By Martin K. N. Kollie
Exiled Liberian Activist
Montserrado County Senator Abraham Darius Dillon and pro-ADD apologists are asking, “Why should ADD return his 15k?” It is a form of mockery for ADD to even post on his Facebook page “Return it Vs. Don’t return it”. Since a few of you are asking “Why should ADD return it”, here are reasons:
- Senator Dillon said he was only going to accept a salary in full sum of only US$5,000. This was what he said in August 2019, “Any amount over $5,000 will be deposited in an escrow account and it will go towards social development.” ADD cannot cut down his monthly earnings to $5k from $15k and after a few months, he goes running to unjustifiably grab another $15k for so-called “Legislative Engagement”. This is called Two-Facedness. And this is Contradiction #1.
- Every Senator, including Senator Darius Dillon, is receiving US$9,833 for Constituency Visit. So, why did they (Lawmakers) have to distribute 15k among themselves again for so-called “Legislative Engagement”? There is no difference between “Constituency Visit” and “Legislative Engagement”. The overriding intent of both activities is for ADD or any lawmaker to engage his/her constituents. The replication of budget lines in order for lawmakers to insatiably satisfy their parochial interest is called white-collar corruption (economic sabotage). And this is Contradiction #2.
- The law is crystal clear about who should implement legislative projects or government funded projects. It does not say “Senator” or “Representative”. The so-called “Legislative Engagement” is a budget line which falls under Public Sector Investment Projects (e.g. Government Funded Projects). According to established statutes, there’s an autonomous agency which was established on July 22, 2004. It is called Liberia Agency for Community Empowerment (LACE). LACE has a statutory mandate through community-based approach to implement legislative projects in poor communities/constituencies. The money (15k) that Dillon received is for LACE as per law. The action of ADD was ill-advised, illegal, unprocedural, and ill-fated. Such action is called “Usurp of Function”. And this is Contradiction #3. Furthermore, Senator Dillon violated:
- The Community Empowerment Act pursuant to Chapter 50b of Title 12 – Liberia Code of Laws Revised;
- The 2018 Local Government Act;
- PSIP Framework;
- 2005 PPCC Law and 2014 COC Law.
- In a post by Senator Dillon on August 25, 2013, ADD blasted Hon Acarous Moses Gray and other lawmakers for appropriating “unrealistic benefits and allowances” to themselves while “dedicated and hardworking civil servants” received “Peanuts”. These were his words. In 2021, these very same “dedicated and hardworking servants” have not been paid for several months but Senator Dillon and other Lawmakers are receiving a whopping 15k each amid COVID-19 and extreme hardship. This is called Hypocrisy and it is Contradiction #4. Currently, legislative employees are protesting for 4-month arrears.
- Before ADD could come to power, he would often say, “The economy is in the toilet”. This mantra or catchphrase became his political trademark. A few months later, this same economy is still in the toilet but ADD is receiving 15k. In fact, the economy has left the toilet and it is now in the Septic Tank because growth rate is still at negative 3 percent amid zero foreign direct investment and stagflation (high unemployment and high inflation). If the “economy is in the toilet” as claimed by ADD, why did he run to grab 15k when he already has 9.8k for Constituency Visit? Isn’t this inconsistency especially at this critical time when millions of Liberians are catching hell?? Of course, it is. And this is Contradiction #5.
- ADD is a staunch critic of Pres. GMW. In this very same 2020/2021 Approved National Budget, Pres. GMW has got US$575k for so-called Presidential Project while ADD has got 15k for so-called “Legislative Project”. What can ADD tell GMW after receiving his share of this cake? He has no moral rectitude to question or criticize GMW or any lawmaker in this case. And if he does not return this 15k, he will have no moral or spine to question “unrealistic appropriations” or “brown envelops” because this 15k is called BRIBERY. And this is Contradiction #6. Save this post. The budget that Finance Minister Samuel Tweah just submitted will be passed at a 4G speed. The 15k is an inducement.
- Dillon did not become Senator to directly implement Government Funded Projects as in “Legislative Engagement”. The PSIP framework does not allow this. That is not his work. His functions are: Lawmaking, Representation, and Oversight. So, who performs “Oversight” if Senator Dillon is now implementing public funded projects? LACE should implement while Senator Dillon provides oversight. ADD cannot be the player and the referee at the same time. This is Conflict of Interest. Who then questions ADD if funds for public projects are mismanaged/misapplied? LACE? He, ADD, should be questioning LACE instead. The receipt of huge sum of public taxes for so-called “Legislative Engagement” accounts for Betrayal of Public Trust. And this is Contradiction #7.
- NUP Political Leader turned Parliamentarian Bobi Wine had similar test from the Ugandan Government. And he passed this test with pride and dignity. Robert Kyagulanyi alias Bobi Wine rejected 20 million Ugandan Shillings for so-called “Legislative Engagement/Project” amid COVID-19. This was what he said, “The allocation of this money is not only shameful but insensitive to the plights of millions of Ugandans. Sharing 10 billon shillings among parliamentarians is a symptom of a bigger crisis. The money should be diverted to building a robust healthcare system. We can’t rob our people like this. My function is to make laws and not to implement public projects.” This should even provoked ADD to return that 15k. ADD needs to learn from Bobi Wine. When a country is in crisis, over US$1.54 million is not and must not be unremorsefully shared among just 103 greedy lawmakers. That is institutionalized thievery. And this is Contradiction #8.
- ADD and pro-ADD fanatics are claiming, “We will build public library with our 15k.” I am sorry, 15k cannot build a public library anywhere in this world, not even a mini public library. Library is not just “The Building”. It goes far beyond. 250k would give you a modern public library (mini). So, pro-ADD zealots need to cut this “Public Library” conundrum or horseplay off and return that 15k to LACE. Suggesting to build a “public library” with 15k equates to DECEPTION. And this is Contradiction #9.
- Senator Dillon promised to be different. He promised not to join state mafias or economic vampires to loot our resources or pillage our national coffers amid extreme poverty. But his latest action is a contrast to this promise. ADD has positioned himself as “The Light” and this title comes with huge responsibilities and sacrifices. Based on those values he once espoused, he was overwhelmingly elected as Senator for Montserrado. A “Light” radiates integrity at all times and not sometimes. A “Light” is not pretentious and two-faced. The regime has entrapped Sen. Dillon once more. I am even stumped and bewildered by his zigzagged justification of “huge appropriations (e.g. $1.54 million for 103 lawmakers)”. His latest move accounts for Conspiracy with State Mafias against public interest. And this is Contradiction #10.
Now, ADD should not think that because he has 9 years, so he can just do anything. History does not forget. It reminds, rebukes, and reprimands. The masses are keenly watching. Though I supported ADD and even raised money to help fund his campaign, but I will speak out if he does wrong. I love Liberia far more than I love ADD or any politician. I did not vote for ADD to hypocritically deify or defend his wrongdoings. Gullibility and hypocrisy have done more harm to Liberia.
The Emperor is naked but who will tell the Emperor that he’s naked? Since everyone is afraid or not bold enough to tell this Emperor that he’s naked, I will tell him. The right thing must be done at all times. LIGHT and DARKNESS cannot Cohabitate. All Lawmakers, especially Sen. Dillon “The Light” and CPP Lawmakers, MUST return that 15k. That’s white-collar looting. They cannot be enriching themselves while our people are catching hell amid COVID-19.
The system is too rotten. Liberia has a Legislature of Indigenous Vampires. But we will not rest until REAL CHANGE reigns. The PEOPLE deserve far better than this conspiracy to rob them. Martin K. N. Kollie is an exiled Liberian activist and can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org