Rejoinder: From Paris to China: New Envoy Commits to Strengthening Ties Goes to Beijing With Tainted Records and Disputed Academic Credentials.

Patrick Tokpa Johnson

The global image of Liberia has been severely damaged by actions of the former president Charles Taylor regime occasioned by the 14-years of war. But the election of President Johnson-Sirleaf in 2005 has helped to rebuild our country’s image abroad, the people of Liberia today enjoyed almost worldwide empathy and support that allow them to present their passports at various ports without much problems but if we are not very careful about the characters of individuals appointed as Ambassadors to countries which Liberia maintains mutual interests, our country image may be tainted once again.

The FrontPageAfrica Online news magazine as well as other local newspapers websites have been some of the major sources of up-to-date news providers on unfolding developments in our country Liberia for those of us who are residing abroad especially the United States of America. Those of us who have keen interest on daily happenings as relates government-people relations back home, before leaving my residence for class and subsequent job, I have made it my daily duty to firstly browse through the various newspapers in Monrovia websites, in order to keep me well informed and updated on latest happenings back home. I came across a story on the Front Page Africa website under the caption: “From Paris to China: New Envoy Commits to Strengthening Ties”; posted on June 27, 2014.

Even though I have been too occupied with a lot of assignments as regards my graduate studies program in Environmental Law and Policy at Florida State University in Tallahassee, I made it responsibility and bidding duty always glance through articles and news stories on the Front page Africa including other newspapers’ websites. It was during my normal exercise that I came across this story captioned: Ambassador Dudley McKinley Thomas From Paris to China: New Envoy Commits to Strengthening Ties. I read this article over five times. Let me factually states that Mainland China is the world fastest rising and second biggest economy, as such, does our country Liberia under the diplomatic leadership of the new Ambassador McKinley Thomas stands to benefit anything tangible from Beijing?

These are unanswered questions but considering the Ambassador past record from his previous post in France, the answer will prove otherwise contrary. This is a man who has been tainted severely and haunted by his own created multitude of problems. One other newspaper headline on the same subject reads: Ambassador McKinley Thomas Leaves France to China with Tainted Records and falsified academic Credential. This headline is an apparent reference to the Ambassador disputed BSc Degree that he claimed to receive from the University of Oklahoma in the United States of America.

Obviously, one might asked what is the role of an ambassador? Studies show that ambassadors are high ranking officials sent abroad to represent the  interests and policies of their country. They are the highest ranking diplomats and are sent as resident representatives to other nations or international organizations, they are strong leaders who are good managers and strong negotiators as they need to win the confidence of the powerful and influence them. They are responsible for overseeing all the government activities of their home country in the host country. The main functions of ambassadors include protecting the lives of their citizens in the host nation, promoting trade between the two countries, facilitating cultural ties and maintaining access to resources. They also convey the goals of their country’s government to the representatives of the host nation’s government. They even negotiate on behalf of their country’s government. They analyze the political situation and the important events in their host country. The ambassador coordinates the activities of the Foreign Service Officers and representatives of their country, among other functions. In short, the ambassadors protect their citizens in host country; In today’s world, any given country might contain at least a small number of its citizens living in other countries.

Ambassadors are expected to protect the citizens of their home country in the host country. They aid travelers and visitors from their home country in the host nation. They also see that the citizens of the host nation who require a visa or change of citizenship to the ambassador’s country receive what they want according to the rules set by the country.

After reading through the story over and over again, I realized that the story correspondingly was also posted on about six local newspapers in Monrovia websites-the publication generally was about nice speeches and praises of the former ambassador of Liberia to the Republic of France, Mr. Dudley McKinley Thomas who is commissioned as Liberia’s Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the People’s Republic of China. Owing to the similarity of the various stories on the same subject, I have concluded that the story was a press release written by someone closed to Ambassador Thomas. While reading through the story, two-thing caught my attention: the Ambassador in his speech consciously failed to mention any major achievement during his tenure as Liberian Ambassador to France including his relationship with the citizens of Liberia, investment that came to Liberia and the member of Liberian youth that benefitted from scholarships studies program at UNESCO in Paris. All his speeches were all about what he plans to achieve in Beijing, failing to mention a single accomplishment in France.

The second issue that also caught my attention and still troubling me is the manner in which he was commissioned by a Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, instead of the President of the Republic or the Dean of the Cabinet who is also the Minister of Foreign Affairs who is his immediate boss. My research shows that ambassador as a direct representative of the president of a sending state to a host country is commissioned by the president or head of States of the sending country, while Foreign Service officers below the rank of an ambassador are commissioned by the foreign Minister or his principal deputy.  I stand to be corrected, under Madam Johnson-Sirleaf’s administration which of the Liberian ambassador that was commissioned by a deputy minister.

