During a televised panel discussion in the US on whether Corruption Is Institutionalized in the Liberia, our answer was “no”, based on public service experience at high, public policy levels in the Liberian Government.
Among others, we held, hold today, that corruption is a universal phenomenon, a vice found on every continent, in every country, society and culture, irrespective of socio-political and economic development; that corruption is, perhaps, intrinsic to human nature, a result of decadent moral behavior; and that, as such, Liberia and Liberians do not have a monopoly of corruption. But, research information shows that corruption can be controlled, reduced and, eventually, eradicated.
However, Liberian Corruption resisted, continues to resist, effectively, control and/or reduction, let alone eradication. Almost every Liberian knows or is aware that public dishonesty, or corruption, has been with us – indeed incased, protected and immortalized – by the unitary structure of the government, a structure or system enshrined in the Nation’s Constitution withwide-ranging, extensive, executive power – political, economic and administrative – to an “Imperial President” since 1847.
This condition – of protected, immortalized corruption – gave rise to the military coup d’ etat of 1980, withits signature platform of “rampant corruption & abuse of power”, a painful truth which awakened the conscious of the Liberian people, but at the cost of national catastrophe – a gruesome, beachfront execution of several, leading citizens with sorrow to the nation.
Thereafter, came the insurgent military-type adventure of the NPFL & INPFL and their “freedom fighters” that rained mind-boggling plunder, destruction, human suffering and death on an unsuspecting, poor and impoverished people and nation, took the lives of reported 300,000 Liberians and displaced millions of others in foreign lands as refugees.
Increased/Increasing Decadent Moral Behavior – Corruption Recent press reported financial collapse of some state-owned enterprises due to mismanagement and alleged corrupt practices, with managing directors laid off (NOCAL, for example); others dismissed outright for similar reasons;and still others are awaiting court trial for mismanagement, allegedcorrupt practices and related thievery.Moreover, there has been record dismissals and resignations of ministers, deputy ministers and other high-profiled personalities, for alleged public dishonesty of lies, deceit andcorruption, from across the entire spectrum of the LiberianGovernment.
Profoundly disturbing, and troubled, is the disappearance of US $300,000.00 (at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs) donated for capacity building, and the approximately US $5M, also, donated for construction, but allegedly disappeared at the Ministry of Public Works. Much more disturbing and disgraceful is the disappearance of some of the reported US $5M, about 100 vehicles out of the reported 300 and medical supplies donated for the recent Ebola Epidemic.
Local newspaper publishers, their courageous investigative reporters, international journalists, international watch-dog groups such as Global Witness, Global Financial Integrity and Liberia’s own “Partners-in-progress” have advised, warned and written repeatedly about Liberia’s problem of roaring public dishonesty (corruption) oflies, deceit and thievery. Liberian writers, columnists and concerned citizens criticized, warned and advised change. Others zeroed in on democratic governance, decentralization of administrative, economic and political power. But the response from some of Liberia’s political rulers/decision-makers says, implicitly, “let them talk, talk and talk or write, write and write; we will continue to do our thing”. Indeed, they are doing their thing, dishonesty– deceit, lies & thievery, corruption!!
According to the New Democrat(New Democrat, October 30, 2015), “the donor-driven Land Commission crumbles”, due to “cash crisis”. Although no reason has been given, but a closure, of this important agency, will be a blow to the hopes of urban and rural Liberia,where there are thousands of conflicts and confusions regarding land ownership,arising from corrupt encroachments and undefined boundaries.
Do not take our word for these conditions, just take a tour of our unsanitary, over-crowded, peninsula, central City of Monrovia, jammed-packed with more, late models of high-priced vehicles than people. This includes all of the City’s suburban enclaves, likewise over-populated with deadly, unsanitary conditions, unsafe drinking water, do not ask about electricity, unpaved streets/roads/paths, also, jammed-packed with late model vehicles; with buildings going up everywhere and you ask, where is all of this money coming from – vehicles, businesses and new buildings?
Also, visit government offices (LRA at ELWA Junction and Health & Social Welfare on Tubman Blvd in Congo Town, for example) and you will note that which we are talking about, late model vehicles, etc. For more answers, go back to our article,Towards 2017. In that article, we noted of organized corruption andthat citizens, nationwide, are afraid to speak out because this Clique is composed of politically/financially powerful personalities and agencies of governmentwhich begins with the Ministry of Finance & Development Planning (“the Paymaster who must chop something from the people he pays”); the Legislative Caucuses (chairs the CDF & SDF County Councils, decides who gets on the County Council, distorts and abuses interpretation of the Budget Law and decides who gets what and how much of the development funds); and The Ministry of Internal Affairs, the local town& County chief, controls all.
This is a finance, development and planning monster, a classic approach to public dishonesty – corruption.The brains behind the crafting of the Budget Law (Act of Legislature of June 30, 2013) did an excellent job in creating several bureaucratic run-arounds, designed for “tire-outs”, basic, fundamental requirements for bribes.
