By Bill W. Cooper
With just two weeks of the Unity Party (UP) administration, there seems to be some internal wrangling involving the Party’s Chairperson, Luther Tarpeh, and President Joseph Boakai.
The fight, according to some inside sources, comes after allegations of misappropriation of funds in the tune of US$365,000, earmarked for the inauguration ceremony across the 73 electoral districts in the country.
President Boakai was elected in a runoff election on November 14, 2023, defeating former President George Weah with a slight margin.
With excitement, enthusiasm, and a way of appreciation, Boakai apportioned US$5,000 for each of the 73 electoral districts to decentralize the inauguration celebration.
But days after the much-publicized inauguration, report had it that the inauguration celebration in all 73 districts across the country could not go on as the President had wished.
Some district coordinators alleged that all of the US$5,000 provided by the President for the districts did not reach them, with some accusing some UP officials, including its Chairperson, Luther Tarpeh, of mismanaging the funds, claiming that they received US$4,000, instead of the US$5,000 intended for them.
Some of the county coordinators also confirmed that the party chairman instructed the deduction of US$1,000 each from the US$5,000 allotted for the inaugural celebration in the districts for the renovation of their district offices and use the balance US$4,000 for the celebration.
But in reaction to the allegations, Chairman Tarpeh has since clarified the allegation, saying, “I did not unilaterally deduct any amount from the money given by the President, as being said.”
“When the money was given by the President, the 15 county heads came and pleaded that we deduct US$1,000 each from the money to be used by the party’s leadership for programs as well.
And seeing it necessary, I consented and ensured that all of them signed for the US$4,000 each. I also cautioned them that every cent will be accounted for and their report is expected soon,” he added.
As a result of the circumstances surrounding the funds, the Internal Audit Agency (IAA) also commissioned an audit to establish circumstances surrounding the funds, as the report is expected soon.
However, coming to the country’s Presidency with a clean public service record void of corruption, the allegation of the fund misapplication has now clouded Boakai’s administration.
Amidst the ongoing quest for transparency, some inside sources told the Inquirer Newspaper that the President has now drawn a line between him and his chairperson over his (Tarpeh) handling of the funds.
One of the sources who spoke to this paper on the basic of anonymity, furthered that the President has also decided to distance himself from Chairman Tarpeh, to maintain his administration’s reputation and credibility.
According to our source, the has also instructed the leadership to launch an investigation into the matter, reiterating his stance on corruption, and will not tolerate any form of financial impropriety.
Our source added, “That is the reason why you don’t normally see Chairman Tarpeh around the President anymore, and it is the main reason that he is yet to be appointed in government.”
“Because the Papay was clear in his instruction that he wants a full report and documentation as to how the money was spent and that whether the people benefited from it,” he added.
Our source further narrated that testament to the ongoing tension between the President and his party’s chairman is the latest protestation from some partisans backed by Tarpeh, at the President’s residence in Rehab.
Meanwhile, all efforts exerted to contact Luther Tarpeh proved futile, as his contact details in our possession were all switched off till press time.
However, this paper is still making frantic efforts to get the side of the UP Chairperson.