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|Brains Without Jobs: What Lies Ahead For ‘Former AG Morlu-Trained Auditors?||| Print ||
|Written by Rodney D. Sieh, firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Sunday, 09 December 2012 21:08|
Nairobi - Lost in the recent furor over the massive layoffs at the General Auditing Commission was the hidden perception that the intent was to rid the auditing bureau of all those young auditors trained by former Auditor General John S. Morlu in hopes of ensuring that Morlu’s audits would be swept under the rug and those trained by the former AG eradicated from the agency.
Last week, some 33 students graduated from the University of Nairobi, the 12th best University in Africa, best University in Kenya and the biggest public University in East Africa and with the highest number of PhDs than University of Cape.
University of Nairobi has a student population of 60 thousand, with an annual budget of Kenyan Shillings 15 billion or USD 178million.
The University of Nairobi produces the CEOs for top companies, factories and other businesses in the East African region. Entry is based on the high scores from secondary school, making students of the University to be the best in Kenya.
Graduating from the University of Nairobi means a graduate is branded one of East African best as the Liberian graduates of the current 48 commencement had the opportunity to graduate with one of Kenya’s emerging politician Peter Kenneth, a contender for the Kenyan Presidency in 2013 who also earned a Master Degree in Law. But the Liberian grdauates future remains in limbo in wake of Morlu’s successor Robert Kilby’s decision to terminate their ties to the GAC.
GAC Model 1977 LIMA Declarations, Best Practice Standards
Auditor General Kilby argued in a press release from GAC, when he indicated he has completed a review of the GAC, that many of those on scholarship were not studying audit related course. The affected GAC staff countered that the new Auditor General did not fully understand the best practice standards of auditing institutions especially supreme audit institutions like the GAC. The Best Practice Standards of Supreme Audit Institutions is the Lima Declarations, which calls for a diverse workforce. Section 4 of the 1977 LIMA Declarations deals with staff capacity. Section 14. Audit staff:
"1. The members and the audit staff of Supreme Audit Institutions shall have the qualifications and moral integrity required to completely carry out their tasks; 2. In recruiting staff for Supreme Audit Institutions, appropriate recognition shall be given to above-average knowledge and skills and adequate professional experience; 3. Special attention shall be given to improving the theoretical and practical professional development of all members and audit staff of SAIs, through internal, university and international programmes. Such development shall be encouraged by all possible financial and organizational means. Professional development shall go beyond the traditional framework of legal, economic and accounting knowledge, and include other business management techniques, such as electronic data processing."
US$1.4 Million spent; 89 Auditors trained
The GAC 5 Year Strategic Plan called for massive investment in higher education and professional credentials. 100 MBA Targeted in 5 Year Strategic Plan. Morlu plan was for GAC to have 100 MBAs in various discipline to create a diversified workforce by 2013. To date, 13 staffers have received MBAs from the U.S. in Finance, Accounting and Project Management. Last week, 33 graduated with MBA in Kenya and 10 others expected to graduate next year from China, bringing the total number to 89, eleven people short as the program seemed to have ended when Morlu left, although his predecessor Acting AG Winsley Nanka completed the negotiations Morlu started with China.
The total amount spent just on MBAs is US$1.4 million by the GAC, with a financial support from the World Bank. EU, CIDA, World Bank Swedish National Audit Office, AFROSAI-E, INTOSAI, India, South Africa, Ghana, and Zambia etc have contributed millions in training and technical support to GAC under Morlu, with EU spending more than US$5 million in training and capacity building for GAC over the four years Morlu served as Auditor General with another 3.5 M negotiated by Morlu for the GAC.
Morlu began negotiation with the McGill University in Canada, Montreal, University of Colorado, Boulder and Makere University, Uganda and Capetown University, South Africa for support to GAC staff but it all stopped when he left office.
