Two units of anti-riot police prevented what would have developed into a full-grown demonstration initiated by a group of students from the University of Liberia (UL) in Monrovia early Monday, January 13. The students were reportedly acting under the guise of student militants.Some of them — who became disgruntled — had gathered as early as 7 a.m. on the Capitol Hill campus of the UL; barricading the entire road. This later escalated to burning tires and other combustible materials.Their actions, were an attempt to disrupt normal activities at the National Legislature, which were set to have its resuming program Monday. They had also intended to use their tactic to draw the attention of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf on the indefinite closure of the institution.The quick intervention of baton-wielding police officers who swung into action, prevented the situation from getting out of hand. The officers started chasing away the students and stopped them from causing more disturbance to normal activities.Monday’s attempted demonstration halted traffic as well as stalled the free movement of pedestrians for at least half an hour.The students’ protests started last November when they called for the resignation and removal of the vice president for Academic Affairs/Provost, Dr. Wede Brownell.At that time students marched with a symbolic casket bearing an effigy (a doll) representing UL’s Provost and calling on Dr. Brownell to resign with immediate effect.“We will stop at nothing until Dr. Brownell takes her leave,” the students threatened.In an effort to bring the situation under control, a call went out from the University of Liberia’s Faculty Association (ULFA) for the Provost to resign her post or “we will not teach.”The instructors of the flagship institution decided to lay down their chalk until something concrete was done about their salaries. They also demanded that fulltime employment be extended to a certain category of instructors.The leadership of the University of Liberia’s Student Union (ULSU) also joined the call for the immediate resignation of Dr. Brownell.ULSU’s statement under the signatures of Acting president, Anthony F. Williams, as well as Calvin Raymond Summon, its secretary general, helped confirm that the system the Provost devised has failed to deliver for the students–and for the university.ULSU noted that test schedules, the registration processes, ‘Add and Drop,’ amongst others activities, were characterized by a cycle of errors, from which, according to the student group, Dr. Brownell failed to learn.ULSU, like the faculty association, went further to call on the Board of Trustees of the University of Liberia to convince the student populace of the Provost’s credentials. They said she claimed to have earned her doctorate degree (Ph.D.) in Accounting, noting that in spite of this terminal degree that she claims to have, she is unable to teach the fundamentals of Accounting (Acct. 003).Following last year’s disturbances on the UL campuses in the wake of call for Dr. Brownell to resign, classes were suspended, but it was expected that normal academic activities would have resumed by now.The situation continues to deteriorate as the faculty reinforced its stand on the removal of Dr. Brownell.The ongoing saga turned bitter when the embattled vice president branded some of UL’s teaching staff as ‘crooks and criminals.’ Following that attack on some of the staffers, Dr. Brownell has vowed to remain and right the UL’s ‘messy situation.’Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
ALP Standard Bearer and former Maritime boss, Benoni W. UreyMobile telecommunications subscribers in Liberia are watching with great interest and anticipation as the rivalry between Cellcom Telecommunications and Lonestar Cell MTN escalates. The rivalry has raged on for several years now, mainly as a war of wit, with both companies using highly creative, yet provocative marketing messages attempting to woo customers to either side. But this war of wit has escalated to a vicious war of words – blunt, scathing, shaming public remarks that might soon require the intervention of an umpire. Telco Sector ‘Politicized’In a sharp reaction to a press statement released earlier this week by Cellcom, Lonestar warned her rival not to politicize the telecommunications sector. Cellcom had reacted to a Mach 14, 2016 letter by Benoni Urey, Chairman of Lonestar Cell MTN, which called the attention of the President of Liberia to apparent damaging effects of certain promotions (he called them ‘freebies’) offered by telecommunications service providers to the Liberian economy. Urey, in his March 14, 2016 letter, explained how the government of Liberia was losing tens of millions of United States dollars in potential tax revenue as a result of the promotions. He also linked the loss of potential tax revenue to loss of industry revenue and subsequent loss of industry jobs. Cellcom, however, dismissed Urey’s claims as “carefully calculated attempts to prolong Lonestar/MTN’s goal of restricting competition and thereby continuing to exploit the Liberian people.” Cellcom also described its own promotions as “a way of giving back to the people of Liberia and ensuring that Liberians have a little extra money in their pockets.” “Cellcom’s claim that its promotion is meant to help the less fortunate Liberians is totally ridiculous,” said Zenu Miller, Lonestar’s communications director, adding that, “the truth of the matter is that Cellcom only introduced the US$1 for three days to gain market share at the expense of Lonestar and positioned itself to sell to Orange of La Cote D’Ivoire in the midst of trumped up numbers. “If Cellcom insists on playing politics in the telecommunications communications industry, it must be prepared to answer questions on its shady relations with the Liberian Maritime Program and its owner Yoram Jay Coham of the Liberian International Ship and Corporate Registry (LISCR) to the Liberian People,” Miller said.Lonestar Cell MTN was recognized by the government of Liberia several years in a row as the largest tax paying phone company. The company said while it has the ability to offer