The Asset Declaration Debate- Liberian Case
By: Samuel Worzie
For several months after the inception of the government of President George Manneh Weah ,the call for the declaration of his asset took the news stand of the Liberian Media. Many independent opinion leaders at some point expressed that the energy that was been employed into the call at the time did not worth it considering the track record of the current president of Liberia ,H.E. Dr. George Manneh Weah.
President Weah has for over thirty five years proven his believed, dedication and sensitivity for accountability,transparency and social justice via the kind of selfless and pragmatic contributions he has made towards the fight against bad governance and the abuse of human rights at home and abroad. His profound and enormous contributions to poverty alleviation and as well as the unification-styled mobilization of people once divided across social, tribal, political and sectional lines thru his God given endowment remains indelible in many part of the world.
The call for asset declaration is unavoidable and by extension a paramount tool in building a wholesome platform for accountability and transparency which are inextricable drivers of good governance.
The idea of asset declaration by public officers has being playing major role on the check list for the issuance of public opinion integrity and character clearance for Liberian public officials for some time now.
It is no argument to say that corruption is solely responsible for the debauched good governance framework breakdown in many countries in Africa, particularly Liberia. The consequence of the menace speaks volume including the hampering of sustainable socio-political tranquility and retarded economic development and growth.
The Liberian society like that of many others in underdeveloped countries has on many occasions for decades fallen victim to the debilitating consequences of corruption at different levels.
In 2008,several provisions of the 1986 constitution of Liberia were evoke including chapter 10,Article 89 which empowers the Legislature to enact laws for the creation of agencies and commission as may be necessary for the effective operation of government ;and Chapter 11,Article 90 of the constitution which also empowers the Legislature to prescribe a code of conduct for the public domain and to stipulate penalties and mechanisms for violations therefore to laid the legal basis for the establishment of the Liberia Anti- Corruption Commission(LACC).
The vision behind the establishment of the LACC was a nationalistic quest to end the abuse of power for personal interest, misapplication, mis-appropiation and mismanagement of state resources by public service officials. Part V of the LACC Act include stipulated provisions that clearly explains the power of the commission.
However,Part V,Section 4.1, a mandates the LACC to investigate all acts of corruption discovered or reported to have occurred in public,private,and civil society sectors of Liberia. To cause the prosecution in coordination with the Ministry of Justice,all cases of corruption in the manner provided under the law.To develop and/or adopt appropriate measures consistent with law to identify,trace and freeze any assets and /or proceeds of acts of corruption and ensure the confiscation, in court of law,of said assets and proceeds therefrom, among others.
By composition rating, the document is one of modern time’s best anti-corruption legal documents. On the other hand,Liberia’s anti-corruption campaign has not yielded the desired results since the inception of the country’s first anti-corruption commission in 2008 in addition to the General Auditing Commission(GAC).For many reasons,the weak fight has been attributed to the lack of political and institutional will by previous occupants of Liberia’s capitol hill to take the bull by the horn through a holistic institutional anti-graft law execution spree.
Part X ,10.1 ,of the Liberia Anti-Corruption Act clearly calls for the Declaration of Assets and Performance Bonds BY EVERY Public Official and employee of government involved in making decisions affecting contracting,tendering or procurement ,and issuance of licenses of various types.The law also calls for the declaration of income,assets and liabilities prior to taking office and the submission of information at different time intervals of change in status during or after service.
The government of Liberia ,under the leadership of H.E. Dr. GeorgeMannehWeah does not intend to follow the old-aged anti-corruption method of partial commitment to the fight against this “menace” that has for a very longtime underpinned the development of Liberia. The George Weah’s approach is simply not just declaring assets; its an approach that stresses the need for a holistic national construct that prioritizes the need for declaration of assets, compliance to all anti-corrupted regulations and full dedication to the prosecution of all violators no matter their political and economic status and or affiliation.
The pro-poor agenda, the national policy document of the Congress for Democratic Change by extension the Coalition for Democratic Change(CDC) political manifesto “the Change For Hope” ,PILLAR 4, GOVERNANCE AND TRANSPARENCY, is focus on (i) Fighting Corruption (ii) Rule of Law (iii) Institutional Reform (iv) Decentralization of Governing System (v) Foreign Relations
As we move on as a nation in a new dispensation under the pro-poor agenda, it is noteworthy to say to Liberians everywhere including our multi-lateral and bilateral partners that President George Manneh Weah brings a new taste and vigor to the Liberian presidency. Its a vigor to serve-well a people coming out of the dark smokes of political debauchery, human right abuse, rampant corruption, myriad of decades old infrastructural deficits, high incidences of mal-administrative practices by previous national leaders,segregation,oppression,marginalization,tribalism,hypocrisy propelled by self-seeking advances above those things that would had benefitted the vast majority of poverty stricken people of Liberia.
Lest I remind those whose definition of advocacy is to “ deliberately market falsehood to the Liberian population and those who are bend on instigating disorder through the manipulation of compromised stakeholders“ that the government of president George Manneh Weah is fully dedicated to upholding the Table Mountain Declaration .By this expression, the CDC led government is working exceediously to decriminalize all current legal provisions that are considered a threat to freedom of expression. No doubt, the essence of this measure including many others ,is to widen the space for a wholesome and vibrant free press within our borders.
It is important beseech your intelligence as you go about utilizing the rapidly widening free press environment being created by the current government of Liberia that, you owe your country-Liberia; a commitment to its peace,security and unprecedented prosperity no matter our political differences and economic interest.
Liberia as a nation with past like other nations of the world have been through a lot of social ,economic and political issues. Yet the prospect for successful investment remains appreciable.
The motherland must prosper.