What was the urgency for a deputy minister who and an ambassador make the same monthly salary of US$4,500 since they are classified on the same level? If the president and the foreign minister were too engaged with national duties, the occasion appropriately should have been rescheduled to enable the president or the foreign minister to attend. The absent of President Johnson-Sirleaf and Foreign Minister Augustine Kpehe Ngafuan speaks volumes. Perhaps, one might conclude that the president and the foreign minister optioned not to have nothing thing to do with Ambassador Thomas’ commissioning apparently due to the persistent and consistent allegation from the Liberian Community in France of Ambassador Thomas falsifies academic credentials of a fake BSc Degree in Environment Design Architecture that he claimed to receive from the University of Oklahoma in the Suited states of America, and his tainted records of reported maltreatment of his fellow Liberians in France, and his crudeness against staffers of the Embassy of Liberian in France. Ambassador Thomas prolonged failures to prove the Liberian  Community in France wrong on his disputed academic credentials has sent a mixed-signals, it also buttress the looming qualms and tint him for life. In their recent opened letter to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf dated 19 May 2014, signed by George Car Nyemah and Octavius Varney, president and Secretary General of the Liberian Community in France and published on the Front Page Africaonline Website accused the Liberian of being in possession of a fake BSc Degree. The two senior officials of the Liberian Community in France have openly challenged Ambassador Thomas to make publish his BSc Degree in Environmental Design Architecture he claimed to receive from the University of Oklahoma in the United States of America. The two officials termed the ambassador’s degree as bogus and fake; vowing to remain uncompromised until Ambassador Thomas can prove them wrong with the publication of his questionable academic credential.

The Liberian Community in the letter said that they were not surprised because the ambassador who doesnot attend any college in his life has reportedly faked his academic credential with specify reference to a BSc Degree the ambassador claimed to earn from the University of Oklahoma in  Environment Design Architecture. Pressing further their allegation, they challenged the ambassador to clearly stated date and year that he obtained the degree in Environmental Design Architecture.

According to the two officials, the ambassador falsified academic credentials of a fake BSc Degree in his Environment Design Architecture are contains in his 12 of June 2006 credentials that he presented to the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) which is published on the institution website at http://www.zoominfo.com/p/Dudley-Thomas/800340318. I am not show that for a person to be appointed to serve as a ambassador he or she need to earn a degree since it is the constitution right of the president to appoint and dismiss but what is unacceptable is an official lie under oath, as the case of Ambassador Thomas who credential to United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) mentioned that he is a legality holder of a BSc Degree.

The Liberian community said through an advanced ITC, they were able to unearth the ambassador fake academic credential. On the website, Ambassador Thomas deliberately failed to clearly state on this website date, year, place and department that he earned the disputed degree. In order to put to rest the ambassador’s disputed degree, the morning New would be pleased if the ambassador can to prove his accusers wrong by making publish his disputed degree, but any failure would spell guilt something which will taint him further, just as the case of former House of Representatives Speaker in the then Charles Taylor-led Government, Nyudueh Morkonmana who issue still remained fresh on lips and minds of the public.  The issue of Morkonmana was brought to the public by Grand Cape Mount County Senator, Abel Massaley. He said the former speaker “had lied about his academic background and challenged him to prove that he was a graduate of Columbia University in  New York. Besides Nyudueh Morkonmana, early this year former Vice President for Academic Affairs at the AME Zion University and President of St. Clement University, Mr. Ndien Peters was arrested in January this year by a team of investigators for faking his doctorate degree. He was later dismissed by the university administration for fake academic credentials.

He has claimed to earn his Ph.D Degree from the Anointed University in South Africa but the university has since denied that Peters is a graduate of the institution. While probing Mr. Peters, he made a startling revelation saying that there are several other persons in possession of counterfeit credentials and are holding senior lucrative possible in this Johnson-Sirleaf led-government. The arrest of Peters follows a complaint to the Ministry of Justice by the Deputy Director of the Commission on Higher Education Dr. Kadiker Rex Dahn who claimed that Peters possesses fake academic degree. Following preliminary investigation, Peters was released but asked to report to the police charge of quarters regularly. He has admitted falsifying his credentials and has vowed to expose other individuals holding similar fake degrees in the country.

In the letter, the Liberian Community also registered its disappointment. The letter reads: “We are disappointed that a man like Ambassador McKinley Thomas with big government job will fake his academic and educational credential by fabricating degree that he did not earn in his life. This is academic crime, the Liberian Community noted, describing the Ambassador Thomas degree as counterfeit and bogus, saying that he has done a disservice to the public by lying under oath. They said “let it be cleared that he does not hold any degree,” the letter indicates. They continued: “We are therefore challenging him to prove us wrong. If he thinks that we are lying on him, let him send us copy of his BSc Degree through our email above or let him call us on +33751852826 to give us the date, time and year that he graduated and the department. We challenged Ambassador Thomas; he will never make any attempt.

They accused him ill-treating members of the Liberian community for the ten years that he spent in France as ambassador, alleging that the ambassador used to always refer to our embassy as “his embassy, personalizing the embassy as his private farm and has treated Liberians in France with disrespect. They also alleged in the letter that prior to Ambassador Thomas’ departure from his lucrative assignment in France, he begged some of their friends to have him honored at the Liberian Embassy in Paris so that in return, he would give them 5,000 Euros but only ended up giving them 1,000 Euros after the self-styled honoring program which they said was requested in order to help build Ambassador Thomas’ poor images.

