Governor calls for audit of Nukuoro government

April 28, 2005

By Masaleen Sehpin
The Kaselehlie Press

KOLONIA, Pohnpei - Pohnpei State Governor Johnny P. David issued an executive order on April 6, 2005 requiring and directing an audit of all transactions and of all books and accounts kept by or for the Chartered Municipal Government of Nukuoro, including all projects, programs, and activities administered or operated by Nukuoro Municipal Government with public funds and for other purposes.

The executive order states that on March 9, 2005 the Nukuoro Municipal Council enacted an ordinance that "effected certain changes in the administration of Nukuoro government for a reason that it delays the time for the election of the chief magistrate and municipal councilmen from April to September, resulting in the extend of terms of offices of the incumbent chief magistrate and the councilmen.

The executive order shows that in conformance with the charter provision, the governor gave the gubernatorial approval to NMO 4-05 on April 6, 2005, providing the election of chief magistrate and councilmen to be held during the month of September 2005.

The executive order went down and states "commencing about the summer of 2004, allegations were made charging the Nukuoro Chief Magistrate of certain act of misconduct, mismanagement and abuse of authority in his administration of Nukuoro Municipal affairs." Following the allegations was a petition that was subsequently signed by a substantial number of Nukuoro people calling for the removal of the Nukuoro Chief Magistrate, George Stevens, from office and for an audit to be conducted on the finances of Nukuoro Municipal Government and the Black Pearl Project that was being administered by Stevens.

In a letter dated January 23, 2005 a leading citizen of Nukuoro wrote a letter to the governor re-alleging the allegations of abuse, mismanagement and misconduct in office being continued by the Chief Magistrate. The citizen concluded the letter with a plea saying, "As stated in the last paragraph of our petition, we humbly ask that you assist us in our effort to halt the long history of abuse and mismanagement in our government."

Another letter dated February 14, 2005 addressed to the Governor with copies to Speaker Nelson Pelep and Heinrich Stevenson, the Nukuoro representative to the sixth Pohnpei legislature urged the Governor to undertake certain acts to forthwith resolve the problem being faced by the Nukuoro people. The letter urges the governor to appoint an interim leader for Nukuoro, advise a committee to do the election (Chief and Councils), freeze the monies under 30% sharing revenues, monies under pearl project and government properties be secured and protected (vehicles, bank accounts, etc.)

Governor David declared that an immediate audit of the Nukuoro Municipal Government be conducted of all transactions and of all books and accounts kept by or for the Nukuoro Municipal Government, including the Black Pearl Project. The audit is to include all requisite examinations to discover evidence of any unauthorized, illegal, irregular, improper or unsafe handling or expenditure of public funds or other improper practice of financial administration and a record of the audit with findings and recommendations be forthwith filed according to the requirement of S.L. No. 1L-10-79.

Stevens was contacted for comments and he did not hesitate to state that he really felt sad about the incident which he believe could be taken care of within the Nukuoro community. However, he felt it would be good education for other governments in Pohnpei and the FSM as well. What happen to Nukuoro would serve has a guide to avoid similar situations for future governmental administrations. Stevens appreciated the governor's involvement in the matter, believing the governor is sowing a perfect example for future administrations.