Liberia is in deep crisis –– widespread corruption, radical greed and naked public theft –– a crisis worse than when Charles Taylor, the known tyrant was in charge for 13 years, counting his senseless rebel war days to the time he became a dictatorial ruler of the Liberian nation. Just last week, I told some international policy makers, including World Bank Group president Dr. Kim, that when it comes to making Africa sustainable, they repeatedly miss the boat. I said this because continuous open-ended support to a number of countries in Africa, particularly Liberia, without a strong call and mandate against every and all forms of corruption not only fuels satanic corruption; it makes these very international groups a partner in crime against the suffering poor in Liberia and across the continent.
Until the World Bank Group, the International Monitoring Fund, the United Nations and western nations like the United States, Britain and France recognize that Africa’s problem is not poverty, but mismanagement, uncontrollable greed, poor governance and mindless corruption, nothing will ever change in places like Liberia and other nations on the continent. Here is why.
Liberia is very rich in natural resources than many developed countries in Europe and elsewhere. We are richer than Switzerland, Belgium, Luxemburg, Poland, The Netherlands, Israel, the Cayman Island, Sweden, Norway and perhaps even the great France. We have diamonds, gold, Iron Ore, oil, rich rain forest and vast fertile land necessary for every type of agriculture and food production activities. We have a wonderful landscape and a coastal area that lies several thousand miles along the Atlantic Ocean. We also have a very small population, about 3.9 million people. So why are we extremely poor and under-developed? Why do we have Ebola as a health crises? Before I answer the first question let me provide answer to the second.
The real Ebola in Liberia is corruption. We have the Ebola health crisis because the countries where the virus/disease hit hard are very corrupt, and Liberia is the cornerstone of the heartless corruption in the sub-region. Every aspect of bureaucratic governance in Liberia is corrupt; the very culture of the Liberian administration is nothing but corruption. This is not to talk about the president, neither is it an attack on the president. I believe to continue to blame our president when we have three branches of government in a “check-and-balance” system is to be naïve at the highest extent. I say this because President Sirleaf is not a royal—-queen. She does not own Liberia. Besides, she works for Liberian people and she knows that. Another thing she knows as well is that Liberian politicians, activists and our so-called educated noisemakers are all fools. So she rightly takes advantage of the opportunity to bestow royalty on herself because of the narrow-mindedness that these people displayed.
For example, our national legislature (Senate and the House of Representatives) that is the voice and direct representation of the Liberian people is not only corrupt; it is useless to the core. The head of national legislature is the chief facilitator and mastermind of corruption, organized crime, deceit and hypocrisy. He engineered the bribery scheme that gave each lawmaker US$35,000 just to sign a corrupt bill that granted oil block 16, our collective resources, to a foreign interest just to fulfil his selfish personal interest. Just think about this. This guy and all his corrupt partners in the Legislative corruption fiasco are from electoral districts where there are no power, no decent health facilities and schools, no public libraries, no safe and clean drinking water and where children are sick, or are dying from illnesses that are largely treatable. Moreover, the road conditions in their various districts are worse than the word deplorable itself. Imagine how much the stolen money can do for rural Liberia. If we had a well-behaved, focused and decent legislature, one that plays sincere oversight roles, Liberia will be a better nation. But when we elect people that do not have a vision to articulate, follow through on and implement, we get what we elect. Montserrado County’s constituents in our country are today learning this the high way, and local journalists act like they are shocked. What we elect is what we get. If you get paid to give your vote, when elected, why should a lawmaker have time for you anyway?
Let us now answer the second question. Why is our country so poor and under-developed? Our country Liberia is poor and under-developed because we lack true leadership and vision. Leadership and vision inspire direction, focus, patriotism, innovation. These things, in turn, foster and uphold the rule of law and human rights; ensure fiscal and economic transparency and accountability, and freedom, including speech, assembly, Press and full-fledge participatory democracy. They also lead to a healthy exchange of ideas and views without resulting to tribalism, senseless wars, religious and social bigotry, and extremism. The end result is awareness to invest in infrastructure, workforce development, communities, science, technology, engineering and math, manufacturing and agricultural-food production.
Like most Liberians, I disliked and opposed Charles Taylor’s activities (not his person) in Liberia and the sub-region. However, we must be honest with ourselves. Even though Taylor’s regime was brutal, it did not have excess corruption problems as we have today. Most Liberians are economically worse off than when Taylor was president. As dysfunctional as Taylor’s regime was, Ebola would not have stay a month in Liberia without being under severe control. Everyone in and out of Liberia knew what Taylor stood for––extreme thirst for state power. His partners in crime knew, too. Taylor chased those who wanted his power, and in the process, he killed innocent civilians, including five decent American Catholic nuns whom I will always remember for the rest of my life.
