Executive Mansion Stalled Renovation -Now Turns “Cash Cow”; A Diamond C reek In Motion; As Budgetary Allotment Remains Pro-active

If the Speaker of the House of Representatives Bhofal Chambers’ voice is now completely silent on the deep-rooted scandal nibbing the still-can’t-complete-renovation work on the

Executive Mansion, despite more money through budgetary allotments being pumped into it from the previous administration to present, then it is very interesting to note that wonder will always mate and be by the side of ‘amazing  grace’ or developments.

During his tenure as Representative, Mr. Chambers became the lone ranger critically wailing and lashing out about the delay of the renovation work on the Executive Mansion and published very disturbing figures in United States dollars budgeted and paid to the Ministry of Public Works (MPW) to foot the costs of the renovation work that cannot, even up to now; never around the environment of completing any time soon.

Today’s Speaker, in his days as Representative, also reported that the Chinses contractors were looting some of the unique and precious valued artifacts of the Executive Mansion which claimed the attention of the public, but was soon watered down with the response wrapped up in some diplomatic expression that was difficult for the public to stomach.

Now, as one former diplomat (asked not to be named) once told this medium that in the case of the renovation work ongoing at the Executive Mansion, the nation is paying too much for just one whistle.

Why pundits are cravingly asking why Speaker Chambers is not stepping up the same heat that he once championed during the great delay of the project in the previous administration when more budgetary allotments continue to flow in that direction as he could not tolerate similar behavior in the past.

Today, just like yesterday once again, the renovation project of the Executive Mansion has turned into a “Cash Cow”; a diamond creek in constant motion; as budgetary allotment remains pro-active right under the nose and close watch of the same man-Mr. Bhofal Chambers without a sound of whistle being blown nor the red flag waved. Again, the veteran diplomat wondered just how soon people forget.

Now the renovation work on the Executive Mansion has become an unending spider’s story, despite appalling news of late that one side of the building has fallen; lest you forget, it will continue to fall apart as long as more money is being pumped into it and the wheels keep rolling, so true, they (for whom the bell tolls) are in business all alone.

In spite of being strongly held responsible for the benefits of the spoils of the Executive Mansion which started in the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s administrative era, why then is it still the ball game years after Ellen has politically stepped aside? What’s going on when men who stood vehemently against robbing the people out of their hard earned taxes in connivance with those empowered ,to right the wrong are advancing the same notoriety?

However, former Bomi County Senator Sando D. Johnson noted that citizens will continue to “speculate” that President George M. Weah wants to “cover up” for Madam Sirleaf and her likes if his government allows the matter to be swept under the carpet like other corruption cases in Liberia, FrontPageAfrica reports.

Mr. maintained that a full audit must be conducted by the Weah led-administration to ascertain the actual amount of monies that were “squandered” and the names of those fully involved.

“We allocated monies for the renovation of the mansion and the monies were misused. We raised it and we are still raising it. If Ellen didn’t prosecute herself, which I know she couldn’t have done, President Weah has to take the opportunity to do so. He has to set the record straight to show that he means well because he cannot shield them”.

Johnson added that the separate appropriation of millions of dollars for the project by lawmakers in the 52nd, 53rd and 54th Legislatures respectively, were done in good fate, but the true essence was allegedly downplayed to the detriment of tax payers.

In early 2016, former Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf requested the General Auditing Commission (GAC) to conduct an audit into the Executive Mansion renovation project as provided for under the statutory mandate of the Auditor General under section 2.1.3 of the GAC Act of 2014.

Months later, the GAC in its findings, observed a waste of over US$10M on the Executive Mansion renovation project. The audit covers July 1, 2006 to December 31, 2015.

On December 9, 2016, Madam Sirleaf confirmed that she has received from the GAC the audit report on renovation works at the Executive Mansion.

An Executive Mansion release issued at the time revealed that Madam Sirleaf was reviewing the report along with the Minister of State without Portfolio, Cllr. J. Fonati Koffa (now Grand Kru County Representative) to establish the necessary actions and measures to be taken.

She assured that following the review of the audit report, actions were going to be taken to ensure accountability for public resources.

Madam Sirleaf failed to act on the GAC report released and ensure the completion of the Executive Mansion renovation project until the expiration of her 12-year tenure in January 2018.

In March of this year, Liberia’s Solicitor General, Cllr. Sayma Cyrennius. Cephus, promised that his office will review the audit report and past or current government officials involved will be sent to court for prosecution.

Since his pronouncement, not enough has been done to ensure that millions of dollars budgeted for the Executive Mansion renovation works are accounted for.

The offices of President Weah continue to be housed in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs building on Capitol Hill in Monrovia, and some members of the First Family residing at his private home in Thinker’s Village as a result of the current situation.

Vast majority of citizens, including lawmakers from mainly opposition political parties regularly compare the Executive Mansion renovation project to an “elephant meat” or a “milking cow” making those in higher positions, especially public officials directly involved with the project, normally “cut or get milk from” at their will and pleasure even though the alleged action remains detrimental to struggling Liberian tax payers.

Citizens and other foreign residents residing in the country continue to wonder why the Executive Mansion, which was constructed in three years, is taking a little over 15 years just to be renovated.

It remains unclear whether or not the Executive Mansion renovation project will be completed before the end of the first term of President George Manneh Weah since in fact, barrage of promises made by the Liberian Chief Executive are yet to be actualized.

-Writes GDJ

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