Prepacked materials brought in country by NEC on Sunday.
The National Elections Commission (NEC) has brought into the country prepacked elections materials in defiance of the Public Procurement and Concession Commission (PPCC) competitive bidding process. The materials were brought in by Unique Enterprise, a company that has no history of election material procurement in the country.
Late Sunday evening, November 1, 2020, according to a press statement issued by the NEC, Anthony Sengbeh, Executive Director of the Elections Commission, led a delegation to the Roberts International Airport (RIA) and received the consignment of materials brought into the country on Nordwinds Airlines, a chartered flight.
The Commission, in its press statement, admitted to doing business with Unique Enterprise against the regulations of the PPCC.
"The arrival of the pre-packed election materials runs contrary to a Public Procurement and Concession Commission's rejection of the local Liberian vendor, Unique Enterprise Group of Companies, that the company lacks the ability to perform and to meet the 15 November 2020 deadline set by the Elections Commission. The PPCC had earlier informed the public that the vendor, Unique Enterprise Group of Companies, was unqualified to supply the elections materials before Election Day, 8 December 2020," the press statement signed by Henry Flomo, NEC head of communications said.
With Unique delivering far ahead of the elections and referendum date, NEC appears to be complacent about the fact that its action is against the law.
The contract between NEC and Unique Enterprise Group of Companies states that Unique Enterprise Group of Companies must ensure that all pre-packed elections materials are in-country on or before 15 November 2020.
A statement from the NEC says "The total cost of the pre-packed election materials is 1.6 million United States Dollars to include election day voting materials, stationary polling items, actual materials, as well as training election materials. Six Hundred and Five Thousand United States dollars for the special chartered flight from China and US$700,000 for actual materials was paid," Flomo said with confidence.
The Daily Observer has reliably been informed that Unique Enterprise Group of Companies did not participate in the bidding process to procure elections materials, but the NEC went ahead and awarded the contract to the company even against its own (NEC) regulations and those of the PPCC.
Recently, the executive director of PPCC, Mrs. Roseline Kowoe frowned on the NEC chairperson's deliberate abuse of the law to do business with Unique Enterprise and warned her against the act, but Madam Browne Lansanah, NEC chairperson, seems to have given no listening ear.
Grand Gedeh County Electoral District #3 Representative, Alex Grant, has on several occasions complained and warned the NEC Chairperson against Unique Enterprise, but his words and those of his committee fell on deaf ears as well.
Rep. Grant is the chairman on the Committee on Elections at the House of Representatives in the 54th Legislature.
"I have advised the NEC boss against doing business with Unique, but she does not listen. In fact, when we try to push for the right thing, she takes the phone to call those she thinks she can call to report us. But we don't care about that. We are only interested in seeing to it that the right thing happens," Grant recently told the Daily Observer.
The Grand Gedeh Lawmaker also said that the NEC's action brings about more credibility issues.
"It is not just about what they think. It is about the integrity the Commission needs to have. If NEC cannot obey simple regulations like those governing the procurement of materials, will it conduct a free, fair, and transparent election that no one thinks is an easy thing to do? I don't know, but we are not happy with the way the Commission is proceeding," he said via telephone.
It can also be recalled that the PPCC Executive Director Kowoe distanced her office from being in any cahoot with the NEC to violate the law. However, it remains unclear as to what would be the punitive action against the NEC for its brazen disobedience the regulations by awarding the contract to Unique Enterprise.
Efforts to reach out to Mrs. Kowoe, through phone calls and a text message, concerning what next steps the PPCC would take in response to NEC's violation of the law, were not answered.
The materials escorted by the Liberia National Police (LNP) and offloaded yesterday, November 2, are now in the warehouse at the NEC headquarters on 9th Street in Sinkor.
Meanwhile, the NEC owes M-Tosh Print Media over US$200,000 and is in court with the Liberian company for refusing to pay for election materials used for the Grand Cape Mount Senatorial by-election.
The Daily Observer's investigation has established that, upon approval of the NEC, M-Tosh Print Media also shipped a major consignment of prepacked elections materials, which arrived in the country long before the supplies procured by Unique Enterprise arrived. However, the prepacked election materials procured by M-Tosh Print Media are currently in a warehouse at the Freeport of Monrovia, apparently rejected at the last minute in favor of the ones brought in by Unique Enterprise.
Until now, Unique is known to have been in the business of selling electronics, including computers.
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.