Margibi County electoral district #4 Representative Ben A. Fofana over the weekend made his first public statement on the controversial removal of the Principal and Executive Officer of the Booker T. Washington Institute Atty. Harris Fomba Tarnue though he has been reinstated.
Representative Fofana talked tough on Saturday, June 29, 2019 at BWI’s founder day celebration when he blasted at the Board of Governors and the Ministry of Education for ignoring the ACT that created the Institution by removing Mr. Tarnue.
The Margibi Legislative Caucus Chairman beginning with the Board of Governors said; the Board responsibility and function is to ensure that there is sanity at BWI accusing it of instigating conflict on the Campus something he termed as unacceptable.
“We are still digging out information to the authenticity of that so that we can take our information to the President of the Republic of Liberia, to the extent that Board member come on this Campus in the night to instigate staff and students,” he said.
The Lawmaker revealed that 60% of the Board members have confirmed that there is no functional policy or internal working policy at BWI besides the Act that created the institution.
He questioned the Board as to how it is providing oversight at BWI and what yardstick it is using in the absence of policy. According to Hon. Fofana, the ACT gives rise to the Board to develop a policy as to the way it should function and how decisions should be taken.
He explained that 45% of BWI’s graduates are members of the Board of Governors and it is headed by an Alumni member. Ben A. Fofana said the current chairman of the Board has been on the Board for more than 8-years and the Board has been controlled by alumni for over 10-years asking the Board about its thinking and vision after 90 years.
He accused alumni members who are on the Board of BWI of being the ones instigating most of the problem at the Institution instead of influencing decision that will result into positivity on the Campus.
Hon. Fofana added that alumni members on the Board have formed a cult to deal with the situation at BWI for their own interest something he said they will not allow to happen anymore thereby promising to work with the Board to improve the situation at the Institution.
He then described the 1977 ACT that created BWI as being outdated and cannot hold the reality of 21st century stating that in order for BWI to move forward; he will close rank with the Board to ensure that those things that are needed to make BWI grow are done.
According to him, since the Board cannot formulate a working policy, he (Rep. Fofana) and his colleagues are reviewing the ACT of BWI to make a simple law that will make the Institution confusion-free.
Additionally, Fofana averred that this will define the roles, responsibilities and duties of the Board, the Principal and the President of the Republic of Liberia indicating that BWI is an Institution own by the people of Liberia and not an individual or a group of people.
He averred that as a sitting Representative of the District in which BWI is situated, he has oversight over the Institution and the Board of Governors stating that as from the date of his statement said oversight will be enforced.
The Lawmaker said the Caucus is going to pay regular visitation to the Campus in order to acquaint themselves with the development taking place there and will not leave the institution in the hands of people for personal interest or greed.
For the Ministry of Education, the Margibi Lawmaker said the Ministry used the BWI Campus knowing the problem on the Campus but officials of the Ministry sat down with the Board as a sector Administration for Education to see into it that there was chaos at the Institute.
“You used this Campus you know the problem on, you sat down with the Board as a sector Administration for Education most of the people that on the Board are not from the Educational sector, for you to sit there though you get only one vote or you may not even have vote but to even sit on the Board to see into it that the situation turn into chaos that was unfortunate” he blasted at the Ministry represented by Assistant Minister for Research and Planning Dominic D.N Kweme.
He also termed as a complete contradiction the Assistant Minister Kweme’s statement regarding the Ministry of Education support to BWI.
He thanked the Principal, the faculty, staff and the students of BWI for not yielding to what he calls the temptation that was imposed on them by the Board of Governors.
It can be recalled that “12 members of the Board” signed a resolution passing a vote of no confidence in Principal Tarnue and recommended to the Education Minister Dao Ansu Sonii that Principal Tarnue is removed and was endorsed by the Minister.
The Minister then wrote a letter informing Mr. Tarnue that based on the Board’s recommendation he was suspended and relieved of his post and also replaced by Mr. James W. Walker as Acting Principal until President George Manneh Weah can appoint a new Principal to manage the Institution but the decision met a series of resistant from the public on grounds that it was illegal.
It also led to the Booker Washington Institute Workers Union (BOWIWU) writing a communication to President George Manneh Weah calling for Mr. Tarnue reinstatement. The Union also took several steps one of which has to do with a go-slow that lasted for a week during which time the President mandated the Minister of Education and the Board of Governors to have Atty. Tarnue reinstated.