PRESS RELEASE ON THE SUSPENSION OF BWI PRINCIPAL
GOVERNOR JACKSON J. PAYE
MEMBER, BOARD GOVERNORS, BWI
AND FORMER DEPUTY MINISTER OF PUBLIC WORKS, RL
May 22, 2019
Ladies and Gentlemen of the Press:
I call this Press Conference to distance myself from the decision of the Board of Governors of the Booker Washington Institute to suspend the Principal Mr. Harry Fomba Tarnue for what I consider to be preconceived, non-transparent, and essentially strong-arm tactics by some members of the Board.
I am constrained to make my dissention public due to the many telephone, and email queries I received since the decision was announced on Friday, May 17, 2019. The queries came from individuals with very strong connection to the school and have known me to be on the Board.
While my dissenting view may not matter nor reverse the course of action taken, at the least, it will dispel the notion that the decision to suspend the Principal was unanimous as was reported in one of the local dailies.
Here are some of the reasons why I disagree and thereby distance myself from the decision to suspend the Principal:
The “Resolution” expressing “Vote of No Confidence” in the Principal was shrouded in secrecy referred to on the Agenda as “Outcome of Closed-Door Meeting”. The “Resolution” was circulated among select members of the Board and kept away from many of us including Statutory Members and me as the Immediate Past Chairman and a prominent alumnus. My name is attached to the “Resolution” without my signature;
Some of the issues raised in the “Resolution” which were considered as ground for the Principal’s suspension, were not carefully adjudicated by the Board in keeping with the principle of due process. This creates the impression in my opinion, as preconceived; and
Since the re-constitution of the Board of Governors by His Excellency Dr. George Manneh Weah, President of the Republic of Liberia and Chair Ex-Officio of the Board Governors of BWI, Governor John S. Youboty, Sr., current Chairman, has consistently violated the Charter of the Institute specifically Article III, Sections 4 and 5 by allowing a non-proxy in keeping with the Charter, to continue to act as such. This concern has been raised by me on numerous occasions, even in the presence of the Member Ex-Officio, the Minister of Education. It is the likes of such illegal proxy that drives a critical decision as the suspension.
Let me hasten to add that the Powers and Duties of the Board, and those of the Principal are clearly spelt out in Articles IV and V of the Charter with the Chair Ex-Officio (President of the Republic) and Member Ex-Officio (Minister of Education) playing overarching roles. Therefore, while it is the prerogative of the President of Liberia and the Minister of Education to make national decisions including the hiring and firing of individuals in the government sector, this prerogative can be better utilized with advisement from the Board such as the Board of Governors of BWI.
In the instant case, it is my opinion, that the Board of Governors, BWI, did not do justice in the manner it approached the suspension of Principal Tarnue.
It is for this reason, that I disassociate myself from the decision of the Board. It may not make a difference, but I want my position to be known.
Finally, I want to state very clearly that my interest in the Booker Washington Institute, my Alma Mater, is second to none. BWI has been and continues to be in the vanguard for the production of some of the finest brains in engineering, architecture, agriculture, politics, and other fields that have contributed significantly in the over all development of our Dear Liberia. The school is striving to be a center of excellence in Technical and Vocational Education Training (TEVET) in Liberia. Significant progress has been made in that direction.
Most importantly, the skills that are required to propel the Pro-Poor Agenda for Development and Progress enunciated by President Dr. George Manneh Weah can be better acquired at BWI, the premier vocational and technical institute in Liberia, I ever dare to say Africa. It is therefore incumbent on all of us, stake holders, to jealously guide the legacy and not allow it to slip for whatever personal reason.
Thank you ever so much.
Jackson J. Paye