By Moses Uneh Yahmia
I read the six – page pre-financing road contract agreement between the government of Liberia and Group EBOMAF – a company owned by Mr. Mohamadou Bonkounguo, the Burkinabe businessman who gifted our President a private jet during and after the 2017 Elections in Liberia. It goes to say once you can afford to give our President either a house or latest model of an SUV, or any expensive gift in money or in kind, there is a high likelihood that you will be given a lucrative contract with total disregards for Liberian laws.
However, since Liberians are financially incapacitated to do so, foreign investors like the Mr. Bounkounguo type have understood this new normal so well so they are benefitting from the spoils, to the detriment of the toiling people of Liberia. This is how President Weah has decreased the presidency, much to the chagrin of patriotic compatriots. All standards of governance have been willfully violated. Thanks to President Weah and his band of handlers that consists but not limited to Emmanuel Shaw, Charles Bright, Gbehzongar Milton Findley, Archibald Bernard and Nathaniel Mcgill.
Contrary to the salvo of lies generated by the public relations machinery of the government, in which they stated that the company of Mr. Bounkounguo will be pre financing a US$ 420.8million road contract with
his own money from his business account in a form of loan to the government and that the private jet given to President Weah by him was done void of quid pro quo, the loan agreement says otherwise. My reading of the agreement has informed me that our government is providing to Group EBOMAF a Sovereign Guarantee backed by fixed interest Eurobond with a face value of 420.8million. According to Investopedia, “A Eurobond is a special type of bond issued in a currency which is different from the currency of the country or the market in which the bond is issued. Due to this external currency characteristic, these types of bonds are also known as externalbonds.” The guarantee will be used by EBOMAF to obtain a loan of US$420.8million from either EBID or AFREXIMBANK. In the agreement, the two banks are named as financial partners of Group EBOMAF. According to Atharpedia, an Indian Search Engine, “A sovereign guarantee is a promise by a Government to discharge the liability of a third person in case of his default.” So our government will be responsible to discharge the liability of Group EBOMAF in case the company defaults on the loan that it is expected to get from either EBID or AFREXIMBANK after concluding negotiation of the US$ 420.8million pre-financing road contract.
According to Part V, Sections 46, 47, 48, and 49 of the Liberian Public Procurement and Concession Commission (PPCC) Act of 2005, contracts such as the US$ 420.8million pre-financing road contract must be awarded to a particular company after qualifications in choice of bidding (section 46),
open competitive bidding (section 47) national bidding (section 48) and international bidding (section 49). In flagrant contravention of all these provisions in the PPCC Act of 2005, our government awarded the pre-financing contract to Group EBOMAF. This is the power of providing a private jet to our President, which has charmed him to disregard our laws in order to give economic or any other benefit to the provider. Even if the apologists of the regime, being drowned in their attempt to defend the rots of the government, recourse to the argument that the contract was sole source to Group EBOMAF, they will still shoot themselves in the leg.
So, then we ask, in accordance with the PPCC Act of 2005, what are the qualifications that a company must meet to be awarded a sole source procurement contract from a procuring entity? The qualifications are outlined in Part V, Section 55, paragraphs a, b, c, d and e of sub section 1 of the PPCC Act of 2005. Under the conditions outlined in these provisions of the PPCC Act, the pre-financing road contract does not meet the criteria for sole sourcing. Even if it had met the outlined conditions or qualifications, it is not for the President and his cronies to unilaterally determine. In accordance with Part V, Section 55, subsection 2 of the PPCC Act, “Use of sole-source procurement on the grounds referred to in paragraphs (b), (c), (d), and (e) of Section 1 is subject to prior approval by the Procurement Committee.” These provisions in the PPCC Act of 2005 were grossly violated only to please a foreign friend of Emmanuel Shaw who provided
logistical and financial support to the presidential campaign of the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC).
We also go further and ask: was it not possible for the government to have given the sovereign guarantee, backed by a fixed interest Eurobond with a face value of US$420.8million, to a consortium of Liberian construction companies to go out there and fetch for US$ 420.8million loan to construct a 262kiliometer of roads in Liberia? It was and is more than possible to do so. In fact, this recourse would have been more beneficial to the Liberian economy than the EBOMAF arrangement that was concluded on the altar of bribery.
Had this contract been given to a group of Liberian owned construction companies, the profits from the contract would have been reinvested in the Liberian economy; consequently, this would have bolstered economic activities and increased employment of many Liberians especially young people who flooded the streets in support of the presidential bid of President Weah. The revenue of the government would have registered an increase, and etc. Unfortunately, the government preferred a Burkinabe company only because the company’s owner gave our President a private jet. Is this not a contradiction to the words of a President who, during his first State of the Nation Address to the 54th National Legislature, announced to the republic that the days of Liberians being spectators in their own economy are over?
It is of no surprise that the vast majority of Liberians does not know that that the US$ 536.4 million loan from the bogus struck off Eton Finance Limited and the EBOMAF’s pre-financing deal are characterized by treacheries and the determination of people like Emmanuel Shaw to once again rip off the country as he did with William R. Tolbert, Samuel K. Doe and Charles G. Taylor. In a country with vast infrastructure deficit, an eighty percent illiterate population would fall for any 419 scheme under the guise of constructing roads for the benefit of the people.
So we hear officials and supporters of the Weah government alike reciting the illogical line: “Even if the money is from Lucifer, once it is meant for building roads, we will take more money from Lucifer” A country that prides itself as a de facto Christian state should know that taking gifts from Lucifer or Satan will have a catastrophic repercussions on the nation. But when a gang of economic scavengers is determined to swindle the nation, even long held religious beliefs can pass as heresies. This underscores the extent to which these elements are prepared to sink our nation into the abyss. On the part of the mass of people who are falling prey to this scheme, it tells you just how far the people can go in their ignorance.
That is why the first task on the agenda for social transformation of a conscious revolutionary vanguard is to transform the consciousness of the people through massive education and reeducation. Without the education of the people, no society can attain the height of progress. So a conscious vanguard must do everything in its revolutionary willpower to mobilize
resources and invest heavily in the education of the people. This will arm them with the understanding to decipher complex phenomena and come forward with nationally conscious conclusions that can be used for the advancement of science, technology, arts, culture, literature and etc. Had vast majority of the Liberian people had high level of consciousness, they would not have even allowed a Weah’s Presidency in the first place, least we say support a bogus EBOMAF pre-financing road contract.
Even by historical accident, George Weah is President for a high level of conscious people, they would be asking critical questions about this EBOMAF agreement. Why EBOMAF? Who is the owner of EBOMAF? What relationship does the owner of EBOMF have with the President? Is the contract in compliance with all laws of Liberia? Is it not possible for Liberian companies to be awarded this contract? Conclusively, Mr. President, it is true that we want our roads built. But not under this genre of a bogus and shady arrangement. Please seek for another suitable pro-poor alternative.
Unfortunately, our people’s consciousness is playing to the gallery of the regime’s scheme which presents itself as an agenda for road construction but in reality, it is enveloped in deceit, bribery and disregard for Liberian laws. The people’s reaction is an end product of the greatest hurt ever done to this country: the deliberate denial of our people’s access to quality education for enlightenment, self-reliance and etc.
Mr. Yahmia is a student of the University of Liberia. He studies Political Science and Economics. Yahmia is also a staunch member of the Movement for Social Democratic Alternative (MOSODA). He can be reached via email@example.com.