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Scholarship Program Under Siege in Bong

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Many citizens of District Number Five in Bong County continue to be very apprehensive about the administration of the Madam Suakoko Land Grant Scholarship program outside of the central administration of the county.

At a one-day interactive forum, organized by the National Youth Movement for Transparent Elections (NAMOTE), to enable citizens and beneficiaries of the suakoko Land Grant Scholarship to interact with lawmakers and local officials which ended last Wednesday at the Central High School in Suakoko, Bong County, the citizens reiterated their disappointment about the scholarship program being single-handed run by the office of Senator Jewel Hoard-Taylor.

They further expressed annoyance at their Representative, Edward Karfiah for doing less to review the program, which they believed, is under siege by Senator Taylor. According to the Focal person of NAYMOTE in Bong County, Mr. Prince Sampson clarified that the NAMOTE project was not to promote politicians, rather to improve their interactions with those they serve.

Speaking to reporters at the conclusion of the one-day meeting, the Representative of Electoral District Number Five, Edward Karfiah promised to continue working to make projects more inclusive and satisfactory to the citizenry.

This is a commitment, according to some citizens of his district, Representative Karfiah has failed to do since his incumbency. Bong County Senator Jewel Howard Taylor, in defense of her political advisor, Marvin Cole for his recent allegation of mismanagement of the district scholarships which were either traded or exchanged for sex, praised him  for ‘doing well’ in running program.

The Madam Suakoko Land Grant, supported from the national budget, is intended only to benefit citizens of Suakoko District for the provision of land for several important private and public institutions, including Cuttington University, Central Agricultural Research Institute (CARI), as well as Phebe Hospital among others.

The land was provided in the early 1900s when Madam Suakoko was Paramount Chief of the district. Liberia’s Ambassador to the U.S, Jeremiah Sulunteh, Senator Jewel Howard and her political advisor, Marvin Cole did the article of incorporation for the scholarship program, but the scholarship is solely being run by the senator’s office.

On several occasions, the lawmaker insisted that she could not remove her political advisor from the scholarship, suggesting that allegations of trading the scholarship and exploiting girls were false. Many concerns continue to be raised as to why some beneficiaries of the scholarship were board students with full credits and benefits at the Cuttington University, while others were commuter students with far less credits and no benefits.

In last budget year, more than seventy thousand United States dollars was allocated by the Liberian Legislature for the scholarship program. During the 2011 electoral campaign, Representative Karfiah assured citizens of the district that upon voting him as their choice, he would ensure a review of scholarship program in the wake of their concern.

The Representative, now campaign manager for Senator Taylor in next year’s mid-term senatorial election continues to remain conspicuously silent on the scholarship issue. Karfiah, prior to his election, served as Special Assistant to Senator Taylor.

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