In the second article,Towards Destination 2017, we held thatallocated,approved and transferred Funds to counties for development – education, transport/communication, health, poverty, hunger , etc., etc. – have, now, become victims of “I chop, you chop, they chop” corruption scheme, dominated or presided over by the same paymaster, the Ministry of Finance & Development Planning, R. L., with the other, politically-powerful players, again the Legislative Caucusesof the National Legislature and the nation’s Town Chief, the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Thanks to the newly-crafted “Budget Law” which benefits the crafters,under law, of course. Here are some examples:
1. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is presently under investigation for alleged misuse of US $300,000.00 (donated by Japan) by officials of the Ministry. The immediate desk officer in charge has, allegedly, abandoned Liberia and is now in the US. Also, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the official head of the Ministry, resigned, recently, without definitive reaction as to his involvement or non-involvement in the allegations.
Case in point, also, reasonably here is that the relationship of foreign, permanent residency/citizenship of the diplomats employed at the ministry becomes an issue in employment requirement, in the light of the discovered skillful, planned and executed scheme by which “some senior and junior Foreign Ministry officials” allegedly stole US $300,000.00 right under the noses of the Nation’s President and Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Head of the Ministry & Nation’s diplomatic “Face” and mouthpiece to the world community.
The allegations are not only disappointing, regrettable and shameful, but also, disgraceful and indict the required moral code of ethics of our Ministry of Foreign Affairs. For, this US $300K was a donation from the Empire of Japan for “Operation of the Department of International, Economic Cooperation and Integration (IECT)” of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It is now said that the Desk Officer, Mr. Augustus Nyanplu, who controlled the use of Funds from this grant, it is claimed, “is now on the run” in the USA, where he is a Permanent resident. Mr. Nyanplu was hired by Elias Shoniyin, Deputy Minister for International, Economic Cooperation & Integration. Hon. Shoniyin is now Acting Foreign Minister!!
2. The Ministry of Finance & Development Planning R. L., has successfully resisted financial & forensic audits before and after the merger of the super-lucrative Ministries of Finance and Planning & Economic Affairs into the now, super/super-lucrative Ministry of Finance & Development Planning, R. L. Prevailing, national belief held is that this over-staffed (with foreign citizens), over-paid agency is known as the traditional guru or leading source of all get-rich-quick, dishonest schemes, with its several sections and departments, the “tired-outs”,corruption points. For example, requests for an allocated and approved payment are subjected to series of “go-comes, waits for signatures/approval by so-so”, from Kamara to Boima, etc., etc., designed for kick-backs before approved payment is made.
Reportedly, the nation’s major Finance (Fiscal) and Economic (Monetary) Policy-making agencies – Finance & Development Planning and Central Bank – have been at odds, while the Governor of the Central Bank is an unannounced candidate for President of Liberia, with several campaign tours and full colored, full-page, press coverage throughout the country, pushing “Microfinance” (usury lending?) to the politically-connected. Meanwhile, the Liberian dollar is sinking or has sunk to the great beyond with the nation’s economy in hot pursuit; also, while the nation is dangerously, excessively dependent on imported goods &services, including our staples – rice, cooking oil, etc., etc.
3. The Police, Ministry of Justice and Courts are profoundly disgraceful and a negative impact on the Nation’s image. Liberia’s “partners-in-progress”, the historic donors, have, continuously, charged that Liberia’s Judicial system is candidate for comprehensive improvement; for justice, in Liberia, is delayed and denied or unavailable to the poor, controlled and manipulated by politics. Law enforcement is characterized by bribes and related corrupt practices. No wonder the Ministry of Justice has been, and is, unable to extradite to Liberia persons charged with crimes for trial.
4. The National Legislature, the House of Lawmakers, is considered and known as the House of “Insensitives”; insensitive to the plight of their constituents, the men and women who sent them there. Members are out not only for bribes now called “lobbying fees”, cold water”; high salaries, generous allowances and foreign travels, but also, for thecorrupt windfalls from Social & County Development(SDF & CDF) Funds as County Legislative Caucuses. These funds go directly into personal pockets with no questions asked. The Budget Law is an excellent cover. Even as it is, they distort and abuse interpretations for their benefit!!
5. State-Owned Enterprises. Mismanagement and dishonest practices (corruption, Inc.) are rampant and roaring within state-owned enterprises. Some Managing Directors (NPA, LPRC, FDA, Maritime Commission) built palatial homes& mansions with swimming pools, own businesses & expensive, top-of-line automobiles (with no safe streets/roads to ply), all acquired with stolen resources from the state and have so become Liberia’s millionaires.They, and the others, are paid high salaries with generous allowances, while they embezzle state-owned enterprise revenue and taxes. NOCAL stands out as an excellent example of rampant dishonesty and mismanagement!!
Candidates for President, come 2017
This brings us to the “politicians” (or poli-trick-cians), the men and women, our compatriots,who are “Presidential Hopefuls” or declared candidates for President of our Country. Out of these presidential hopefuls, the Liberian electorate will pick two persons, come 2017 – one for President and the other for Vice President – who will make the critical decisions concerned with the fate of the nation and people, 6 or 12 years fromJanuary, 2018.
We held, finally that, unfortunately, all of the presidential hopefuls promised no change, reforms or transformation, but “stay the course”, same traditional “business as usual”. None of the local/national/international issues crying out, seeking attention for rational treatment, in this nation, the “failed state”, within post-conflict, traumatic condition, is reasonable to warrant attention.
Public dishonesty – decadent moral behavior of deceit, lies thievery – Corruption, Inc., has become the Rule in our country, but at a great, historic price. Have we not learned; do we want a repeat of past catastrophic tragedies for the “feel-good of I chop, you chop and they chop” by the very few?Think about it!!