HomeWorld NewsLiberia: Center for Transparency and Accountability In Liberia’s  Anti-Corruption Report Shows President...

Liberia: Center for Transparency and Accountability In Liberia’s  Anti-Corruption Report Shows President Boakai fails to Hold  Officials Accountable

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MONROVIA – The Center of Transparency and Accountability in Liberia (CENTAL) says the first 100 plus days of President Joseph Boakai’s presidency has been marred by allegations of corruption.


By Francis Boayue, [email protected]


CENTAL is an affiliate of Transparency International (TI). In its Anti-Corruption Monitoring Report on the Boakai Administration’s 100+ Days, CENTAL says allegations of corruption have emerged.

The CENTAL report reveals that President Boakai, prior his inauguration and without constitutional authority, requested funding from NASSCORP for the purchase of five Land Cruiser SUVs, each valued at $117,000. This action, considered a misapplication of public funds, has sparked intensive public criticism.

It also recounted allegations against President Boakai and some of his top officials.

According to CENTAL, President Boakai has been accused of bribing Legislators in a bid to influence leadership at the Legislature. There were reports that the President’s nephew and Officer-In-Charge of the National Oil Company of Liberia (NOCAL), Jake Kabakole, disbursed US$600,000 to contractors under questionable circumstances.

Public Works Minister Roland Giddings admitted to violating the procurement law by awarding road maintenance contracts valued US$22.4 million without a competitive bidding process. Giddings and some officials of the executive had already begged for mercy.

The reports also captured the 285 pieces of earth moving equipment believed to be given to the Boakai government as part of a deal with the Guma Group for exploration of the Wologizi mountain. The government has, however, denied that such a deal was finalized.

It documented that the President has taken some important steps such as appointing officials to the Ombudsman and suspending Stanley Ford, Director General of the Financial Intelligence Agency (FIA), following reports of his involvement in money laundering.

“He has, however, so far failed to hold his officials accountable. For instance, without releasing investigative findings into circumstances around poor planning of the inauguration and allegations of mismanagement of the US$600,000 program budget, the President issued an official statement expressing utmost confidence in Madam Miatta Fahnbulleh, Chairperson of the inaugural committee. The President also violated the Code of Conduct regarding declaration of his assets. Rather than doing so prior, he declared 16 days into office. Also, support for anti-graft institutions remains low.”

Appointments characterized by delays

 The Constitution of Liberia gives the power to the President to appoint officials to the executive and Judiciary branches pending confirmation from the Liberian Senate. While this exercise should be executive swiftly to get the government running effectively, this was not the case.

 CENTAL reported that there were noticeable delays in appointments, nominations to most positions took place over a three-month period following inauguration and, in some cases, were spaced apart by a week. Some appointments were not publicized. There was also a lack of transparency regarding appointments revoked by the President, thus, undermining the public’s right to know, it noted.

Of 1,306 appointments, 38 were affected by controversies. Of this number, 13 concerned appointments that were changed while 25 appointments were made ineffective by revocation, resignation, court proceedings, or refusal of current office holders to turn.

It emphasized that the volume and nature of appointment withdrawals does not only bring into question the rigor of vetting procedures, if any, but raises doubt over awareness of the nature of restrictions on appointment to certain positions as well as the motivation for doing so.

At the same time, CENTAL reported that some appointees have negative integrity records. “Some appointees are returning to public service despite a checkered history in government.

 Recommendations

 CENTAL called for more robust, timely, and inclusive actions and efforts in dealing with corruption and other core governance, transparency and accountability issues. “While we acknowledge few notable early efforts of the President and his administration, he needs to do far more to match his commitments with deeds. Liberians need to see a well-resourced, robust and more independent LACC under his watch, giving his bold anti-corruption commitments and promises,” it said.

It called on the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) to show tangible impacts for resources at its disposal at the moment, as the public has not seen much from the Commission, so far. It called on President Boakai to make public his assets, incomes and liabilities and require the same of his officials, as a show of true commitment to breaking away from the past or ‘business as usual’.

Additionally, CENTAL called for the dissolution of the Asset Recovery Team and the resources directed at the LACC to take on the Task. If the President insists on having a Taskforce to deal with the matter, it should be an interagency team with representations from existing government agencies linked to the mandate. “This will save cost and ensure sustainability of the process as well as public confidence in its work, something that the current Task Force lacks. LACC must show more will and commitment in implementing their mandate, ensuring that those accused and sanctioned for corruption are investigated and prosecuted.”

‘Centralized government’

 CENTAL also reported that out of 75 ministries, agencies, and commissions (MACs) of government to which heads were appointed, its investigation identified three counties from which 70 heads of MACs hail.

Presenting some of the findings of the report to the public, CENTAL said the report is the second of its kind, having launched the maiden edition during the Administration of former President George Weah.

Moreover, the report also questioned the “No Business As Usual” statement made by President Boakai in his inaugural address when in fact, he has some people in his government with family links, directly and indirectly, something that speaks highly of nepotism and a normal business as usual thing in government.

Speaking about gender, the report shows 81.4% male appointments over 18.5% females below the 30% women participation bench mark respectively.

However, it praised President Boakai for appointing the first female Defense Minister Geraldine George including 30% females at the level of the Cabinet and at the same time, three persons from the disability and people with special needs community.

Additionally, CENTAL also uncovered that the power of government is centralized, especially in the North Central Region of Liberia, constituting 57% of appointments of people hailing from Bong, Nimba and Lofa Counties respectively.

According to the report, there is a decimal number of people appointed in government from the Western Region as well as the South-east including Montserrado, Margibi and Grand Bassa Counties.

This, CENTAL said, is contrary to President Boakai’s inaugural speech that his government will be a government of inclusion. The report also called on international partners to help support Civil Society organizations to ensure that they enhanced their work and activities.

At the same time, the report wants Civil Society organizations to continue their advocacy in holding the government accountable to their people.

Moreover, the CENTAL urged Public integrity institutions, despite their challenges, to take some action to uphold the culture of impunity within the society.

The report was delivered by Gerald Yeakula, CENTAL’s program director. At its core, CENTAL stressed that the government’s objective under the hundred days plus deliverables under their focus areas of the report were not met.

Also speaking was the Board Chairman of CENTAL, Cllr. T. Negbalee Warner who called on the government of Liberia to see the report as a call to action and to do the needful.

“President Boakai that I know when he received this report, will act, Cllr. Warner assured the gathering on Thursday.  He said it is time that Civil society organizations work harder to ensure that the issue of accountability is key for the Country and its people. Cllr. Warner indicated that it is easy to promise but difficult to deliver noting that it is not to focus on promises but the evidence of delivery.

As for the Executive Director of CENTAL Anderson Miamen, he pointed out that accountability is truly the way to ensure a genuine democracy.

The report he said is a desk report that relied heavily on monitoring, law issues as well as the media and did not capture real time corruption issues due to time factor but it is comprehensive, accurate and can be used as a way forward for the Government to do the right thing.





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