Graduates fate in limbo
For many of the 33 students who graduated last week, the future remains uncertain in the wake of a recent decision by Morlu’s successor Robert Kilby to rid the agency of some 46 employees including those recent graduates from the University of Nairobi and scores of others in other parts of the world.
The dismissal recently sparked an outcry in Monrovia leading to days of protests at the GAC’s office on Ashmun Street in Monrovia. Kilby appeared before the Senate committee on Public Accounts and Audits but failed to provide answers to a questionnaire given him by the committee.
In a letter to the Committee, AG Kilby requested for an extension to the time given him to present to them the 1972 act establishing the General Audit Commission, a listing of employees appointed by him since he took office and their qualifications, the institutions hand book and policies General auditing commission salary scale for fiscal year 2012/2013, Annual budget of the General Auditing Commission and two report from the European Union and the AFRO SAI-E. Kilby wrote: “I am respectfully asking for your permission for the extension to Tuesday November 20, 2012 to allow my team ample time to complete the budget and payroll analysis and compile the document that you have requested.”
There were even suggestions that the executive branch had influenced the Senate committee when the president visited the senate during the heat of the protest against Kilby, a point hit home by Sylvester Pewee, head of the aggrieved GAC staffers. “This is about the young people of this country. President Sirleaf is on record as saying she will not dismiss her three sons. We don’t have problem with that but she must not instruct the auditor general to dismiss the sons of marketers and farmers,” Pewee averred.
Pewee explained that the group is very disappointed that the Auditor General did not appear before the committee. He however calls on the president to clear he name of the allegation as this is not healthy for Liberia’s growing democracy. “We don’t think this is the kind of democracy that we envisage in this country. With her coming here and the situation is changing. We are getting afraid.”
During a recent visit to Kenya days to the graduation of 33 GAC-sponsored students, Kilby said he had not dismissed any of the staff on scholarship but said he cannot assure any of the 33 staff members on scholarships that they will keep their jobs upon their return. Rather, the AG noted the staff should reapply aligning themselves to some of the new positions in his new organizational chart. Immeditaely upon taking office replaced the GAC organization, ignoring the fact that th existing organization chart joinly developed by the GAC, EU and the Swedish National Audit Office with extensive input from the US GAO, Ghana, Zambia and South Africa.
Kilby recently learned also the existing the organization chart was based on the 5 year GAC Strategic Plan, ending in 2013 and the Level 3 Standard for Supreme Auditi Institutions which called for a diverse workforce and specialized departments such as IT Audit and Performance Audit Departments. For instance, Mr. Kilby also dissolved the the Performance Audit Department but two weeks ago indicated that he is now putting it back on his organization chart because it is "required by AFROSAI-E," suggesting that he introduced his own organization chart without first reviewing the 5 year strategic plan and the level 3 standard of AFROSAI-E.
The assertions by Kilby that these gradutes might have a job when they returned has created more suspicions that he intends to dismiss some or all of the recent graduates based on the fact that all the graduates were already occupying positions before leaving for studies and reapplying puts them in the position as new employees. This has also created fear in the minds of the staff that their contract with the GAC which calls for them to maintain their same position or be promoted has been practically violated. Nearly all the departments in which the staff work and headed has been dissolved by the AG and the remaining have now been occupied by Kilby new appointed directors, who he has admitted were brought in from America.
Challenges in the way
Reports from Nairobi say majority of the staff on scholarship are returning to their homeland with a high level of uncertainty with no surety that they will maintain their jobs and whether they will fit in Kilby’s new organizational chart and whether selections by the new AG will not be selective or characterized by witch-hunting judging from the mass dismissal at the GAC including even those who reapplied under Kilby’s instructions despite assurances from him Kilby that the realignment was not intended to redundant staff of the commission.
All the staff will return to the country on or before 29th December 2012 to contribute to the growth of the country despite visible challenges that stand in their way. Inside GAC sources have hinted that AG Kilby has outlined some of the 33 said to be closely connected to former AG John S. Morlu, II as not been part of his plan for the GAC.
