Liberia: Weah Accused of Bloating Executive Mansion Payroll

Former President George Weah (L) and his powerful Minister of State, Nathaniel McGill, who led most of his initiatives

Cronies of the former President and CDCians making the list, as new gov’t alarms over massive payroll padding

The new Unity Party administration has raised concerns over alleged payroll padding at the Executive Mansion, the seat of the presidency that is overseen by the Ministry of State for Presidential Affairs (MOS), causing significant financial strain on the cash-strapped government. The list reportedly constitutes cronies of former President George Weah, while some are members of his Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC).

Atty. Cornelia Kruah Togba, the Deputy Minister of State for Presidential Affairs for Administration-designate, revealed that the government has discovered over 730 unrecognized employees on a supplementary payroll at the ministry.

This discovery was made during an assessment conducted by the new administration, Togba disclosed to members of the Liberian Senate when she appeared at the Capitol Building on Wednesday, 14 February 2024 for her confirmation hearing.

She told the lawmakers that the supplementary payroll was managed privately by the Ministries of Finance and Development Planning and the Ministry of State for Presidential Affairs under the previous CDC-led government. Despite the financial burden imposed by these unrecognized employees, the ministry does have 385 recognized staff members according to the Civil Service Agency.

Atty. Togba emphasized that the Ministry of State’s Senior Management Team is actively working with the Civil Service Agency and the Governance Commission to conduct a comprehensive assessment of the institution.

The goal is to ensure that the ministry operates efficiently and effectively, making optimal use of Liberia's resources. She also highlighted the ministry's annual expenditure of over US$2.7 million solely on salaries due to the presence of additional employees.

“We are currently working with the CSA and the Governance Commission to do a total assessment of the ministry so that we ensure that we do not just have employees at the Ministry of State but people’s time, energy and the positions they serve in contribute to the overall efficiency of the ministry and the resources of Liberia are used effectively,” she added.

Regarding the systems within the ministry, Atty. Togba revealed that many were either non-existent or not functioning properly. She pointed out the absence of a procurement arm, with individual staff members conducting their own procurements. Additionally, the ministry lacks an office space or department responsible for the audit unit, making it impossible to audit transactions.

“We believe that once we address these issues at the ministry that hosts the seat of the presidency, it’s easy for other ministries to mirror similar patterns or similar administrative decisions that are taken by the ministry,” Atty. Togba said.

Togba acknowledged the challenge of accountability and transparency posed by these issues. As the Deputy Minister of State for Administration designate, she committed to establishing a system that would restore accountability to the presidency and the Ministry of State.

“And as a DMA-designate of the Ministry of State, I can commit to you the Senate Executive Committee that we are committed to setting up a system that will just bring accountability back to the presidency of the Ministry of State,” she pledged.

She pledged to ensure that employees at the ministry are effective and efficient in supporting the overall success of the Rescue Agenda.

One proposed solution to address some of the problems is rightsizing, as the ministry is heavily over-staffed. Atty. Togba emphasized the need to retain staff members who can fulfill their specific roles effectively within the ministry.

Weah Cronies, CDCians Paddled on MOS Payroll

When contacted to provide additional information on the makeup of the bogus employees list, a top official of the Ministry of State said that the ministry cannot release sensitive information surrounding the list yet as more investigations are ongoing.

The official, however, noted that the list is made up of people believed to be cronies of the former President, while the vast majority are members of the former ruling party.

“We will get to the press with the information at the appropriate time, but what I can tell you is that from the background checks we have done on those on the listing, they are cronies of the former President and CDCians.” This is what we have been able to gather,” the official said. “Liberians can be rest assured that this will be investigated thoroughly.”  

During the joint public confirmation hearing, Mamaka Bility, the Minister of State Without Portfolio-designate, expressed her commitment to promoting President Boakai's agenda. Bility highlighted her extensive experience working in the office of Mr. Boakai when he was Vice President, demonstrating her familiarity with the job and her dedication to serving the Liberian people effectively. Samuel A. Stevquoah, the Minister of State without Portfolio for Special Services-designate, pledged to serve as a liaison between the President's Office and the Liberian Senate, fostering a collaborative working relationship if confirmed.

He emphasized his background in administration and management, including experience gained in the United States and serving as the Chief of Staff for then Vice President Boakai.

Meanwhile, the allegations regarding payroll padding at MOS during President Weah’s administration have raised concerns, prompting the new administration to take action and address the situation for the efficient operation of the ministry and the effective use of Liberia’s resources.