Monrovia – Facing mounting questions about his reluctance to declare his assets or encourage newly-appointed members of his administration to do so, President George Manneh Weah is being heavily criticized in the wake of the demolition of his 9th Street home. Many Liberians have taken to social media to voice their anger that the President is undertaking a building project of his personal property without declaring his assets, especially in the backdrop of the government’s controversial pro-poor policy.
Section 10.1 of the revised Code of Conduct referencing declaration of Assets and Performance Bonds states: “Every Public Official and Employee of Government involved in making decisions affecting contracting, tendering or procurement, and issuance of licenses of various types shall sign performance or financial bonds and shall in addition declare his or her income, assets and liabilities prior to taking office and thereafter: (a) at the end of every three years; (b) on promotion or progression from one level to another; (c) upon transfer to another public office; and (d). upon retirement or resignation.” Mr. Abraham Darius Dillon of the opposition Liberty Party whose Darius Dillon Exchange forum draws thousands of followers questioned the timing of the President’s demolition project.
Mr. Dillon told FrontPageAfrica Thursday: “It is interesting that after all these years, Mr. George Weah is only now demolishing his house when he is President of Liberia. I would not want to rush into judgment because I have no credible information as why the building is being demolished. “I call on Mr. Weah to speak out and clear the air. Is the house being demolished for a new construction?
Is the property being leased out? With massive corruption permeating public circles, it is over time now that Mr. Weah declared his assets in keeping with law.” Mitchell K. London, writing on the Liberian Trust Communications Chatroom(LTC) wrote: “The continent of Africa, especially Liberia is an interesting place to be. Interestingly, not good but the crazy things that happen everyday. President George Weah Chose to demolish his house only when he’s president. Why now? Is it the only time he can now afford to rebuild?”
Daniel Moinamah Jah threw a few jabs at the government’s pro-poor agenda. “This government making everything hard for the poor people. Prices just going up and up. President building new house and Koijee wearing tuxedo everyday.” Dominic J. Musa opined: “Why can’t Gbaku Weah demolish his foundation and rebuild it for learning purpose, but thinking on building a Castle for he and his Jamaican family?
“It’s too soon to criticize him, but its not too soon to divert state funds into his personal use?” Dan Tweh highlighted the issue of assets: “This is why President Weah and his gang will not declare their assets. They want to do illegal things without trace. If Weah had money as you claim, why he didn’t’ rebuild this house until now. President George Weah is not transparent, I have told you. God save us.” The new government came under similar criticisms during its early days when a FrontPageAfrica investigation found that some US$39,000 had been spent to refurbish President Weah’s office at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and that of his wife.
Documents previously published by FrontPageAfrica show that US$286,450 has been cashed out by the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning to the Ministry of State for the replacement of iron rails at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) and the refurbishment of the home of Vice President Taylor.
GSA through the Ministry of State from the Finance Ministry requested the amounts, but sources within MFA hinted FrontPageAfrica that the GSA request was upon the instruction of President Weah when he was still President-elect. President Weah, like his predecessor, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf is using the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as his office. The Executive Mansion has not been used since a 2007 fire gutted the fifth floor. The Sirleaf administration came under public condemnation for failing to get the Executive Mansion ready for use. The massive renovation spending has drawn comparison to the US where Hud Secretary Ben Carson and his wife are struggling to explain why they spent $US31,000 furniture set for his office at the department of housing and urban development.
Carson and his spokesman Raffi Williams repeatedly claimed that the Hud secretary was not involved in a decision to make the purchase. “Nobody was more surprised than me,” Carson said in a statement, before saying that he would cancel the order amid the controversy. Williams, who initially denied that the furniture order existed, also insisted that Carson had no involvement. Millions are allocated in the Liberian budget annually for furniture and vehicles with very little set aside toward projects targeting the poor and needy.