This is in response to
a detailed report on corruption on the Front Page Africa
website authored by Rodney Sieh, titled “How Corrupt-Who’s
Corrupt in Liberia—an investigative report”.
The following is just a random thought, unedited and raw.
I have no intentions of seeking a job in Liberia, as I
am happy with my current employment. I do however care
deeply about Liberia and want what’s best for the
Although I cannot say that I was entirely surprised by
what is yet another detailed confirmation that corruption
remains a serious impediment to the future of this nation,
I must admit that it was painful to go through the litany
of accounts from one ministry to the next, one minister
or director to the next, that outlined allegations of
blatant fraud and abuse of public funds and trust, respectively.
The first thought that occurred to me was, “is there
anyone we can find in positions of trust that is not corrupt
in the Liberian government?” What I surmised from
the report was a confirmation and admission of corruption
by the President of our Republic, but a deferral of responsibility
to GEMAP and the “Liberian Culture”. The report
quoted the president of saying “Because corruption
is so embedded in our system, culture and values, it will
take us a while to fight this pandemic unless all of us
begin to fight it.” Madame President, we’ve
heard enough of your excuses, it is time that you take
drastic and strategic measures to severely mitigate corruption
or resign for reasons of gross incompetence.
Yes, we all must do our part and help in the fight against
corruption—from our homes to the market places.
Yes it will be a long and hard fought fight. But the President
is yet to seriously act on the repeated reports and calls
to make significant and meaningful changes in her administration.
The Executive branch must lead by example. The rhetoric
being spewed on the Liberian people from the executive
mansion is nothing less than shameful and indicative of
a more serious problem—the lack of honest, integrity,
political will and true commitment in fighting corruption.
The president has been calling on Liberians in the Diaspora
to return and help in rebuilding Liberia. Ok, I can understand
the call—the brain drain has severely impacted the
country coupled with years of wars that severely hampered
our educational systems. However, what I cannot understand
is why the president is sending conflicting messages,
which produces undue risk and discourages any reasonable
person from contributing to Liberia.
For example, the European Union sponsored the search for
a credible candidate to serve in the capacity of Auditor
General, RL. After an exhaustive and rigorous recruiting
process, John S. Morlu, II, a native Liberian, was selected.
John had a decent job in the United States of America,
a young family, but decided to make the sacrifice the
president has been requesting. John’s decision is
no less than honorable and deserves commendation.
Madame President, it is appalling to read that as of yet,
the newly appointed Auditor General has no capacity to
even begin to execute his plan as submitted and presented
in his budget to both the Legislature and the Executive.
The newly appointed AG of the Republic of Liberia is working
out of a hotel, and currently in a tug of war over a vehicle
being commandeered by the former AG who was relieved of
his post for reasons of corruption? What kind of mess
is this? Now, what kind of message does this send to Liberians
in the Diaspora who may be contemplating on returning
to help rebuild our nation?
Some believe that the lack of decentralization is at the
root of the corruption problem. I beg to differ. We don’t
need to decentralize the government to make it work in
a small country like Liberia. What we need are credible
men and women of integrity who are willing to stand up
for once in their lives and do the right thing.
Call to Action:
Madame President, I don’t know what your agenda
or long-term goal is, since I have not seen one in writing.
All I have heard is “debt relief” and that
“Liberia is rich with natural resources but ironically
poor” and we need “partners”. What I
would say is this. Whatever those goals and agenda are,
they are severely misplaced and counter-intuitive. The
entire country is out-of-order. The country seems to be
moving with no one in control and no one apparently responsible
for the daily affairs.
You must do the following within the shortest possible
1. Amend the current budget before the Legislature to
increase the General Auditing Commission (GAC) budget
from the $1.1MM to $6.6MM, as recommended by the AG. This
sends a message that you are committed to curbing corruption.
Anything short of this is simply a joke and a slap in
the face to the Liberian people and the international
partners, who have a stake in curtailing corruption. When
we consider the millions that have been allegedly squandered
(for example $7MM unaccounted for at the LPRC according
to a UN report, yet to be investigated) at various ministries
and public corporations in Liberia, the budget submitted
by the AG for the purpose of strengthening the government
capacity is not unreasonable. The opportunity cost associated
with not adequately funding the GAC is simply unaffordable.
This requires your leadership. No one will take John seriously
if you don’t take him seriously. Why would anyone
be willing to invest in a country where transparency,
accountability, financial controls and the rule of law
are not priorities? Actions speak louder than words.
