In a well written article posted on the New Liberia Foundation website and authored by Jones Nhinson Williams noted, "We have indisputable proof that members of our legislature have received bribes to approve foreign contracts for Liberia’s offshore oil. A check for $31,000 to Senator Sando Johnson is clearly visible on ThePerspective.org, and we can no longer stand for this brazen, corrupt behavior.
According to the NEWS and the Heritage, our government bribed the House and Senate with a combined total of US$3.4 million to pass this legislation that will likely have no positive impact on everyday Liberians. This is unacceptable.
I am not opposed to the development of offshore oil blocks. In fact, I am a supporter of any project that helps Liberia use its natural resources – but only in a way that benefits Liberians and the world. If our country’s leaders are accepting bribes, how can we trust that they will make decisions in our country’s best interest?
In the midst of an Ebola outbreak in which over 3,000 of our fellow Liberians have died, I would have thought our leaders would be inspired to alter the trend of corruption that has gotten us where we are today. Instead the rubble of our failing infrastructure, health centers and schools – symptoms of corruption – have become symbols of our government’s failure in the wake of Ebola.
As these oil contracts were being ratified, the Ebola infection rate was spiking along the border with Sierra Leone, and the risk of food insecurity continues to grow as hundreds of thousands of citizens struggle to provide food for their families. Meanwhile, members of the House of Representatives and Senate can dine extravagantly and hide behind their compound walls. I am truly disappointed to find that greed continues to prevail while the people of Liberia suffer.
Money earned from the sale of Liberian land and resources must be used to develop Liberian infrastructure and our own human capital so that we can create the jobs we need for our people. Think what US$3.4 million could bring. With it, we could provide much needed wells and sanitation facilities and the jobs to create them. We could train new doctors and build new health facilities. We could pay for a strong public education system, and provide much needed supplies, such as books, computers, paper, pens, soccer balls, and more.
Our private and non-profit sectors have the opportunity to pick up where the government has failed, building roads and public transit systems and health centers. But when there is a bribe at every corner, we severely limit – and risk losing – those interested in working with us.
I ask that our government leaders join me in the fight for Liberians, by Liberians. I ask them to join me in identifying investment opportunities that will lift us all out of poverty. Because when Liberia is a prosperous and safe nation, everyone, including our leaders, benefits. But in a world of corruption, all of our work is futile.
I ask Liberian leaders to take a moment to ask themselves why they went into public service. You went because you believed in something. And we the people of Liberia choose to believe that an honest and steadfast Liberian Legislature can and will lead our country.
When people are dying, when hopes are being dashed, when there are no jobs or food or clean water to nourish our families, the National Legislature – the very people entrusted by the citizens – cannot benefit from financial incentives for passing legislation. The time of the people is coming.
The land and the rights being sold are those of the Liberian people. The time of the people begins when both our government and our business leaders say NO to corruption. Never is there a time for Liberia’s leadership to dodge their responsibilities to the Liberian people. The time of the people is now.
Jones Nhinson Williams is President of The New Liberia Foundation, an organization dedicated to improving the lives of Liberians.
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