Liberia: 'NEC Must Do What's Right'

-- PPCC Boss, Rep. Grant, chide Elections Chair for missteps in procurement of elections materials

The Chairperson of the Public Procurement and Concession Commission (PPCC), Mrs. Roseline Kowoe, and Representative Alex Chesia Grant, chairman on elections committee at the House of Representatives, chided Davidetta Brown Lansanah, chairperson of the National Elections Commission (NEC) for what they referred to as "missteps in attempts to procure elections material."

Mrs. Kowoe and Rep. Grant phoned-in separately to the Super Morning Show on ELBC 99.9 to gave clarity on accusations levied against the PPCC by the NEC Chairperson, especially on why there is not yet a go-ahead for her (Lansanah's) preferred company to import prepacked materials for the conduct of the December 8 Special Senatorial Election and the National Referendum simultaneously.

"The statement from the NEC chairperson that the PPCC is responsible for the delay in the procurement of prepacked elections' materials is untrue," Madam Kowoe said. "She should say the truth rather something else that is contrary to the real issues."

She said NEC has set up its own criteria for a company to participate in any of its bidding processes and, to win any of its bids, a company must meet those criteria. However, on the contrary, the same NEC is pushing for a company not qualified to be allowed to produce elections materials.

"This Unique company has its profile stating that it is in the business of electrical materials, laptops, electric transformers. There is nothing to prove that the company has ever produced materials for election," the PPCC boss said.

She added that the National Elections Commission's new boss does not want to respect her Commission's own criteria set for a bidder to win a contract with the Commission.

"The NEC conducted a bidding process and set very key criteria for any vendor to be qualified to win the bid to procure the materials needed by the Commission to do its work. The materials are not only restricted to stationery but also indelible ink and other security stamps.

"And one of the criteria they set is that the vendor should have three years prior experience in elections prepacked materials procurement, but Unique has no such record," Madam Kowoe said.

All through, even at press conferences, NEC chairperson, Madam Davidetta Browne Lansanah boasted that her preferred company is up to the task and has the capacity to deliver what the Commission wants in terms of producing election materials.

She has said many times that Unique is qualified and has the required experience, although she did not say whether the company truly won the NEC bid for prepacked materials.

She explained that PPCC gave NEC a no-objection on January 17, 2020, to identify its elections materials source and share with the PPCC all the arrangements, including the winner of a bid and samples of materials. However, the Elections Commission is yet to make any report available for the PPCC.

"The Commission has a duty by law to review their own criteria but, in it all, we too have our own standards and we are not to compromise for anyone or anything but to do the right," Madam Kowoe said.

She said NEC was asked to take some actions, including the review of its criteria, and do what is right, but they are yet to send the PPCC a response.

She said duty to country comes first and it is more important than satisfying individual thoughts.

"We have to do the right thing. They have to let us know why, despite the fact that their selected company does not meet the criteria, should they be given the contract. We are still awaiting the NEC for us to move forward on this matter," she emphasized.

Madam Kowoe said the security of the December 8 polls is also tied to the processes that lead to them.

"If the PPCC sees that something is wrong but we go ahead and allow the NEC to do what it wants, we will not be doing good for the country. That's what the NEC wants us to do for their own 'Unique' company but we are not here for that," she concluded as she hung off her phone.

Representative Alex Chesia Grant, of Grand Gedeh County District #3, also blasted at the NEC boss for not doing what is right.

"I tell you the serious thing that the Chairperson at NEC is making some serious missteps. There are qualified Liberian firms that can do the job but she has a problem with one and the Commission is at fault but she does not want to care about the wrong," Rep. Grant said.

M-Tosh Print Media has taken the National Elections Commission (NEC) to court for allegedly refusing to pay over US$200,000 for the job it did in two Legislative by-elections in Montserrado and Grand Cape Mount counties.

M-Tosh has argued that it took loan from International Bank (IB) and imported prepacked elections materials for the NEC but the Commission is yet to complete payment for the materials, even though it has been over two years since they did the business.

Another accusation levied against NEC is that M-Tosh won the bid to produce the prepacked materials for the December 8 polls but the Commission again has denied the Liberian company from procuring the materials, instead, a Lebanese company (Unique) is preferred, even though they have no history of producing election materials.

"The company she wants to give the contract to has no experience in bringing into this country election materials. She has a personal prejudice towards the Liberian-owned company. I don't know why but she is not doing good for the country," the Grand Gedeh Lawmaker said in a phone call to the show.

He said he has personally followed all of the issues involving NEC and the Liberian company and all of the procurement processes but suspects that NEC Chairperson, Davidetta Browne Lansanah, has her own issues.

"I think she should do the right thing. The prepacked materials she is talking about, there are some of them in-country. There are some I know of that were brought in by the same Liberian-owned company, but I don't know why she keeps creating confusion," he said.

Rep. Grant alleged Madam Lansanah doesn't listen to people and, as such, he, as chair on elections at the House of Representatives, has selected to let the NEC boss be what she wants to be.

"At times she even takes phone and call to complain [about] people. She runs to where she wants to run to carry people's complaints but I don't care about that. All we all want her to do is the right thing in the best interest of the country," he concluded.


David S. Menjor

David S. Menjor is a Liberian journalist whose work, mainly in the print media has given so much meaning to the world of balanced and credible mass communication. David is married and interestingly he is also knowledgeable in the area of education since he has received some primary teacher training from the Kakata Rural Teacher Training Institute (KRTTI). David, after leaving Radio Five, a broadcast media outlet, in 2016, he took on the challenge to venture into the print media affairs with the Dailly Observer Newspaper. Since then he has created his own enviable space. He is a student at the University of Liberia.


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