By Agnes M. Tarr
Exactly one year after his somehow embarrassing dismissal from the National Elections Commission (NEC) as Director of Public Information and Outreach, Mr. Bobby Livingstone, has reignited and once again recharged the air of debate, renewing bad memories of some of the horrifying moments that marred the 2011 general and presidential elections, implicating the Commission in the practice of semblance of sins.
Livingstone, now an attorney- at- law, dwelled much of his last Friday’s press conference on some of the malfeasance occurring at the NEC beginning with the ploy that led to his removal as well as preferential treatment being accorded the former NEC Chairman, Mr. James Fromayan months after his resignation from the post and the failure to give him (Livingstone) what suppose to be his legitimate arrears.
He brought the commission to the limelight of public x-ray once again, citing how he was being discriminated against by the Commission while it is at the same time treating former chairman Fromayan with extreme courtesy in that he is still receiving his salary and benefits many months after his resignation as chairman of NEC.
Justifying the apparent preponderance of sins the commission is indulged in which also amounts to preferential treatment he claimed Mr. Fromayan was being accorded, he alleged he was comfortably riding around in a US US$62,000.00 TOYOTA Land Cruiser Prado purchased by tax payers’ money seconded to the commission for use by the Chairman.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, let me state that when I was unjustly dismissed, I turned over the NEC Dahaitsu Terios Vehicle that was assigned to me as Director of Public Information and all properties of the commission that were in my possession. It is sad that a true test of a man is when he has power, “he said.
“He was also paid a mouthwatering amount of US 56,000.00 as retirement benefits under the watchful eyes of the Civil Service Agency, as he claimed in the October 10, 2012 edition of the Inquirer Newspaper.”
Moreover, the apparent sins in the form of shady deals that are still pressing down the commission is Livingstone’s revelation that ills of the past that were spoken against and fiercely detested by Mr. Fromayan and his likes continue to reign in all shapes and forms.
“Today, we do not see any significant departure from the past. The same ills he and others foamed about during the reigns of previous regimes are evidently present,” Livingstone said.
On claims that the former NEC Chairman who resigned the post due to public pressure emanating from his signing of a letter that contradicted results released at the time, that he had changed the license plate of the vehicle in question, he said he has written officially the General Service Agency (GSA) “to get the facts on the matter,” pledging to follow the matter as part of the fight against theft.
Since his dismissal from the commission, he said has only received salary for the month of October 2011, and is yet to be considered in terms of getting his severance pay, for which he has written Cllr. Nelson who is the Acting Chairman but to no avail.
Livingstone sees the Commission’s treatment against him as not in line with what President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf stands for as evident by her reason statement that “no Liberian is more than the other.”
As apparent appeal for the intervention of President Sirleaf whom he said he has written since March of this year, he says “I agree with madam President. My case is a litmus test to the president’s recent declaration. The President must take the giant step of courage to be a twin mother in this matter.”
As Attorney-at-law, the former NEC spokesman categorized the treatment against as clear violation of the constitution which allows all persons to be heard before being declared guilty, noting “in the absence of her response to my inquiry, Mr. Fromayan continues to receive preferential treatment which has left him with the false impression that being a friend or close associate of the president is a tramp card to indulge in arbitrariness or the constitutionally guaranteed right of another Liberian to life, or liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
What is obtaining against him in his words is an endorsement of what he endured in the hands of the commissioners in the past.
“Ladies and gentlemen, the inequities and unfairness which Mr. Fromayan, Cllr. Nelson and Jonathan Weedor and the likes held placards against in past years, are lying bare at their door steps. My case is a symbolic expression of what the ordinary man face in the daily struggle for survival in Liberia.”
Livingstone also deemed the action against him as a clear evidence of the injustices often meted at those who lack the means by those who have political affluence.
“Too often the affluent and the politically connected unjustly trample upon the rights of ordinary citizens and go with impunity. We cannot be selective in the application of the law and be made to believe that all is well and that we are a progressive nation,” the angry Livingstone reminded Liberians.
Addressing himself to the issue that cost him his job, he denied ever interacting with his former boss at the time the controversial letter was written, dismissing claims of conspiracy.
“The clear and stubborn truth is that there was no conspiracy. He only tried to joggle with the false impression to his friends within the political establishment, that there was an anti-regime syndicate at the NEC to apparently win their sympathy for administrative malfeasance,” Livingstone clarified.
He denied his innocence once again and said “Mr. Fromayan will remain a prisoner of his conscience until he makes the difficult but redeeming decision to say the truth.”
However, the NEC has responded to Livingstone’s claims, urging him to take advantage of the law.
Mr. Joel Kennedy, NEC spokesman was quoted by a local radio that the commission was not aware of Livingstone’s claims and could not comment on those.