‘We, Too, Could Be Replaced’ -Rep. Bility cries Out; Wants “Right Thing” Done At Capitol

MONROVIA: The Liberian maxim, “hunchback man watching his kind being processed in a coffin for burial always reflects on how his own burial will be” appears to be resonating with District #7, Nimba County Representative Musa Hassan Bility. Contemporary Liberian electorates are ruthless and unmerciful to elected politicians, man do-nothing officials, evidenced by throngs of exodus that often leave power during electoral periods. Perhaps unlike other politicians, Representative Bility is consciously aware and has begun animating his colleagues lest they become electoral casualties soon. He is therefore pushing a thorough cleansing process, chiefly auditing of the Legislature including the last two before the current. As The Analyst reports, the Nimba lawmaker has submitted a carefully crafted communication to his colleagues through the Speaker of the House, calling for prudent fiscal policies and actions.

Nimba County District #7 Representative, Musa Hassan Bility is pushing his colleagues in the House of Representatives to make transparency, accountability and change the hallmarks of their official duties in order to ward off political vendettas of the Liberian electorate.

In a communication dated February 19, 2024 addressed to Hon. J Fonati Koffa Speaker of the House of 55th Legislature, Mr. Bility asserted: “Remember Mr. Speaker, it is our people’s quest for change, transparency and accountability which has made this body to have the lowest rate of return in the region.

“Every six (6) or nine (9) years, more than half of our colleagues are replaced. In the just ended elections, forty-eight (48) lawmakers were not re-elected and did not return to this building. They were replaced by some of us here today. If we do not do the right thing by our people, we too will be replaced.”

Though the Nimba lawmaker acknowledged calls for the audit of the 55th Legislature and other critical government institutions such as the Central Bank, National Security Agency amongst others, he noted that “these are all highly commendable actions; however, Mr. Speaker, they are not enough”.

He said measures being proposed by the House and Senate are for audit of the current 55th Legislature and future Legislature which means the 55th Legislature is fore-going  or ignoring knowledge of and accountability for the financial history of the 53rd and 54th Legislature, thereby “wiping the slate clean”.

“We are trumpeting transparency and accountability a ‘from today onward’ approach and this is a major part of why our nation continues to be faced with financial woes,” he told the House speaker. “If we don’t address the problems of the past, how can we progress to the future.”

He continued: “I write to request an audit of the 53rd and 54th legislature. My request comes in the wake of the recent pronouncement by the Executive branch headed by the President H.E. Joseph N. Boakai, calling for an audit of key agencies within the Executive to include the National Security Agency (NSA), Executive Protection Service (EPS), and Central Bank of Liberia (CBL). This pronouncement is welcomed and supported as the need for audit across government functionaries cannot be overstated.”

Mr. Bility also recalled that in the Legislative branch, the Senate has requested the General Auditing Commission (GAC) to conduct an assessment of the Senate’s financial management systems and controls for this current period in order to identify any weaknesses, after which the GAC is expected to make recommendations for improvement.

Here in the House, he also noted, “we have engaged the GAC, through the Auditor General to do the same and take note that, according to an article published in the Daily Observer, during his confirmation hearing on February 8, 2024, the Auditor General stated that the entire legislature had not been audited since around 1999 and the a full scale financial audit of the 55th Legislature will be done in two (2) years after they have completed a financial systems review and put in place a financial system compliant with the Public Financial Management Act (PFM ACT) and other financial instruments.”

The Collaborating Political Party Chairperson also indicated in the communication: “Mr. Speaker, please bear with me as I remind you and this Honorable House of the magnitude of our responsibility to our people, respectively, and our nation, collectively.

“As the first branch of government, we must be intentional and serious about issues of transparency and accountability in our effort to curb corruption, misappropriation, misapplication and mismanagement of public funds. For over thirty (30) years we, the Legislature, have not been transparent and accountable to the Liberian people, so how can we, in good conscience, hold other government officials accountable?”

Lawmakers: Highest Beneficiaries

Digressing, perhaps as a way to further justify the urgency of his request, Mr. Bility said: “As lawmakers, we are the biggest beneficiaries and highest recipients of public funding in this country; thus earning us the label ‘Butchers’ House’ in a scathing review recently published by the Daily Observer, a major local daily. While approving the appropriation of the National Budget, we retain a significant portion for ourselves, in comparison to what is appropriated for public funding for the benefit of the people. It is interesting to note that our country is the poorest in the world but yet our Legislators are amongst the highest paid in the world.

“We reportedly make more than all lawmakers in West Africa and even more than lawmakers in Germany, Poland, and other parts of Europe and even the United States. According to the second edition of NAYMOTE’s Legislative Digest Report, the annual budget of the legislature from 2018-2022 was $228,666,183.00 United States Dollars. If added to the 2023 annual legislative budget of US$43 million, that will be a total of about US$271 Million. That is over a quarter of a billion dollars in just five (5) years.”

Mr. Bility then described such a situation as unconscionable on the part of lawmakers, stating that “the very least we can do now is account for how monies allotted to the immediate past 54th and 53rd Legislature were spent when teachers, healthcare workers, and other civil servants suffered the harsh cuts of harmonization in their salaries and hundreds more could not be paid for their services.”

Ordinary citizens’ plight

He said while Liberian lawmakers are fatly benefiting from the country’s revenue, ordinary citizens are enduring hardship.

The Nimba District $7 Representative recounted: “In my district, about 80% of government school teachers are volunteers because the Ministry of Education cannot afford to put them on payroll. For instance, Zontuo Public School has seven (7) teachers and only 1 is on payroll. Nyansin Nursery School in New Nyansin has nine (9) teachers and all arte volunteers. Bueh Public School has five (5) teachers and only one (1) is on payroll. Old Nyasin Public School has three (3) teachers with one (1) on payroll.

“My people do not even have access to clean drinking water and proper sanitation. In the dry season, some of the creeks which they use as sources of drinking water dry out and the water settle and turn green with what is assumed to be algae. As a result they suffered from sickness and illness but have limited or no access to healthcare. There are no public health facilities in many towns. For example, Gbao, which has a population of 29,807 persons, has no public health facility. Zoe, with a population 16,775 persons, has no doctor in the only public health facility and only 1 private health center. Gbehyi, with a population of 8,543 has no public health facility nor private facility.”

1 Comment
  1. W. Wallace YANCY says

    This goes to all Law Makers of LIBERIA. Now it’s too expensive to be a law maker in Liberia.

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