GBARNGA, Bong – President George Weah has appointed Esther Walker as superintendent of Bong.
She replaces Selena Polson Mappy, who served the county in the position since 2012.
Walker, the national chair of the Women’s Wing of the Coalition for Democratic Change, was among the dozens of nominations Weah has made since coming into office.
She is a trained agriculturalist from the Booker Washington Institute. Walker also obtained specialized training in rubber culture from Malaysia.
In 2002, she was appointed as mayor of Gbarnga by former President Charles Taylor, a position that brought her to “political prominence,” according to Jefferson Massah, an experienced and long-serving media practitioner of Bong.
Ahead of Walker’s confirmation by the Senate, views are mixed in Bong about her appointment; some citizens believe that Walker can deliver on the job while others have expressed the view that she is unqualified and that her appointment came simply because of her close connection to Vice President Jewel Howard-Taylor and the Coalition for Democratic Change.
Alvin Zawolo, a Bong resident, told The Bush Chicken that he is of the “strongest hope” that the superintendent designate will take Bong from its current state to a more improved state in terms of development.
If confirmed, Zawolo wants Walker to pay attention to both the human and infrastructural development of the county and ensure proper accountability.
“Over the years, dating back to 2008, there were bad decisions that led to misappropriation of county funding,” Zawolo said. “There were some poor procurement practices that lead to buying machines that the county did not maximize. Given the mandate that we have given the government overwhelmingly, I expect her to be a serious proponent of the pro-poor policy.”
He wants Walker to be open to suggestions and feedback for the growth and development of the county.
For Tiangeh Taylor (no relationship with Vice President Howard-Taylor), she feels that Walker has “issues in Bong County, in terms of interpersonal relationship with people” that should disqualify her from being appointed as superintendent for the county.
Taylor said even though it is the decision of the president to appoint superintendents, she, however, believes that Walker’s appointment was influenced by the vice president because of their long-standing relationship.
“We all know how long Madam Walker has been with the vice president. And looking at others who have supported her, and have the qualifications to serve but yet, she could not recommend [them] to serve, means this is what the vice president wants, and there is nothing anyone will do about it,” Taylor noted.
She said Walker needs to reconcile and work with everyone if she must succeed as superintendent.
To Faith Siakor, a young woman who works to improve the academic skills of female students in the county, the appointment of Walker after another female superintendent, shows “that women can do the job better.”
Siakor praised Weah for the appointment of another female as superintendent of Bong.
“I want her to keep focused and not to engage in discrimination in any form and work with others to move Bong County forward,” Siakor told The Bush Chicken.
Siakor has further described Walker’s appointment as a “motivation for young girls” and expressed hope that she performs to pave the way for more female leadership in Bong.
If confirmed, Walker would inherit several challenges, ranging from unfinished development projects, disunity between and among leaders, and the reported “lack of funds” in the county’s account for development purposes.
Major county projects like the prolonged construction of the Bong County Technical College, the pavement of streets in Gbarnga, and the reactivation of the Madam Suakoko Scholarship Program are cardinal to the needs of the citizens.
Featured photo courtesy of Esther Walker