In a post-war nation short on brains, graduates like Kollie A. Dorko who achieved an MBA in finance say the Government of Liberia should put immense emphasis on the expansion of the post-war nation’s financial sector by establishing a well-developed capital market that will take into account Financial Liberalization, Financial Innovation, and Financial Deepening while putting in place regulations that will protect all players in the sector and also allowing the sector to operate at its full potential (economy of scale and economy of scope). “This is an “Option” when exercised by the Government of Liberia will lead to an outcome that will definitely be “In the Money”.
Niasehkar Gluaseay Jr., an MBA graduate in Strategic Management says he is optimistic that a Master in Strategic Management will help Liberia in exploring innovation, determining our competitive advantage and identifying new ways of doing business, considering where we were before, where we are now and where we wish to in the next two decades. “I am glad that this degree comes at a time when Liberia is embarking on the formulation of its Vision 2030. I am hopeful that the knowledge we have acquired will be vital in this area.”
But without jobs many of these graduates could themselves unlikely to find a job in a post-war nation sort on brains, thanks to more than a decade of civil war which sent many into exile and killed scores of others
Paylay M. Halay, who obtained an MBA in Finance and who also boasts a solid grounding in Banking and Finance from the University of Ghana (School of Business), says as Liberia emerges from civil war, and concentrating all of its focus toward nation building, he has a lot to offer his country.
“Government and business leaders working towards the transformation of the economy must have a solid grounding in the fundamentals of finance to ensure prudent financial decision making leading to high level productivity and profitability which translates into gross national happiness. For example, the world toughest economies are experiencing financial crisis which requires a solution from financiers. Therefore, an appreciation of the fundamentals of finance is an important tool for nation building.”
Andrew Jemahwuo Johnson, an MBA in Finance who has also been certified by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) international, says he is of the strongest conviction that with the knowledge acquired and the practical experience he acquired in Kenya, he and other graduates can help in building the financial sector of Liberia. “I strongly believe that with my contribution and the contributions of other well meaning Liberians who are also schooled in the field of finance, we can together help in the establishment of a capital market authority (CMA), stock exchange market, Sacco and other financial sectors in Liberia.”
Jeremiah Bomo Whiegar, MBA in Procurement And Supply Chain says the GAC and the GOL will benefit from the knowledge gained by the new Procurement & Supply Chain professionals in the area of producing effective, efficient and quality procurement related audit reports since the professionals have gained through understanding of the public procurement governance processes. “They will also be of benefit in providing guidance to public sector officials charged with the responsibilities of evaluating, approving and awarding government contracts.”
Buster D. Bryant SR. who obtained an MBA in Finance says he enrolled in the program in order to enhance his capacity and knowledge in the field of Finance. “During the course of my two years study I was clearly able to articulate well in the field of Finance under the guidance of well qualified instructors and professors.”
Bryant asserts that with the vast knowledge he has achieved his contribution to the people of Liberia will help boost the financial sector in Liberia. “I will help to ensure that Capital Market is established and regulations and other laws are well in place to make the financial sector in Liberia vibrant. Finally, I can assure the Liberian people that with this knowledge and the opportunity given me we can together make Liberia a better nation.”
Andrew Kemokai, Sr. MBA in Procurement And Supply Chain, says government service delivery lies in supply chain management, not centralized procurement. “Procurement and Supply Chain Management (PSCM) service is central to Liberia, in all sectors of the country. They should provide specialist services to ensure that Liberia goes GREEN. A lack of understanding regarding the concept of supply chain management (SCM) and its inextricable link to long term quality service delivery, human capital development and associated socio economic growth, may be the root cause of problems beleaguering government of Liberia and its people.”
