Liberian Vice President, Joseph N. Boakai’s recent visit to the United States to attending the just ended US-Africa Leaders Submit in the U.S. Capital, Washington D.C where he met with United States President, Barack Obama seems to have given a complete different signal as to what came from the closed door meeting between both.
A local daily, the National Chronicle for the past few days has been publishing series of articles indicating that it has gathered information from multiple sources in and out of Washington, D.C. suggesting that the United States government has given up on the huge level of corruption and misrule being carried out by the Sirleaf government.
The paper in its publication also noted that ‘One of President Sirleaf’s contiguous friends, billionaire George Soros, complained about the huge sums of money brought into Liberia but which ends up in the accounts of government officials, while the Liberian people live in a state of desperation’.
The paper also said as a result of this, the formation of an interim Government of National Unity to take over from President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is currently taking place in the United States with several individuals being picked including Vice President Boakai to head it.
The paper said. “No one can overemphasize the huge level of corruption and misrule perpetrated by President Sirleaf and her handpicked clique of US citizens. If one is to listen to callers participating on the various talk shows relating to national issues, those possessed by holding on to state power and acquiring ill-gotten wealth through criminal means, at the expense of the poor long-suffering Liberian people, should by now realize that it is time to peacefully relinquish state power before the nation blows up into flames, which is expected any day, any minute, any second”.
The paper also said a cross-section of individuals from the United Nations, United States, European Union and other major international bodies and countries; the feeling is that Liberia is a power cake. They believe it can blow up into another round of civil unrest if nothing immediate is done to curb the huge level of dissatisfaction and mistrust that currently exist among the overly burdened people.
The paper went on, “ In a country which lives below the poverty belt, lower than a dollar a day and a single meal for one’s children to survive, unbelievably the President pays her chosen cronies from the US (who has made no relevant change in the lives and wellbeing of the Liberian people) between US$15,000 and US$25,000 (fifteen to twenty-five thousand United States dollars) per month. These figures exclude an expensive sports utility vehicle (SUV), gasoline allowance, housing allowance for the safest and most expensive neighborhoods, unlimited travelling allowances, incidental allowances and a huge entertainment budget. One would wonder why the Sirleaf officials are displaying wealth in a very deprived country with underprivileged people”.
As for the office of the President, former GAC boss is on record as saying that the annual budget is about US$35 million per annum. This budget alone can be compared to that of former President Charles Taylor’s national budget, and no one knows what the office of the President does with such a huge budget. In eight years and seven months of the ruling Unity Party (UP), with such a huge budget for the office of the President, her office has never been audited once; there is little or no knowledge of the expenditure pattern of the President’s office.
It is on record that the Minister of Finance has constantly said that there is no budgetary shortfall. He has constantly said that, during his last two years as Minister of Finance, he has collected over US$1.2 billion (one billion two hundred million United States dollars), which should have been adequate to handle a national budget of about US$600 million (six hundred million United States dollars). Minister Konneh is abundantly clear that there is no budgetary shortfall, but the million-dollar question that persists is: where does the money go? Is it because the government spends hugely outside of the national budget, as claimed by the US ambassador?
It has now become abundantly clear that the international community is pulling the rug from under the feet of one of Africa’s most corrupt regimes and, thereby, finding a way to ease the huge daily burden placed on the shoulders of Liberians. The issue is not if the President stays or goes, because it has become a foregone conclusion that Liberia will become far better without the corrupt Sirleaf regime. The real issue is: who will belt the cat?
There are conflicting and confusing views coming out of Washington as to the formula being formed for the preservation of one of Africa’s most corrupt countries and regimes. One school of thought is that the President resigns, allowing her Vice President, Joseph Boakai, to take over the office of the presidency and chose a Vice President.
The second school of thought is that the entire Unity Party government, including the National Legislature, departs the political stage and is replaced with respectable and trustworthy Liberians who can bring international credibility to the system. Owing to the second scenario, those who are being shortlisted are Dr. James Teah Tarpeh, Cllr. Charles Brumskine, and humanitarian and businessman, Benoni Urey.
