Indeed, we are proud of and commend comrade Sam Tweah for his brilliant analysis deep in Liberian and related World History, Socio- economic and Political Thought. This is an academic/intellectual teaching rendition in support/justification of Honorable Samuel Tweah’s critical, questioning treatment (Sugarcoating 133 Years of Americo-Liberian Dominance, August 9, 2012”) of an earlier national Orator.
This Orator, the current Minister of Finance and Development Planning, R. L., is one of the most powerful political figures of the prevailing political dispensation by virtue of his position as head of the nation’s treasury who holds the keys thereof. He has lawful responsibility and authority to pay salaries, all benefits, all others , etc., etc. of all employees of government, including the President of the Republic, Speaker & Protempore of the National Legislature, Chief Justice and Associate Justices of the Supreme Court of Liberia. As such, the Honorable Minister argues the following.
War against Corruption
There is “No problem in Liberia (that is) bigger than the problem of corruption (Graft & Greed). Corruption has been a root cause of the conflicts that have run through our history. This generation of Liberians and this new Government must renew its pledge to fight and end corruption” and that:
1) “The first step . . . is to abolish the culture of impunity . . . we have to give more teeth . . . to Anti-Corruption institutions like the General Auditing Commission, the Liberian Anti-Corruption Commission and the Internal Auditing Agency”;
“Our new President has promised that under his leadership those who misuse public funds will have no place in his government. Such persons must face the full weight of the law”. This is certainly reassuring to all our countrymen and our development partners who provide important resources for our national development”;.
“Many Liberians have demanded an audit of the previous government as well as prosecution of former officials of government accused of squandering public funds. Towards this end, the new government must conduct a review of all audit reports with a view to implementing many of the recommendations contained in the various reports”;
“The Government of President Weah has committed itself to conducting this new review (of the audit reports) and noted that it is encouraging”;
2) “Whether the present Government should spend scarce resources, human and financial . . . on going after former government (officials) or whether the government should focus on the big economic problems that burden our people is an interesting choice to make. It is very obvious that investing in preventing new acts of corruption and in the economic transformation of the country should be preferred”;
“First, this approach minimizes the new government’s exposure to accusation of witch-hunting. To the extent that evidence of such corruption exists, delaying these prosecutions does not prevent the demanded prosecutions from happening at some time in the future”; and
Second, a focus on past acts of corruption may be one means to restoring public faith in the credibility and possibility of Liberian governance. Another means is to use scarce public resources more effectively/efficiently raise living standard of the Liberian people”.
Corruption, the Biggest Problem
That Corruption is the most major source of socio-economic and political problem that affects and afflicts, negatively, the total development of the Liberian Nation and People, particularly, during its recent past and the present-prevailing is so self-evident and obvious that it needs no lecture nor a national Oration. However, some notes for emphasis and insight into the very serious nature of the “problem” are necessary.
Corruption – graft, greed, bribery, extortion, dishonesty, moral decadence – is a universal phenomenon.
Found on every continent, in every country, society and culture irrespective of political/economic development and affluence, corruption is a vice that is arguably intrinsic in human nature. As such, Liberia and/or Liberians do not have a natural monopoly of corruption.
But recent activities and patterns of social, cultural behavior of the elite and educated indicate the contrary; that Liberian Governments and officials have, now, monopolized this universal vice to the detriment of the overwhelming majority of the nation, the poor, average citizens.
Stolen government resources have been, and are, utilized to construct palatial homes, buy expensive, luxury automobiles and invest in personal, business ventures which are regarded as “national development”; the guilty officials go unpunished and, in fact, are rewarded with promotions. Officials and related bureaucrats hire and surround themselves with relatives, friends, cronies and concubines. The officials are emulated by the young who see these immoral and unlawful acts as “savvy politics”.
For examples, former Minister of Justice, Auditor-General of Liberia and former President of the nation declared publicly that “Corruption is Liberia’s public enemy No.1”. But the President admitted inability to innovate corrective reforms.
World or International/global watch-dog and economic/financial Analysts declared Liberia as the most corrupt nation in a world comparative analysis; and Global Witness’ evidence-based, validated recent report charged identified, highly-placed Liberian Government officials of demanding/receiving bribes to amend/repeal PPCC laws in favor of a foreign company.
The Legal Counsel to the company who dished out the alleged bribes was the Chairman of the-then Ruling UNITY Political Party and obtained a US $200, 000.00 political contribution to the Party in flagrant violation of political party laws. He is now a prominent member of the National Legislature and one of several highly-placed officials are now under indictment.
This, is the unfortunate significant nature, level, scope and impact of the universal vice with respect to our country and people.
Although the Oration identified, correctly and adequately, the public policy Decision-actions required to rid the nation of the “biggest problem in Liberia – Corruption” – we are extremely disappointed and, indeed, profoundly, deeply troubled by the Oration’s statement that the new Government will and must “delay going after former officials of government (prosecution) for the future, although evidence against them exists”.
This approach, according to the Oration, is intended (1), to avoid prosecutorial expenditure and (2), minimize the “new Government exposure to accusations of witch-hunting”. But the approach, we believe, is a cope-out and invalid. For, it is reasonable to conclude that the Orator is fully aware of this and the legal maxim that “justice delayed is justice denied”.
Moreover, corruption, being the “biggest problem in Liberia”, is “drastic disease or sickness that demands drastic medicine treatment (W.V.S. Tubman)”. Further, in any democratic political community that is committed to the rule of law and in which mind-boggling illegal acts of atrocious summary executions, group massacres, genocides, human rights violations, rapes, maiming, thievery and corruption were committed without trial, as was the case in the Republic of Liberia, a legal house-cleaning effort for the arrest, trial of the suspected and punishment of the guilty are required, demanded and, indeed, mandatory.