Today, no one knows what the officials of our current Liberian government stand for. They are not only involved in greed for power and wealth; they are also full of deceit, lies, hypocrisy and narrow-mindedness. There is a saying that “if you don’t stand for something you will fall for anything.” Many of the officials and our politicians do not stand for damn. This is exactly why countries like Ghana, whose citizens came to Liberia in the 1970s to buy salt and pepper and for better life, have become the go-to in deciding Liberia’s fate. All things aside, Ghana is a thousand times better and advanced than Liberia in many ways. For all economic contracts, legal contracts, peace talks and almost everything, our so-called educated and corrupt politicians run to Ghana. Even our local contracts are all having Ghana over it.
I am not opposed to Ghana and its people; I just believe we need to be competitive with our West African brothers and sisters in Ghana, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Senegal etc. We should not allow our country to be trending backward while others are moving forward. We must understand that the entire African region is an emerging market and everyone is competing to win. If keep running to your competitors what do you expect? To put you ahead of them, then you must find a way to see a psychiatric. We cannot and must allow Liberia to be a free for all when others do not do that. Just look at this. With all the so-called PhDs we have, a Liberian has never serve as Secretary General or President of the Economic Community of West African States at the secretariat level. We have no prominent administrative position in the African Union. We have no major research university or internationally recognized public policy institution. Everyone wants to get a share of the Elephant––the Liberian Government. From the so-called Governance Reform Commission to multiple commissions that include some that are bent on how to stack away national wealth into people’s personal accounts. All just to give jobs to every greedy and useless politician that praise-sings or cry foul. So instead of growing our private sector through innovation and strategic investments, we keep growing the Liberian government with duplicities such as: deputy minister for administration, assistant minister for administration, director of administration, personnel director, all in the same ministry.
We may disagree with his full record somehow, the fact is, Ghana is moving forward today because President Jerry Rawlings provided leadership and vision, and subsequent presidents after him find it hard to deviate because the Ghanaian population will see the contrast and caution against it. Ghanaians in country and around the world are patriotic and love Ghana than any other nation on earth. Liberia is the direct opposite. Our political leaders and so-called opposition groups are so useless that even Liberian refugees in Ghana, Guinea, Sierra Leone and the Ivory Coast are refusing to return home. If you think they are wrong for doing so then please check out these news stories coming out of Liberia:
Liberia: 'Corruption Scheme' – Lacc Hooks NPA Boss, Others for $800 K
Liberia: NBC Boss in Financial 'Malpractice'
Ebola Audit Report Out – Defense Minister and Comptroller Asked to Account for Over U.S.$600,000
LEC Oil Deal With Srimex to 'Backfire'
Liberian President Instructed 'Lobbying Fees' to Lawmaker
LACC to Bite – Speaker Probe, Oil Firm Looms As 90-Day Ends
Although these stories are not good, ordinary Liberians are a good people. We are strong nation and people with deep faith in God and our fellow human beings. We have showed Africa that people of different faith and religious persuasion can live together in peace. We have defied our rogued politicians and others who in the past and even now have tried to inject religious divisions into our existing misery. And we can do this again and again. We have proven that both men and women have equal rights to leadership not just in Liberia, but in Africa. We have led before when others followed. We have showed the world what Africa is and can do–––from being instrumental in the fight for the freedom of most African nations, founding of the United Nations, the African Union and its predecessor organization (the Organization of African Unity) to standing up against Apartheid, welcoming refugees and nationals from other African countries and around the world. We can do better than we are today. All we need is concrete ACTION, engagement and understanding that corrupt politicians cannot and should not define who we are as a nation.
We must get engage to change and redirect our country’s course of action. We are better than inciting religious bigotry and violence. We are better than being used for “chicken change” that only buys bags of rice, zincs and motor bikes, liquor etc. Collectively we have power than any corrupt official in Liberia and all the fake opposition leaders.
Our individual vote, our determination, our questions and our patriotism must not be taken for granted or bought. The future of Liberia rests not in the hands of our politicians (because we have all seen what they have and continue to do to our country), but in our hands. The time for demonstration, wars, cursing, anger and stupidity are over. The time to oppose good and decent Liberians just because they have not stolen our collective wealth to in turn use it in brushing their way to state power as if it is their personal hard earned wealth, is over.
Of course, I disagree with President Sirleaf on almost every major policy issue in terms of governance in the country, but the time to cast every blame on the old lady is belated and actually unwarranted. We must accept that she is elderly and she has tried to govern to the best of her ability. We cannot force her to do what she is incapable of doing. She has limitations and we must recognize that and move forward to envisioning a new, better and secured Liberia. We as Liberians, whether on Facebook, in Liberia or outside of Liberia, must get engaged–––don’t fight or incite violence. Just get ready to speak out, mobilize and support DEMOCRACY AND PEACEFUL CHANGE starting with calling out corrupt officials to resign and stressing accountability and the rule of law. If we do not or cannot do this, then we must not complain when the deadly EBOLA and widespread CORRUPTION lie in our beds.