21 February 2013

Liberia: When Greed Supersedes People's Interest


Montserrado County Representative Edward Forh finds himself in a state of discomfiture. It's an unbelievable event which shows how dishonest and egocentric a lawmaker has been to his own people. He exposes himself to public ridicule and disdain, and he runs the risk of being disqualified by the very people who elected him, but wanted to delude them of their just benefits.

On Monday, Montserrado County Superintendent Grace Tete Kpan released a "telephone conversation" with Rep. Forh, which she had secretly recorded.

In that recording, Mrs. Kpan and Representative Forh were heard discussing funds allotted in the National Budget for Montserrado County. From the pace of the discussion anyone could tell it appears to be a snare, but Rep. Forh could not visualize what was ahead of him. According to that audio recording released to various media houses, Rep. Forh was heard distinctly telling the Superintendent to divide the amount of US$400,000 of the US$2.9 million intended for the development of Montserrado County.

In an apparent intent to indict Representative Forh, Superintendent Kpan asked him a precise question how he wants the amount to be shared. The Lawmaker said: You eat some, I eat some, and the minister eats some."

This is ludicrous for a lawmaker to discuss about dividing money intended for the development of his district, when in fact, he should be advocating for the improvement and expansion of social infrastructures in his county. I believed that the Superintendent decided to "secretly" record Rep. Forh because she was constantly harassed and intimidated by the lawmaker and some of his colleagues in the Caucus.

This is poignant and it's a reflection of some of the serious corrupt issues that have not come to the attention of the public glare in recent time. Three weeks ago, the dismissed Managing Director of the Liberia Airport Authority (LAA) Ellen Corkrum and her boyfriend fled the country with a little over US$1 million from dubious negotiations and transactions at the time more than half of the population still live in abject poverty.

During the same period, the National Oil Company of Liberia (NOCAL) was linked to US$163,000 transactions involving the Boima Folley Sports Center. NOCAL is reported to have deposited US$163,000 into an account of Boima Folley, the local businessman who entered a procurement transaction with the oil company to produce sporting materials.

However, sources claimed that some officials of the oil company, including board members who handled the procurement aspect of the company's sponsorship deal of the National County Sports Meet allegedly designed the scheme to "siphon money from the entity's treasury" using the external bank account of a local sport firm. According to information, there's no evidence that the PPCC Act was applied in the deal. The matter is still under investigation.

Corruption appears to be widespread in government, the private sector and spheres of our country. Representative Forh is just one of many others in the legislature and executive engaged in acts of corruption which is a factor that breeds confusion and instability in the country. The very reason for which the coup came has shown its ugly head again.

I want to encourage members of the National Legislature and President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf to support the audit of the County Development Fund which, I believe, will expose lot of administrative and financial malpractices. I recalled in 2010, when the General Auditing Commission (GAC), under Mr. John S. Morlu conducted the 2010 audit, the result was a resounding success; the Morlu audit exposed discrepancies and financial misappropriations in the CDF accounts in several counties including Nimba, Bong, Bassa and Grand Gedeh. Apparently, based on the report of the audit, President Sirleaf could not maintain certain individuals in her government.

The people of Liberia must awake if they are sleeping. They must be politically conscious as to the individuals they elect to leadership. The case of Representative Forh is a clear manifestation that the lawmaker is egocentric.

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