Dr. Clarence R. Pearson, Sr.
AMID A DISASTROUS inaugural ceremony held on 22 January 2024 for President Joseph N. Boakai, an event that saw a historic moment when President Boakai lost consciousness about 25 minutes into his inaugural speech bringing the entire ceremony to an abrupt end, the chairperson of the Inaugural Committee Madam Miatta Fahnbulleh disclosed at a press conference held at the Ministry of Information Culture and Tourism (MICAT) that she was never in control.
THE LIBERIAN ILLUSTRIOUS cultural icon clarified that her position as head of the inaugural ceremony was in name only, and that her ideas and plans were overshadowed by the Unity Party and the government of Liberia. She accused the Unity Party of running a separate inaugural planning from its head office. She also revealed that protocol arrangements across all events related to the inaugural celebrations were interrupted and rearranged outside her Committee’s recommendations.
MOST INTERESTINGLY, Madam Fahnbulleh clarified that her plan to hold the inaugural ceremony at the historic and traditional venue, the Executive Pavilion, and the simultaneous use of the Providence Baptist Church as an extension in case of overflow was rejected. According to her, the initial proposal took into account the elegance, convenience, and historicity of the Executive Pavilion to such a ceremony. She further clarified that the setup of the Capitol grounds for the ceremony was removed from the control of her committee and funding given to the General Services Agency (GSA), shifting the poor setup of the grounds on the Director Madam Mary Broh.
MADAM FAHNBULLEH also clarified that her committee wasn’t allowed to print the invitations of the inaugural ceremony, and that though she was planning for 4,000 guests, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs printed and distributed 7,000 invitations. She blamed this action for the overcrowding and the insufficient chairs to seat guests. She also clarified that several attempts to rectify some of the challenges she faced were met with resistance from the Legislature and the Executive, rendering her ineffective.
LAMENTING OVER poor performance of the Master of Ceremony (MC) at the inaugural ceremony due to the interference of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Madam Fahnbulleh disclosed that she had contacted one of Liberia’s best broadcast journalists Kwame Clement to serve as MC, who would have been able to appropriately and eloquently identify and pronounce the names of foreign dignitaries, but her proposal was rejected.
REGARDING CROWD CONTROL at the inaugural ceremony, which is very important for the security of not only local officials but, foreign dignitaries, Madam Fahnbulleh mentioned that the grounds of the Capitol during the inauguration was unrestricted. According to her, people were allowed to walk into the occasion without invitation, including peanut sellers.
IN REFERENCE TO AUDIT of the Inaugural Committee, Madam Fahnbulleh said she welcomes the audit announced by the Internal Audit Agency (IAA), stating that the committee was not directly in charge of the inaugural budget. In fact, according to Madam Fahnbulleh, funds for the inaugural celebrations were only made available on 15 January 2024, just 7 days to the actual event.
IN CLOSING, Madam Fahnbulleh categorically denied responsibility for any wrong doing that may have led to the disaster that unfolded during the inauguration. She commended her fellow committee members for availing themselves to work for country despite the challenges they faced. She strongly condemned individuals who would like to tarnish her family’s name on account of the failed inauguration, stating “I was not in control.” She condemned those she called “criminals” on television and radio who thought to use the situation to attack her hard earned reputation.