President Weah Prepares For Liberia’s State-Of-The-Art Executive Mansion After Nearly 16 Years

Nearly 16 years after the Executive Mansion it was gutted by fire, President George Manneh Weah is due to officially move to the Executive Mansion on 14 February 2022, nearly 16 years after the government here was compelled to shut down the official home of the Liberian president following a fire disaster that occurred on the nation’s 159th Independence Day, 26 July 2006.

That incident which officials attributed to “electrical fault,” occurred in the first six months of former President Mrs. Ellen Johnson – Sirleaf’s first six years term, and it led her to run the rest of her two terms at a temporary presidential office housed at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Monrovia.

Following years of gradual renovation works, with millions of United States dollars pumped into it, many of which were subjects of audits, this paper cannot say what percentage of work has been completed, but what is known is that the Foyer of the Executive Mansion, the Office of the President and other key areas have already been completed. Other minor works are said to be ongoing yet.

Since succeeding Mrs. Sirleaf in January 2018, Mr. Weah has equally operated at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, but the outbreak of the Coronavirus has led him to move most of his presidential operations at his private Jamaica Resort off the Roberts field Highway.

Sources close to the presidency say the move by Mr. Weah to run his office from his Jamaica Resort was intended to push the renovation project faster.

State and Presidential Affairs Minister Nathaniel F. McGill who personally supervised the renovation of the Executive Mansion after the Government had spent millions without results decried the dilapidated condition the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) led government met the Executive Mansion in.

There were also reports of artifacts and other historical records looted from the Mansion by individuals who initially supervised the renovation work at the seat of the Liberian Presidency.

On July 26, 2006, in the first 6 months of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s first term, the Executive Mansion was gutted by fire during the celebration of the country’s 159th Independence Day. The incident was attributed to an electrical fault.

President Sirleaf then immediately sought temporary shelter at the Foreign Ministry but ended up spending the rest of her first term and her second term there. The same was inherited by her successor President George Weah in January 2018.

The temporary relocation of President Sirleaf at the Foreign Ministry was to create room for the renovation of the Executive Mansion but ended up spending 11 years, 6 months concluding her two terms at her temporary office.

The actual start date of the renovation is not clear but it has lasted for nearly 16 years with millions of United States Dollars spent under questionable circumstances which prompted an audit and Legislative investigation.

In early 2016, the General Auditing Commission (GAC) conducted an audit into the Executive Mansion renovation project – months later, the GAC the findings, observed a waste of over US$10M on the Executive Mansion renovation project. The audit covers July 1, 2006, to December 31, 2015.

On December 9, 2016, former president Sirleaf confirmed that she had received the GAC audit report, but no action was taken

Like the Sirleaf regime, the CDC government had pumped close to US$7 million into the Executive Mansion renovation project

In the 2020/2021 budget, the CDC allotted US5.5 Million and made a projection of a further one million US dollars for the same Mansion renovation for the 2021/2022 budget year. This is in addition to the previous millions allotted for the same project in the 2018/2019 budget.

On September 18, 2019, the House of Representative 7-member Special Investigative Committee released findings from a probe into the lengthy renovation of the Mansion, revealing that from FY-2008/09 and FY-2018/19, a total of US$ 33,492,101 had been spent on the renovation project. The period cover over 13-years.

“No one has been held accountable for his or her conduct in the misapplication of the national resources expended, to date for the 13-year-old ongoing project of the Executive Mansion,” the House special committee said at the time.

The Committee was then chaired by Grand Gedeh County District #2 Representative George S. Boley, and also included representatives Jimmy Smith, J. Fonati Koffa, Robert F. Womba, Rosana Schaack, Acarous Gray, and Tibelrosa Tarponweh.

The Executive was constructed from 1961 to 1964 with funding provided by the Israeli government, during the administration of ex-Liberian President William V. S. Tubman.

Source: New Dawn

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