By Amb. Nat Barnes
My Fellow Compatriots;
It is appalling to have listened to a top Minister in Government justifying corruption. Minister Nathaniel McGill’s inference that acquiring and subsequently converting ill-gotten gains for his personal benefit is appropriate as long as he’s investing in Liberia is, not only sickening to hear but a disservice to our people who are largely disenfranchised by the distribution of wealth in Liberia.
This brings to mind a tweet from the former Chair of Transparency International, José Ugaz, “Corruption creates and increases poverty and exclusion. While corrupt individuals with political power enjoy a lavish life, millions of Africans are deprived of their basic needs like food, health, education, housing, access to clean water and sanitation.”
Corruption is corruption regardless of where and how the stolen gains are converted. Of course, what Minister McGill said can only apply in a society plagued with mediocrity such as ours. This comes as a result of incessant deprivation which has constrained our good people to accept this way of life. We must change this; and, we alone have the power to do so.
It is sad to see Minister McGill, who lives in opulence and enjoys a lavish lifestyle, manipulating the ordinary people who battle abject poverty daily. And because our people are deprived, they do not realize how much power they possess to make demands from their Government. Rather, they view the pittance they receive from Government as undeserved gifts. This must end.
Minister McGill failed to conceptualize that the optics of his comments were damning for the following reasons:
- They encourage rampant corruption in Government; should culprits be arrested and charged, they may demand vindication on grounds that the stolen wealth is used on Liberians in Liberia;
- They expose other public officials prompting people to conclude that other government officials are behaving in a similar manner especially because the admission of theft comes from the mouth of an authority who directs the affairs of the Highest Office in our land – the office expected to abide by and operate by the highest ethical standards;
- Minister McGill, in essence, is saying that it is appropriate to convert public resources to personal gains if used in Liberia. This fallacy denies ordinary Liberians the resources for essential services such as education, infrastructure, schools and hospitals;
- This scares away possible foreign investment opportunities as international investors would view corruption as acceptable in Government which is certainly true.
Liberians, let’s stand in unity and demand the protection of our rights and decry corruption regardless of who commits it. We condemn behaviors such as those emanating from the Minister of State for Presidential Affairs and demand that he desists from such deplorable, corrupt behavior.
GOD BLESS LIBERIA!