Nimba County Superintendent, D. Dorr Cooper, has promised Nimbaians that he will personally fund some of the government’s projects in the county that have remained at a standstill up to present.
Supt. Cooper, who made the commitment recently at a citizens’ mass meeting, said he is doing so to complement government’s efforts in carrying some developments in the county.
On Thursday, January 10, 2019, he informed Nimbaians that he would provide assistance to renovate the Johnny Voker High School auditorium in Saclepea, Central Nimba, “since government does not have money to undertake the project. I will do this to bring the auditorium to modern level with my own money.”
Supt. Cooper also donated L$100,000 to one of nurse’s aid schools in Saclepea, where he said, “If the government was financially equipped, and transfer some money into the the county account, we could have allotted money in the County Sitting for the school, but because nothing [came through], I am using my own money to help the administration.
Other projects he promised to undertake, include road rehabilitation work around the Lao Chiefdom, where he boasted of buying two chainsaws from his own pocket to empower the community to speed up the rehabilitation work.
Supt. Cooper was reacting to report that he has deserted his official residence in Sanniquellie, the county political capital, and was campaigning ahead of next year’s senatorial election.
He rejected the allegation, saying, “it is my duty to travel around the county to acquaint myself with prevailing situation,” though he has occupied by the position since the last era of former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
Cooper’s alleged desertion of post to commence campaign in Sanniquellie is hotly debated across the county. Many are complaining of the presidential compound, a seat of the county officials being left in ruined while Supt. Cooper was campaigning in his senatorial bid.
The compound is also a temporary accommodation for the President, but it is now deteriorating, with most floor tiles and ceiling falling apart.
“In the last county sitting, we allotted US$30, 000 for the renovation of the superintendent compound, and other [amount] from the national budget, but we are yet to see the renovation work commenced,” said Senator Thomas Grupee.
The Senator also accused Supt. Cooper of using the county’s money on popularity stunts to fuel his senatorial ambition against him.
Although he did not call names, the superintendent, in his apparent reaction to the senator’s allegation, said those who are worrying about his travel across the county should take some “tablets” to ease their stress.
Supt. Cooper also said he is working with the County Health Team to purchase some essential drugs to address report of shortage of drugs at the various health facilities in the county.
Cooper’s many acts of ‘benevolence’ across the county, as a sitting Superintendent in the wake of the economic difficulty nationwide, where the county is yet to receive money from the central government to implement the budget from last year’s county sitting, is raising questions, with people wondering where he is getting the money to “personally complement government’s efforts in rebuilding roads and undertaking other development programs.
There is an ongoing controversial scrap deal between Nimba, and building materials dealer “Sethi Brothers.” The deal for Sethi Ferro Fabrik to mine the county’s scraps did not go through the Public Procurement and Concession Commission (PPCC) as expected, rather, Supt. Cooper explained that it was done through an executive directive under former President Sirleaf. It is speculated that he got his wealth from the deal.
For two years, the whereabouts of the proceeds from the mining has remained unclear. Whether it was deposited in the county’s bank account — is yet to be established.
According to the last County Council Sitting, about US$510,000 is expected as upfront payment from Sethi Ferro Fabrik, Incorporated as part of the projected US$3 million in the county budget.
Up till press time last night, the no budget syndrome has reverberated across the county to implement any of the proposed projects from the County Council Sitting that was held from August 31 to September 2, 2018.
In the budget table, US$278,825 is expected from the government, US$980,000 is from Mittal, scraps proceeds from North Star Company, US$186,190, while the US$1,045,665 is expected from both North Star Company, and Sethi Ferro Fabrik for the next 10 months of scrap mining.
Despite all of these revenues, the county leadership is complaining of no money, while the superintendent is single-handedly carrying spending across the county ahead of next year’s senatorial election.
‘Cooper should resign’
In the wake of the confusion, Senator Thomas Grupee, has called on Supt. Cooper to resign his position, “because he is suspected of using the county money to make himself popular before the 2020 election.”
Sen. Grupee, who spoke lengthily on Radio Saclepea, also accused Supt. Cooper of violating the National Code of Conduct, which calls on all appointed officials to resign two years before an election, if they have any intention to contest.