‘I Won’t Return A Dime’: Bong Lawmaker Briggs-Mensah Vows to Use US$15k on Constituency

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Monrovia – Rep. Moima Briggs-Mensah has vowed not to return a cent of the US$15,000 legislators received from the government for projects, stating that the money will be used to impact her constituency.

Calls have heightened in recent days for all 102 lawmakers (senators and representatives) to return the amount to the government agency clothed with the responsibility of undertaking projects.

Prominent Liberian women have been leading the charge, encouraging their female colleagues who are lawmakers to return the money as a means of ‘distinguishing themselves and setting the records straight’. 

But few female lawmakers have opposed their colleagues’ pleas and have vowed to use the money on their respective constituencies, screenshots culled from a chatroom of prominent Liberian women have revealed.

Among female lawmakers opposing such decision is Moima Briggs-Mensah, lawmaker of Bong’s six electoral district. In an angry response to her peers, Rep. Briggs-Mensah wrote: ‘It’s a sad time. Wondering why you people will not call us on issues you don’t understand, and have no clue but decided to willingly bring us to public ridicule as the result of your limitations over legislative work,” she explained.

“For the record, I’m not giving a dime back! My constituents will directly benefit through my leadership ad it’s legal.”

The lawmaker has also been under immense pressure from her consituents to return the money to the Liberia Agency for Community Empowerment (LACE).

Paul Kerkulah, a student leader in the district, took to his Facebook account and pleaded with the lawmaker to return the money. He wrote: “Moima Briggs-Mensah, please return the US$15k. This is a legalized corruption. Your work is not to implement project. The Liberia Agency for Community Empowerment (LACE) is responsible. We have been receiving so many concerns from our district regarding this issue. This is unfair to our people. We will run a series on this matter justifying why this is a legalized corruption.”

“Our people need to know because they are concern. We will start with Radio Totota, a local radio station in the district. We have already gotten an appointment. Return the money or give it to LACE and you do the oversight. You can’t be the player and referee at the same time.”

“Your responsibility is law making, representation and oversight. You are not responsible to implement government funded projects. This is legalized corruption and our people are concern. Sharing public funds contravenes our laws. We will justify in our upcoming articles. Do the needful to return it or give it to LACE and do the oversight.”

Numani Siafa, another resident of the district, wrote: “People misuse their position and power because they feel that others are subordinate to their authority.  Many at times in Liberia, we get involved into things that we are not to. Treating your own people the way you think is best for you rather than them is of no good.  I hope that this alarm will claim her attention to do what is right for her people and stop the interruption of others responsibilities.”

Like the district six lawmaker, all eight lawmakers have rejected the residents’ call to return the money to LACE for implementation of their legislative projects. Senator Henrique Tokpa, took to his Facebook page to explain how he intends using the money.

He wrote: “The Government of Liberia through the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning has provided $15, 000 USD to each lawmaker for projects and programs in their various constituencies. The gesture is part of government’s efforts to support legislative undertakings and constituency engagements. Bong County Senator Dr. Henrique F. Tokpa is commending the GOL for the gesture, and wants  to assure that the amount will be used to fast track  ongoing projects in the county including the provision of arm-chairs to needed schools, and safe drinking water to several communities across the country, among others.”

“Sen. Tokpa has recommitted himself  to ably representing the people of Bong County in getting more support intended for projects and programs in the county.”

But concerns have been raised about the senator’s plan to use portion of the US$15,000 for providing chairs to various senior high schools in the county, after promising to fund such project “from his pocket”.

Journalist Naway Gumeh wrote: “As for the “arm-chairs project”,   you promised your constituents that you would have used US$40K from your pocket for its implementation.

“How come you have suddenly somersaulted to state here that portion of the US$15K given by government will be spent on this project, sir?

Not just that, please explain how you intend to execute the “safe drinking water” component, Mr. senator. This part of your disclosure is ambiguous! Please clarify, sir.”

Another journalist, Titus Yekeryan, said: “Frankly speaking, Dr. Henrique Flomo Tokpa needs to ask the people of Bong County about how the US 15k should be used. He doesn’t necessarily have to use portion of that money on his “40,000” USD arm-chairs project because he had earlier announced that the money would come from his pocket.

My strong prayer is that the usage of the 15k should not end in limbo like that of the coming of the “juice Company.”

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