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Government’s Gargantuan Challenge

by newsmanager

Nearly two months after President Joseph Nyuma Boakai constituted his Administration’s much-heralded Asset Recovery and Property Retrieval Taskforce (AREPT), charged to primarily locate, recover and retrieve public resources including finances and other materials stolen by some public officials, (past and present), it seems the TASKFORCE is yet to even move a step forward for full implementation of its duties due to gross lack of understanding and cooperation among its members.

In his expressed desire to restore credibility, accountability, transparency and probity in the Nation’s Public Service, President Joseph Nyuma Boakai, on March 6, 2024, issued Executive Order #126, establishing the Asset Recovery and Property Retrieval Taskforce.

However, the AREPT appears to be faced with gargantuan challenges that, if not urgently and properly addressed by President Boakai, may severely impact its trustworthiness, competence and effectiveness (if any).

For instance, Mr. Emmanuel Gonquoi, a key member of the President’s Asset Recovery and Retrieval Taskforce recently resigned from the group, citing “Significant leadership deficiencies” in the Taskforce.

In his formal resignation letter, Mr. Gonquoi urged President Boakai to revisit the constitution of the Asset Recovery and Property Retrieval Taskforce to include the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC), and other integrity bodies aimed at bolstering the Taskforce’s capabilities, and ensuring transparency in its operations.

Gonquoi also informed President Boakai, in said resignation letter, that some members of the Taskforce lack the requisite EXPERTIZE in asset recovery, a situation, which he said, is undermining the effectiveness of the Taskforce.

As if the above-mentioned points were not enough, he told President Boakai to reconvene the Taskforce with individuals who possess the necessary skills and knowledge to navigate complex corruption cases and recover stolen assets.

Interestingly, the ink on Mr. Gonquoi’s resignation letter to President Joseph Nyuma Boakai had not dried when another key member of the Asset Recovery and Property Retrieval Taskforce (AREPT), Martin K. N. Kollie, wrote an open communication, addressed to AREPT’s Chairman, Cllr. Edwin Kla Martin, dated, May, 5, 2024, and copies of which were sent to President Boakai, Justice Minister N. Oswald Tewh, Samuel A. Stevquoah, Minister of State for Special Projects, Ms. Maima Robertson, Vice Chair, AREPT, and Mr. Alex Cuffy, Special Advisor, AREPT.
In his communication, Mr. Kollie outlined chain of crucial factors which he said are inimical to the operations of the AREPT.

He noted that “an authoritative clique that abhors consensus, healthy debates, and policy ideas has emerged and been formed within AREPT with a wily motive to exclude those members” who are considered critical.

Mr. Kollie, in his open communication, further disclosed that since its establishment, “AREPT has been unable to achieve anything substantial because of the following:

“Lack of Communication and Coordination; Lack of Consensus and Commonality; Lack of Methodological Framework to operate. No. STOP, No TOR, No Institutional/Legal Framework, no Strategy, no Structure. Nothing at all, simply put.”

Kollie also voiced out that the 15-member AREPT is now being run by few persons without any clear-cut vision and agenda; Lack of Mutual Respect, Motivation, and Refusal to prioritize EXPERTISE over inadequacy, Lack of Leadership and Clear Vision.

Moreover, Kollie stressed that though “the future of good governance and accountability in Liberia depends on this exercise,” the AREPT is being currently run by its leadership, using “an amateur and unsystematic mode since 2024, and that every effort to insist on a methodological approach seemed and still seems futile.”

It is predicated upon the claims made by both Emmanuel Gonquoi and Martin K.N. Kollie, coupled with the urgent need to thoroughly and scrupulously look into the issues raised that we, at The INDEPENDENT Newspaper are calling on President Joseph Nyuma Boakai to step forward as the Head of State in appropriately addressing such concerns.

Frankly, since the establishment of the AREPT, there have been widespread public concerns bordering on, among others, the integrity, credibility and capability of some of its members and the need for President Boakai to reconstitute the Taskforce.

In our candid view, strengthening and enhancing the operations of AREPT, and the overall fight against corruption that has become not only systemic, but also unbridled in Liberia by incorporating other integrity institutions, credible and well-connected professionals, among others with the requisite expertise for such task would go a long way in building the necessary public confidence and trust in the Taskforce.

We see this as a major challenge to President Boakai who must reconstitute this very crucial Taskforce by appointing to its members competent and knowledgeable Liberians no matter one’s political, regional, and /or sectoral origin.

This is our plead to President Boakai and his Administration.

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