GANTA, Nimba – Senator Prince Yormie Johnson, chairman of the Nimba Legislative Caucus, is calling on the county’s administration to account for the US$1.9 million apportioned in the county’s 2015/2016 budget.
That amount was decided at the County Council Sitting Meeting in Sanniquellie on January 29, 2016. The allocation of the budget had been dragged to January 2016 due to several postponements resulting from a range of issues, including a lack of funds and key officials being out of the country.
During the three days of deliberation in Sanniquellie, US$1.9 million was allocated towards road maintenance, administrative expenses, and scholarships for Nimba students at various, among other items.
Johnson, during a call early Monday to the Radio Kergheamahn Breakfast Show, said the Caucus had asked Zuagele since November 23 to make a comprehensive expenditure report on the budget, but it had yet to see the fulfillment of the request.
In past interviews with reporters, Nimba’s Superintendent Fong Zuagele has denied refusing to report to the Caucus, claiming to have already submitted the report not only to lawmakers but also to the Public Procurement and Concession Commission and the Ministry of Finance.
“Check the record, Nimba County is the most accurate reporting county,” he had said. “I made my report long ago at the time it supposed to have been submitted.”
Zuagele suggested that Johnson’s statements are due to the fact that they are in political disagreement.
But Johnson disagreed that his call for the report has anything to do with politics. “We are calling on him to give us the expenditure report from the 2015/2016 budget,” the senator said. “So that has nothing to do with the party he belong to and what party I belong to. What he is saying is completely in error.”
Zuagele is a vocal member of the ruling Unity Party, whereas Johnson is the presumed standard bearer of the newly formed Movement for Democracy and Reconstruction.
By law, all funds withdrawn from the county’s accounts must be signed by Caucus members, but Johnson said he was mainly concerned about how the funds would then be expended by the county through the Project Management Committee.
“When we go to Council Sitting, we have to report to our people on how the money has been used,” Johnson said. “We cannot do that if the superintendent refused to report to us.”
According to the senator, the Caucus would now be informing the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the president of Liberia to set up an audit team to examine the matter.