8 February 2013

Liberia: Caucus Maintains Hold On Bong Scholarships

The Bong County Legislative Caucus has maintained the current suspension of all scholarship programs from the county until otherwise. Addressing a press conference in the county recently, Caucus Chair Representative George Mulbah, assisted by his colleagues Prince Moye and Tokpah Mulbah said the county was spending too much money on scholarships, leaving other equally important areas undone.

Representative Mulbah said absolutely, nobody can cause members of the Caucus to reverse the decision, which was taken to save funds coming to the county.

At the same time, Representative Prince Moye, have accused student leaders of the county of using threatening words against them (lawmakers) saying they will combat law makers for their decision to suspend the scholarship program.

According to the Caucus, Bong County spends over one millionaire United States dollars annually for the education of more than one thousand students at various universities across the country.

Despite being seriously criticized for the decision, the lawmakers said they are not afraid of threats coming from students and the public. It can be recalled that during the peak of the 2011 political campaign, Representative George Mulbah enrolled more than once one million hundred fifty persons who applied for the scholarship declaring all of them qualified.

The decision of Hon. Mulbah at the time enable him to obtain huge number of votes making him the winner who obtained the highest in Liberia with over thirteen thousand votes.

Many of the lawmakers are said to have enrolled their associates on the scholarships, thus causing huge financial burden for the county. Some stakeholders, including religious leaders and students are expected to meet with members of the Caucus on the issue.

Bong County Lawmakers are arguing that they cannot hold the discussion in Gbarnga on grounds that they would be tired after attending the funeral service of the late Grand Bassa County Senator John Francis Whitefield, who passed off on January 17, 2013 from brief ailment. Members of the Caucus however said they will be ready for discussion after session on next Tuesday.

A prominent son of the county, Mr. Alfredson Tankerweyah, has urged new law makers from the county not to get themselves entangled in the scholarship rigmarole, saying it is an inherited problem as they were not part of the Caucus when Representative George Mulbah, allegedly recruited beneficiaries outside the merit system.

Tankerweyah said the lawmakers need to understand that the money the county is spending on the scholarship is intended for the people of Bong, and it is not a waste if they are acquiring education at the county's expense.

Meanwhile, Senator Jewel Howard Taylor has distanced herself from the decision taken by her colleagues. Senator Taylor said she was not in the meeting that led to the decision by her colleagues as she was attending the High Level Panel conference recently held in Monrovia. The Senator told reporters in Gbarnga that she will lobby with her colleagues to see whether they can reach a common consensus on the matter.

However, Senator Taylor's position is being viewed differently by students benefiting from the scholarships, who are eager to stay in school. They accused criticized the Senator of trying to gain political favor from them on the situation as she prepares for next year's senatorial election.

The President of the Bong Students Union (BONSU) Jeptha Cooper said on a local radio talk show in Gbarnga that "The Senator should not feel she can fool us; we know her trick."

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