The New Dawn (Monrovia)

Liberia: The Source of the GAC Audit Report

In recent time, an audit report authored by the anti-graft agency- the General Auditing Commission on the Cuttington University in Suokoko, Bong County and William V.S. Tubman University in Harper, Maryland County dominated the front pages of Monrovia newspapers, with Cuttington University primarily targeted. Other than a general headline, a few newspapers chose the issue of Cuttington University, which was placed at the bottom of the GAC report as their central theme (headline).

While several other newspapers further investigated and published report from an independent perspective, of course, unearthing the motive that may have been behind the publication, many Liberians and other newspaper articles even wondered as to how, in fact, did the report get into the press when there had been no public hearing in accordance with the law creating the GAC? Perhaps, as a way of addressing this concern, the Liberian Legislature, through its joint Public Account Committee recently issued a statement strongly condemning the "premature release of audits reports,"' describing such action as frustrating without any discussion by the Senate.

Grand Cape Mount County Senator Edward Dagoseh, Chairman of the Joint Public Account Committee told reporters at the Capitol Building last week that the GAC reports on Cuttington and Tubman Universities reported by the media was not to the knowledge of the PAC and the entire senate, emphasizing that the premature publication of the report in the media without any hearing conducted by the Committee prejudges those mentioned in such report released by the General Auditing Commission.

"We don't know how that report got in the press; while it is true that we may have received the reports, we have not equally discussed or have public hearing on it yet; for the side of the senate, we have no idea on how it went to the public through the press," noted the PAC Chairman, who also called on the public not to judge individuals and institutions mentioned in the audit report.

"It is better we give those mentioned in the report the opportunity to clear their names," he said. The clarification by the Liberian Senate may have also created a whole different picture in the eyes of the public, regarding the position of the GAC on this matter. Judging from the past, especially wherein, former "no-nonsense " Auditor General John Morlu, II was viewed as releasing audit reports for media publication before reaching the Liberian Senate.

Whether or not assumption could be that the source of the publication could be within the GAC, such action may have only attempted to present a very negative image of the new administration at the GAC- something the Auditor General must see as a very serious challenge. So, with all these, including the clarification by Chairman Edward Dagoseh of the Joint-Public Account Committee, what has the GAC got to say about the assumption that it could be the source of the leakage and publication?

But we must think again that the fact that the publication of the audit report primarily captured Cuttington University as the headline, even though the institution was placed at the bottom of the whole report above other institutions. Then the issue drives us away from the General Auditing Commission, back to the Liberian Senate, especially the Public Account Committee.

There are a number of Bong County Legislators on the Committee to include Representative Edward Kafia of District Number Five-also a close associate (former Administrative Assistant to Senator Jewel Howard-Taylor). Could one of them be the source of the audit report, which got to the press, probably, to play political game with Cuttington University-only because its President, Dr. Henrique Tokpa may be seen as serious contender in October's Special Senatorial race?

Some Senators and Representatives on Capitol Hill may be focusing their suspicion toward Senator Jewel Howard-Taylor, who they believe, would want to politically demoralize Dr. Tokpa in a political game that may not be going her way. Judging from the 'bad' news emanating from Lower Bong County, regarding her chances in succeeding herself- that's the game of politics anyway. But mind you, you don't play it to your own detriment. Thank God that the debate may now be out of the confines of the GAC as an institution- but someone will still have to answer some questions within.

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