Montserrado County Senator Abraham Dairus Dillon says strong commitment and love for Country matters most for the people of Liberia than just having ordinary college degree, in apparent reaction to criticisms here that he lacks college education to serve in the senate, though not a criteria for becoming a legislator.
“I was call sorts of names; many people know that I don’t have a college degree which is true, but how many of our colleagues in the legislature that have college degrees have brought changes to this country?” He asks.
Appearing on “Prime Morning Drive’ Wednesday, a live radio talk show hosted by Prime FM in Monrovia, he stresses that to serve in the public sector requires love for country and strong commitment, adding that Liberia needs people of like minds, who will vote in the interest of the state and its people, something, he notes, has been his quest.
“You can’t enact the law, and at the same time break the law; we all aware that the law says prior to entry in to public office one must declare his assets, and that what I did, but if the one who enacted the law becomes lawbreaker than it becomes unfortunate.”Senator Dillon further emphasizes the purpose of the asset declaration policy is to fight corruption and instill integrity, not for someone to see it as an embarrassment.
When quizzed about his officially assigned vehicle purchased by government, he explains that after his induction in office, he requested for transportation and the state provided a car that was bought prior to the death of his predecessor, the late Senator Geraldine Doe Sherif.
According to the opposition senator, his intention was to spend at least $US15, 000 on a used car, but government has a policy against procuring used cars for public officials.
He rides a brand new jeep bought by the state at the cost of US$40,000 to $45,000.“I’m using the car, if anyone feels that I shouldn’t have taken the car, that person must provide me at least a kehkeh (tricycle) to enable me do the people’s work.”
Senator Dillon has fallen in trouble with his colleagues at the senate for being the first legislator to publicly disclose his month salary, allowance and benefits, something that had been kept secret in the first branch of government.
Based on election promises, Dillon revealed last week that a handwritten communication he received from the Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways, Means and Finance, Bomi County Senator Morris Saytumah detailed his (Dillon’s) monthly salary as US$15,000 plus LRD29, 000 besides transportation reimbursement and gasoline cost, among other benefits, but vows to take only US$5,000 for his pay and put the balance in an escrow account for development.
But two of his colleagues, Senators J. Milton Teahjay of Sinoe County and Francis D. Paye of Rivercess County on Monday demanded that he should retract his recent disclosure.
“I’m not responsible for anybody, who is hiding their salary. I am responsible for my people who are my bosses; the same goes to my colleagues – the people are our bosses, we must tell them exactly what we make, if only we want to be transparent”, he insists.
Dillon challenges his colleagues to return US$5,000 each from their salary to government for critical sectors of the economy, saying,“When we do this, you will realize how much the country will generate, this is the action that we all must embark on to bring sanity to our people and the country.”“I dare anybody to say they want to suspend me for telling my employers the truth about how much I make at the senate.”
He adds that public job is for public service, not for individual pocket, and the prime focus should be to add value to public services such as upgrading public schools rather than giving hand-outs to poor and desperate citizens.Meanwhile, members of the Liberian Senate have reportedly consented to reduce their salary by 6 percent due to prevailing economic constraints. By Lewis S. Teh–Editing by Jonathan Browne