LACE Educates Dillon On Governance Norms
Since his ascendency to the Liberian Senate, Senator Abe Darius Dillon has arguably proved to stand on the side of integrity, and for this he is said to be doing humanly possible not to get messed up into situations that would render him unworthy of the public’s trust in terms of living up to what he stood for before getting elected to the Upper House of the National Legislature.
Trending opinion is that Senator Dillon’s stance is elevating the debate at the Senate—with Senators being a little more careful how they deliberate on critical national issues and the sides they choose in these matters.
Observers are saying that, each time an instance of corruption or integrity issue arises from the Senate, Senator Dillon becomes the point of focus, and this is so because, so far, he is the only senator who has continuously preached and tried standing by “integrity”.
Even though the Senator could be considered among the acclaimed lawmakers of the 54th National Legislature when it comes to distancing oneself from corruption, he has been accused a number of times of being involved with corrupt and immoral activities at the Senate.
Some time ago, Senator Dillon was accused, along with other senators, of receiving US$10,000 as medical benefit. The senator was massively condemned because he told the electorate that he would only take US$5,000 as a take-home salary—no benefit, no brown envelope—nothing. Also, the senator was criticized for supporting the election of Liberty Party’s Chairman, Musa Bility, who has a corruption case against him from FIFA.
Now, the Senator is under spotlight for receiving US$15,000 as legislative project fund. Critics of the Senator are saying that it would have been better to receive his entire take-home salary, which is absolutely legal money, than to cut it down to US$5,000 but at the same time open up to funds he has been condemning others of receiving.
Just a few days ago, the Senator decided to do consultation on his Facebook page as it relates to returning the US$15,000 or not; the popular view was that it was immoral for lawmakers to receive such funds for project fees while vast majority of Liberians go to bed on empty stomach. Others argue that the allocation contravened the Public Financial Management Act, as well as the Budget Law.
Senator Dillon immediately declared that he would revert the funds to the Liberia Agency for Community Development (LACE), in order for the entity to undertake his library project for Montserrado County.
Apparently regretting his action, the Senator wrote on his Facebook page, “The focus being placed on us and the public scrutiny of what we do and how we do it is in place. We indeed welcome and embrace the scrutiny, the criticisms, the rebuke, etc in good strides. We hold no ill-will toward anyone for placing the premium focus on us, whatever the motivations may be. We may not always be right, but we will continue to strive to do our human best to be at our best.
“This should help to keep us on track for our own good and for good of country. And indeed, God is in control!!
“Going forward… with God above, we will be more guided; yes, more guided. We will seek counsel from a team of good, knowledgeable and wise advisors on our actions. We must be the change to effect the change we desire.”
However, LACE, with a slap in the face of the Senator, has informed the Senator that it is unable to take receipt of his US$15,000, because receipt of individual project monies from legislators would be contrary to governance norms to which LACE subscribes and would be a marked departure from LACE’s best practice.
In a public release issued yesterday, LACE noted, “It has come to the attention of the Liberia Agency for Community Empowerment (LACE) that Montserrado County Senator Darius Dillon publicly stated that he would transfer his US$15,000.00 (Fifteen Thousand United States Dollars) check to LACE to undertake his purposed Library projects within Montserrado County. Media outlets are today reporting through headlines and other forms the Senator’s intention to turn the US$15,000 (fifteen thousand United States dollars) check over to LACE.
“LACE, through this public release, wishes to remind the Senator and apprise the public that the regulations governing the operations of LACE and the statute creating the entity do not allow it to carry out individual projects for legislators outside the structures of an MOU sign between LACE and the Legislator and in line with budget appropriations or the budget process.
“LACE would carry out such project as part of the budget law and once such appropriation is made to LACE through the budget process. Receipt of individual project monies from legislators would be contrary to governance norms to which LACE subscribes and would be a marked departure from LACE’s best practice.
“We regret to inform the Senator that LACE is unable to take receipt of his US$15,000 check.”
With this statement coming out of LACE, observers are left to wonder what will be Senator Dillon’s next course of action as it relates to the US$15,000 already in his possession.