Relations between the Liberian Government and Council of Churches may have been soured by a recent ‘war of words’ over claims of the government’s inability to fight corruption.
The government’s emotional reaction attributing the level of corruption in the government to the church has also heightened the debate everywhere in the country. In a recent statement issued in Monrovia, the Liberia Council of Churches took the government to task, denouncing that the level of “rampant corruption” has reached inundating heights under President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf who had declared, during her inaugural address in January 2006, corruption as public enemy number one, further vowing to ‘confront and fight’ it out of public service.
But corruption, thereafter, became the ‘number public friend’ as evidenced by the numerous audit reports released by the General Auditing Commission or GAC for the past years without attempts to institute concrete actions against indictees.
The LCC’s reaction to the high level of corruption in the country may have, perhaps, been a result of the culture of impunity encouraged by the Executive, which has and continues to undermine the country’s growth and development, keeping most of the population in abject poverty.
The Council had uncompromisingly criticized the Government of Liberia for doing little or nothing to stamp up its authority over the high level of corruption in its ranks and files, while in response early this week, the
Government, through the Ministry of Information, claimed the situation of fighting corruption is far beyond a single institution like it alone, suggesting that more than many other institutions of the Liberian society needed to join ranks with it in ensuring the total health of the nation “whose lifeblood corruption, the “vampire”, is desperate to suck away.”
On behalf of the government, Deputy Information Ministry Isaac Jackson, in a more moderate tone this time around, described the Liberian Council of Churches as constructive partners in the ongoing process of transformation, further insisting that the government has made tremendous leap in the fight against, providing statistics of Liberia’s position in the ranking of global corruption – statistics with which many Liberians disagree owing to the high level of international public relations being pursued by the current administration amid the actual situation on the ground.
For Information Minister Lewis Brown himself, it was a rather emotional response to the Liberia Council of Churches, which he blamed for encouraging corruption in the government by bestowing honors on the “same government officials” accused of corruption in the various churches.
Even though the Churches of Liberia have been very mute about the unfavorable situations characterizing the conduct of the affairs of state for some times now, it was better late than never that the Liberia Council of Churches catalogued the impeding vices, including rampant corruption, that have strangulated the majority into abject poverty, further denying them the basic social services needed for their survival and development.
The government – an organized national institution, should have considered the Council’s position on the State of Affairs in good faith – of course, re-examined itself and begun to work around the issues abide as raised by the churches, in an effort to write the visible wrong.
But to choose such route as emotionally hitting back at the church was absolutely out of order, and the need for an open apology by the government, through the same Ministry of Information – through Ministers Brown and Jackson, could better change the face of things… or else, the relationship between the LCC and the government may strained – a situation that may not augur well for the nation.