Monrovia -The bitterness that has arisen as a result of the death of former Transitional Government Chairman Charles Gyude Bryant, which has been blamed, on the management of the National Port Authority continues to create debate in circles in Liberia including among people in government.
Angered by the alleged treatment meted out against the former interim leader by the National Port Authority management couple with the entity’s justification on why the contract was cancelled, Rep. Edwin Snowe (District #6 Montserrado County) issued a clear warning to the entity to be quiet on the matter.
“In as much as I try to suppress my emotions this morning, I’ll ask the NPA management to remain quiet because if they continue misrepresenting the facts than some of us will be forced,” said Rep. Snowe in a conversation with radio talk-show host Menipakai Dumoe.
Continued Snowe: “A friend of mine called me last night and said oh the NPA … told me that you’re one of those behind the negative campaign against her and that’s a lie. If I want to go after someone, I go after them. I’m not happy about what happened, and all I’m saying today in this public manner to the management of the National Port authority, is ‘Shut up’. Remain quiet, let’s go through this process; there is a complaint before the complaint panel, it is my hope that the complaints panel will not be tampered with; that they render judgment fairly and freely.”
Many Liberians like Rep. Snowe share similar views on the way the former head of state was treated and feel he deserved better.
Jowel Hansford a Liberian expressed his frustration over the manner in which the NPA treated the former chairman adding. “In the first place, I feel so disappointed to see somebody who I consider to be the John the Baptist of the democracy and ten years of peace that we now enjoy as a nation and as a people,” said Hansford.
Continued Hansford: “People say we should not attribute his death to this Damen ship contract that was won, but why? We saw this man go through prosecution by this very state; he was dragged to court by this very government on grounds of economic sabotage; a charge that this government could not maintain any further, it had to drop it. We all know the court process; it was a whole legal battle that he had to spend his earnings on. We think that Madam Matilda Wokie Parker, the managing director of the National Port Authority; I listened to her press release that she issued saying that the reason why this contract was being cancelled was because of the Kuwaiti loan-a loan deal that has not been secured yet.”
Bryant’s family assertions that their family man’s dying wish was for the government of Liberia to have nothing to do with his funeral rites. In a statement issued by the Bryant family and dubbed: “Proclamation of Death for Charles Gyude Bryant”, the family made it clear that it was the former Chairman’s wish to be without state honor.
“It was Chairman Bryant's wish that there be No Panegyric, No Official Gazette issued, No Laying in State, No 21-Gun Salute, No Military Escort, or any State function over his remains. The families intend to carry out his wishes” stated Bryant and Carr Families.
Cllr. Bull, a friend of the family and a legal advisor to the former NTGL Chair, the family is only carrying out the last wishes of a dead man. Cllr. Bull said the late Bryant was in his sound mind and body before he died because he had called his lawyer, Cllr. Frank Musa Dean to his office in his home and had given him instructions to sue the NPA for reneging on a contract he bidded for and won.
Respect dead man’s wish
Cllr. Pearl Brown Bull is standing by the decision of the Bryant and Carr families not to include the government in any burial arrangements of the former Head of State.
“As a lawyer in my own right and as a politician, I feel it is right for the family to carry out his wishes for two reasons. Either, one he may have been frustrated, disenchanted with the manner in which this government treated him in the manner of a former head of state in their actions, in their dealings, their statements and their mannerism,” Cllr. Bull told the Voice of America’s Daybreak Africa Monday.
Some Liberians also share the view expressed by Cllr. Bull as Hansford puts it clearly: “To hear his family saying clearly that they don’t want the government to have anything to do whatsoever with his burial speaks volume. I have argued that the late Chairman died as a result of utter frustration.”
Rep. Edwin Snowe feels there has to be a review of how the state treats its former leaders who have served and retired. “This issue regarding former leaders, inclusive of Chairman Bryant, is not just with the executive, we as legislators are also responsible. We should ensure that when the executive is not doing what is expected; we should make sure that we keep their feet to the fire,” Snowe said Tuesday.
‘We will oblige if’
The government has been under fire since the death of the former Chairman and it seems it is trying to find a way around what seems an embarrassment. “If what we have been reading in the papers reflects an accurate account of Chairman Bryant’s will, will oblige,” said Isaac Jackson, deputy Minister for Public Affairs at the ministry of Information
We definitely have to respect his will. Chairman Bryant was a humble man and if he wants to be remembered in a humble manner then that’s ok. It has always been our desire as a government with the well-established procedure that we accord the proper honor befitting that of a statesman.”
Jackson in a mobile phone conversation with FrontPageAfrica said the government is concerned about the publicity given the issue by the Bryant and Carr families, but said the government will explore all avenues to make sure the late statesman wishes are respected if only what is being spread by the family were truly Bryant’s wish.
“We are not embarrassed, but we are concerned because the government has already started to accord Chairman Bryant all of the funeral rites befitting a former statesman and we are willing to continue along those lines,” he said.
Paying homage to Bryant, former interim leader Dr. Amos Sawyer in an email tribute said Chairman Bryant answered the call of his war-torn country, by accepting leadership at such a critical time in history for Liberia.
“He worked tirelessly to sustain a fragile consensus for peace and took Liberia through elections to constitutional democracy. We owe him a debt of gratitude. Our condolences to his family,” said Dr. Sawyer.
The late Bryant is said to have served as local representative for a shipping agency, Damen Shipyards. The company is said to have won the bid to supply tugboats to the NPA and was notified by the port of notice of intent to award before the entity aborted contract negotiations. Bryant died Wednesday, April 16, 2014 at the John F. Kennedy Medical Center in Monrovia after a protracted illness. He was 65.
Bryant led Liberia’s sixth interim government from October 2003 to January 2006 as the consensus choice of the three major warring factions -- Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD), Movement for Democracy in Liberia (MODEL), and Charles Taylor’s National Patriotic Front of Liberia.
If Bryant’s wish is granted it would become the second time that a former Liberian President is buried without state honor due to his wish. Historian Rev. Emmanuel Bowier, former minister of Information told FrontPageAfrica that in 1955 former President Edwin Barclay refused any involvement of the government into his funeral rites and was buried in a quiet ceremony on his farm after his death in the U.S. This was a result of a bitter feud between Barclay and the William V.S Tubman era.