In her January 2006 inaugural address, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf committed her administration to engaging in a serious battle with corruption in Liberia. In so doing, she declared corruption as “public enemy number one” and would do everything possible to fight on. Unfortunately, the impact of President Sirleaf’s battle against corruption for her first six years was not realizable, even though her administration boasted of putting into place the necessary mechanisms for the exercise, including the General Auditing Commission or GAC and Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission or LACC.
Before appointing officials of her new administration five months back, President Sirleaf again reiterated her position on the fight against corruption, strongly resisting that all officials to be appointed must declare their assets. She also assured that they would comply fully with provisions in a code of conduct signed January 6, 2012. More than one hundred and fifty days into her second term, Madam President has again reiterated instruction for all appointed officials to declare their assets immediately.
Her Press Secretary recently said at the foreign Ministry in Monrovia that in line with Executive Code of Conduct, the President has urged all of her appointed officials to declare their assets for transparency, saying it would not be compromised. He failed to state how the immediacy attached to the asset declaration orders would be executed even though he had already begun to argue that the procedures involved in asset declaration were enormous.
While it is agreeable that the “necessary mechanisms” are already in place for the fight against corruption, cronyism, interest and other forms of sentiments continue to weaken and over-shadow the exercise. Infect, it is an open secret that selective justice has for the past six years been inter-playing in the battle against corruption in Liberia. As Madam President continues to talk about “asset declaration”, Liberians are yet to be told the number of officials who have already declared their assets or dateline for the exercise.
How will the people of Liberia, including the very officials of government attach seriousness to the orders by the President in the absence of immediacy, dateline or rigorousness? Why would Liberians want to attach serious to the administration’s pronouncements on instruments for the fight against corruption, including ‘asset declaration, code of conduct, etc., etc., in the absence of total sincerity and commitment?
If the current Liberian administrative establishment must be taken seriously with regards to fighting corruption, the leadership must divorce itself from all of the sentiments that are hindering the exercise, including interest and cronyism. Other than the prioritizing foregoing, on, on they go rhetoriczing the fight against corruption without any impact. And such lips-service would just continue to the end of this second term of President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.