Kofi Woods Ready For Gov’t

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Atty. Woods wants the country's forest remain preserved.

Human Rights activist, Attorney Samuel Kofi Woods, has challenged the Liberian government to do what is right, or else “take me to a court of competent jurisdiction to answer for my stewardship.”
Atty. Woods’ challenge was contained in a statement he issued yesterday as a rejoinder to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s recent assertion, insinuating that he must take responsibility for any wrongs at the Ministry of Public Works (MPW) during his tenure.
The former Minister of Public Works recently urged President Sirleaf to take responsibility for National Oil Company of Liberia’s (NOCAL) woes, which has plunged NOCAL into financial crisis.
“I fully agree and commend President Sirleaf for her response to my recent comments on NOCAL intimating that “she takes responsibility for what happens in all ministries and agencies of her government, “and I should take full responsibility for what happened at the MPW during my tenure, even if I was not directly involved,” Woods noted.
Woods said he has not, and would not shy away from any wrong that he may have done as Minister of Public Works.
“I have repeatedly said both in public and in private, and in my various communications to the President that I stand ready for any scrutiny. I implore and challenge the government to do what is right and take me to a court of competent jurisdiction to answer for my stewardship,” Woods said in a strongly-worded defensive statement.
He, however, expressed gratitude that Liberia is reaching the point where Liberians can collectively end impunity and ensure that the government accounts to the people for her stewardship, both past and present.
For him, he said Liberia appears to be ushering into the age of accountability.
In his recent comment, Woods urged the Liberian government to ensure that all public officials – past (he included) and present —submit to similar (accountability) processes without discrimination.
He believes that the failure of the government to exhaust the process of accountability is a neglect of its duty, which encourages impunity and subject individuals in government to collective guilt.
“I will not be perturbed. Liberians will seek justice and demand what is right! No smear campaign will stand the test of me as I maintain my position on NOCAL,” Woods vowed.
The President, in her recent address to the nation, announced that the head of NOCAL will be honorably retired and severance benefits paid out.
To that assertion, Atty. Woods disagrees, believing that a full management audit must be conducted in the NOCAL saga to include financial, procurement amongst others.
He said Liberians need to know why a once potentially viable entity such as NOCAL has so spectacularly collapsed.
“The response, in the immediate aftermath of what appears to be the latest evidence of the inescapable failure of a national asset is inadequate, is limited, is insufficient and is disconcerting, if not out-rightly disingenuous.
”When the President openly vindicates rather than demand accountability, she sends the wrong signal to a public, which now views our government’s actions with much consternation and deep mistrust,” Atty. Woods, who was once a Labor Minister asserted.
He said information on the situation at NOCAL was well known to the Administration of President Sirleaf a long time ago, “but the President chose to look the other way and do nothing.”
“The full scale of the consequences of NOCAL’s decline,” he said, “must not be lost but it must be brought to the full view of the public and responsibility taken to address collateral damage to innocent citizens and institutions.”
He stressed the need for Liberians to ensure that students benefitting from NOCAL’s scholarship programs are given special consideration.
“We need to deal with our national human resource deficit and therefore cannot afford to let them become victims of this (embarrassment),” the rights activist noted.
“I therefore, propose that the recommendation on severance and retirement payment be suspended until a full report on NOCAL is submitted to the nation through an independent process. The Board bears equal responsibility and therefore may not be the competent authority to conduct a house cleaning exercise.”
He added that accountability institutions in Liberia, including the Liberia Anti Corruption Commission (LACC), the General Auditing Commission (GAC), and the Public Procurement Concession Commission (PPCC) should take the lead, move in immediately and act consistently with their respective mandates to bring the ongoing situation at NOCAL to its logical conclusion.

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