Liberia: 50% Pay Split: Rep. Gwion Downs 2022 with US$30,000; L$1.1M to District
GRAND GEDEH – For the year 2022, Representative Erol Madison Gwion, Sr. (LRP, Dist. #1, Grand Gedeh Co.) has given back to his Constituency a record amount of US$30,000 and LR$1,194,000 in fulfillment of his voluntary promise to equally share his monthly salary with his People for the purpose of rolling out basic development initiatives that will benefit them.
Fully coming to terms with the vow to submit fifty percent of his salary presents a unique view in the politics of Liberia. Representative Gwion will do this until October 2023 by which time the full amount of US$69,593 will go back to the People through the Tchien District Development Council, Inc., the Chief of Office Staff, Justice Randall Clarke, tells FPA.
The district development council, set up by Representative Gwion in April last year, says Clarke, manages the funding with accountability being the hallmark.
Members of the Council are drawn from key institutions within the District, and the entity’s function, among other things, is to scrupulously identify the most relevant development priorities of the people in the district and make the needed intervention as well as promote accountability, peace and unity, and conflict prevention and mitigation.
Rep. Gwion signed a notarized, legal Promissory Note, committing to the people of his District that he would give back to their half of his salary. He did that in October 2021 when he joined the race to become Representative of District #1 in the November 16, 2021 by-election in Grand Gedeh County.
At the ballot, Gwion of the Liberia Restoration Party (LRP) decisively defeated rival Jeremiah G. Sokan of the governing Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) who many “CDCians” in the district believe was wrongly picked to vie on the ticket of their party. Gwion himself is a founding member of the Congress for Democratic Change, the central contingent party of the ruling establishment, and ran for the same office in 2017 as its candidate but was pushed aside in the by-election in the absence of a primary vote.
What helped him win the election was that many Grand Gedeans, who serially stood by CDC and knew Gwion to be a central figure during the campaign in the County that brought massive support to George Weah, thought that he sacrificed a lot for the party’s success and did not need to be treated in an unfair manner.
Meanwhile, since becoming Representative, Gwion has proven to be consistent with delivering on this promise to share his pay with the district for development.
Presenting what many constituents called the first post-war Legislative Report to be made by a Representative of Tchien District, Gwion said he was not about the next election, but for the next generation.
In January last year, he announced that as a Representative, he makes US$5,000 (representing 80 percent of his salary) and LR$199,000 (as 20 percent of his salary) thus apportioning to his District US$2,500 and LR$99,500 to account for a month. The essentially unprecedented move to cut his pay has boosted the popularity of Rep. Gwion amongst the people of Tchien District, FPA has learnt.
So far, the 50% salary slice has resulted in some meaningful, impactful interventions made by the District Development Council. Some of the interventions are the procurement and installation of the 160KVA transformer now providing electricity to the Martha Tubman Memorial Hospital; donation of 50 bundles of zinc and 50 cartons of nails for the completion of a wing to the rehabilitated Zwedru Central Market; making available cash support to the all-female Gorhai Anu-wlua farmer group in the District; respectively supporting the construction of the Fula and Mandingo Islamic schools; enabling community radio Smile FM have a sustainable power source; and providing funding to four high schools in Zwedru to include Gbargba, Suah Memorial, Mike Tuleh, and Tubman Wilson Institute (TWI) for stationery.
In early 2022, Representative Gwion also provided some 62 lights at the cost of US$6,350 for several major streets in Zwedru City, an initiative he said was not only meant to beautify the City, but also increase security in street corners and communities.