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UP government ignores accountability in local governance?

Boakai administration relegates accountability in local governance, as former county superintendents prevented from providing turnover notes to successors.

By Ramsey N. Singbeh, Jr, Margibi County.

Margibi, Liberia, May 10, 2024—The ruling Unity Party government led by President Joseph Nyuma Boakai, which came to power campaigning on the pillars of accountability, transparency, trustworthiness, and lifting Liberians from poverty, appears to be avoiding the issue of accountability in public as county superintendents take office across the country.

The Deputy Minister for Urban Affairs from the Ministry of Internal Affairs, who officiated the induction ceremonies of Margibi and Montserrado counties superintendents, respectively, ensured that ex-superintendents didn’t present turnover notes.

In a turnover note, a person who has served in a leadership position will explain what he or she met on the ground, how it was managed, progress, challenges, and what is on hand.

This is done to ensure that a successor or an incoming official clearly understands where he is taking up from and starting from.

This is also helpful in ensuring that predecessor is audited for accountability.

In spite of all this, former superintendents who ran counties for years under former President Weah are being prevented from giving official turnover notes despite their presence at the induction of newly appointed superintendents.

In Margib, former superintendent Jerry O. Varnie, whose administration was heavily criticized for bad leadership under the previous government, was present at the induction of his successor, Superintendent Victoria Wolorbah Duncan, with his turnover note but was not allowed to present it.

Many people who attended the program started leaving immediately after it was observed that Mr. Varnie was recalled from the podium less than a minute after he was officially announced by Margibi County Information Officer Joe Benson Josiah, who served as Master of Ceremony.

This paper gathered that Deputy Internal Affairs Minister for Urban Affairs had ordered that the former superintendent not be allowed to make his official turnover statement.

This disappointed many people, as some were heard remarking that this government is protecting former superintendents and undermining accountability through the MIA.

Immediately after the program, former superintendent Varnie, speaking to reporters, said he had come prepared to tell the people of Margibi how he handled their affairs but was not allowed to do so.

Our investigation also established that this same deputy minister did a similar thing during the induction of the Montserrado County Superintendent on May 7, 2024, a day before coming to Margibi.

The same precedent is said to have been set in Grand Bassa County recently, and the Ministry of Internal Affairs intends to do the same with all other former superintendents in the country as they leave office.

Liberians have begun to wonder why a government that boasts of auditing the past administration would institute measures to prevent some past officials from coming to heed to accountability.

This precedent of an official turnover note has always been practiced in Liberia, especially when President Boakai served as Vice President for 12 years, but it is being downplayed by some people in his administration. Editing by Jonathan Browne

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