Demonstrating Competence In Public Service— The Case Of Minister Samora P.Z. Wolokolie

I have long heard the name of Deputy Minister Samora Wolokolie echo aloud in the corridors of politics and academics, but do not know him and have never encountered him. Before his appointment to the Ministry of Finance as Deputy Minister for Fiscal Affairs, I reliably established that Deputy Minister Wolokolie had worked in the Financial Sector of Liberia as a Public Finance Expert and a Forensic Chartered Accountant and Auditor respectively. He had also taught Accounting and Public Finance both at the State-owned University of Liberia and the Catholic-owned Stella Maris Polythenic which he is believed to be a proud graduate of.

Therefore, it is safe to argue that youthful and vibrant Minister Samora P.Z. Wolokolie came to the job of Deputy Minister for Fiscal Affairs with the required academic credentials and professional pedigree given his fine and impressive tracks in the Financial sector of Liberia and of course potentially backed by his membership in the ruling Congress for Democratic Change or CDC.

Fast forward, on the stunning afternoon of Wednesday, 2nd of February 2022, I had the astounding privilege of listening to Minister Wolokolie discuss the current state of the Liberian economy—challenges, progress, and the prospect in terms of the projection made by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Ok F.M. Julius Jeh has staged him against former Deputy of Public Works Minister Roland Lafayette Giddings in what would turn out to be a mature, professional, and insightful debate on the current state and trend of the Liberian economy.

It is also rational to assume that the debate triggered between both erudite gentlemen by news braking statements President George Weah has made regarding the vitality and soundness of the Liberian economy during his recent Annual Message at the Legislature, as tradition demands that after such speech from the President, Bureaucrats drawn from across major sectors of the administration are required to provide deeper analysis and pointed clarifications on aspects of the President speech…most especially those in contention as in the case of the Liberian economy being “stable and progressing”.

In my view, the two discussants, Minister Wolokolie and Mr.Gidding demonstrated an enormous level of professionalism and maturity and lighted the OK F.M. studio with their combined rays of erudition. Both men convinced the listening audience that they possess an unquestionable grasp of the economy and attending economic issues.

Minister Wolokolie being the public official who is directing the Fiscal policy of our economy claimed my attention the most for obvious reasons. I wanted to know to what extent he is steep in the field of public finance, to occupy such a sensitive portfolio at such critical time within the financial management of the economy, and to examine his intellectual ability to defend the government fiscal policies which he supervises. I also wanted to independently evaluate his intellectual fitness and academic prowess as a public official— essentially because I am of the strongest opinion that meritocracy should be the hallmark and standard of public service, especially at the highest levels.

I don’t believe people should be appointed to lucrative and powerful positions because of their membership in the ruling party or their alignment to the ‘power that be’.  I have heralded severally and loudly that public service must be reserved only for the most qualified and not subjected to the narrow mentality of political largess or patronage because by doing so we intimately rob the country of its crucial chances of putting our best professional minds at its service.

However, notwithstanding, Deputy Minister Wolokolie did not disappoint me as he proved to have a good grasp and great depth of the economy from the public financial management perspective.

I don’t agree with all the postulations espoused by Wolokolie during the debate as I also didn’t agree with everything uttered by Mr. Giddings, but this commentary is not intended to proffer counter debates to them. I intend to do a policy and empirical critique in my next commentary. This piece is instead meant to commend Minister Samora P. Z.Wolokolie for ably defending his position with the fierce display of excellence and sagacity. The maturity and confidence with which he composed himself were incredibly profound. The quality of grammar he spoke was fascinating and his grasp of the economy and its intrigues and nuances bears testimony to the depth of the knowledge he possesses in regards to public financial management.

Listening to Samora competitively and superbly debate his colleague from the opposition rank reinforces my argument that beyond all odds, we must ensure that the best and brightest of us must be the ones recruited to government and placed at the service of our country.

I say well done to both Minister Samora Wolokollie and Mr. Giddings for such a brilliant, insightful, and mature debate.

By: Eugene Wleh Wilson

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