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Liberia newsSpecial Feature

Feature Article: Tiawan Saye Gongloe Is the Best Candidate for A Better Liberia 

By. S.Karweaye

Former Minister of Labor, Tiawan Saye Gongloe is one of the most respected Liberian politicians of the Nimba extraction. He is one of the few past government officials in the country who is still adored by his people even though he resigned from the government and left the public sector in 2010.

Some of the major factors that will not be ignored in the forthcoming 2023 general elections are antecedents and what every candidate has to offer. The last eighteen years under the Unity Party (UP) administration and the Coalition of Democratic Change administrations have not been quite rosy for the nation as a whole. The massive corruption,  huge debt, unemployment, poverty, food insecurity, infrastructure deficits, high maternal mortality, insecurity, and the standard of living of ordinary Liberians is gradually depreciating. Many Liberians cannot afford to live average lives anymore because of the high cost of living.

.We need to look at why the Liberian People Party (LPP) presidential candidate, Tiawan Saye Gongloe (TSG) is the best for Liberia now. The first issue that comes to mind is the challenge of halting the continued bleeding of Liberians by corrupt politicians and public servants through various forms of corruption.

Corruption is the leader of a litany of problems that brought Liberia to her knees with the attendant weeping that is heard all over the country. It was the bleeding that gave rise to a military coup, two civil wars in Liberia, and almost all the hardships facing our citizens. Corruption is so deeply entrenched in Liberia that the Supreme Court of Liberia has reaffirmed the National Elections Commission’s (NEC) decision to qualify former Minister of State, Nathaniel McGill to contest for the Margibi County Senatorial Seat. The US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated Nathaniel McGill for involvement in ongoing public corruption in Liberia. Yet, the Supreme Court has reaffirmed the NEC decision to qualify McGill.

Of all the presidential candidates, Tiawan Saye Gongloe is the best candidate to halt the bleeding of Liberia. Let us not make any mistake about it or try to muddle things up; the moment the bleeding of Liberia stops, funds will be available for the government to tackle all the other problems.  Only a man endowed with integrity can handle Liberia as of today and change things for the better. Gongloe has demonstrated adequate capacity to deal decisively with corruption through the rule of law and has proven to live above money and its overwhelming corruptive influence. He has also proven to live above greed and ostentation and has demonstrated in all practical ways that he cannot be pushed around against stated nationally beneficial goals. 

Now consider these: A few months after his appointment as Solicitor General in 2006, he started going after corrupt individuals. Two former government officials who served as  Minister and Deputy Finance Ministers respectively in the former National Transitional Government of Liberia (NTGL) were arrested. Mr. Lusinee F. Kamara (who is now running for President) and Tugbeh Doe (deceased) were charged with “theft of government property” in a probe into the alleged theft of millions from the coffers of an interim government after their names were in the ECOWAS audit report as liable for the disappearances of millions of dollars between October 2003 and January 2006.  

 As Solicitor General, and determined to hold those accountable for bleeding state coffers, Gongloe charged Liberia’s former transitional leader Gyude Bryant for allegedly embezzling  $1.4 million while in office. Mr.  Bryant was arrested and sent to  Central Prison after Mr. Bryant failed to show up in court twice. Gongloe also arrested Samuel Wlue (current Minister of Transport), and others after evidence of corruption was uncovered in the ECOWAS audit report.

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As  Minister of Labor, he published Regulation Number 17, which increased the cost of a work permit for non-Liberian workers from US$400 to US$1,000 forcing employers to hire more Liberian workers while laying off their non-Liberian workers. He worked tirelessly to put into action the Liberalization policy to benefit Liberians and Liberia in general. Gongloe resigned from his ministerial post in November 2010 over a policy disagreement with Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, president of Liberia. 

Why did Gongloe resign from the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf-led government?

In 2007, Carbon Harvesting Corporation (CHC) approached the Government of Liberia to negotiate the allocation of a 400,000-hectare forest carbon concession – a fifth of Liberia’s rainforest- to sell carbon credits to clients who want to offset their carbon emissions.  According to Global Witness, the CEO of the UK-based CHC, Mike Foster made irregular payments to Liberian government officials and a politician via a middleman for the proposed deal. Global Witness investigation revealed the proposed deal could have cost the Liberian government a potential financial loss of over US$2 billion to the Liberian government/  In July 2010, the CEO of the UK-based CHC, Mike Foster was arrested by the City of London Police Overseas Anti-corruption Unit (OACU) following an investigation by Global Witness into a deal involving the trade of carbon credits in Liberia. 

Embarrassed and under pressure, President Sirleaf constituted a three-man Special Investigative Committee, chaired by Cllr. T. Negbalee Warner, to investigate the CHC deal in June 2010. After working for five months, engaging all of the parties, and intelligence sources as well as accessing documents relating to the negotiations/agreement, and released its findings and recommendations to the President for action in October 2010.

According to Warner’s committee report, the negotiations on the proposed agreement violated the Public Procurement & Concession Commission Act which created the Public Procurement and Concession Commission (PPCC), and that bribes were offered, solicited, paid, or promised to several current and past government officials for their consents and support for the agreement.

