Corruption in Liberia had been and is, today, one of the major, damaging impediments to the growth and development of the Liberian nation.
Indeed, former Vice President Warner once wrote that although Liberia has many problems, “The Problem with Us (Liberia, the Nation) is Us” (Liberians, the individual citizens).
Elsewhere, we wrote that during a debate in the USA on whether or not “Corruption Is Institutionalized” in Liberia, our response was that although corruption is rampant and a serious economic problem in Liberia, it is not institutionalized, based on our long, public service experience. We argued, further, that corruption is a universal phenomenon, a vice found on every continent, country, society and culture, irrespective of socio-economic development and affluence. Evidently, perhaps, we held, corruption is intrinsic in human nature, and, as such, Liberia and Liberians do not have monopoly of corruption. Moreover, the very term “corruption” is so widely inclusive, according to behavioral scholars, because it includes all greedy & graft activities – lies, bribery, nepotism, political wheeling-dealing (behind closed-door, smoke-filled backrooms), bid-rigging, embezzlement or stealing, extortion, vote-buying & elections results-rigging, price-fixing, protection rackets, blackmail and many other, variety of fraudulent, human actions.
However, research information shows that corruption can be reduced, controlled and, eventually, eradicated. For example, the Asian island and former British Colony of Singapore of the era up to the 1950s bore no resemblance of we know of it today, the independent State of Singapore. For, it was then the major, key center of drug trade between India and China, an island-kingdom of crime, graft and greed – corruption. When the British colonial authorities investigated a drug heist, they discovered that the culprits included several high-ranking officials of the Singapore Police. In the aftermath of the scandal, the colonial administration created the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau.
Upon independence from Great Britain, the new Prime Minister, Lee Kuan Yew, announced that he was “sickened by decadence and corruption”, and pledged to rid Singapore of graft. It is a popular, political game and rhetoric for new leaders to condemn the venality of their predecessors when assuming office. But Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore delivered on his rhetoric. He enacted new anti-corruption laws, gave teeth and real power to the anti-corruption Bureau, raised salaries, including all other civil servants, in the effort to minimize temptation to sell influence and instituted tough punishment, including jail terms, for the “honorables” and those caught taking bribes. As a result in 1986, one of Lee’s minister of national development, an architect, was caught accepting kickbacks from real-estate developers. The minister committed suicide, leaving a note addressed to Prime Minister Lee that “it is only right that I should pay the highest penalty for my mistake.”
At the time when Lee Kuan Yew stepped down as Prime Minister in 1990, Singapore had gone from being one of the “most corrupt countries on the planet” to one of the least, according to Transparency International’s most recent Corruption Perceptions Index.
In the case of our country, not only that Liberian corruption has successfully resisted reduction and control, let alone eradication, but also that the Liberian Government aids and abets corruption,for examples:
High-ranking officials of government, male and female, hire and surround themselves by relatives, friends, concubines and cronies; work less and over-pad, with salary/wage allowances which include top-of-the line, high-priced vehicles, insurance, electric power generators and service, and paid housing (for some) in 21st Liberia; this includes those who steal public resources (in the past and today) with which they build personal, business enterprises and palatial homes(some with swimming pools today); develop real estates rented to government at over-priced, lease payments (suchreal estate activities regarded as “national development”) for which these “honorable rogues” are rewarded with promotions to higher, much more lucrative positions (“lucrative” positions in Liberian economic parlance means positions havingexcellent opportunities to amass wealth by stealing from the state, the people).
If, by chance, these crooks are caught, charged and taken to court, the charges, trials, etc. are mango-mangoed and dee-deebahed(Liberian tribal dialects for “political dirty tricks” and abuse of influence due to “political connections”)by interventions of high-priced, political attorneys and “politically-connected, big-shots”, such that the cases die a natural death and forgotten. Meanwhile, displayed proudly on the façade of our Nation’s imposing, Supreme building called “Temple of Justice” is the motto that proclaims “Justice for all”.
The “talk” of the Nation Against this background and the on-going give “Monrovia a face-lift ”clean-up campaign for the forthcoming holidays with Madam Mary Taryonoh Broh and her Task Force, although embroiled in some halla-halla with Buzzy Quarter residents allegedly thrown out in the streets; alleged whipping of ayoung, alleged prostitute by the “no none-sense” Madam Broh (who is, also, full-time, Managing Director-General of Liberia’s General Services Agency (GSA); and talk of VP Boakai’s Residence being in an alleged city-designed alley, etc., etc., but there has arisen the major talk of the nationin offices (corporate board rooms, political party headquarters, executive suites of government of the National Legislature, the Executive and Judiciary);dinner-tables at homes, young people’s intellectual discourses, bar rooms, restaurants & cook-shops, barbershops & salons, markets, taxicab stands & phen-phen parking stalls, and side-walk intellectual debates of sports -soccer football, Liberia’s major sports of the Liberia Football Association (LFA)and its President, the colorful, young Musa Bility.
Mr. Bility has been front-page news of, almost, all of the Monrovia daily newspapers for the past month or so after the Lone Star, our national team’s victory, recently, against the national team of Guinea Bisau, here in Monrovia.