During the 2011 general and presidential elections, Vice President Boakai was promised by President Sirleaf: she would turn over power to him once the process was over. The predominant view expressed at the time was that the Vice President was not popular enough to stand on his own to campaign as the presidential aspirant for the Unity Party (UP).
Playing very well the nominal role of a Vice President, Joseph Boakai has buried himself in the shadow of President Sirleaf, jumping to her every wish. The Vice President complains, often in secret and privately, about not having spending money, lacking gasoline to run the office of the Vice President, and normally kept in the dark when it comes to major financial transactions (deals) between the government and international multi-lateral institutions.
Like President Sirleaf, the Vice President is seen in many quarters as a miser, a man who wants everything for himself and whose giving is very small. There is no way the Vice President of the Republic of Liberia can unblemished himself from the huge and high level of corruption and misrule being perpetrated by the Unity Party (UP) government.
As Vice President, has he ever spoken about the plundering of Liberia’s natural resources? Has he spoken of the pocketing and misuse of proceeds generated from the extractive industry? Is he not aware that certain circles in the Unity Party government, which are close to the President, make over US$25,000 (twenty five thousand United States dollars) in salaries and benefits? Is he not partaking in the plundering of the nation’s resources, which should be for the wellbeing of every Liberian?
As the sitting Vice President, who controls the Senate, is he not aware that about 80% (eighty percent) of the decision and policy-makers whom he lobbied for to get Senate confirmation, are predominantly United States citizens with little or no love and commitment to the government and the people of Liberia? Is the Vice President not aware that the Alien and Naturalization Laws is abundantly clear that there is no duo citizenship in Liberia, and once one takes on the citizenship of another country one automatically loses his Liberian citizenship? Is the Vice President not aware of this law and guilty of knowingly violating the Constitution of the Republic of Liberia, which he swore before man and the Almighty God to uphold?
Is the Vice President not knowledgeable that tax payers’ money is leaving the country in the millions for accounts in the United States? Is he not aware that government officials are engaged in money laundering through a local bank on Broad Street? Is he not aware that, to cover the money trail, money goes from that bank into a Sierra Leonean Bank, then to a bank in the Philippines, before it is sent to the State of Delaware and enters the intended accounts? Is the Vice President not aware that the United States government closed down the Liberian embassy’s account in Washington, D.C. for money laundering because there was just so much unjustified money? Is he not aware that US citizens working in Liberia who came out of impoverish neighborhoods have purchased cash-down new homes in expensive US neighborhoods?
Can the Vice President exonerate himself from the vices of the Unity party government? When he does, he may have the chance to step-up and lead his people, but when his people needed him the most he was dancing “Garden Party” with the lives and prosperity of the nation and its people.
So how can the Vice President, who is part and parcel of the huge trend of corruption in the country, replace President Sirleaf? It is like the Liberian adage that goes, “Jumping out of the frying pan into the fire.”
Concerning the interim government, said to be under formation, it is highly suspected that Dr. Amos Sawyer, former interim president, may have his handwriting all over it. Presently, Dr. Sawyer is in the United States, where this whole plan is being formulated. Is it a coincidence, or is he one of the brains behind the plan?
The relationship between Dr. Amos Sawyer and Dr. James Teah Tarpeh goes far back: Dr. Tarpeh was the vice president for administration, University of Liberia, during the seventies and eighties, under President Mary Antoinette Brown-Sherman. At that same period, Dr. Sawyer was dean of Liberia College and a professor of political science at the university.
Cronies of the two have told the National Chronicle that the two men were very close friends, and are still very close friends. Therefore, if Dr. Tarpeh is deeply involved with this act, Dr. Sawyer cannot be on the periphery!
This publication by the National Chronicle has created serious concern amongst Liberians who are pondering this latest information from the media.
But in reaction to the story, Liberia's Information Minister, Lewis Brown said he will not give such report published by the National Chronicle credence, because it is false and misleading, and has no facts in it.