To do justice to this subject, I again glanced at the School’s website and observed that the two universities do not offer any degree course in environmental design architecture; they offer degrees in environmental sciences. Please browse at: http://www.ou.edu/and http://go.okstate.edu/. The Liberian Community alleged that it made contact with the University of Oklahoma and in  their reply, the University said since the establishment of the university, the name Dudley McKinley Thomas did not attend either apply for an enrollment and wondered how can such a an official of the Liberian government claimed to have enroll and graduate from the prestige university.

I believe that there are two sides to every story and until the ambassador canvisibly clarify the worrisome issues such as bogus degree and payment to be honored raise by our brothers and sisters in France, no one will like to sympathize with Ambassador Thomas. Secondly, why should Ambassador Thomas reportedly pay people to have him honored? Is he not aware that honors are bestowed on people in recognitions of their valuable and dedicated services to duty, state, community and people, church, etc.? Let Ambassador D. McKinley Thomas remembers that no amount of cash can buy honor the same as money cannot buy happiness. These are serious allegations made by our brothers and sisters in France, and as such, wicked behaviors often call for desperate measures — and the issue of falsification of educational and academic credentials and degree by Ambassador McKinley Thomas need to be investigated thoroughly. Until Ambassador Thomas can publicly prove the  Liberian Community wrong, let me states that in a desperate employment market, some job seekers may be tempted to falsify the history of their education in order to make themselves more attractive to potential employers. Vividly I can recall how dozen of Liberians who were caught in degrees’ falsifications were publicly disgraced; some were forced to resign their lucrative jobs while others were It has been said that job seekers who stretch the truth are playing an ever-riskier game, according to Dennis Nason, CEO of the recruiting firm Nason & Nason. “Background checks are much easier now,” he says. “It’s all pretty open on the Internet.”         According to study, there are more than 400 degree mills and 300 counterfeit degree Web sites, and business is thriving amid a lackluster economy — doubling in the past five years to more than $500 million annually, according to estimates kept by John Bear, author of Bears’ Guide to Earning Degrees By Distance Learning. Some fake schools in Europe have made as much as $50 million a year and have as many as 15,000 “graduates” a year. The number of fake accrediting organizations set up by con artists to provide diploma mills an air of legitimacy has swollen from half a dozen 10 years ago to 260 in 2003.

Many diploma mills charge a fee ranging from $50 to $5,000 for a bachelor’s, master’s, Ph.D. or other such degree. Often, buyers only have to provide money to get a professional-looking sheepskin and transcript they can show potential employers. Other diploma mills require buyers to complete cursory work, such as writing a short essay, before sending out the degree. Others are putting their worthless degrees to work, and many employers never realize they’re being duped: My best wise suggestion is Ambassador Thomas, please be careful, your disputed degreeissue might promote you or bring you to your knees.

To conclude, my attention has been drawn to Ambassador McKinley Thomas’ educational and academic credential which the Liberian Community in France described as bogus, fake and counterfeit degree. The field which Ambassador Thomas claimed to earn a degree is not a “play-play” subject. And let me asked; what was the Ambassador’s Thesis topic? Can he give us any reference? The Internet has made it much easier to verify a person’s claims about his or her academic credentials. This field of Environmental Science is not for joke, it’s require hard study, thoroughly research and lots of presentations on varieties of environmental subjects. Interestingly, as lucrative fields of study, graduates in environmental sciences are among the well paid people around the world; they are marketable on the job market.

Secondly, I wondered why should an ambassador who claimed to hold degree in Environmental Science and find himself in the  diplomatic area when our country lack of well trained and educated ecologists. If the Liberian Community’s claim is true, then let me advise the ambassador that it is not yet late to earn a degree; you can enroll at any of the universities in Monrovia provided you can sit and pass the placement exams. Liberian Peace Ambassador, Mr. George Weah and Mr. Abraham Darius Dillon are living examples, when their education achievements were being disputed, they decided to enroll and today, Mr. Weah holds a degree while Mr. Dillon is attending in the United States. I am not saying that Ambassador Thomas is involved but I am concerned about the prolonged silence of former Liberian Ambassador to address the dispute surrounding his BSc Degree in Environmental Design Architecture he claimed to earn. Hope this is not the case of Mr. Nyundueh Monkonmanh who was forced to resign due to fake degree.

Ambassador Thomas, please prove your accusers wrong, you are under obligation to protect your reputation and academic credential, these allegations if failed to be addressed will taint you further in the eyes of colleagues, your staffs at the embassy and the host Chinese officials. Remember the story of a man in the Liberian body politics called Nyundueh Monkonmanh. And let me use this medium to inform you that as a graduate student of Environment Science, I will not rest on this subject until you make public you position on the allegation. The field of environment science is a prestige area of study, and as such those of us who are burning our candles wouldn’t the field to be tainted back home in because of your disputed degree.

Patrick Tokpa Johnson: Florida State University, 600 W. College Avenue, Tallahassee, FL 32306 patricktokpajohnson@yahoo.com\ Phone: (+1)7732608629

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