Liberia: Cllr. Tiawan Gongloe Questions Source of Funding for Pres. Weah’s Mansions

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MONROVIA – Presidential aspirant Counselor Tiawan Gongloe has called on President George Manneh Weah to muster the courage and disclose the source of funding for the barrage of properties accumulated and constructed following his ascendancy to the presidency in for the sake of promoting accountability and transparency and in keeping with the public right to know as enshrined in the Liberian constitution.

Cllr. Gongloe is the Political Leader of the Liberian People’s Party (LPP). He is the immediate former President of the Liberia National Bar Association (LNBA).

It can be recalled that barely a few months after his inauguration in 2018, President Weah engaged in the construction of several duplexes in the Thinker’s Village Community, outside Monrovia.

He also ordered the demolition of his residence in Sinkor, 9th Street for the construction of a mansion. The project was reported to be the property of his son, Timothy Weah, who is playing international soccer. But due to intense pressure, the Liberian leader backpedaled, through Deputy Presidential Press Secretary Smith Toby, by announcing to the world that the project belongs to him, instead of Timothy.

The Liberian leader also constructed a modern church, musical studio, and others on the Roberts’ Field Highway, outside Monrovia.

Speaking at the Nelson Mandela Intellectual Forum in the Red Hill Field Community in district # 17 in Montserrado County on Wednesday, April 20, Cllr. Gongloe claimed that the Liberian leader has tainted his legacies achieved during his footballing days due to his alleged failure to actualize promises made to the Liberian people and make public the source of funding for his personal projects.

He observed that for too long, the Liberian leader has been tightlipped on where did he acquired huge funds to construct properties after excelling to the highest seat of the nation.

According to him, President Weah remains the only Liberian President who has constructed for himself mansion and duplexes then all of his predecessors.

Cllr. Gongloe maintained that the manner and form in which the President acquired these properties remain one of the main reasons his assets declared where not published by the General Auditing Commission (GAC).

In keeping with the National Code of Conduct for public officials, President Weah declared his assets and called on his officials to follow suit. But the Liberian Chief Executive did not make public his assets declared.

Cllr. Gongloe indicated that Liberians will continue to speculate on the source of funding for the President’s properties accumulated if he continues to delay or refuse to disclose it.

He wondered if the Liberian leader, who reported an income of a minimum amount while serving as Senator, would acquire huge properties worth millions of dollars in a short period of time just months after his inauguration as President.

“President George Weah-our young celebrated entertainer who has lost his place from the house of fame as a footballer to the house of disgrace as a politician because everything he promised including social-economic empowerment has not been lived up to. He lied to us that he has built more roads in the Republic of Liberian than all of the Presidents of the Republic of Liberia. There is no lie that can be compared to that lie. The only truth is that President George Weah has built more private houses for himself than all of the Presidents of Liberia from Joseph Jenkins Roberts to Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf”.

“What he (Weah) has to tell us is, ‘where did he get the money from to build those houses? His failure to do so will lead us to live with the presumption that it is our money that he used to build those mansions. We know the President’s assets declaration record when he was Senator”.

Cllr. Gongloe noted that former Presidents William R. Tolbert and Madam Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, whose administration he has consistently criticized, constructed more roads far above the ones constructed by President Weah.

The office of President Weah has consistently denied using taxpayers’ monies to construct the personal properties of the Liberian leader.

Truth-telling

Cllr. Gongloe stressed that the backpedaling done by the President in relation to his Sinkor, 9th Street residence raises doubts over his truth-telling.

“When the President speaks, it must be truthful so that the next time he speaks, we must believe it. But when he lies the first time and speaks the truth the second time, nobody will believe him; and we must believe our leaders. I am asking him to tell us where he got the money from because it’s your right under Article 15(c) of the constitution of the Republic of Liberia”.

Article 15 (c) states that: “In pursuance of this right, there shall be no limitation on the public right to be informed about the government and its functionaries”.

 “He (Weah) is under the duty to tell us where he got the money from in two years. Our President will go down in the Guinness Book of Records as the President with more housing than any other President in Africa because he’s just building. I think he has become more like a real estate manager then a President. And it hurts me”.

A begging nation

Cllr. Gongloe stated that despite being the first independent African nation, Liberia, under President Weah, is not teaching other African countries a way to lead or govern its citizens.

He said despite the abundance of resources, Liberia remains a “begging nation” due to the inadequate management of the country’s resources.

“They take the money from our iron ore, gold, diamond, timber and other resources and eat it to go to America, World Bank to beg other people for money. We cannot continue like this”.

Rule of law lacking

He said though Liberia was founded to promote and protect the rights of those who were abused in the United States, disrespect for the rule of law in the post-conflict nation remains the order of the day.

Cllr. Gongloe observed that the situation which varies from one generation to another is an aged-old problem confronting the nation.

He emphasized that though the laws are in the book, past and present governments have to ensure their impartial application.

He observed that the rule of law in Liberia is being selectively applied to benefit those in power and their close associates.

“In Liberia today, some people will violate the law and go free and others will violate the same law but actions will be taken. That is not the country that was expected to be built in 1847. It was a country that was supposed to take everyone to be equal irrespective of religion, sex, or tribe. So, Cllr. Gonloe wants to take us to a country where our rights will be respected. Governance by the rule of law is the only thing that can make everything straight”.

Reckless stealing in government

Meanwhile, Cllr. Gongloe has vowed to abandon his presidential ambition if President Weah sees reason to properly address the societal ills which he continues to speak against in the nation.

He pledged to promote and protect and rule of law and help eradicate what he called “reckless stealing in government” when given the chance to serve Liberia and its citizens at the level of the presidency.

He observed that “reckless stealing in government” continues to deny the country and its citizens the needed benefits and transformation.

Cllr. Gongloe claimed that this is one of the main reasons why many supporters of President Weah continue to depart the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) on a regular basis.

“If the President of Liberia does not steal, the people there will not steal because if they do it, the President will put them to check”.

He promised to declare and publish his assets in the media, along with his salaries and other benefits when elected President.

Cllr. Gongloe threatened that regardless of having the requisite expertise to perform in government, he would not hesitate to fire public officials who failed or refused to declare their assets and have it published.

“I will put the salaries and benefits of the President down to the janitor that works in government on the internet and in the newspaper. We will do a lifestyle audit after every three months”.

He further stressed the need for those seeking the highest office in Liberia to clearly spell out “what they want to do with power” before being given the chance to lead the country.

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