Dr. Abraham Williams

A Passionate Letter To His Excellency The President – 68TH Edition Facing Africa’s Herculean Monster Head-On In Liberia

His Excellency,

Liberia being one of the two oldest independent African states still remains one of the most underdeveloped and non-progressive countries on the continent. This is mostly due to endemic corruption and a continual patronage system of governance. This system promotes allocating huge salaries and benefits to the presidency, cabinet ministers and heads of public corporations and agencies, other top cadre public officials, legislators, top judicial officers and functionaries, as well as consultants and other top level functionaries. While most of the middle level and lower cadre functionaries and civil servants are paid very ridiculously low salaries and wages that cannot even support their round trip transportation costs to their respective work places, talk less of servicing their families’ feeding costs, housing, education, health and other basic and legitimate bills; albeit in an African communal and extended family system.

This unequal, insensitive and selfish system of labor gives exorbitant fringe benefits to the top level workers, such as gas and communication slips, and other lavish allowances that the lower cadre workers do not benefit from at all. This system uses lower level workers as though they were slaves, working virtually to transport themselves daily to work. No wonder productivity, creativity and innovation in work are extremely lacking – as these very low paid workers have to daily figure out how to meet the basic living costs of their families and other dependents and legitimate responsibilities. That is also why many would aide, abet and promote public corruption as a convenient norm of society and financial operation. This is the kind of system that I feel creates “unavoidable loopholes for corruption and is capable of ‘turning angels’ into erratic devils;” just for the survival upkeep of their families and dependents.

This patronage mentality and system of governance and operations is why those who promote and perpetrate the “herculean monster of corruption” feel very afraid and extremely jittery with the establishment of the War and Economic Crimes Court, Assets Recovery, anti-graft and any form of audit and accountability in the public sector.

At this juncture, l would like to put forward that massive, industrial and unchecked corruption in Africa and Liberia especially is a “cold war” that has arguably claimed more lives of Liberians since independence than wars and civil unrests. As a matter of fact, “reckless corruption” is the major cause or pretext for our wars in Liberia and the rest of Africa, and even for the resurgence of military coups in West Africa. Many officials of government and public servants are perceived to be siphoning millions of dollars of state funds to their private accounts in and out of the country, as well as accruing illegitimate properties within and out of the country. There is so much ill-gotten wealth in the hands of heartlessly corrupt public servants in a vicious cycle, from one government to the other, even until now that except the current government and legislators honestly and decisively enact, repeal, and urgently amend laws that would be made to legally and practically remove intentional or unsuspected bottlenecks, the fight against corruption would remain mere governmental clichés that would be completely counterproductive. And all these are happening while most Liberians keep languishing in abject and avoidable continual poverty.

The current Judiciary needs to effect much needed personnel, procedural and administrative reforms that will expedite prosecution of corruption cases, and as well as review penalties that may be obsolete and not stringent enough to punish culprits and deter potential predators. This would serve in the short term until an “Exclusive/Independent/Impartial Fast Track Court against Corruption” is established sooner than later. Corruption must be declared “a state economic and security emergency, if “lavish and wasteful public sector spending and leakages or loopholes” are to be grossly curtailed, if not eradicated sooner than later.

Furthermore, in order to handle this “perennial Herculean monster of Liberia (Africa) head-on, and if our law-makers and courts are not being deliberately intriguing, the irrational ‘statute of limitation’ against corruption cases, indictments and accusations should be removed” – such that these cases can always be investigated and prosecuted promptly anytime they are discovered, instead of placing legal cushions and protections that gives leverage to corrupt people, syndicates and cartels.

These measures would enable massive conservation and generation of domestic revenue that would both support necessary public sector recurrent expenditure and drive extensive investments that will practically and significantly impact the lives of the common people and as well foster rapid economic growth and private sector expansion.

Some of the major problems that I can point at which would prevent drastic changes from happening in the frantic fight against corruption in public service are “legislative corruption and judicial insincerity/complicity.” I feel our law makers, who have the fundamental responsibility of making, amending and repealing state laws and as well have oversight of their implementations, keep seeing laws blatantly flouted by public servants without taking proactive and robust steps to arrest these violations, in order to bring sanity into the operations of government and the prudent management of state finances and resources. For instance, they wink at “the violations of the drive and essence of tenured positions” and not taking proactive checks and interventions that would ensure “sacredness” of such positions. As a matter of fact, as an international rights advocate and anti-graft campaigner for two decades now, aside the NEC, GAC, FIA, CBL, GC and LACC, all other tenured positions should have been repealed, because they basically strangulate the transformational and progressive operations of government. However, any of these above integrity and good governance functionaries and institutions that is grossly underperforming and or seen to be using their positions to forestall swift and necessary positive changes that will move the nation forward need to be “removed by cause,” following due process or the appropriate course of the law.

Why has the new LACC (after the dissolution and replacement of the then Klar Martin team) not prosecuted any of those indicted for corruption by the Martin team and the GAC? Were they strategically appointed to protect certain persons, while holding unto “tenure protection,” so serving as disservice to the state and aiding to reap the country of potentially huge stolen monies and solid assets? Could this be the reason why the current president has appointed an Assets and Property Recovery Team while the LACC exists, albeit as a “white elephant,” despite being given huge salaries and benefits by tax payers and relevant international partners? All of these intrigues and anomalies that are “comfortably and legitimately allowed” to continue unchecked, by mostly the legislature and judiciary I personally consider “pathetic and reckless corruption;” heartlessly selfish and insensitive to the needs and aspirations of the masses.

Another very crucial economic pedestal that cannot be avoided in the fight against corruption is in Foreign Direct Investment (FDI); wherein almost all the current multinational investments operating in the country are not adequately meeting with or fulfilling their respective MDAs or Concession Agreements with the government and the various investment communities. This has led to very serious tensions, demonstrations and sometimes fatal clashes between the concessionaires and local workers and community people in the respective concession areas across the country. And with no significant value addition initiatives, these multinationals are seen to be greatly reaping off the investment communities and country, while leaving the latter in abject poverty and underdevelopment – often times in the perceive contrivance with the relevant political actors and local authorities. There needs to be an immediate and ongoing complete overhauling or review of all of these concession agreements to enable satisfactory mutual benefits for both the concessionaires on one hand and the investment communities and nation on the other.

We should all always remember that in recent times, these kinds of unabated bad governance, legitimate corruption, intrigues and labyrinth of dilemma of bogus democracy are the reasons why the military in West Africa have again reverted to the undemocratic means of “military take-over” to salvage the unbearable sufferings of the helpless and ordinary people. This is an aberration and dilemma we seem to loathe but are unavoidably attracting, sooner or later.

In conclusion, I only pray and hope that the Liberian legislature, judiciary and executive honestly and decisively work together to foster the aspirations and alleviate the perennial and avoidable callous abject poverty imposed upon the masses because of the continual perpetration of a patronage system of governance in Liberia. LONG LIVE THIS GLORIOUS LAND OF LIBERTY!

Best Regards, Dr. Abraham J. Williams

Int’l Rights Advocate & Anti-Graft Campaigner 

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