of our “Personalities of The Year”, this is the first time that this paper has decided to honor a young progressive Liberian diplomat as our Foreign Service Person Of The Year.  Mr. Josephus Moses Gray, whose immense contributions has been felt by hundreds of persons especially the informed youthful population of Liberia owing to his contributions to author a real fascinating and interesting book which highlights Liberian women as actors and not merely victims of conflict, discusses the strategies the women used effectively and points to their role in building bridges across society through grassroots peace building initiatives in bringing former warlords to the peace table, eventually culminating to the attainment of peace and stability in the country.

In general, Mr. Gray book titled:” Liberia’s Emerging Democracy”- the Role of Women and the Media in democratic dispensation, discusses the vigorous contributions of several Liberian women including President Elle Johnson-Sirleaf who has made strides toward the democratization of Liberia at all levels and also making efforts to rebuild her country ravaged by years of war, Mother Mary Brownell, a respectable classroom teacher and peace campaigner, Madam Ruth Sando Perry, a former chair of the ex-Six-man Council of State and Roberta Leymah Gbowee, a joint winner of the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize who led women’s movement to help end the war in Liberia.

Human Resource Manager of the Year

As the year 2013 under review slowly came to a climax, key personalities who had made and scored tremendous success in helping to maintain and foster post war Liberia reconstruction drive will always be remembered.

Similarly, recognizing Liberians continue to demonstrate love for mankind, community and country, the name Jacquline M. Sogbandi the first black Liberian Human resource Manager of CICO will not be left out of the picture.

Madam Sogbandi has gradually become a household name felt by scores of Liberians especially Major stake holders in the road network building industry, CICO top level management, The Ministry of Public Works as well as workers and residents of Weala in Bong County.

The CICO Human Resource Manager might have being unlucky at the time when she ascended to the portfolio because serious crises had erupted between employees and management at the company’s project site in Weala, Bong County.

Jackie immediately stamped her authority by quickly facilitating a dialogue between management and workers of the company, asking them to resume work at the project site because the ultimate beneficiaries of the Red light-Gbarnga road Project were Liberians.

Accordingly, her common touch/down-to-earth leadership style is another factor that continues to propel her in achieving greater height. She never shy away from speaking truth to power and even when things are going wrong: Jackie says it.

Up until now, Madam Sogbandi is also credited by several key stake holders and top level management for helping to hence the current smooth working relationship between CICO management and workers of the company.

Again, on October 28, 2013, she was at the fore-front of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) which came into realization thereby addressing several sticky issues which led to tension in the past.

The new CBA agreement which was entered into between the management of CICO and the workers union of the company seeks to address a number of sticky issues which led to tension at the company’s project site in Weala, Bong County, over the last few months leading to the signing ceremony.

Program marking the official signing ceremony of the CBA between CICO-Liberia and the workers union, was convened at the company’s project site in Bong County and was graced by an array of key stake holders in the labor sector who called on workers of CICO to help the company successfully complete the Gbangar Road Project beginning this dry season.