We begin by stating that this editorial has absolutely no intention of implying that someone has been indicted by a grand jury.
Indeed no grand jury; however, Romeo Quioh has been indicted anyway—by the General Auditing Commission (GAC), along with several other Sinoe County officials, for their alleged failure to account for hundreds of thousands of dollars. These amounts were allegedly pillaged from both the County Development Funds (CDF) and the Social Development Funds (SDF).
The questions could credibly be asked, does President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf believe in, trust and respect the government’s institutions? If she does, has she any appreciation for their reports? By what yardstick does she determine who should be nominated to serve in government?
The General Auditing Commission was started during the Tubman administration. Its aim is to ensure transparency and accountability in the use of government’s financial and other resources.
Quioh left the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to be appointed to what he probably thought was a far more lucrative position, Sinoe’s Development Superintendent. It was there that he came into contact with some big money, money that to her credit, President Sirleaf has made available to all the counties to enhance their development.
We hope that in leaving the EPA, Mr. Quioh was motivated more by the great opportunity to SERVE HIS PEOPLE in Sinoe, one of the nation’s oldest, but most backward counties. Sinoe, remember, was among the original counties—after Montserrado and Grand Bassa. Later came Grand Cape Mount, then Maryland. These five dominated Liberian politics for well over a century, until 1964 when President W.V.S. Tubman’s National Unification Policy created four new counties—Bong, Lofa, Nimba and Grand Gedeh—bringing political parity to the interior peoples. This empowered them to elect their own Senators and increase their representation in the House. More counties were added during the Doe and Taylor administrations.
Mr. Quioh had an excellent opportunity to give his county a lift. Sinoe is backward, yes, though it is the ancestral home of some of the nation’s eminent sons and daughters. So Quioh and his boss, Superintendent Milton Teahjay, had a great chance to help their beloved county and leave a lasting legacy there.
Instead, unfortunately, all we have heard from Sinoe during the past few years has been internal wrangling among Sinoe leaders, both administrative and legislative, caused mostly by accusations of maladministration, malfeasance and misfeasance.
In one of its most recent reports, the GAC booked both Mr. Quioh and his boss, former Superintendent Milton Teahjay for allegedly embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars.
But this report was apparently ignored by the President, who promptly ushered both men into bigger and far more important positions. Quioh got the nomination to succeed his boss, Teahjay, while he was nominated by President Sirleaf’s party, Unity Party, to contest for Sinoe’s seat in the Liberian Senate!
In pop culture one would exclaim, “Wow!” In regular parlance the question would be “What!? How did that happen?”
The GAC’s report having been totally ignored—and forgotten—it took a little known Senator from far away River Cess County, Dallas A.V. Gueh, to bring the Report to the Senate’s attention. Senator Gueh informed his colleagues that Mr. Quioh and other Sinoe officials had been indicted by the GAC Report for “embezzling hundreds of thousands of both CDF and SDF.
Expressing concern, Gueh said nominee Quioh “already had a serious problem with the Liberian government while at the same time he is being nominated to another position.”
Senator Gueh further cautioned: “The nominee for the post must have a character that is suitable to be a Superintendent of Sinoe County. Therefore, he owes us an explanation—to tell us whether he has been cleared of the charges leveled against him. We must know the character of the person we are sending to Sinoe.”
The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Internal Affairs, Gbarpolu Senator Armah Jallah, immediately called for a motion, which was unanimously adopted, suspending the hearing until a later date.
Thank you, Senator Gueh, for alerting the Senate on so critical a matter. Our last question is, does the President have any people in her inner circle who can alert her about the character of her nominees for any position?