In the Warner committee’s report, it was revealed that Amara Konneh (who is now running for the Senate Seat in Gbarpolu County), then Minister of Planning and Economic Affairs violated the PPPC for the issuance of a concession certificate for the CHC contract. Waner’s report also revealed the then Minister of Internal Affairs Ambullai Johnson, a senior influential cousin of President Sirleaf was the gravest and most significant as a very influential official of the FDA board who benefited as well as the FDA Managing Director John Wood, and others.  The Warner committee’s report recommended the dismissal, prosecution, or reprimanding of nine former and active public officials associated with the granting of 400,000 hectares of forest to a British company, Carbon Harvesting Company (CHC).

Under severe Pressure from Global witnesses, our international partners, and civil society to act on the Warner committee’s report, President Sirleaf on 3rd November 2010, announced an administrative leave for her entire cabinet, except the Minister of State for Presidential Affairs and her Chief of Office Staff. According to the president, her“administration is entering into a critical stretch and this would afford her the opportunity to start with a fresh slate going forward. The announcement was also followed by another for the official vehicles of all affected cabinet ministers to be parked.

While most of the cabinet ministers welcomed the decision, describing it as the President’s constitutional right, Tiawan Gongloe who was the  Minister of Labor chose to go public, descending on his boss, the President describing her decision to send cabinet ministers on a “Compulsory Administrative Leave” as being associated with autocracy, dictatorship, and imperial Presidency. He also described the President’s decision as embarrassing.

Gongloe told a recent street corner (Cempid) lecture forum on November 18, 2010, in Monrovia that the President’s action was not good for the country, noting that Such actions have the appearance of arbitrariness which can only be associated with autocracy, dictatorship, and imperial leadership. “I know that there are whispers in government circles about the President’s decision, but I do not know how to whisper about my country. Whispering about the decision of a leader is an indication of fear of the leader,” were the words of Tiawan Gongloe during his expose’. Tiawan Saye Gongloe in his critique of the president’s abrupt action also published an article in the front page newspaper and website in November 2010.  Gongloe wrote “I do not question the constitutionality or legality of the President’s decision to send her entire cabinet on compulsory administrative leave. What I am concerned about is the level to which the president’s decision has opened all cabinet ministers to all kinds of speculations. According to him, “The decision to send the entire cabinet on compulsory administrative leave appears like the strategy used by autocratic and undemocratic leaders to shift the blame on their cabinet ministers by dismissing all of them and replacing them to gain favor with the public.” On November 17, 2010,  Madam Sirleaf started reconstituting her cabinet by reappointing her ministers and appointed Gongloe to a cabinet minister position,  but Gongloe resigned from the government. 

Tiawan Saye Gongloe is a distinguished human rights lawyer and renowned as the ‘champion of the underprivileged With his proven integrity as a man who lives above temptations from the corruptive influence of money and power, Gongloe will decisively deal with corruption. The only man available today with the needed credentials to resist corruption is Tiawan Gongloe. While there may be other Liberians with such integrity, the only one available to contest the 2023 presidential election is Gongloe. The recent revelation by Gongloe on the scandalous stealing of Liberia’s wealth by unpatriotic top government officials in collaboration with some transnational corporations and his prescription of fighting corruption is a clear indication that Gongloe knows where the bleeding is taking place and how to halt it. Which other proof do Liberians need to believe that Gongloe knows Liberia’s problems and how to solve them?

Today, corruption has brought Liberia down. Duty calls on all Liberians to see the 2023 presidential election for what it is -the last chance to save our country from dying. Released last January, the 2022 Corruption Perception Index (CPI) confirmed what many Liberians knew intuitively—that a steady stream of official anti-graft rhetoric has hardly made a dent in what many agree is the most formidable perennial challenge to the country’s long-term stability. However, neither the latest Transparency International (TI) corruption perception index which ranked Liberia 142 out of 180 countries, nor the George Weah government’s reaction to the ranking could have come as a surprise to any long-term observer of Liberia affairs.

The LPP Presidential candidate passionately believes that Liberia’s path to development can only be set right by thoroughly eradicating corruption.  He argued public duty mostly at the governmental level is a place of service and not for the enrichment of oneself. His prescription for tackling corruption through openness, transparency, and the rule of law are key ingredients to building accountability and trust in government. Openness and transparency are also key components for strengthening our democracy and promoting efficiency and effectiveness in government.

There is certainly no other presidential candidate among the lot now who can resist the pressure to grab ill-gotten wealth from the theft of our natural resources. Here lies the danger of making the mistake of not voting. Let us all be certain in our minds that A Better Is Possible or More Destruction of Liberia will happen by the end of 10th of October 2023 immediately after the declaration of the winner of the presidential election.

Once Tiawan Saye Gongloe is announced as the president-elect, things will begin to take shape on their own. The principalities, both human and institutional, that have held Liberia down for the past twenty years since the Liberian civil war will begin to loosen their evil grip on the nation and will be more concerned about how to cover up their atrocities to escape retribution. Hope and confidence in the Country and her economy, which left Liberia in 2017, will return. If the Wrong Candidate is declared winner in October, it will be a confirmation that Liberia may not survive as a strong economic entity. This will trigger unprecedented looting by those who have access to the nation’s funds and resources.  

The LPP Presidential candidate has pointed to where, unarguably, Liberia’s corruption has occurred for the past eighteen years under the  Unity Party (UP)  and the Coalition of Democratic Change(CDC) led governments, and the road to recovering Liberia is very clear and known to him. It has been going on for the past 20 years since the civil war ended, but God in His infinite mercy is offering Liberians Tiawan Saye Gongloe as a possible last chance. A Better Liberia Is Possible! I rest my case.

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