Musa Hassan Bility
Mr. Bility, a businessman of all sorts, became an instant, football celebrity, although a non-playing, but football “management” professional who received a boost for his declared candidacy for President of the Federation of International Football Association (FIFA), the corruption-plagued manager of world football.
But, the report filed by the FIFA electoral committee on Mr. Bility’s candidacy sent embarrassing, troubling chills throughout Liberian football and the nation–football clubs, fans, social, business and political circles in Liberia. The report is embarrassing and troubling because the major part was drawn from and based on Liberian legal, political and business records on the critical, global issues of integrity or honesty, commitment to traditional moral rectitude, while the minor part of the report was based on suspension for “infringement” of the Confederation of African Football’s (CAF) confidentiality obligations”.
About Musa Hassan Bility, the person, available descriptive literature is intriguing by his colorful, all-inclusive activities. Writer Malcom Joseph (CAF’s Conspiracy, FPA, November 19, 2015)on Musa Bility, put it this way;“Truth is, Bility is multicolor figure in Liberia, playing various roles within the national political scape, a leader within his ethnic tribal links: owner of a significant media enterprise (radio station), a big hands in sports administration, and a businessman of varying interventions – petroleum, rice, infrastructure, transportation, etc., with such a nature, there is bound to be questions, unresolved issues, intrigues, and multiple dogfights. So”, Musa Bility “will be subject to a lot of questions – including integrity issues . . .”
The FIFA Report, drawn from and based on Liberian Records, provides that the (meet on the bone) of the Government of Liberia, by indictment, stated that:
“Mr. Musa Bility, former Chairman of the Board of Directors, Ms. Ellen Corkrum, former Managing Director, both, of the Liberia Airport Authority (LAA), Diaspora Consulting LLC, thru Moamar Deng and the Liberian Bank for Development & Investment (LBDI), by and through its President, Mr. John B. S. Davies . . . did conspire to and did do and commit the crime of Economic Sabotage in flagrant violation of Chapter 15, sub-chapter “F” . . . Misapplication of Entrusted Property in violation of Chapter 15, sub-chapter “D” . . . Theft of Property in violation of Chapter 15, sub-chapter “D”, Section 15.1 . . . Criminal Conspiracy in violation of Chapter 10, sub-chapter “D” . . . of the Penal Code of Liberia”.
The Report says that according to the indictment, “Mr. Bility and Ellen Corkrum who are signatories to the account of the LAA with the LBDI, criminally conspired with co-defendants Diaspora Consulting LLC represented by Deng and LBDI defrauded the government by making unauthorized transfers of funds aggregating toUS $269,000.00 from the LAA account, and that the accused, Mr. Bility and others herein, on different occasions remitted monies to the Bank of America account of Diaspora Consulting LLC through LBDI for services which were never performed”.
According to the FIFA Report Mr. Bility “devoted his entire radio station to the campaign of (the) President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf in 2011, which might have played a role in (the government) not pursuing the criminal indictment against Bility and the others”, with respect to the LAA, criminal charges. It was, also, reported in 2012 that a company owned by Mr. Bility was engaged in advertising at the Antoinette Tubman Stadium and was taken to court for tax evasion.
According to the newspaper Frontpage Africa (FPA, November 16, 2015),“In spite of all these, the Government of Liberia, which drew all these indictments against (Mr.) Billity, supported him to contest a top position in the world, the presidency of FIFA”. As a matter of fact, the Government spokesman, “Information Minister Lewis G. Brown, speaking at a Ministry of Information, Culture & Tourism press briefing said that ‘now that Mr. Bility has been qualified as a candidate, he is a representative of Liberia and must enjoy the support of all Liberians’”. Indeed, government support is manifested by the Honorable Edwin Snowe, Member of the National Legislature and former House Speaker who travelled with Mr. Bility to FIFA meetings in support of his (Mr. Billity’s) candidacy.
Thus, this apparently-organized and government-orchestrated support, in the light of validated evidence against Mr. Bility for lack of Integrity, prompted the headline, Corrupt Empire,political patronage hinders dispensing of justice in Liberia (FPA, November 16, 2015)”.
Recent (FPA,November 25, 2015)reports by Transparency International (TI) say that LFA (or Mr. Musa Bility) is one FIFA’s 209 members who operates in secrecy. They do not own an operational website, although they collect from corporate sponsors, advertisers and government contributions. For example, LFA keeps its financial income/expenditure secret from the public; this includes funds given by FIFA, corporate sponsor like Cellcom and the government of Liberia. During the Liberia versus Guinea Bissau 2018 World Cup qualifier matches, the Liberian Government gave LFA US $300k in addition to US $500k it provided for the 2017 African Cup qualifier with Tunisia on September 5. There are, also, advertising deals with Monrovia Oil Trading and Scrimex Oil & Gas, owned by (none other than) Mr. Musa Bility.
In other words, this politically-connected, indicted as a felon for economic crime (stealing, corruption) has been milking FIFA, our government or the people and some corporate sponsors/advertisers since 2010 to earn the title of “multicolor figure” who operates in secrecy.