Questions are being asked about the slow pace of the renovation of the Executive Mansion, despite the allotment of over US$14 Million since 2008. The Mansion was gutted by fire in 2006, just six months after the inauguration of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
The Executive Mansion was constructed in 1964 during the administration of President William V.S Tubman.
Investigation discovered that under the Public Sector Investment Plan and Technical Services budget of the Ministry of State for President Affairs, the total of US$14,933,334 has been allocated for the renovation of the Executive Mansion, as stated below: 2010/2011 – US$973,496; 2011/2012 US$1,230,078; 2012/2013 – US$2,000,000; 2013/2014 – US$6,466,667 and 2014/2015 – US$6,466,667.
This has prompted Grand Bassa County Representatives Byron Brown to raise alarm at the National Legislature. The Grand Bassa Lawmaker had written the House Plenary to probe the delay in the renovation of the Executive Mansion despite availability of funds.
Representative Browne of Liberty Party said it is unfair to the Liberian people for the prolonged delay in the rehabilitation of the Executive Mansion.
He told local media at the time that the Executive Mansion renovation contracts were allegedly given to the Chinese Company CNQC QINGJIAN International, Liberia Group Development Incorporated and others. But wondered why it was taking so long to have the building completed.
Rep. Brown stated that the Mansion is not only the official home of the Liberian President, but it also hosts reception and accommodates foreign guests and dignitaries.
Other Liberians have raised their voices on the prolong delay in renovating the home of the president of Liberia. Others reasoned that the prolong delay to renovate the building is deliberate because President Sirleaf does not want to use the building as her office.
But student Activate and writer, Martin Kollie say the renovation of the building the retrun of the offices of the President would contribute to restoring democratic sanctity to the Presidency.
Martin Kollie stated that “We cannot live in a country with a homeless President. The recurrent denial of our President to occupy her real domicile is alarming and this issue must provoke public interest.”
We will not accept any further dislodgment of President Sirleaf, he said, while threatening an unspecified legal action to compel her return to the Executive Mansion.
He wrote that the Foreign Ministry is not meant to discharge Presidential duties, pointing out that Barrack Obama cannot perform his statutory mandate as President of America out of the White House for more than 9 years.
Kollie: “Even though, we claim to model our system of governance after America, but most often we exhibit undemocratic actions that do not even conform to existing realities.”
Interestingly, he noted that “our President feels very complacent about administering State functions at an unofficial location.”
The Executive Mansion was constructed by 2,000 workers and 150 foreign technicians. The eight-storey Executive Mansion building, costs US$20 million, and has an atomic-bomb shelter, an underground swimming pool, a private chapel, a trophy room, a cinema, an emergency power plant, water supply and sewage system, among others.
The big question now, is who accounts for missing funds allowed for the renovation? Few weeks ago, during a local radio called in program, Liberians demanded that President Sirleaf account for every amount allotted for the renovation of the building.
When Presidential Press Secretary Jerelinmik Peah was contacted on his mobile phone to speak on the concerns of people, he did not respond.