Movers and Shakers Of 2020


As the year 2020 comes to a close and upon reviewing the activities of public and private officials over the year, the Hot Pepper has chosen a selected few as its personalities of the year 2020. Here are our personalities of 2020:

  1. Man of the Year

The Hot Pepper’s prestigious Man of the Year 2020 award recipient is a well-recognized philanthropist and a humanitarian par excellence. He is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Dr. Daniel E. Cassell Foundation, headquartered in Margibi County.

     Since his return to the motherland, Dr. Cassell has involved himself with a number of humanitarian activities, which have earned him a considerable popularity among the people. On August 30, 2020, he officially launched the Dr. Cassell Foundation in Liberia, with the objective of meeting the basic needs of less fortunate Liberians and empowering the citizenry through vocational trainings, agriculture and skills acquisition, educational services and employment assistance. Currently, the Foundation is collaborating with over forty organizations to achieve its objectives.

   On September 30, 2020, Dr. Cassell honored an invitation to serve as guest speaker at the Press Union of Liberia’s 56th anniversary celebration, where he handed a check of US$10,000 to the PUL as a way of empowering the institution to remain impartial and independent in its pursuit for free speech and freedom of the press. He then cautioned journalists not to join the un-informed and uneducated sympathizers in marketing and promoting warlords and economic criminals, and decried that, despite the atrocities committed against the citizenry and looting of the country’s finances, war and economic criminals continue to be rewarded with some of the highest offices in the land.

   On November 4, 2020, Dr. Cassell instructed his Foundation to offer a cash reward of L$5 million or its equivalent in United States dollars to anyone who provides credible information that would lead to the successful arrest and subsequent prosecution of individuals involved in the deaths of the four auditors who died in early October 2020.

   Afterward, he made personal visits to the families of the fallen auditors and committed to paying Gifty Asmah Lamah’s children school fees from kindergarten to secondary school completion. For Albert Peters’ family, Dr. Cassell offered a full university scholarship to the elder child and a full high school scholarship for the younger one who has a year remaining in high school. He immediately presented a check to the wife of the late Peters to cover the full payment for the first semester tuition and procure books for the elder child in university.

   In the view of the Hot Pepper management, there is no single person who has impacted the lives of the people and given back to the motherland with sincerity in 2020 as compared to Dr. Cassell. Congratulations Dr. Cassell on winning a well-deserved honor. We recognize and appreciate your passion for humanity.

2. Politician of the Year

Abraham Darius Dillon, Senator, Montserrado County

For the past two years, no politician has earned so much fame and enjoyed the confidence of the people than the Senator of Montserrado County, Abraham Darius Dillon. Senator Dillon is Co-Chairman for Political Affairs of the opposition Liberty Party—a member of the four Collaborating Political Parties (CPP). Arguably, Senator Dillon is seen as the face of the opposition members serving in the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) government, and has won the admiration of members of the opposition bloc, and even some members of the ruling bloc, for his critical stance on pressing national issues.

   Senator Dillon’s December 8, 2020 victory with over 200,000 votes in a senatorial election has earned him the title, “Political Untouchable”. He is the first senatorial candidate to have ever accumulated such a number of votes. Whether his landslide victory over the CDC, which normally claims political ownership of Montserrado County, has added value to him in the opposition or not, it is no argument that Senator Dillon is a force to reckon with, even in the presence of Ambassador Joseph N. Boakai and Alexander Cummings, who are the frontrunners of the CPP, lest to mention Benoni Urey and Senator Nyomblee Karnga-Lawrence.

   Sneaking his way into the Liberian Senate in 2019, Dillon arguably rode on the popularity of the Council of Patriots (COP), the economic hardship, delinquency in paying civil servants, the uprising for the restitution of the alleged missing L$16 billion and the rhetoric of then talk show host, Henry Pedro Costa. It was also argued that the CDC did not fully involved itself with the campaign activities of its candidate, Paulita C.C. Wie. With all these factors being held constant, it was said that Dillon got to the Senate on silver platter. However, the 2020 senatorial election was a different ballgame. The entire leadership of the CDC considered the election as a first priority and put into place all the mechanisms to reclaim Montserrado County. President Weah became the face of the campaign, Senator Saah Joseph the Campaign Manager and Representative Acarious Gray the Official Spokesman of the campaign team. Minister Samuel Tweah played the role of the bankroller and Representative Thomas P. Fallah became the trusted candidate.

   The Blue Tsunami, led by the CDC Chairman, Mulbah Morlu, restored the hope that CDCians were in full readiness to reclaim Montserrado County. A number of influential CDCians made unwarranted promises to resign their positions or not contest further elections if their candidate did not win the December 8, 2020 election. At this point, the election became a litmus test for Senator Dillon. However, after the conduct of the election, the first preliminary result released by the National Elections Commission (NEC) placed Senator Dillon in a confident lead, and the margin continued to escalate until the final result was announced recently.

