Liberia: Hiring President’s Family Members ‘No Way A Crime’, NPA Says
Monrovia – Barely 24 hours after a FrontPageAfrica investigative report uncovered a major payroll padding, nepotism and corruption at the National Port Authority(NPA), the management has issued a statement defending its decision to hire three members of President George Weah’s family as consultants.
Report by Rodney D. Sieh, [email protected]
Mrs. Celia Cuffy Brown, the current Acting Managing Director recently hired several individuals – all last named Weah as consultants to positions inside the scope of existing jobs already occupied with salaries four-times more than the heads of those areas.
Three of those posts include an Evaluation Officer, a Local Liaison Officer and a Public Relations Strategist, which according to sources were non-existent until now and created by the acting MD.
Mr. Malcolm Scott, Public Relations Manager of the Authority in a statement posted on his Facebook page and shared with Acting Managing Director Celia Cuffy Brown Saturday said the management of the NPA has committed Absolutely no crime against the state by hiring what he described as qualified Liberians whose services are required to help rebuild the country and its people.
Said Scott: “Let the message flow that it is inherently discriminatory and illegally unjust to deny employment to a group of citizens/people who are competent but not employable especially so when they are not appointed by the President of the Republic of Liberia.
Hence, hiring employable Liberians including the Weah’s without the knowledge or influence by H. E was done in keeping in view of additional revenue that was sourced by aggressive collectable measures instituted by the NPA new management team.”
He added that the robust collectable revenue hunt moved the institution’s turned over Transitional budget upward in less than two months while a host of ghost names with alarming amounts were tied to the invisible names that were discovered.
“Besides, the allocations assigned to our new officials are far below amounts, benefits /allowances, mobility and housing paid to overseas consultants in the past.
Again, the Management of the National Port decision to hire qualified professional Liberians is in no way a crime against the state nor was it done by and the influence of the Executive Mansion and it does not warrant criticism.”
Ironically, Mr. Scott’s position which pays US$1,067 monthly is being eclipsed by Prince Weah, said to be a brother of the President, who was hired by Cuffy-Brown as a Public Relations Strategist with a salary of US$4,500 less 10% government tax totaling US$4,050.
A copy of Mr. Weah’s first pay-roll checks No. 0021134700182801 dated March 1, 2018 in possession of FrontPageAfrica specifies his salary in the amount of US$4,050 for the month of February 2019.
FrontPageAfrica has been unable to verify Mr. Weah’s credentials as to whether he has a background relating to the consultancy he was hired to perform or even if he exists.
According to the Memorandum of Understanding in possession of FrontPageAfrica, dated February 1st 2018, between the NPA, represented by its Acting Managing Director, Madam Celia Cuffy-Brown and Prince Weah, a contractor, Mr. Weah is described as capable for the consultancy.
The consultancy states: “Whereas the National Port Authority has expressed its desire to hire the services of Prince Weah as Public Relations Strategist to be assigned to the Public Relations Department of the Freeport of Monrovia and Whereas the NPA selected the contractor and the contractor is capable, willing and has agreed to render said services, now therefore., in consideration of the mutual covenants, agreements and stipulation herein contained to be kept, fulfilled and performed.”
The issue of nepotism was a centerpiece of criticism of Mr. Weah’s predecessor, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf who came under a barrage of criticisms from Mr. Weah’s party because three of her sons – Robert Sirleaf, chair of the Board of the National Oil Company of Liberia, Charles Sirleaf, Deputy Governor of Central Bank of Liberia and Fombah Sirleaf, head of the National Security Agency – were serving in her administration.
In August 2012, Robert Sirleaf took Mr. Jefferson Koijee, a former Youth leader of the CDC who is currently Mayor of Monrovia, to court, seeking $8m (£5m) in damages from the local Independent newspaper over a story about newly-discovered oil titled “Sirleaf’s oil or Liberian oil?”
Mr. Sirleaf also took action against Koijee, over an article he wrote in The Analyst newspaper, criticizing President Sirleaf’s decision to give her son the oil company job, shortly after making another of her sons deputy governor of Liberia’s central bank.
Mr. Koijee’s article also suggested that Robert Sirleaf was on the verge of becoming Liberia’s first billionaire from the oil industry, and that the current political arrangement could lead to major decisions being taken around the family’s dinner table. He was sued for $1m (£600,000), and the newspaper for $2m (£1.2m) but the charges were later dropped.
FPA currently have in its possession several pay-roll checks dated March 1, 2018, which appears to be duplicating functions of existing positions with salaries nearly five times more than what the heads of key departments at the NPA.