..Urges Pres. Weah to improve relations with Civil Society
The Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia (CENTAL) is calling on President George Weah to withdraw the nomination of Cllr. A. Ndubuisi Nwabudike as the new chairman for the National Elections Commission (NEC). CENTAL is one of the latest civil society organizations that has called on the President to withdraw Cllr. Nwabudike’s nomination who prior to this had served as Chairman of the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission but was never confirmed for that post by the Senate.
Addressing journalists on March 25, 2020 at a news conference held in Monrovia, CENTAL Executive Director Anderson D. Miamen said that his entity’s attention has been drawn to recent developments in Liberia bordering on the fight against Corruption. He maintained that CENTAL has observed with dismay the growing negative trend in the fight against corruption, something he said does not augur well for citizens and stakeholders’ confidence, especially government’s commitment to the fight against the virus.
It may be recalled on March 21, 2020, President Weah nominated A. Ndubusi Nwabudike to head the National Elections Commission (NEC) and would oversee the 2020 midterm elections as well as the 2023 presidential and general elections. Several others were also nominated as Commissioners to serve along with him.
But according to CENTAL’s boss, the President’s decision to repeatedly and single-handedly make appointments to key public integrity institutions, with limited involvement of stakeholders and development partners, in line with best practices, leaves much to be desired.
Mr. Miamen: “We remain disappointed in the unilateral appointment of officials to public integrity institutions with limited or no inputs from stakeholders.” The recent appointments include Cllr. A. Ndubuisi Nwabudike and Cllr. Kanio B. Gbala- Executive Chairperson and Co-Chair and Edwin Kla Martin.
“We state similarly that involving stakeholders in such appointments, including that of Hon. Gabriel Nyekan to the Liberia Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (LEITI), would have allowed for proper scrutiny with consideration on requirements, tenures, and mandates provided in laws establishing the respective integrity institutions.”
He cited section 6.2 of the LACC Act which provides that when nominating Commissioners to the LACC, the President “may consult the civil society pursuant to the partnership between governments and said civil society in the fight against corruption.” This evinces an acknowledgement by the National Legislature of the critical role civil society can play in such processes, being mindful however that nomination to the Commission is the sole prerogative of the President.
He, however, commend the President for including civil society on the committee charged with the responsibility of investigating complaints by the Press Union of Liberia (PUL) against state security personnel.
The organization also noted that the President’s removal and replacement of individuals at these institutions, at will, sends a bad message and signal to citizens and partners, something which Mr. Miamen said undermines the sanctity of these entities and effectively lower stakeholders’ confidence in their operations and activities.
He further recalled few months after confirmation, the new head of LACC was replaced, despite holding a tenured position which he said raises many questions.
He asked as to whether against what backdrop was he appointed then? adding asking further he adding as saying, was it based on a clear plan and blueprint for the Commission, which has been achieved in less than four months? Does the appointment of the LACC Chair to the NEC indicate that elections rank is higher than the fight against corruption under the Weah administration? Wouldn’t the continuous unsteadiness of leadership at the LACC affect its productivity?
CENTAL in its call to the President withdraw the nomination of Cllr. Edwin Kla Martin as Executive Chairperson of the LACC due to potential violation of the Act establishing the LACC. In his statement, Mr. Miamen mentioned Section 6.3 of the Act which provides that “no two Commissioners shall have the same County of origin”.
The CENTAL boss said investigation conducted has shown that Cllr. Edwin Kla Martin hails from Pleebo, Maryland County while Commissioner Aba Hamilton-Dolo hails from Harper, Maryland County. He added that considering that a sitting Commissioner in the person of Mrs. Dolo hails from the same county, the most prudent option is the withdrawal of Cllr. Martin’s nomination so as not to be in violation of the law.
Mr. Miamen: “In order to avert the recurrence of said situation in the future, we reiterate our call that the President values the inputs of stakeholders, whose support is vital to the operation of these institutions, given constraints they are perennially faced with.”
Mr. Miamen further frowned on the act of unilateral appointments by President Weah at these key institutions, something he said does very little to sustain and increase stakeholders’ confidence in the fight against corruption in Liberia.
He claimed that many of these institutions are already extremely disappointed in low support to these entities and corresponding limited results, which has seen major investigations lingering for years.
In a related development, Mr. Miamen noted that after nearly two years, the government is still investigating circumstances surrounding the $25 million mopping up exercise a disappointing and worrisome trend. He said It is important, therefore, that Government completes investigation into the 25 million USD mopping up exercise.
He stated that it is far more disappointing that after almost two years, the government continues to investigate the scandal, despite previous reports highlighting wholesale discrepancies.
Meanwhile Mr. Miamen has acknowledged the recent lifting of the suspension of Liberia describing it as welcoming, but recommended that government must ensure timely reconstitution of the leadership of LEITI in ensuring that it is fully staffed to effectively and efficiently operate.
CENTAL, however, urge the government to be open and accountable in the fight against the Coronavirus in Liberia and ensure that the necessary updates to the public must include resources received and expended so that citizens are clear about circumstances surrounding the fight.
He referenced previous allegations and confirmed incidences of mismanagement of the Ebola resources, which was never accounted for or the accused prosecuted, urging that such must not be repeated, moving forward.