Saturday, December 01, 2012
Singing his own praises, a direct respond to Joe Lacky Freeman, a.k.a Kofi Woods, II
Barely five days after the publication of my opinion piece about Liberia’s former human rights activist turned politician and public works minister Samuel Kofi Woods, you “Joe Lacky Freeman”, a man believe to be operating under a pen name swung out in defense of the minister. What you failed to clearly address in your Russian-style covert propaganda are the issues raised in my opinion piece. Instead, you overtly opened and raised your ‘political vuvuzela’ and began signing your own praises under a newly combined western and traditional style name (Joe Lacky Freeman). Unfortunately, the praise singing ‘vuvuzela’ failed to realize that my opinion piece is solely based on documentarily facts and not fallacies. In your rejoinder entitled “the benefit of a human rights activist becoming a politician, the case of Liberia’s public works minister Kofi Woods” you outlined bunch of praises and left out the issue of the abandoned Belle Yalla road project with the intent to put your audience under the impression that my opinion piece was just another noise from a minority corner. As I mentioned in my article, it is easy to condemn, criticize and challenge a relatively inconsequential regime that you are not a part of and refer to others in such regime as “humiliating leaders”.
I am not usually carried away by shower of empty praises especially coming from pen names. How can you “Joe Lacky Freeman” not read my point that minister Woods is known to carry from one ministry to another his Comptroller and Procurement Director, thus undermining continuity principle of government and the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) of the civil service Agency?”. During my investigation while in Monrovia, I visited the Labor and public works ministries, the Monrovia YMCA and was able to confirm that the current Financial Comptroller at Public Works was the Finance Officer at YMCA when Kofi Woods was Executive. When he took over Ministry of Labor, he sent for the same man, Abraham Samukai (Defense Minister brother), to return and work with him at Labor. As expected, he took him again to Ministry of Public Works when he became Minister in 2009. This time, he took six employees from Labor with him to Public Works. Interestingly, all of them from the Finance Department and Procurement Department and appointed them to the same positions at Public Works. The fundamental question is, why the Former human rights man carries with him from one public office to another the same people in finance and procurement? What is he hiding that he cannot work with other Liberian financial experts? Is the Minister not aware of the rights of Liberians he has removed and replaced them with his handbag comptroller and Director of Procurement? Is he not aware of the Civil Service Standing Orders? These are some of the questions raised in my article which the praise singer Joe Lacky Freeman (aka Kofi Woods) failed to address. In my judgment, the evidence I have gathered about Belle-Yella Road project are so overwhelming that the Minister can only resort to singing praises of what he has done at MOL and MPW. But that is not the issue! The issue is, the Government of Liberia has spent over $7million United States dollars on a farm-to-market road which is just 40 minutes driving distance and the project has been abandoned. There is clearly an appearance of collusion and corruption under the Minister’s watch. This is the Minister who recently blasted his Cabinet Colleagues for not doing much to stamp out corruption in government. The reality is Public works ministry under minister Woods is no different from previous failed and disappointing administrations. It is business as usual!
According to Joe Lacky Freeman rejoinder in defense of Minister Woods, Ministry of Public Works contracted out the Belle Yalla road but the ministry is not responsible for damaged materials. What you again failed to tell the public is “who is the contractor in charge of the Belle Yalla road project”. Information gathered from credible sources revealed that a Nigerian contractor was awarded the Belle Yalla road project. According to information gathered during my investigation, the Nigerian business man allegedly paid back 30% of the US$7million Belle Yalla Road contract money as a kick back for awarding him (the Nigerian Business man) the contract. My source informed me that the Minister who is known for talking tough against contractors for poor performance has until now remained silent. It is difficult to imagine that the project which started in 2009 is still not completed and Minister Woods has again requested Government to put in additional money for the 2012/2013 National Budget.
My investigation shows that some of the contractors who have been awarded contracts based on Fiscal Budgetary Allocation for 2012/2013 include Lebanese businessman Farwaz ($7.9 million) and $3 million dollars to the Nigerian Business man who have abandoned the Belle Yalla road project while other Liberian owned construction firms roam around the public works ministry without receiving a penny from their own Government. The current state of affairs at MPW is disappointing and a disservice to the taxpayers. Anyone who doubt my information would do well to contact Liberian Engineering Firms who are seeking contracts with Public Works under Minister Woods, do not take my word for it. I have credible information which I cannot release now until I return to Liberia in two weeks to take another group of Journalists to inspect the Belle-Yalla Road project.
Mr. Freeman gave some specific technical information in his rejoinder which I strongly believe came directly from Minister Woods’s desk. His three pages long rejoinder exhaustively contains disinformation which have been discredited by many and will soon further expose his Minister. In your rejoinder, you asserted that “there have been sustained media reports about the failure and slow pace of the Belle-Yella road project. Contrary to those claims, the Belle-Yella Project is ongoing, but experiencing some delays in term of implementation.
When I recently asked Deputy Public Works Minister for Technical Services, Victor B. Smith about the status of the project, he acknowledged that there were delays, but quickly attributed these delays to several reasons including financial difficulties”. Perhaps your biggest disinformation which flew in the faces of all the journalists that went with me on the Belle Yalla road assessment have further exposed your poor media propaganda intended to mislead the public. I challenge your false rosy hymnal praises. I will be in Monrovia in few weeks. If in fact a Joe Lacky Freeman actually exists, I will invite you along with several journalist of your choice to go with me to verify your claim that the Belle Yalla road project is ongoing. Please make sure to come with proper academic and national identity to ensure that there is a real Joe Lack Freeman.
I cannot end this piece without a pledge to the people of Gbarpolu county and to officials of the Ministry of Public Works. To my people of Belle Yalla, I have your backs and I heard your cry loud and for long. I say the night has been long and your day is coming soon. For the Ministry of Public Works officials, you have me to content with for the rest of 2013. I will follow every single thing which the Ministry of Finance has put in the budget for road construction in Gbarpolu, particularly, starting with the Belle-Yalla Road. If it takes me to organize street protest before your offices to draw public attention to the full completion of the road, it will happen. To achieve this, I am returning to Liberia in December 2012 to prepare for the cause. We will help President Sirleaf to stamp out corruption in Government by playing our civic role as good citizens.
To ensure a system of transformation with the intent to touched various aspects of the Liberian society, from consciousness to culture, values and community with the goal to rebuild our nation’s image so as to stimulate growth, and to provide opportunities for local and national involvement in productive activities in not only Monrovia but rural Liberia as well. I firmly believe these things can be done by providing farm to market roads and secure environment. In this respect, road, one of which matters most to the people of Belle Yalla and its environs should not be taken for granted especially by the man who condemned and criticized others so loud when he was not in Government.