Is Fighting Corruption In Liberia The Business Of President Sirleaf Alone?


By: J. Momolu Kaindii, Jr.

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia
July 17, 2007


The minds of some Liberians are still sealed in metal cages welded with ignorance and irrationality. Most of our compatriots in and outside Liberia remain blindfolded and insensitive to the complex historic realities of Liberia, the predicaments and constrains well-meaning Liberian leaders have encountered in their attempts to create an all-inclusive and beneficial socio-economic society in which there is equity, confidence and hope of prosperity for all if not in the immediate but within the intermediate and distant future.

I am particularly troubled whenever I hear Liberians complain of corruption in Government. While no reasonable being will condone the inappropriate personalization by few persons of the meager public resources especially in a country in which there is need for almost everything, from bath soap to cooking salt, one must be rational that the life process follows a pattern rooted in history, culture and tradition. In the case of Liberia, we must not be over-zealous and petit about a nation circumstantially founded by a group of people fatigued from inhumane slave labor and poverty ridden, who, in search of refuge and relief, in disillusion landed in culturally and politically disjointed terrains populated by diverse ethnic groups devastated by constant inter and intra-ethnic wars and conflicts badly surviving in eschewed political hamlets characterized by extreme poverty and illiteracy.

By providence if not coincidence, Liberia as a nation had emerged out of such an unpredictable desperation and therefore consists entirely of a population heavily entrenched in illiteracy, abject poverty, deprivations and wants. Rationalizing from this scenario, one should logically come to the realization that the doubts and suspicions which earlier underpinned the circumstantial amalgamation of both the historic (settler) and assimilated (native) Liberians into a theoretically unified state have snowball into an eclipse of endemic corruption that have permeated and consumed the moral conscience of almost all Liberians at various levels of the Liberian society.

For decades, these two groups of Liberians have struggled against one another. The historic Liberians have struggled for perpetual dominance over the assimilated, while the assimilated struggled against the historic Liberians for equality. This complex historic reality of Liberia has incarcerated the moral virtues of most Liberians, which they exhibit in nature and attitudes. Yesterday when the historic Liberians were at the helms of political power, suspicions and doubts of the assimilated Liberians compelled them to legislate and inaugurate the attitude of inappropriate utilization of state resources as a wall of defense. Quality education, beneficial employment opportunities and international exposure were exclusively reserved while state resources were extensively plundered for comfortable and flamboyant life style abroad, thus making Liberia a “smell but no taste” community or a farm where the crops are harvested but the proceeds utilized elsewhere. This is evidenced by the quantity and quality of physical and financial assets owned by historic Liberians in Liberia and abroad as well as the advanced socio-economic status of their descendants living in Liberia and abroad.

This has been the cultural environment to which the few fortunate assimilated Liberians have become accustomed. No doubt, prior to the 1970s, Liberia could not boast of more than 500 native Liberians with graduate degrees or over 1000 undergraduate degree holders even from the state run University of Liberia, needless to mention gainful or high profile employment in the public bureaucracy. The few who either became political puppets or rightwing agitators were rewarded with smokescreen posts with some basic incentives inappropriately offered, which were often time misused at the expense of the state. The desire for socio-economic equality and political inclusion propelled the few fortunate assimilated Liberians in and outside Liberia to remote-control the ceremonial military in a coup d’etate in 1980, thus infusing a new breed of holocaust that mercilessly advanced the impunity culture of brutal pubic resource squandering.

Most interestingly, the so-called progressive political panache experienced in the 70s-80s, which many believed would have instituted a reform can only be described as a charade, with no real purpose other than a struggle for power amongst the center players. One should carefully study the histories and activities of the elements of MOJA, PAL (UPP) and LP against the TWP and the military junta, all within the context of prudent public resources management credentials.

Today, most of these elements in all of the camps mentioned above, including their recently recruited military and civilian cadets of the 1989-2003 rebellion are now either in the centaury of the government or developed world, particularly the United States and surviving on what has been described as an ill-gotten or red-worth from Liberia’s national coffer. Does one honestly expect that these people can be disorientated overnight to sincerely fight corruptions in Liberia against their interest? Facing the reality, if a national public leader in the highest office could state in local and international media that if civil servants are paid their monthly salaries on time, they will not go to work; but if they are not paid, they will be compelled to go to work in order to fetch something for their families. Yet still, if one is mocked as being a fool for leaving a lucrative public office without acquiring life time worth…. These are the mental legacies living with the Liberian population at various strata of the society.

Fighting corruption in such a society can not be instantaneous with a hastily formulated policy and use of the current unrefined legal system to bring about immediate positive effect. This does not suggest that initiating a fierce fight against corruption now is untimely, except that one must carefully think through the practical realities existing in the Liberian society and formulate an aggressive systematic policy approach in dealing with those complex socio-economic and political issues relevant for the continuous peace and stability in Liberia. All Liberians must come to the practical realization that quick fixed solution is impossible in getting Liberia on the right path for growth and development, especially as it relates to the two troubling issues of minimizing corruptions and reducing poverty.

To have a successful fight against corruption in Liberia, all the sectors of the Liberian society and foreign governments must get fully involved. For instance, the local and foreign business communities in Liberia must consciously resolve to carryout a fair and legal business practices; the government must formulate just policies and fairly enforce the implementation of those policies without favor and the civil society (citizens) must provide unconditional support to the government and assume full responsibility for the development of their country. The National Legislature must pass into law a legislation compelling senior public officials to maintain their families and assets in Liberia while serving in public portfolios and encourage foreign governments, particularly the United States, to consider policies in support of this legislation.

We must all realize that the corruptions that are affecting the fabric of the Liberian society exist at the senior levels of government functionaries in the Legislative, Executive and Judicial branches. Corruptions amongst the support staff in these branches of government can be easily curtailed with less difficulty as compare to corruptions at the higher echelon. This in conclusion rationally suggests that fighting corruptions in Liberia is not the sole responsibility of President Sirleaf or any other future President of Liberia, but rather all stakeholders in the Liberian society.
© 2007 by The Perspective

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