Liberia, on Thursday, December 9, 2010, joined other nations, the world-over, in observing international Anti-Corruption Day. An official ceremony to befit the day, took place at the Monrovia City hall the same day under the auspices of the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission or LACC, and the guests of honor were President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and Veteran Liberian Journalist Kenneth Yarkpawolo Best of the Liberian Observer Corporation.
The two made separate statements, with Journalist Best serving as the keynote speaker for the occasion. Best’s focus in his address was the corruption currently characterizing the activities of the Liberian Government and the inability of President Sirleaf to effect stern measures against those involved.
The issue of asking these public officials to resign honorably as has been done since the inception this administration, other than being sacked publicly was what the veteran Liberian Journalist frowned at , while President Sirleaf sat and listened attentively, apparently awaiting the close of his address for her response.
“you must also be commended for the actions you took earlier this year against some your top officials involved in malfeasance. But I am afraid, you let too many people off the hook, by giving some of such people the opportunity to simply resign or be reshuffled, instead of taking the fore right action to fire them; it looked very much as though you gave them a slap on the wrist; You must call a spade, a spade by being fore right and decisive. This, alone, will serve as a compelling deterrent against graft in your government,” Best pacified the President as he tried to also take her to task.
He noted that corruption remains pervasive and a challenge to the many development efforts, urging the administration to remain focus on the challenge to the fight against corruption and all forms of misrule and bad governance in Liberia.
He then urged Liberian lawmakers, upon their return from their constitutional break, to pass the Code of Conduct into law, emphasizing that the Code of Conduct was the policy of the State to promote a high standard of ethics in public service, as well as to ensure efficiency and productivity in the public sector.
“It is commended against the background that ordinary people in the public, being employees of the state, are accountable to the people and must discharge their duties with utmost responsibility, integrity, competence and loyalty; and act with patriotism and justice, lead modest lives and uphold public interest over personal interest,” Journalist Best intimated.
President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, in a special statement during the ceremony, described the fight against corruption as tough, despite mechanisms being in place by her government. She admitted that there were some officials deeply involved in corrupt practices, challenging the public and media to further expose those involved by providing evident.
We see no difficulties in the President’s challenge to the media and other, but the sentiments attached to the actions which should be taken against officials involved in corrupt practices and misrule in her administration.
We are aware that Madam President has relatives, friends and political companions in her administration, and to institute firm actions against them in the event of corruption or misrule may prove too costly, most especially as we drive toward the 2011 Presidential and Legislative elections.
It is an open fact that most of the news about corruption and other administrative malpractices always emanate from government and not the media, and so it’s unfair that the Liberian media will always be blamed for such publicity.
We are of the belief that since it is the administration that exposes its own officials. It must take the necessary actions against these officials to serve as deterrents to any repetition in other areas of the public sector.
This is why we commend Journalist Kenneth Y. Best for his open-mindedness in telling Madam President nothing, but the real truth, despite being a close friend and media advisor. We think Mr. Best did absolute justice to his friend and sister, as a way of saving her and putting her on track in the fight against corruption in Liberia.
The President of Liberia must now “double up” and call spade, a spade in the words of Mr. Best, and not be carried away by the belief that if she did “votes” would go against her in 2011.