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Saturday, July 20, 2024

TRANSPARENCY ADVOCATES DARIUS DILLON AND AMARA KONNEH URGED TO DISCLOSE RETREAT EXPENDITURES

Date:

MONROVIA – Eddie D. Jarwolo, Executive Director of NAYMOTE-Liberia, has issued a critical statement aimed at several Liberian Senators, notably Abraham Darius Dillon and Amara Konneh, who have been vocal advocates of transparency and accountability. Jarwolo’s challenge comes in the wake of revelations about the Senate’s recent expenditure, raising significant concerns about fiscal responsibility and integrity within the Senate.

Jarwolo’s critique is rooted in the context of Liberia’s struggling economy, which has seen public services and salaries delayed or unpaid. He emphasized the importance of the Senate retreat as an opportunity for accountability and transparency, but questioned the opacity surrounding its costs. “Good morning, my village people. The Senate retreat is a good and welcoming idea for the purpose of accountability and transparency. Senators Amara Konneh and Abe Darius Dillon, as champions of accountability and transparency, please inform the public how much was spent on the retreat and how much you received as Senators each. Thank you,” Jarwolo wrote.

The Senate retreat, which took place over three days in Buchanan, Grand Bassa County, reportedly cost over US$700,000. This figure has sparked outrage, particularly given that many civil servants, including lawmakers from the House of Representatives, have not been paid for months. The contrast between the lavish expenditure on the retreat and the unpaid salaries of government employees has fueled criticism and suspicion.

Critics argue that the retreat was not a genuine attempt at legislative development or governance improvement but rather an excuse for Senators to funnel money into their pockets. The timing and scale of the expenditure are seen as particularly egregious given Liberia’s economic challenges and the government’s ongoing struggle to meet its financial obligations to public servants.

Jarwolo’s call for transparency has put Senators Dillon and Konneh, who have built their political reputations on accountability, in a difficult position. Both Senators have publicly championed the need for openness in government spending and have been vocal critics of corruption and misuse of public funds. This situation now demands that they practice what they preach and disclose the full details of the retreat’s expenses.

The lack of transparency surrounding the retreat has eroded public trust in the Senate and raised questions about the commitment of its members to genuine fiscal responsibility. Citizens and civil society groups are demanding a full accounting of the retreat’s costs and the per diem or allowances received by each Senator. They argue that such disclosure is essential for restoring confidence in the legislative body.

The Senate’s silence on this matter has only intensified public suspicion. Many Liberians believe that the retreat was a cover for unethical financial practices and that the substantial sum spent could have been better utilized to address pressing economic needs, such as paying overdue salaries to civil servants.

Furthermore, the perception of hypocrisy among Senators who advocate for transparency but fail to act transparently themselves is damaging. It undermines their credibility and weakens their ability to effectively argue for necessary reforms and anti-corruption measures.

The controversy surrounding the Senate retreat also highlights broader issues within Liberia’s political system. It underscores the need for stronger mechanisms of accountability and greater scrutiny of government expenditures. Ensuring that public funds are used effectively and ethically is crucial for improving governance and fostering public trust.

As the pressure mounts, it remains to be seen how Senators Dillon and Konneh will respond. Their actions in the coming days will be closely watched by the public and will likely have significant implications for their political futures. Will they rise to the occasion and provide the transparency they have long advocated, or will they fall short, reinforcing public cynicism about the integrity of Liberia’s political class?

Eddie D. Jarwolo’s challenge to Senators Dillon and Konneh serves as a crucial test of their commitment to transparency and accountability. It is an opportunity for them to demonstrate that they are willing to hold themselves to the same standards they demand of others. The Liberian public deserves to know how their money is being spent, and it is incumbent upon the Senate to provide this information promptly and fully.

Socrates Smythe Saywon
Socrates Smythe Saywon is a Liberian journalist. You can contact me at 0777425285 or 0886946925, or reach out via email at saywonsocrates@smartnewsliberia.com or saywonsocrates3@gmail.com.

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