Corruption Fight: ALJA Appalled by President Weah’s Inconsistency

L/R: Moses D. Sandy National President, and National Vice President, Joe Mason and Charles Crawford National Secretary General,

New Castle, Delaware-The Association of Liberian Journalists in the Americas (ALJA) says Liberia’s President, George Manneh Weah, is inconsistent in fulfilling his recent declaration of war on ending corruption in the nation’s public sector. It can be recalled on January 22, 2018, when Mr. Weah took over the mantle of Liberia as the country’s 24th President, he vowed to go after the corrupt and the dishonest in the Liberian public service.

Then President Weah asserted “my mandate is to end corruption and I promised to deliver on this mandate.” But ALJA in a press release issued on March 17, 2018, says the President’s statement may become mere political rhetoric if corrective measures are not taken.  The Association says Mr. Weah’s recent nominations of some individuals with shady characters to positions of trust in the Liberian government speak volumes about his unpreparedness to match his words with concrete actions relative to minimizing corruption, or as he recently put it “ending corruption in public offices”.

The US based Liberian journalists note Mr. Weah’s preferment of the former National Chairman of the opposition Liberty Party (LP), Israel Akinsanya, as Commissioner-designate for Government and Consumer Affairs at the Liberia Telecommunication Authority(LTA), Mr. Moseray Momoh, Deputy Managing Director for Administration-designate at the Liberia Water and Sewer Corporation(LWSC), among other appointees, who have public records of dishonesty manifests a serious contradiction in his professed quest to eradicate corruption in the public sector.

ALJA maintains it vehemently opposes the surfacing of Mr. Akinsanya in the CDC led government as an appointee because he is an alleged fraudster. ALJA recalls in 2010 when he served as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the then Monrovia based SIR Marketing Corporation, the former LP National Chairman reportedly connived with some employees of the Lone Star Cell Corporation in duping the corporation of numerous prepaid scratch cards valued at more than US 2.5 million dollars. The Association asserts he reportedly issued several “bad checks” for more than 10 months to the Corporation as payments for scratch cards he received from the Corporation for sale. Regrettably, after several failed attempts to cash the checks, Lone Star Cell sued him in 2011 for restitution of the money owed. The issuance of “bad checks” is a serious criminal offense; it is a violation of Section 15.58 of the New Panel Law of Liberia. Mr. Akinsanya was arrested, incarcerated, and later released on a US $5 million bail.

ALJA says such record disqualifies him for employment in the Weah administration, which claims to be committed to weeding out the corrupt from the public sector and the promotion of honesty and accountability in public service. Regarding Mr. Momoh, the Association asserts he too, is a bad pick for the position of Deputy Managing Director for Administration at the Liberia Water and Sewer Corporation (LWSC) due to his reported ugly past.

ALJA quoting the Monrovia based investigative newspaper, Front Page Africa, says the nominee in 2015 served as Procurement Officer/Manager of the Corporation’s Urban Water Supply Project, which was funded by the African Development Bank. He led the bidding process for the rehabilitation of the water treatment Plant in White Plains. Reportedly Mr. Momoh resigned before receiving his dismissal letter from the Corporation for what Front Page Africa called “acts amounting to corruption and conflict of interest” in how he fraudulently handled bids that were submitted by contractors for the rehabilitation of the water treatment plant in White Plains.

Commenting on other recent political appointments in the Liberian government, ALJA observes that quite a few of President Weah’s appointees lack the requisite education, skills, work experience and the characters necessary for the performance of their duties. ALJA notes that while President Weah is constitutionally empowered to appoint anyone including his supporters, those appointments should not be done at the expense of ensuring accountability, professionalism, and adherence to the rule of law. ALJA observes it is a pity that the President would choose to appoint individuals to high profile government portfolios, who have neither clues about what their job duties and responsibilities are, nor the statutory functions of the agencies to which they are being appointed.

The U.S. based journalist group avers that it recognizes that President Weah is under political pressure to deliver on promises made to his supporters, but maintains such appointments stall national development, undermine professionalism, create unnecessary financial burden for the Liberian tax payers and erode the rule of Law.

ALJA cites the recent nomination and subsequent confirmation of former House Speaker, Emmanuel J. Nuquay, who was named as Director General of the Liberia Civil Aviation Authority (LCCA) in violation of the Act which created the agency as one of such ill-advised appointments. The Act which created the LCAA implicitly states that only an individual with training and work experience in aviation is eligible to occupy the position of Director General of the entity, but Mr. Weah blatantly opted to ignore the legislation by appointing the former Speaker to the position even though he has no background in aviation. Mr. Nuquay holds a bachelor degree in accounting. Also, he has a law degree from the University of Liberia.

Meanwhile, ALJA says it has no confidence in the Liberian Senate ongoing confirmation hearings. The Association avers it has no conviction in the hearings because they do not conform to the purposes and reasons for which such hearings are conducted in most civilized and democratic nations the world over. ALJA notes the foremost purpose of confirmation hearings is to help the executive branch of the Liberian government in the recruitment of qualified, competent, and morally upright individuals for public service.

But the Association observes the ongoing confirmation hearings at the Liberian Senate do not meet these standards and expectations. Rather, the hearings have become a sham meant to directly benefit President Weah, his nominees, and the senators, who conduct them. The Association maintains since the commencement of the ongoing confirmation hearings, the Liberian Senate has shown no check and balance, meticulousness and due diligence in the vetting of nominees. “All nominees sent to the Senate for confirmation have been confirmed. Even individuals with open records of incompetence, dishonesty, fraud and corruption, have all been cleared by the Liberian Senate for appointments,” ALJA laments.

ALJA adds “even individuals, whose nominations violated legislative enactments that created the agencies to which they were appointed, are being cleared by the Liberian Senate for service in government.” ALJA asserts instead of helping President Weah in upholding the principles of good governance and the effective management the nation’s meagre resources, the Liberian Senate is aiding and abetting him in eroding confidence in the public sector through bad governance”. The US based Liberian journalists say Liberia stands to lose greatly when its national leaders fail to perform their sacred and statutory duties.

Signed:  Charles Crawford  National Secretary General                                                                                                                        202-262-3949-Cell

Approved: Moses D. Sandy National President                                                                                                                                                 302-494-4688-Cell

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