LIBERIA: Over Early Retirement of Deputy Army Chief Geraldine George CSO Council expresses Mixed Feelings
As President Joseph Nyuma Boakai continues with the appointments of cabinet ministers and key officials of government, the National Civil Society Council of Liberia (NCSCL) has expressed mixed feeling over the early retirement of Deputy Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL).
With over 2,000 memberships, NCSCL is the apex body of all civil society organizations in the country.
It can be recalled that President Boakai, as part of his continuing nominations, retired Major General Prince C. Johnson and nominated him as Minister of the Ministry of National Defense. In the same vein, the Liberian leader also retired Brigadier General Geraldine George and nominated her as Deputy Minister for Operations at the Ministry of National Defense, while former Minister, Major General Daniel D. Ziankahn, who was retired six years back by former President George Manneh Weah, was nominated as Ambassador-Designate.
In a statement released at the weekend, the Council through its Chairperson, Madam Loretta Alethea Pope-Kai, described the retirement and subsequent nomination of Brigadier General Geraldine George as counterproductive to the growth and development of the Liberian army.
NCSCL indicated that having served as Deputy Chief of Staff for several years, Brigadier General Geraldine George was equally fit and qualified for the position of Chief of Staff.
NCSCL stated that the decision of the Liberian leader does not promote gender equality and increased women’s participation in top leadership positions, noting that the country has missed the most perfect opportunity to have a first ever female chief of staff.
The Council pointed out that in order for the AFL to be a “Force for Good,” it would have augured well to maintain well-trained personnel to guide the directions of the army, noting that the promotion of Brigadier General George to the position of Chief of Staff would have been the best decision than to retire all two of top officials at the same time.
Most beside, the Council maintained that the continue retirements of these trained army personnel is a complete waste of taxpayers’ monies of the Peoples of the United States of America (USA) and other friendly nations, who in support of the Security Sector Reform (SSR) following the 14-year civil brouhaha, contributed hugely towards the training of the Liberian army, which was once factionalized during the war.
NCSCL furthered that the decision of the Liberian leader to retire Chief of Staff Johnson and Deputy George at the same time instead is a bad precedence, which does not promote gender at the level of the Liberian army.
“The National Civil Society Council of Liberia is gravely taken aback by the continue retirements of trained personnel of the Liberian army, specifically the recent decision by President Joseph Nyuma Boakai to retire all two top officials at the helm of leadership of the AFL at the same time. It would have at least been far better, had he retired the chief of staff and promoted the deputy to the position of Chief of Staff. As a Council, we think this was a perfect opportunity for the country to have its first female chief – an important step towards the promotion of gender equality and the quest from the women of Liberia for more women to be appointed into key leadership positions in government,” said the statement.
“From the way we see it, if care isn’t taken or if future leaders continue on this same path, the army that the nation is so proud of would become brain drained,” added the Council.