better promotions than Cellcom or any GSM company at any level, it chose not to do so at the detriment of the Liberian economy. However Cellcom continues to recall Lonestar’s “exploitative” market entry at the beginning of the last decade, when the company charged US$65 for a SIM card. Lonestar Cell MTN however warned Cellcom against politicizing the telecommunications sector and projecting itself as the only cellphone company that is in the interest of the Liberian people. The company noted, as a good corporate citizen it has the right to sound an alarm and inform the Liberian government against negative tax collection in the telecommunications industry. “In our 15th year of operation, Lonestar Cell MTN is resourced to compete against any service provider on promotions or innovative services,” the company said. Lonestar trying to help?In May this year, the Legislature received a letter from President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf proposing, among other things, the imposition of excise of US$0.01 (one U.S. cent) per minute on all phone calls to support the 2016/2017 Fiscal Budget. The proposed excise, if approved by the Legislature, would take effect July 1, 2016, which is the beginning of the government’s fiscal year. As the national budget has not yet passed, it is not clear as to whether the charges would be retroactive to adhere to the July 1 date. Urey’s letter was dated two months before the President’s letter to the Legislature, which suggests that she had given some serious consideration to the matter, but declined to address Urey’s concern about the ‘freebies’. Instead the President proposed a tax on all calls, across the board. What remains unclear, however, is whether the calls covered by the 3-day promotions would be taxed, since in fact they are registered as ‘free calls’.In any case, the Plenary of the House of Representatives mandated its Committees on Ways, Means and Finance and Development Planning, and Judiciary to review the President’s proposal. The committees have not yet reported back to Plenary on the matter. ‘For good of the country’Meanwhile, Lonestar Cell MTN says it has a binding duty to pay its rightful taxes; that every corporation that means well for the Country must join the bandwagon in paying its legitimate taxes due the government on the promotions. Lonestar Cell MTN also clarified that its Board Chairman did not support the end of any promotion, but rather proffered the thought that GSM companies must pay taxes on free and below market calls to government. “The concerns raised by Chairman Urey must not be used as a political tool, but an avenue for strengthening the economic gains of the country. If Cellcom and its CEO are boasting of a successful promotion, why was the Cellcom’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) in Guinea expelled for the same promotion? The Guinean Government realized that the promotion was bad for its economy and the value of service,” the release noted.Lonestar Cell MTN said it has shown the raw facts to the Liberian government and the negative impact on its revenue collections, coupled with the results of the market and value destructions of these promotions; in the absence of political innuendos. “For those who have ears to listen, please listen, for we need to stop playing politics with tax payments for the good of this country and its people,” the release cautioned. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino has suggested he will not stand in the way of Harry Kane playing at the European Under-21 Championship this summer, if the 21-year-old hotshot is selected.The Spurs striker has played a pivotal role in the Under-21s qualifying campaign for the tournament in the Czech Republic, but recently made the step up to the senior side and scored 79 seconds into his debut.Kane is expected to travel with the Spurs squad on their end-of-season tour to Australia, but Pocchetino has revealed he is willing to negotiate with the England selectors over an agreement.“There are a lot of questions. I think that we have ahead eight very important [Premier League] games and we have time to speak about a lot of things that happen in the future. But why not?” said the Argentine.“Harry Kane is our player and after if I decide he is in the squad to go to Sydney, it is our decision. There are a lot of things to discus with the FA, with Gareth Southgate, with us, but always we try to find the best for the player, and for the national team and what is logical for Tottenham.”The 43-year-old believes Kane’s England displays in the last week, a cameo against Lithuania and his full debut against Italy, illustrate that he is very much the real deal after a stunning breakthrough season at Tottenham.Pochettino said: “It is a very good thing for him. I think that it is true that all which has happened was very quick, but in football the good times and the bad things can happen quickly, but it is real and he deserves the present and I am pleased for him.“Harry’s confidence is full now, but always in football you can improve. You need to put this idea in your head to move on.” Harry Kane 1
Olympic bronze medallist Saina Nehwal reached the quarterfinals of the Asia Badminton Championship after brushing aside Thailand’s Nitchaon Jindapol in straight games on Thursday.The fifth seeded Indian prevailed 21-14, 21-18 over Jindapol to take her head-to-head record to 7-0 against the Thai player. The World No 8 will take on third seeded Chinese Shixian Wang next.Saina has a 6-7 head-to-head record against Shixian, having lost to her in the last two encounters. Other Indian in fray, PV Sindhu, however, suffered a narrow 21-13, 20-22, 8-21 loss against the deceptive Tai Tzu Ying of Chinese Taipei in a match that lasted for an hour.Sindhu will be disappointed to blow away a 12-6 lead in the second game. She was leading for most part before Tai caught up at 15-15 and even though the Indian made it 20-19, she could not close the issue. In the decider, she lost out of her steam.Saina, on the other hand, hardly broke any sweat as she went about her business with utmost ease. She opened up early leads in both the games and held her fort.