Liberia: Activist Martin Kollie Criticizes Boakai Government, Requests Full Disclosure of Senate Retreat Financial Documents

Liberia: Activist Martin Kollie Criticizes Boakai Government, Requests Full Disclosure of Senate Retreat Financial Documents

MONROVIA – If bookmakers had predicted in early 2023 that activist Martin K.N Kollie, nicknamed ‘Rescue Rambo,’ would become disillusioned and criticize the very government he championed to attain state power, nobody, not even Kollie himself, would have taken it seriously. 

By Selma Lomax, Selma.lomax@frontpageafricaonline.com

However, this is now the reality. Kollie, who is one of the fiercest supporters of Boakai’s Rescue Mission, has grown increasingly frustrated with the Unity Party-led government. He is not shying away from criticizing it and holding key officials accountable.

Speaking of his endorsement of Boakai, Kollie had in 2023 said that Boakai, who was vice president under ex-Liberian president Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf for 12 years, was aware of the country’s challenges and had the requisite skills to tackle them.

“The circumstances he (Boakai) would be working under if he wins the election is different from the ones he worked under before under Ellen. He knows that. He’s experienced enough. Why shouldn’t I support him?” Kollie had asked.

However, less than a year after supporting Boakai, Kollie early this month dropped a hint on social media that he wasn’t impressed by Boakai’s performance in office, especially the government’s announcement of the procurement of 285 earth-moving equipment.

Kollie claimed the main dealer behind the 285 yellow machines announced by the Minister of State without Portfolio, Mamaka Bility, is a South African businessman, Robert Gumede, who has been at the center of corruption allegations and mass scandals. “He’s widely described as an “ally” and a “chief funder” of Zimbabwean President, Emmerson Mnangagwa, who was recently hit by U.S. sanctions over corruption on March 4, 2024. Doing business with Gumede has economic and political implications for Liberia,” Kollie said.

“Did the Government of Liberia do any due diligence to know who Robert Gumede is and what his business dealings have been? Through an AI-generated video of the yellow machines, Gumede of Guma Group is fronting for the Liberian government to “procure” 285 yellow machines from the SANY Group in China for an estimated unconfirmed cost of between “US$30  and US$52 million,” he asked.

Kollie has also continued reiterating his views about Boakai’s “missteps” particularly in delaying to publish his assets as he promised during the 2023 presidential elections.

In a video with Boakai and the VOA’s Peter Clottey posted to his Facebook page, Kollie reminded Boakai about his pledge to hire an international audit firm to hold former President George Weah and his government accountable.

“We do this to remind President Boakai that our country was looted, and those who did what they did must be fully accounted for. This is mainly why we were elected (accountability). Some of his (Boakai) advisors are convincing him to turn his back on audit and accountability because they also want to steal. After 143 days, no one has been held accountable. The President has a legacy to protect. The people are watching,” he said.

Kollie’s latest attention has been drawn to the recently held retreat of the Liberian Senate in Buchanan, Grand Bassa County.  In communication to Senate pro Tempore Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence, Kollie, invoking the Freedom of Information Act Law, Kollie wrote: “Pursuant to Chapter 3 Section 1 of The 2010 Freedom of Information Law of Liberia, we would like to request full disclosure of ALL financial documents and transactions relating to public funds received from the Ministry of Finance for Development Planning (MFDP) before, during, and after your recent retreat in Buchanan, Grand Bassa County.”

The specific documents or information that Kollie is requesting under this FOI Law include all checks disbursed to the Senate before, during, and after the retreat, the budget of your retreat covering income, expenditure, balance, a comprehensive financial report inclusive of verifiable invoices and receipts of payment, the minutes of four-day retreat including list of all 108 attendees/participants along with contact details (phone numbers).

Kollie’s request followed allegations that each Senator received US$15,000 prior to the retreat.

Mixed reactions greet Kollie’s criticisms

Meanwhile, mixed reactions continue to trail Kollie’s criticisms of the UP government, with many in the ruling party claiming that Kollie’s egos have gotten the best of him, while those in the opposition are branding him as a hero.

Jerry Scott, a member of Unity Party, took to his Facebook to bash at Kollie, saying that Kollie shouldn’t think he has become the ‘power and principality’ that will always determine the political direction of Liberia. 

“Liberians should always know when they are tired of any government and should determine the fate of their leaders, including President Boakai. When they so decide, it would not be because Kollie instructed them to do so, but because they are tired of the ‘change’,” he said.

A member of the Congress of Democratic Change in Bong County and the chief of staff to Bong County representative Marvin Cole, Eldorado Kermue, said Kollie was right in his observations on President Boakai’s administration and that he has the right to comment on the administration, just like every other Liberian.

His words: “Kollie has every right to say whatever he wants concerning the administration of Boakai. He was celebrated by members of the Unity Party as being one of Liberia’s brightest minds because of his critical stance against the George Weah-led government. Some of the things he said about President Weah were true and some were false. I didn’t have a problem with him. But I’m disappointed in how he continues to be trolled by members of the ruling Unity Party because of his honest opinion on issues that are unfolding in our country today.”

C. Tarwoe Walonfah, a resident of Gbarnga and political commentator, has commended Kollie for his early criticisms of the Boakai-led government, saying it is a true reflection of the state of the nation.  Walonfah added: “In our analysis of the political space, it became obvious at a point in time that if things continued the way they are, the country would be in dire straits. That is the rationale for the emergence of me. So, Kollie is saying the obvious: President Boakai doesn’t seem to be in control of the presidency.”

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