Grand Bassa County Senator Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence who last Thursday vehemently resisted plenary action to confirm the embattled Health Minister-designate, Dr. Bernice Dahn, has said she maintains her stance.
By that action, she is gradually moving towards earning the name ‘iron lady’ of the Senate.
Giving reasons for her opposition to confirming Dr. Dahn on Thursday, the Grand Bassa lawmaker informed her colleagues that as a member of the Health Committee representing Grand Bassa, she was not aware of when and how the confirmation hearing of the Minister-designate was conducted.
Senator Lawrence’s argument prompted the postponement of the final deliberations on the report to today, Tuesday.
But in an exclusive interview with this paper yesterday, the female floor ‘fighter’ told our reporter that she still maintains her position until she can be part of the confirmation process as a member on the Health Committee.
Senator Lawrence, who recently requested the Senate to put on hold all confirmation hearings of people who are implicated in the General Audit Commission (GAC) audit reports, yesterday asserted that her letter was not personal, but general.
“I have nothing against any particular person who has been appointed. The President asked the Legislature in her annual message to help fight corruption. I feel by putting that checkpoint through our own Public Accounts Committee (PAC), which has the mandate to conduct investigation of expenditure of public funds, investigate irregularities raised by the GAC and recommend, we can start to fight corruption.”
According to Senator Lawrence, when someone is named in an audit report for misappropriation or the issue of non-compliance, “your credibility and integrity are on the line.”
For a long time now, Senator Lawrence has expressed regret that all Senators have been doing is confirming people from lower positions to higher ones when she said, they have been questioned at the lower position. “How do we fix it? Stop them and that would force the relevant institutions to hear these cases as well. Many corruption cases are still hanging around,” she noted.
It can be recalled that the GAC in the 2006/2007 audit of the Ministry of Health, stated that the Ministry failed to disclose Ecobank account number10210140220-15 entitled MOH/SW/WHD to the GAC during the audit. The account was used by the Division of Women, Health and Development, and the signatories to the account were Beatrice B. Duana, Phyllis Nguma-Kimba and Dr. Bernice Dahn.
According to the GAC report, the amount of US$20,250 was withdrawn from this account during the audit period. The GAC therefore recommended that Madam Beatrice B. Duana, Phyllis Nguma-Kimba and Dr. Bernice Dahn account for the amount of US$20,250 withdrawn from the undisclosed account.
Again during the 2007/2008 audit of the Ministry of Health, the GAC observed that six officials of the Ministry of Health, including Dr. Bernice Dahn, were given the total amount of US$1,250 for incidental allowances when they travelled abroad.
But during the review of travel documents made available to the audit team, the GAC did not see any receipts as proof that expenses incurred while abroad were retired in keeping with the Government Travel Ordinance.
The National Health Workers Association of Liberia (NAHWAL) and Dr. Dahn in recent weeks have launched scathing attacks on each other, with NAHWAL pleading with the lawmakers not to confirm the Minister of Health-designate.