2. Hold a cabinet meeting in the presence of the AG to
reinforce the importance of the role of the AG, and emphatically
state that Ministers and the heads of public corporations
will be held directly accountable for any evidence of
non-cooperation, to include indefinite suspensions without
pay and dismissals. There’s nothing more frustrating
to an auditor than having a situation where no one wants
to see you or talk to you, and everyone colludes to hide
evidence or documents. If you have to fire 20 to 30 people,
fire them! Trust me, the pay-off in the long term will
be well worth it.
3. Stop begging Libya to invest in Liberia. Who are your
advisors, I wonder. Why is it not abundantly clear that
we can get the moneys we want by focusing on improving
our domestic issues like “unchecked corruption”,
rising insecurity from armed robbers, capacity building
of our judicial system, price stability of rice and other
commodities, etc. Has the president ever asked why the
several trips around the world have yielded only promises,
but no meaningful realization? For example, the United
States of America has recently approved a spending bill
to authorize $95 billion for Iraq for the next 5 months.
Are you telling me that the United States alone is not
in the position to fund our economy with $3 billion dollars
over 5 years or less? If the United States has not taken
any serious action in this regard, then we must ask ourselves
why? It is certainly not because the United States cannot
afford it. It is more than likely due to our sustained
instability and related perceived risk, compounded by
our determination to do business as usual. If the President
is not committed to deviating from the past, I am afraid
Liberia’s future will be on hold for at least the
next 5 years.
4. Shift the focus from re-building the army to building
the capacity of the police. The army will not be useful
in the short term. I read recently that the defense ministry
was awarded $45MM by the United States to aid the army
capacity building project. To do what? My position on
this is clear. Armies fight wars and protect borders from
potential invasion. Liberia currently has no eminent threat
of invasion, and we certainly are not going to fight any
wars in the short term. The criminals in Liberia, however,
have declared war on our citizens, and the only institution
that can adequately restore law and order and maintain
the peace in any city is the police, not the army.
5. Consider cabinet changes at strategic and critical
levels. To reestablish a sense of trust and credibility
in the executive branch, new and competent faces must
be brought on the scene to replace the bankrupt ideas
and policies that have continued to failed us. The president
cannot look solely to those who agree with her on policy
issues or those who voted for her. She must look outside
her little box, and she will discover that members of
the “opposition” have several competent people
right in Liberia, and certainly in the Diaspora.
6. Embrace the establishment of a War Crimes Court. This
will bring many of our own war criminals to answer for
their crimes, and finally put to rest the issue of injustice
for many innocent victims who blood are crying out to
those in authority to bring them justice. Charles Taylor
is now on trial for his involvement in Sierra-Leone, our
brothers and sisters next door. His arrest and trial is
good for Africa. Again, it is about precedence. It sends
a message that people in positions of power at the highest
level will and can be held accountable for their actions.
Liberia needs its own court, not merely the farce we have
now called “Truth and Reconciliation Commission”.
True reconciliation comes with justice for the poor and
the widows. Justice for the children who had nothing to
do with the war, but were killed and used as instruments
of war. Come on people! Let’s reason together. Does
anyone seriously believe that genuine peace and prosperity
will return to Liberia without revisiting the past and
hold the individuals greatly responsible for wrecking
our nation accountable?
7. Empower religious leaders to reach out to the general
public with their messages of peace and the need for spiritual
revival. The real change that the country needs at the
moment is the change of ourselves—a spiritual revival
that will serve to reawaken the conscious of the good
in us. The change that will re-instill morality, self
respect, love for country and love for one another. At
the root of all of this corruption, waste and abuse is
the lack of fear of God, characterized by a complete disregard
for the consequences of our negative actions towards one
another or towards the state. It is only by the Gospel
of peace, as is written in the Holy Bible, that Liberia
will regain its image and rebuild a nation worth dying
for. This is true success! To build upon principles of
truth that transcends generations of the past and generations
to come. The president wants to build on top of a pile
of dung, which keeps polluting the air every time we attempt
to forge ahead as a nation. Its time to clean and scrub
inside Liberia—simply painting the outside of this
house does not and will not work. Hard choices must be
made. The only question is do we have a President that
has the guts to make them?
About the Author:
Mr. Saa M. McCarthy is a Certified Management Accountant (CMA) and a Certified Financial Manager (CFM) residing in Texas. He is married, and a father of four children. Prior to coming to the United States, Mr. McCarthy lived as a refugee in several refugee camps in the republic of Sierra Leone from 1989 to 1992. He currently serves as Chairman Of the Finance and Recruiting Committees of The Liberian Contemp-UPS. He may be reached at email@example.com
2007 by The Perspective
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