Is Corruption Institutionalized In Liberia? With Commentary Reaction To “Legislated Bribery”
The issue of corruption in Liberia was the topic of a Panel Discussion/debate televised in the United States in which I was the leading Liberian Panelist and former President of the Union of Liberian Associations in the Americas, Inc., (ULAA). In response to this loaded question, I held:
“Friends, Brothers and Fellow Compatriots, please permit me to share my thoughts with you on this critical, socio-cultural, economic and political question in our country, Liberia. This discussion/debate presents a very useful, timely (December 12, 2009), interesting and intellectual exercise. It will illuminate and provide, hopefully, not only the understanding of the foundation of Liberia’s corruption and the reasons for its uniqueness, but also, the beginning of the search to minimize, control and, eventually, eradicate Corruption”.
What, then, is Corruption?
Corruption is graft/greed, bribery, extortion, vote-rigging, nepotism, use of public funds and related resources to develop personal real estate such as mansions with swimming pools, apartment complexes, the uncontrolled desire and activity to acquire more and more of the good things of life by immoral, illegal practices.
A universal phenomenon found on all continents, every country, society and culture irrespective of economic, political development and affluence, corruption is a Vice, apparently, intrinsic in human nature; as such, Liberians should not have monopoly of corruption. It is morally, legally detested and defined, universally, as a crime punishable by law, including Liberia. Moreover, corrupt behavior is not recognized neither under Liberia’s moral rectitude nor by the nation’s body of laws.
Although corruption had been a historical problem with negative impact on the socio-economic life of the nation since its founding in 1847 up to the April 14, 1979 Rice Protest and the follow-up by the military coup d’état on April 12, 1980 with its theme song of “abuse of political power and rampant corruption”, a reality in Liberia during its 174-year existence as an independent, sovereign state, but corruption had not been, nor is it, now, a matter of national policy; therefore, corruption is not institutionalized in Liberia.
To say that “corruption is Liberia’s public enemy no.1”, as declared by former President of Liberia, Mrs. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf or that “there is a critical lack of infrastructural development in Liberia due, mainly, to ‘institutionalized’ corruption” by the nation’s Minister of Justice, are, simply, metaphors to draw attention to the serious, critical incidence of Political Corruption.
The increasing Problem of Corruption
Now, back home in Liberia, I find that there is the phenomenal increase in the level of political corruption within, mainly, the upper strata of Liberian society, the intelligentsia or the academic/intellectual elites. From this class come the members of the National Legislature who craft the laws that guide, protect and defend the society; the lawyer-judges of the Constitutional or Supreme Court from which there is no appeal; and the Associate Justice of the Supreme Court who was, recently, impeached and removed upon conviction of Corruption.
The National Legislature, now, stands accused as a “Paradise of thieves” with “Legislated bribery” sponsored and master-minded by former President Sirleaf, according to Cllr. Tiawon Gongloe, President of the Liberia National Bar Association.
One of the major cases in-point of political corruption was the recent indictment of a prominent lawyer who is member of the Liberian Senate with several members of the Executive Branch of government for demanding/receiving bribes in millions of US dollars from a foreign mining company to amend, illegally, Liberia’s mining concession laws in favor of the foreign company. The lawyer who acted as legal counsel to the company, while a member of Legislature, allegedly, received and dished out the bribe payments to the other officials.
In fact, it was reported that this Lawyer, who was Chairman of the former ruling Political Party, the UNITY, secured a US $200,000-dollar political campaign contribution from the foreign company to the UNITY Party, an act that the Lawyer-Chairman knew to be illegal. The United States, recently, sanctioned the Senator as the most corrupt official. But the prominent Lawyer serves, still, as Chairman of the Senate Committee on Law.
Corruption is inherited from colonialism about which Liberians have come to regard and believe to be wrong, unlawful and criminal when practiced by others; but a relevant and economic necessity when practiced by one’s group.
The “ALL-LIBERIANS ARE RELATED MENTALITY IS A FAKE”; it is an augment designed to absorb the socio-cultural, economic and political indignities heaped upon the poor citizens, majority of the nation’s population, to gain their support of the prevailing wave of wholesale Stealing. Political corruption depends on Dual Citizenship for economic support at the detriment of the nation.
Stay tuned for our articles on “Political Corruption, specifically written on the subject in its various forms.