BY ALFRED SASAKO
IT has emerged that former Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare hired an overseas consultant to push the controversial West Papua issue with Solomon Islands’ taxpayers footing the consultant’s bill.
Fe’iloakitau Kaho Tevi is a Tongan national who lives in Port Vila, Vanuatu, where his wife, Eleni Levin-Tevi (Renzu) works as a Capacity Development Adviser at the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) headquarters.
Mr Tevi is part of a three-man team Mr Sogavare had hired in his capacity as Chairman of the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG).
The others are former diplomat Rex Horoi and former Special Secretary to Prime Minister (SSPM) Rence Sore, the man who was credited with allegedly introducing Skyline to the Prime Minister.
Mr Sore’s official designation is Secretary to the Chairman of MSG.
While the appointments of Mr Horoi and Mr Sore were public knowledge in Honiara, nothing was disclosed about Mr Tevi’s engagement, how much he was getting and who was paying his bill.
Tevi holds the position of “Strategic Advisor on West Papua, Office of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, SIG,” according to his facebook page.
The FB page also shows Tevi is self-employed.
He uses the alias, FUJI.
Those who are familiar with the appointment said Tevi has held the position since 2015.
Attempts to establish what the offshore appointment costs Solomon Islands’ taxpayers annually were unsuccessful.
It is also unclear whether Tevi is still on the payroll.
Tevi’s appointment may have put Prime Minister Ricky Hou on the spot given his intention to trim down the number of Political Appointees to just 30.
It could also be a contentious issue between the Prime Minister and his deputy who is passionate about West Papua.