Home Editorial Return of Pres. Weah To Executive Mansion: An Indelible National Achievement

Return of Pres. Weah To Executive Mansion: An Indelible National Achievement

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Yesterday, February 14, 2022, President George Manneh Weah, to the delight and gladness of all and sundry, actualized one of his key promises to the Liberian people by returning the Executive Mansion, the official Home of the Liberian Presidency, which, on July 26, 2006, was gutted by fire during program marking the formal celebration of Liberia’s independence.

The cause of the fire outbreak which occurred on the fifth floor of the Executive Mansion while President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf (then), was hosting three visiting and distinguished African Heads of State, then, including Tejan Kabbah of Sierra Leone, Laurent Gbagbo of Ivory Coast and John Kufuor of Ghana along with an array of local and foreign dignitaries, was attributed by the Sirleaf Administration, after an investigation, to an electrical fault.

As a result of the somewhat embarrassing fire incident, then President Johnson-Sirleaf, who is widely referred to by her admirers at home and abroad as “Iron-Lady,” apparent fled the Executive Mansion and subsequently sought refuge and comfort in the edifice of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs which is also adjacent the Executive Mansion on Capitol Hill in Monrovia.

The Executive Mansion which is also the official residence and workplace of the President of Liberia is located across the street from the Capitol Building in the Capitol Hill district of Monrovia.

For more than 11 years of her 12 years in office as President of the Republic of Liberia, former President Johnson-Sirleaf, who is also a Nobel Peace Laureate never sat in the Executive Mansion to do any official state business, although her erstwhile regime made series of annual budgetary allocations for the renovation of the Executive Mansion without any tangible deliverables, according to Sirleaf’s critics.

For instance, the Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Good Governance and Government Reform, Larry P. Younquoi, once characterized as a “milking cow” the consistent allocation of monies in the National Budget for the renovation of the Executive Mansion and said such allotments only benefited “people in high places” at the detriment of poor Liberian tax payers.

Rep. Younquoi, representing the people of electoral district #8 in Nimba County in the 54th National Legislature, in a mobile phone interview told a local daily, FrontPage Africa, months ago, described a “milking cow” scenario as a cow in the field that its owner gets milk from at his/her will and pleasure.

Lawmaker Younquoi maintained then, that the Executive Mansion has been in a dilapidated condition because, “people in high places” wanted to use it to budget exorbitantly and receive those budgeted allocations on a regular basis.

As if these were not enough, the Nimba County Legislator pointed out that though past and current legislators have played their part by allocating separate amounts of monies requested by the Executive on a yearly basis, the Executive Mansion lies in ruins without any sign of full completion of renovation works and that it was quite frustrating for millions of taxpayers’ monies to continue to be allocated for the renovation of the Executive Mansion, in the midst of meager appropriations being made to key sectors in Liberia, including Agriculture, Health and Education.

Interestingly, in early 2016, former Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf requested the General Auditing Commission (GAC) to conduct an audit into the Executive Mansion renovation project as provided for under the statutory mandate of the Auditor General, under section 2.1.3 of the GAC Act of 2014.

Months later, the GAC in its findings, observed a waste of over US$10M on the Executive Mansion renovation project. The audit covered the period July 1, 2006 to December 31, 2015. On December 9, 2016, then President Johnson-Sirleaf confirmed that she received from the GAC the audit report on the renovation works at the Executive Mansion.

An Executive Mansion release issued at the time disclosed that Madam President was reviewing the report along with the then Minister of State without Portfolio, Cllr. J. Fonati Koffa (now Grand Kru County Representative) to establish the necessary actions and measures to be taken.

In other words, ex-president Johnson-Sirleaf assured that following the review of the audit report, actions were going to be taken to ensure accountability for public resources.
Sadly and disappointingly, however, former President Johnson-Sirleaf did little or nothing in acting on the GAC report as it relates specifically to the Executive Mansion renovation project until the expiration of her 12-year tenure.

This is one of the cardinal reasons why when incumbent President George Manneh Weah, previously announced that he was working towards the renovation of the same Executive Mansion for which millions of United States Dollars have been allocated and expended in the past without any visible deliverables, the Weah pronouncement generated mixed public reasons, with some expressing serious doubts about his commitment, dedication and sincerity to the Executive Mansion Renovation project, while others voiced cautious optimism about the completion of said renovation exercise which began nearly two decades ago.

Now that true to his words, which were reinforced then, by Information Minister, Ledgerhood J. Rennie, at a news conference on Monday, February 7, 2022, that President George Manneh Weah was fully prepared to start working from the Executive Mansion and to return the Liberian Presidency to its original seat this year, 2022, Liberians across all political, socio-economic divides are more than glad that President Weah has, once again, demonstrated a patriotic, trustworthy, selfless and progressive leadership, once again.

“Right after the February 14 Bicentennial Program, the President will remain in the Mansion to continue the Liberian people work. The Executive Mansion is not fully completed yet, but the President insists that he be there while work is ongoing for completion; as you know the presidency has been working from the Foreign Affairs Ministry, Minister Rennie stressed, then.

According to the Information Minister, although the renovation of the entire Mansion is yet to be completed but 90% of the work on the 4th Floor of the building that contains the offices of the President and other important staff has been done.

“The President said it is better he be in office while the work is ongoing, with that, the President believes that it will give contractors more energy to work than to be awaiting them while working,” he said.

For us, at The INDEPENDENT, we applaud President Weah for paving the way for the Nation’s Presidency which has been effectively displaced in the edifice of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to be returned to the Executive.

This is indeed, an indelible national achievement which would be printed on the Liberian leadership Sand of Time for the benefit of the country. We, also hope that the return of the Nation’s Presidency to the Executive Mansion will not be a mere sugarcoated and colorful design to gain political capital and publicity ahead of the much-awaited 2023 Presidential and Legislative Elections.

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