“In River Gee County an audit of the County development Fund by the General Auditing Commission of Liberia for the period found that a company known as the Gee-Gbeh River Assistance Development Associates (GRADA) with the wife of the now Senator Commany B. Wesseh, Mr. Madina Wesseh as one of the incorporators and another family member, Rev. M. Chenekan Wesseh as another incorporator and the current Sanator as one of the Board members was awarded contacts but the company failed to implement those contracts despite receiving payments from the County development Fund. According to the audit report the Ministry of Commerce confirmed that GRADA was not a legally registered entity in Liberia but the company was still awarded numerous contracts in River Gee County.”
– FrontPageAfrica, May 26, 2015
It all started when Grand Bassa County Senator Nyonblee Karnga Lawrence (Liberty Party), wrote a letter to her colleagues asking them to put a hold on the confirmation of presidential appointees who have been outed by the General Auditing Commission, until public hearings are complete and recommendations are made.
“Knowing that Liberia has been labeled as one of the most corrupt countries in the world, and we have huge challenge to foster transparency and accountability, it is very important that the senate continue to be very supportive in the fight of corruption by ensuring that all the confirmation for people who are implicated in Audit Reports or Audit indictees are put on hold until the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) conduct public hearing and make final recommendations for action,” Senator Karnga-Lawrence reportedly wrote.
A statement of this kind seems to be a departure from the way things are usually done in the Liberian society or in the Liberian Legislature where some are only there for what they can get financially, no matter how they get it.
So when a Senator who seems to be sincere in her call to put a hold on the confirmation of presidential appointees who are allegedly involved in some form of corruption, her colleagues need to listen because she knows and understands what corruption has done and continues to do to the fabric of the nation.
Corruption is a cancer in the Liberian society, and the larger difficulty that stands in the way of its elimination are elected and appointed officials – those slimy and opportunistic individuals who engages in corruption and gets away with it by talking their way out of shame and prosecution, because of the political influence they have in the country.
The May 26 (FrontPageAfrica) article detailing corruption in the Liberian Legislature, and how anti-corruption advocates in the senate are carrier of excess baggage, says a lot about the activities of some of the individuals who are not as progressive as some Liberians would think they are.
Sen. Commany Wesseh is under scrutiny (attack) some would say, for allegedly siphoning his River Gee County Development Funds to his private Gee-Gbeh River Assistance Development Associates (GRADA), headed by his wife (one of the “Incorporators”), and other family members.
According to FrontPageAfrica, “The construction of the Potupo District Commissioner’s compound was awarded to GRADA. The Poputo District commissioner’s contract was awarded to GRADA for US$42,772.76. However, from documents made available from audit, two payments which totaled US$29,940.94 were made to GRADA, representing 70 percent of the total contract sum. The construction of the Commissioner’s compound in Jaytoken was not reported on the MIA Project Tracking Report for the period under audit.”
FrontPageAfrica added: “the audit noted that an amount of US$5,317.500.00 was paid to GRADA but Check written in the name of Jackson Nyepan, the Development Superintendent.”
Those listed as Incorporators and Board of Directors of GRADA according to FrontPageAfrica are the late Superintendent J. Karku Sampson, Assistant Superintendent Jackson C. Nyepan, T. B. Isaiah Dapaye and Treasurer Seka Youlo should each be held accountable and made to jointly or severally restitute US$29,940.94, representing payment made to GRADA for which the project as abandoned: Incorporators-Rev. M. Chenekan Wesseh, Ms. Alice Welley Wilson, Mrs. Madina Wesseh. Board of Directors of GRADA-Mrs. Gbalee Browne, Chairman, Mr. B. Isaiah Dapaye, Secretary; Amb. Commany B. Wesseh, member; Mrs Martha Toe, Member; Mr. Amos Gbesohn, member; Mr. Tyee Torboh, member; Mr. D. Nimely, member.”
To publicly shame a group or a person for alleged corruption is sure to get the necessary attention, and an immediate pushback from the accused knowing that his or her reputation and credibility is on the line.
However, as is the case in a situation of this kind, the accused should always expect such general outburst and disappointment from the public, especially when those they trust betrayed them to satisfy a narrowly defined selfish financial goal.
Sen. Wesseh did acknowledged that “Yes my family set up an NGO called Gee-Gbeh Rivers Assistance and Development Associates (GRADA) in the early 1990s, during the heat of the civil war, to provide humanitarian assistance to our community in Monrovia and our people in the then Lower Grand Gedeh, now River Gee County.”
“As the war ended, we expanded to development work. We helped build bridges, rehabilitated roads, contributed to school, town hall and church construction. We paid fees of needy students.”
Did Senator Wesseh also mention that his GRADA helped built bridges and rehabilitate roads? Where? Because the roads or picture of roads I have seen so far in that area does not look like roads that have been “rehabilitated.” Did Senator Wesseh’s GRADA helped to build bridges, too? Where in River Gee?
I want to know!
Sen. Wesseh also said: “In my main contribution to the debate, I argued that confirmation of each presidential nominee should seek to ascertain the strength of character, education, training and experience and human rights record. I suggested that the Rule of the Senate that empowers oversight committees to conduct confirmation hearings and report to Plenary should be upheld and not undermined as the letter proposed.”
Sen. Commany B. Wesseh just ran around the bush to nowhere in his little monologue as he slyly leaps from the idea of putting the confirmation of presidential appointees who engages in alleged corruption on hold, to his own push to “ascertain the strength of character, education, training and experience and human rights records” of the nominees, as if he’s making some groundbreaking legislative pronouncement.
Interestingly, this “human rights advocate” did not advocate against corruption, he did not advocate for accountability in government, and he also did not echo the powerful letter of his colleague.
Had Sen. Wesseh bravely followed-up on Sen. Nyonblee Karnga Lawrence’s (patriotic) anti-corruption letter to her colleagues in a robustly positive way, he would have provided us all a psychological high in our collective fight against corruption in Liberia.
What a waste of opportunity!