Isaac Chea Davies, MBA in Finance, CFE says with a commitment to strong financial management, accountability and continual improvement in governance of public sector agencies and government owned Corporations, he chose to specialize in finance because finance plays a very important role in our day-to-day lives as an individual, government and corporation. “It is a very wide term and it can be referred to as the science of managing funds. Usually finance includes the areas of public, personal and business finance. It includes things related to lending, spending and saving money. With the government of Liberia striving to offer better, more efficient services to its People. In today's economic climate, especially with revenues dropping, budgets shrinking both in the private and public sectors and the increasing public needs, the role of the Finance Manager cannot be overlooked in the management and rebuilding of our nation.”
Graduates cut across politics and ethnicity
Moses Varfee Kowo, MBA-Strategic Management says his graduation from this prestigious University actualizes the dream of former Auditor General John Morlu for the building of strong competitive General Auditing Commission of academics with the potential to compete with other auditing bodies around Africa and also ensure that the commission is able to audit all areas in government, adding that professionals from the commission will be diverse to deal with emerging problems in Liberia and play a major role at the African organization of supreme audit institutions(AFROSAI).
“The former Auditor General decision was intended to build professionals not loyalists; this is why the representation of staff here cut across the political sub-division of the country and not particular group and it also represents all departments in the GAC. Nearly all 15 counties are represented as part of the more than 46 people sent abroad in America, China and Kenya to study from the GAC. This is why we are prepared to work for development of the GAC and Liberia as a whole.”
If current international economic indicators are something to follow, Kowo says, then Liberia is not competitive because our neighbors Sierra Leone and Ivory Coast are leading us at least in every economic indicator. “This means Liberia has a deficit in the number of trained strategists or those who should think strategically to give the country a direction on how to move forward and identify those areas that can bring rapid economic growth to the country. It is against this backdrop I decided to study Strategy to help Liberia identify its strength or what we call Strategic Competitive Advantage and so how we remain on the top and on edge with other countries in the region. Strategy is basically about winning and in a new world of competition where governments, multinational corporations and institutions faced new challenges, the study of strategy tend to be imperative." He added"I hope to become the Michael Porter of Liberia," a briliant strategic thinker who helped countries and states create a competive edge using his five foces model.
Throwing Caution to the wind
Samwar S. Fallah, MBA-Finance, CFE cautions that Liberians must learn to live above the perverted belief that its institutions are built around individuals. “So that when John Morlu, II served as Auditor General for four years it means all Liberians that worked with the GAC under Morlu are perceived to be Morlu’s people and must be dismissed by incoming Auditor General.”
Continued Fallah: “Young Liberians must be given the opportunity to advance their professional career, let’s allow young Liberians to work in institutions for eight to 12 years and become professionals in that area. If actions at the GAC now are based on the belief that many people are “Morlu people” it means when another AG comes tomorrow he will perceive all current employees as “Robert Kilby people” and will therefore dismiss all of them. Same when another person becomes Auditor General in four to eight years, he too will dismiss all the employees because they are also Kilby people and the awkward circle goes on and on making our country without professionals. For us, we have been blessed to receive MBAs and professional certification, so we will be marketable in this dynamic global environment. But instead of us going to other countries to seek job, we should be allowed to give back to Liberia, especially as the education we have received came from Liberian taxpayers."
Continued Fallah: “For me, job is not a worry, with over six years progressive experience as a journalist with good writing and communication skills and additional four years experience in financial issues coupled with an MBA in Finance, if I am dismissed because I worked with GAC under John Morlu, that does not take away by solid East African education and years of vast experience. The MBA in Finance credential is a brand that fits in all sector of Liberia, so when needed we will contribute to the growth of our country. The GAC will always be there and I will be needed in four years or even eight years or needed at other agencies of Government or even the private sector, best still the international circle.”
Fallah says governments around the world spend millions trying to build the capacity of their citizenry because expatiates coming into countries cost a lot of money but for Liberia, Government sends people to school, they get professional certifications and are not needed, very interesting. “If the path continues our Government will continue to use tax payers’ money to build capacity of people who will move away.”