Cummings: LACE is run by President Weah and crony
By Lincoln G. Peters
The Political leader of the Alternative National Congress Mr. Alexander B. Cummings says the Liberia Agency for Community Empowerment (LACE) is run by President George Manneh Weah and his crony, and that projects of the institution are also fronts to steal state funds and launder money through numerous no-bid contracts, opaque process and inflated costing.
Speaking in a news conference on Monday, January 31, 2022, at his office in Congo Town, behind Cuttington University graduate school, Mr. Cummings said Liberians would have congratulated President Weah and his government for roads and houses he pointed to in his State of the Nation address.
But “Until it has been realized that some if not all of these projects are also fronts to steal state funds and launder money through numerous no-bid contracts, opaque processes and inflated costing.”
He cites as an example, the Popo Beach Project which was first estimated at US$800,000 to build 50 two-bedroom units, or USD16, 000 per unit. Mr. Cummings notes that now, the government is saying the project will cost US$3 Million to build 89 units or US$33,700 per unit.
According to him, the Liberia Agency for Empowerment (LACE) is run by President Weah’s crony, and its budget has been increased by US$10 Million, adding that this is shameful and the stealing is disgraceful.
Critiquing President Weah’s 5th Annual Message delivered to Legislature recently, the former CPP Chairman disclosed that few months ago, the government spent millions on the Bushrod Island road, using concrete pavement, but notes that to his surprise, another bid has been announced for the same road.
He says as the bid was being announced, the project had already been given to a company owned by a stalwart of the ruling CDC, noting that the real interest is not to develop the infrastructure but to steal from the Liberian people.
Cummings laments that as a result, “we continue to see issues around conflict of interests, poor planning, no value for money, and low-quality engineering associated with infrastructure development under President Weah.”
He explains that the National Road Fund (NRF) is being mismanaged, considering the hardship bad roads continue to pose to the movement of people, goods and services, adding that it is unacceptable that the NRF continues to be abused by the government.
“We call for an immediate audit of the NRF. Audit now, or be audited later. Do the right things now, or answer for the wrongs later. Our cherished democracy is under stress and threats. Over the last four years, President Weah has sought to undermine the rule of law and roll back good governance practices. Political interference and executive overreach in the justice system continued, beginning with the politically-motivated impeachment of Justice Kabineh Ja’neh up to and including the political persecution of formidable opposition leaders on trumped-up and false charges”, he notes.
The opposition leader continues that peaceful protests and assemblies are being teargassed, resulting in violence, arrests and wounding of peaceful citizens.
He says President Weah and his administration are yet to realize that peaceful assemblies are inherent guarantees and ingredients for functional democracies while judicial independence is indispensable to the consolidation of democracy and growth of the economy.
However, Mr. Cummings discloses that despite best efforts by the opposition, it has to be admitted that as currently constituted, the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP) may not make it to 2023. “But you, the Liberian people, collectively will make it to 2023. The CPP may have been your preferred vehicle for change but the need to change ought not to end because the preferred vehicle broke down along the way.”
He says only the failed leadership of President Weah will benefit if Liberians should give up on the need to change the direction of the country, urging, “We must never give up – we must never lose hope!”
Meanwhile, Mr. Cummings says Presidential and General Elections scheduled for October will mean a lot to Liberia’s future and Liberians will have the chance to choose a new direction for their country.
“We must not become complacent nor let ourselves get disengaged or uninvolved. As we continue to see, not only will we continue to live with the consequences of the incompetent and corrupt leadership of our country if we fail to change it, but we can all be assured that things will only get increasingly worse”, Cummings warns.
He reminds that after four years of failures, President Weah is hoping Liberians can all forget how he and his officials prioritized getting themselves rich overnight while they connived and deceived to keep Liberians poorer and divided.
“As with all failed leaderships, they are looking to make more promises, take no responsibility, and siphon public monies in pursuit of their selfish political interests”, he concludes.https://thenewdawnliberia.com/cummings-debunks-weah/ Editing by Jonathan Browne