This newspaper enjoins issues with Senator Darius Dillon calling for a comprehensive audit of the legislature. There have been varying reactions to the Senator’s call, some of which have expressed doubts that the legislature would ever summon the courage to audit itself.
Some former legislators have told the Daily Observer that such is a commendable move by Senator Dillon but have questioned whether his is for real or he was just seizing another opportunity to showboat his “concerns” for probity and accountability in what is described as the first branch of government.
Moreover, they have expressed skepticism whether Senator Dillon’s proposal or bill would gain legislative approval in view of the unpleasant secrets or truths a comprehensive audit of the Legislature would likely reveal. And it is the fear of being exposed may be reasons why strong opposition to the proposed bill by Senator Dillon is to be expected according to the former legislators.
For example, the county and district development funds have been overseen in the past by legislators who have demanded a direct say in how such funds are spent, let alone how and on what basis allocations are made. An audit of the legislature will be sure to reveal facts that could serve to throw a damper on their future reelection bids.
Another source from which tension could arise following an audit is that of compensation for staffers of the various representatives. According to insider sources at the Capitol, Representatives usually pay their office staffs far less than what they receive on their behalf. But far beyond what may be uncovered during such audits, is the important message against corruption and impunity such an audit is likely to convey and will be more likely than not to induce other branches of government into following suit.
For now, however, the Senator should affix his attention to outstanding audit reports of public offices and officials. Some of these reports are currently being used for prosecutorial purposes. He should rally the support of his colleagues to ensure that those officials, past and present indicted in those reports be prosecuted in keeping with law.
Corruption is acknowledged to be the cancer eating away the fabric of the nation and sapping its lifeblood. Despite such common acknowledgement and, despite lofty pledges by leaders past and present to confront this menace, they have faltered, and corruption has thrived and so has the level of impunity associated with these acts increased.
The Legislature, as well as the Executive, should commit to review of all concession agreements 64 in total out of 66 which, according to the Moore Stevens Report, were fraudulent. This government has from time to time alluded to the problems inherited from his predecessor especially corruption however, it has done little to show that it is serious about tackling corruption.
Calls from the public on President Weah to conduct an audit of the predecessor government have since fallen on deaf ears. Yet this government continues to attribute blame for corruption on the past government while doing little or nothing about it.
The case of the missing billions in which a number of Central Bank of Liberia(CBL) officials and the Crane Currency were criminally indicted have amounted to virtually nothing with the government having requested the dropping of criminal charges against the Crane Currency. As regards those former CBL officials who have since been indicted, the case has reached a point of “no head no tail”, meaning the case is deadlocked for reasons unknown to the public.
Again, the call goes out to President Weah who presides over the conduct of the nation’s affairs. He has to set the ball rolling. He has to set strong examples against corruption and corrupt officials that will send a clear message that the days of impunity are now over.
This is particularly important given this latest Musa Dean shitshow – the dropping of charges against the Crane Currency despite being fully aware all along that he lacked prima facie evidence to convict the accused. This is just another instance in a series of self-inflicted woes dogging the image of this government.
Senator Dillon’s call, in the opinion of some, is far fetched and may even be laughable, But there can be no deny that his call bespeaks the urgent need for transparency and accountability in national governance beginning from President Weah who has yet to declare his assets in keeping with law or as the law prescribes.