In a land where gross violation of the people’s trust by architects of the law is prevalent, most often than not, the people revolt in solemnity. The gravity of their action is determined most likely by the enormity of the violation and/or violator(s).
The maharishis of African politics are consistently involved with an overarching desire to circumvent the law when it is unfavorably detrimental to their political growth. The financial maneuvering among powerbrokers, false negative political penetration amongst decision makers and misinterpretation of the law while gaining public sentiment in the process seems very frequent along these shores.
In the case of Liberia, lawmakers have from time to time demonstrated unethical, compromising and dishonest tendencies. In other instances, Liberia’s lawmakers have blatantly ignored the law or violated the law on faulty premises.
In 2006, an allegation was levied again Rep. Edwin Melvin Snowe for bribing his way to the speakership of the National Legislature. In the report, Rep. Snow was reportedly ditched out U.S. $5000.00 to his colleagues in an attempt to have him elected. As the allegations against Rep. Snowe dwindled, many questioned the ethical behavior of those representatives involved in the financial scheme as well as Rep. Snowe. Though Snowe did not substantiate the allegations levied against him, many believed the 52nd legislature lacked moral uprightness to object the tempted financial offer if any was offered.
Irrespective of the allegation, Mr. Snowe was overwhelmingly elected as speaker of the House of Representatives. Whether his election was based on his action to lure his colleagues into unethical behavior or his inaction to state the obvious about his political manipulation remains a misery. Evidently, Mr. Snowe has from time to time being involved in major controversies ranging from the Gazprom saga to the Robert Sirleaf that may have the propensity to initiate his impeachment proceedings. However, the culture of impunity and unruliness continue to be the hallmark of mediocrity in the National Legislature.
In recent time, a recording was released in the media in which Rep. Edward Forh was indicted for attempting to embezzle U.S. $400,000.00 of taxpayers’ money. In the recording, Rep. Forh was heard instructing the former Superintendent of Monterrado County Grace T. Kpaan to work with 2.5 million dollars of the County Development Fund when in fact the total fund allocated to the county was 2.9 million dollars. In addition, he attempted to distribute the balance US $400, 0000.00 between the superintendent, the minister of Internal Affairs and him.
After the media released the recording to the public, the only justification Rep. Forh had for the tape was that he was joking.
Even though he admitted to the recording and said it was his voice and he did have the conversation with the superintendent, Rep. Forh said it was a mere joke.
Even though we are yet to see anyone who found this recording comical, Rep. Forh has maintain his grounds that this conversation was a simple joke between him and the representative. This in short is an ethical bridge of the public’s trust between two government officials in which one is an executive member and the other is a lawmaker. The executive member has subsequently resigned her position owing to her recklessness in carrying out her duty. Unfortunately, the lawmaker is yet to resign his position in the wake of mounting pressure from Liberian across the glboe.
Article 90 of the Liberian constitution which states that “ (a)No person, whether elected or appointed to any public office, shall engage in any other activity which shall be against public policy, or constitute conflict of interest; (b) No person holding public office shall demand and receive any other perquisites, emoluments or benefits, directly or indirectly, on account of any duty required by Government; (c) The Legislature shall, in pursuance of the above provision, prescribe of a Code of Conduct for all public officials and employees, stipulating the acts which constitute conflict of interest or are against public policy, and the penalties or violation thereof.”
Evidently, Thomas Fallah is in violation of the constitution by accepting money from the government for scholarship fees in the Thomas Fallah Vocational Institute. Although he believes he has done nothing wrong, it appears that Fallah is unable to see beyond his personal interest.
As far as he is concerned, there is nothing wrong because the Thomas Fallah Institute is an institution just like any institution within his district; as such must benefit from scholarship payments within said district.
In the city of Brewerville, Rep. Dakeh is accused of squandering portion of the District Development funds in the name of scholarship as well. According to reports from some members of the district, Rep. Dakeh reportedly paid scholarship to a Brewerville Vocational School but interestingly, the school is nonexistent. Meanwhile, Rep. Dakeh believes he has done nothing wrong to the people of Brewerville and particularly the district.
Over the past few years, several institutions have been sprouting around the country in honor of members of the House of Representatives. There is a Thomas Fallah Institute’ of Vocational Education (T-FIVE) in Rep. Fallah’s district. Rep. Edward Forh also has a vocational school that is currently under construction around the point four communities on Bushrod Island. Rep. William Dakeh like others has a vocational school in district #17.
Though some of the lawmakers made a public commitment to construct schools and clinics in their districts when elected some have reneged on their promises while others have chosen to use taxpayers’ money to construct these institutions.
Notwithstanding, many of the institutions are being constructed from the County Development Funds (CDF). Though they’ve claimed ownership of these institutions and subsequently demanded portions of the CDF to be allocated to these institutions for scholarships and other immunities for students, some of the representatives have diverted those same funds to their personal use.
Although it seems illogical to use the CDF to construct schools in these districts and name them after lawmakers, they (Lawmakers) do not have any problem with it. In addition, they use the CDF also to fund most of the school’s operations through scholarship schemes. They also manage the operations of these schools while at the same time being lawmakers.
In spite of the lawmakers’ constitutional authority to properly apportion our national budget on an annual basis, they’ve also been caught heavily implementing same without any form of indignity. The House of Representatives is therefore a referee and a player at the same time. The County Development Fund is part of the national budge that is approved by the House of Representatives.
In addition, adjustments that are made within the budget are supposedly within the confines of equal distribution of the national wealth so that it triggers down to the masses. In many forms, these allocations are intended to reaffirm government’s commitment to its citizen. Though they are several private institutions in these various districts that could benefit from the CDF in terms of scholarships, some representatives are in some instances demanding the students to attend the schools that are built by them or named after them.
After such allocations, members of the house then converge in the various caucuses to implement the CDF. Sadly enough, they erect institutions in their various districts and named those institutions after themselves without an aorta of shame.
In view thereof, the House of Representative must sign and pass a code of conduct law that will guide all officials of government against any act or acts that will come in conflict with the daily functions.