As a major obstacle to national and sustainable development shared by many societies including Liberia, politicians are on record for criticizing regimes that have failed to stem the tides of corruption as if to say when given the mantle of state power will score significant marks in fighting corruption.
With the progression of times, many societies have codified normative frameworks such as Anti-Corruption Commission or Agency Anti- Corruption policy or law,United Nations’ convention against corruption, Fast Track corruption Court, Code of Conduct, procedural for procurement etc. as the mechanisms for fighting corruption. Inarguably, these mechanisms are helpful but are in- exhaustive or not comprehensive on grounds that any of them is prone to circumvention by human actions except for one seen as the crux of this article. Let’s look at example (s) from the international scene.
According to the CNN and BBC, some of us followed the headline about the Petrobras (Giant Oil Company) scandal considered as the largest corruption scandal ever in Brazil despite the anti-corruption law. The scandal about ($3.7 billion) of suspicious payments has provoked protest demonstration demanding the resignation of the President despite no evidence that she knew of the mischief that transpired while she was energy minister and chairman of Petrobras during the presidency of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, her predecessor.
If proven by way of evidence, this example or allegation to some extend explained the circumvention of the anti-corruption mechanisms in Brazil.
According to research, the Philippines is one of the countries including others that has an elaborate anti-corruption policies and measures including Ombudsman put in place to tackle diverse types of corrupt activities and conduct in the government. However, it still suffers from circumvention.
Judging from the history of Liberia fight against corruption, it is quite reasonable to agree that the establishment of the Liberia Anti-Commission (LACC), Public Procurement Commission (PPC) and perhaps the Code of Conduct which are significant for stemming the tides of corruption are clear manifestations that worth to be considered among the achievements of the incumbent government despite others will vehemently disagree.
With the number of corruption cases still on docket despite all of the mechanisms put in place, it suggests to me that some people are circumventing the systems intended to curb the vampire called corruption.
This in other words suggests that in our fight against corruption, the argument for addressing or tackling to low salaries, incentives, weak justice systems, fraternity tides that brings about selectivity etc. that many Liberians see as the major causes for what is globally coined as the “Culture of Corruption” mainly stealing of state resources that retards national development are part of the possible or potential remedies but will do us minimal good if our society overlook people of integrity as the best prescription for stemming the tides of corruption.
In my candid opinion, integrity is arguably the only prescription that cannot be circumvented as compare to regulations, anti-corruption laws, policies and procedures.
Integrity is part of the personality embodiment of an individual that always influence his/her judgement or decisions.
Some may argue that because we live in a corrupt society in which the human beings are prone to corrupt practices, attractive remuneration couple with incentives sustain or help to maintain integrity.
Without an attempt to refute this argument, let’s try to be reasonable by considering thequestion. By virtue of our Liberian standard, between those in ministerial, senior level executives or managers in both private and public sectors and the ordinary employees that earned less remuneration and incentives or without incentives, who should be more prone to corruption? Unfortunately, most of the cases of corruptions that have the propensity to retard our national development are allegedly committed by people who earn better remuneration and incentives. To me, it means that it is not about low salaries and incentives that most people considered as the prime cause of corruption in both the public and private sectors.
What matters is the lack of integrity. In our Liberian society, it has become a common practice to hear the appointment of people once accused of corruption to resurface in another government or transfer to another agency. All that we do is to make one week noise and forget about the issues.
How do we as a society ensure that people with integrity problem do not preside over institutions, agencies in both the public and private sectors? It is not about making one week noise through radio talk shows, writing articles that fail to proffer solutions.
It is about creating a conscious society that will not rest until those interested in senior executives or managerial positions become mindful of their integrity. This how we can create a conscious society.
We must hold those accountable for making appointments should they ignore our concerns. For example, if our law makers responsible for confirmation of appointees ignore our concerns about integrity problem, the best thing we can democratically do is to deny them of reelections as a caveat for those coming in.
This can be equated to the “Stick and Carrot” approach in politics.Another way of building a conscious society is by peaceful go slow action that happened at the Liberia Broadcasting Cooperation in which the Director nominated was replaced during the regime of the Transitional Government Chaired by Charles Judy Bryant between 2003-2005.
If people in our society are able to create conscious actions that prompted the removal or resignation of some people that demonstrated integrity necessary for our nation building, why can the same be done for people accused for corruption that has integrity implication? Take for example, the Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost, Dr. Wade Elliote-Brownell introduced a system of changing student grades by Instructors, lecturers that demanded justifications and supported by document. Some of the instructors embraced the idea, while some saw it to be problematic. Students were manipulated that the system introduced was not in their interest.
Eventually, some of the students protested on claims of mal-handling faculty and students, coupled with alleged arbitrary dismissals of some instructors or lecturers on payroll but not regular in class.
A progressive or strong conscious society explains that no matter what may happen, the voice of the people is mightier than the interests of those appointed to preside over state resources. This assertion is arguably justified by constitutional provision that says “Power is inherent in the people”. This is the legal basis for building a conscious society that must transcend making noise for one week.
In conclusion, the culture of making one week noise and afterward forget about the problem conveys a wrong signal and at the same time may weaken the impulses of those responsible to take appropriate actions.
By Ambrues M. Nebo