   With these political fighters and once movers and shakers of Liberian politics ganging up against Senator Dillon who was barely physically supported by his leaders, and with the Senator dragging them all with a landslide victory, no one could have been most appropriate for the Hot Pepper’s Politician of the Year 2020 award than Senator Abraham Darius Dillon (ADD). Congratulations Senator Dillon!

3. Minister of the Year

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, His Excellency Dee Maxwell Saah Kemayah, Sr., has earned Hot Pepper’s Minister of the Year. Minister Kemayah’s performance was graded from his performance both as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary and Permanent Representative of the Republic of Liberia to the United Nations, which possibly prompted his appointment as Foreign Minister, and his hit-the-ground-running initiatives at the Foreign Ministry, which summed up the paper’s judgment that, indeed, Minister Kemayah deserves the recognition.

   In less than three months at the Foreign Ministry, Minister Kemayah succeeded in reducing the fee of passport in all categories: from US$50 to US$40 for regular and from US$100 to US$80 for express. This is in line with promises he made when he was sworn in as minister—that he would institute reforms in the Passport Division by ensuring system and control and the availability of human resources.

   Minister Kemayah also succeeded in holding a four-day retreat for employees of the ministry, under the theme, “envisioning and enhancing the future of the foreign policy of the Republic of Liberia during and post COVID-19”, which provided the opportunity for all heads of foreign missions and consular generals to come together with the officials of Foreign Affairs to identify strength, weakness, opportunity and threat of the foreign service of Liberia, and bring to the table recommendations that would actualize the nation’s foreign policy objective and, more so, the foreign service vision of President George M. Weah.

   Captured among his reform plans for the ministry are reforming the Passport Division, developing the human capacity of the ministry, strengthening the protocol services, enhancing the Foreign Service Institute and developing a blueprint to serve as a roadmap for future engagements.   

   Just recently, Minister Kemayah was decorated by the Grand Master of Distinction, President George M. Weah, and admitted into the Humane Order of African Redemption, with the Grade of Knight Grand Band.

  At the United Nations, Ambassador Kemayah retained Liberia’s position as an elected member of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), which has not happened since 30 years ago.

   For the first time in history, Ambassador Kemayah placed Liberia at the center stage of the world body by introducing a resolution to the UN General Assembly to adopt a resolution declaring September 28 as International Day for Universal Access to Information, which was overwhelmingly endorsed.

   With these and many more achievements, it is only fair to say Congratulations to His Excellency Dee Maxwell Saah Kemayah for being Hot Pepper’s Minister of the Year 2020.

4. Banker of the Year

Youssouf Barry, Credit Manager, Afriland First Bank

The name Youssouf Barry does not come with much familiarity but with much underground works, dedication, commitment and achievements in 2020. As a corporate banker, Barry has explored many avenues of opportunities for the banking sector of Liberia and provided empowerment and education opportunities for many youths.

    Barry is a certified chartered international banker and financial analyst, and a member of the Institute of Credit Administration (ICA), Nigeria, and a Fellow of the Global Academy of Finance and Management (GAFM), USA. He is the Head of Commercial and Credit Banking at Afriland First Bank, Crown Hill, Monrovia.

   About two weeks ago, Barry was awarded the Prestigious Credit Manager Award by the Institute of Credit Administration, based in Nigeria. According to the institute, Barry’s nomination was based on his commitment in strengthening the banking industry. He has set the record of being the first Liberian to have ever won the award.

   The ICA only recognizes top-level corporate chieftain who, by virtue of their position, have encouraged, approved, supported and supervised the effective and efficient use of credit to expand and grow businesses through their out-going year; therefore, winning the ICA awards proves beyond all doubts that Youssouf Barry has served well among peers not only in Liberia but in the West African sub-region.

   Beyond his banking services, Barry serves as Board Chairman of the Atlantic Vocational Training Institute (AVTI) and Co-Chairman on the Board of the Federation of Fula Students of Liberia (FFUSOL), both educational institutions catering to the knowledge-needs of the Liberian youth.

   2020 has been a prosperous year for the Credit Manager and, in addition to starting his new year with a lot of energy to do more, we at Hot Pepper congratulate him for being our Banker of the Year 2020.

5. Director General of the Year

The Director General of the National Social Security and Welfare Corporation (NASSCORP) was among a few public officials who refused to be slowed down by the deadly Coronavirus when it comes to creating avenues and opportunities for the citizenry in 2020.

   Most importantly, vonBallmoos met the task of paying all those pensioned by the Government of Liberia (GOL), despite the economic stagnation and global lockdown. He managed to help put food on the table for people desperately in need.

   As a way of meeting up with his corporate social responsibility, he buttressed the education sector by donating 50,000 notebooks to the Ministry of Education (MoE) for onward distribution to parents of school-going children throughout the Republic of Liberia. His aim is to lessen the burden of the parents for the academic year 2020/2021 amidst COVID-19.

   The office complex of NASSCORP on 24th Street is a physical evidence of vonBallmoos’ developmental courage.

   Based on his performance over the year, the Hot Pepper is proud to name him its Director General of the Year 2020. Congratulations Director General Dewitt vonBallmoos.

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