Liberia: Moving In The Mansion Is Historic, But There’s The Need To Audit The Renovation

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PRESIDENT GEORGE Weah deserves all the flowers for braving the storm to resettle the Liberian presidency in its official home, despite ongoing rehabilitation of the mighty building.

THE PRESIDENT, as explained by his Minister of Information, believes the renovation works of the Mansion would only be taken seriously and completed when it is occupied by him.

THE EXECUTIVE MANSION has been under renovation since 2006 after it was gutted by fire on the fourth floor July 26 when former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was hosting her foreign counterparts who had come to celebrate Liberia’s Independence Day.

THE FIRE incident forced President Sirleaf out of the Mansion. Throughout the rest of tenure as President, she worked from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

THE MANSION has been vacant for the past 16 years with successive budgetary allocations in the National Budget. However, the renovation is yet to be completed.

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$10 million on the Executive Mansion renovation project.

THE AUDIT covered July 1, 2006 to December 31, 2015.

ON DECEMBER 9, 2016, Madam Sirleaf confirmed that she had 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 on the Executive Mansion renovation project until the expiration of her 12-year tenure.

IN MARCH 2020, 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.

IT CONTINUES TO BAFFLE Liberians that the it took three years to build the Mansion, however, it is taking forever to restore its glory despite allocating about US$10 million every Fiscal Year in the National Budget since 2006 for the renovation.

IT IS OBVIOUS to Liberians that for all these years, the renovation of the Mansion was one of the vessels through which some ill-intentioned individuals in the government could embezzle funds from the National Budget. While we believe reoccupying the Mansion might bring this practice to an end, it’s very imperative that an audit is conducted on the renovation and all funds allocated for that purpose.

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