This effort sends out the message, loud and clear, that there is, will and shall be, no preferential treatment of immunity or impunity given to anyone, irrespective of position and standing in the community. Legal house-cleaning is and will be the major test of the new Government’s credibility and commitment to “our countrymen and . . . development partners”.
Now, TRC the approach, based on the successful experience of the Republic of South Africa and, also, based on the Liberian Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), of Accra, Ghana, adopted and passed into law in Liberia as the reasonable option for peace and security in post-conflict Liberia – open, free and fair trials of suspected human rights violators, punishment of the guilty and amnesty granted the guilty, remorseful violators to whom such amnesty was due – a transitional justice approach, from conflict to modern, peaceful democratic rule.
In the light of the foregoing and the reality of the prevailing conditions on the ground in Liberia, as in the past, it is necessary, indeed mandatory, that:
1) The new Government should and must summon the political will and “guts” to distance itself from the war and economic crime (corruption) suspects. It should and must begin this process by rooting out and freeing the new Weah Government from entrapment by the Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf loyalists and others. Significantly, arrest and turn over all war and economic (corruption) crime suspects to the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague for free, fair and open trials. With validated evidence, no reason exists for accusation of “witch-hunting” or “unnecessary prosecutorial expenditures”.
Indeed, this decision-action will earn and guarantee the new Government the International Community’s support led by Liberia’s most major historical benefactor and political ally, the USA, to arrest and turn over the suspects of war, economic and corruption crimes to the (ICC). For, it was this support, mainly economic, that convinced Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf to turn over her appointed war-front commander and ally, Mr. Charles Taylor, to the ICC for trial; the rest is history;
1) Left to Decision of the entrapped new Government on the ground in Liberia and placing War Crime Court, also, on ground in Liberia, will not be only repetition of the past 12-year illusion, but also, in support of Ellen Johnson-Sileaf’s ear-shattering silence in support of AU condemnation and threat of withdrawal from the ICC, Africa’s only salvation and protection from war (crimes of human rights violations of genocide and related crimes against African humanity), economic and corruption crimes. The prevailing Liberian socio-political and economic conditions merit ICC intervention; for, the ICC was created, exactly and precisely, to remedy such conditions;
2) Therefore, it is in the best economic and political interests of the new Government to arrest and turn over all bigwigs and related major-crime suspects led by ACDL’s Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf as the most senior warlord; Liberia Maritime Authority’s (formerly Liberian Maritime Commission) former administrators and LISCR for purchase of arms and ammunitions for the civil war with LISCR agents recently-reported to have stolen US $123 million of Liberia Maritime Authority’s funds and hiding behind their Legal Counsel in Monrovia (the already indicted Varney Sherman); and the reported “ghost (of Minister of State for Presidential Affairs, Dr. McClain) from the great beyond with payment of US $207,277 on behalf (also reportedly) of Ellen’s Lobbyist Public Relations fees” in Washington, D.C., USA.
The New Government
The new Government should and must break up or dismantle the Super Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MF&DP) of the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Planning & Economic Affairs – separate paymaster from planner/doer to prevent the classic conflict-of-interest approach. The Ministry of Finance, given wider terrain with political power, influence and control, has been and is the most historically-dishonest, corrupt agency of government. It is now over-paid and over-staffed with dual citizens who do not live in Liberia but with families living permanently in foreign countries and travel, often, to these countries at enormous cost to the public resources; they are provided housing, transport, electricity generators with service allowances, although they plan or develop nothing, but collect payments from those that they pay nationally (retained from counties’ socio-economic development allocations).
It is, indeed, fortunate that the Orator is the head of the do-nothing and corrupt Ministry and that reasonable, effective, efficient reforms are assured.
Finally, the new Government should and must pay close attention to and evaluate/restructure the Ministry of Finance’s former Section – Bureau of Revenue – the now Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA). It has been, and is the nation’s second-most historically-dishonest and corrupt agency of government and may be, reasonably, re-named, Liberia Stealing Authority.
The agency is, also, over-paid and over-staffed with dual citizens who do not live in Liberia. Its close association with the National Social Security & Welfare Corporation (NASSCORP) MD is cause for concern. Indeed, it is about time that the new Government consider retirement of NASSCORP MD in the light of his payment of large sums of money to several politicians, including the recent, reported, payment to Honorable Harrison Karnwea of Nimba County that raised eye-brows on the internet.
And lastly, the Public Procurement & Concession Commission (PPCC), General Service Agency (GSA) and Ministry of Finance & Development Planning (MF&DP) have not, yet, accounted for the US $5M, some 300 vehicles and medical supplies donated to Liberia for the Ebola Emergency. Some of the vehicles and medical supplies were found in Saclepia, Nimba County, general, public market for sale.
It is about time that the new Government arrest the GSA MD, the Executive Director of the corrupt PPCC for prosecution by the ICC and replace the entire PPC Commission members. The so-called Ministry of Finance & Development Planning should and must, also, be re-structured.
Now, “our People” – the poor, un-informed, un-educated, unemployed, hungry, often sick but without healthcare and die of curable ailments; the majority of the nation’s population is now in Monrovia, trapped in the ghetto-slums surrounding the City – they expect, rightfully, to observe and feel, practically, the Changes and Hope well-articulated by this 171st and July 26, 2018 National Independence Day Orator of the new Government.
For, as indicated earlier, the Orator is politically well-connected very and the very powerful political player who is head of the nation’s treasury with the keys thereof.