The Thriving of Corruption And Its Attendant Unbearable Effects On Liberians
By Tiawan Saye Gongloe
My fellow Liberians, we have gathered here today to show the world that a majority of the Liberian people are against corruption. We want the world to know that corruption is the root cause of the high level of poverty in Liberia and the underdevelopment of Liberia.
Today, as a result of corruption, Liberia is the tenth poorest country in the world, according to the International Monetary Fund and World Economic Outlook of April 2023 data published in the July 17, 2023 edition of the Global Finance Magazine.
No Liberian needs to be told what corruption is doing to most Liberians. Most Liberians are victims of corruption. Today, most parents cannot feed their families due to corruption. Most children are out of school because corruption has made their parents so poor that they cannot afford to send them to school. As a result of corruption, government clinics, and hospitals lack the most basic medicines to save the lives of the Liberian people. Government hospitals and clinics have largely become prescription centers or death traps.
Because of corruption, most rural parts of Liberia are not accessible because of bad roads. Yet, President George Weah likes to boast that he has built more roads in Liberia than all the presidents of Liberia from President J.J. Roberts to Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. This is Not True! What is true is that the President has built more private houses for himself than all the past presidents of Liberia from J.J Roberts to Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. In less than 8 months of becoming president, George Weah built a multi-million-dollar complex comprising 47-unit state-of-the-art buildings for himself and continues to build more, while the people are suffering more than ever before. Based on his example, many top officials of Weah’s government are building huge buildings, while poverty is increasing in Liberia.
Today, as if they have not suffered Liberians enough, they are taking and withholding the little US dollars the country has and dumping huge quantities of Liberian dollars on the Liberian market. As a result, the exchange rate between the US dollar and Liberian dollar is climbing and as a result, prices of essential commodities are also climbing up. Just a few months ago, the exchange rate was one hundred fifty Liberian dollars to one US dollar; but it is now 188 Liberian dollars to one US dollar and in some places 190. If this trend continues, the rate will be above 200 Liberian dollars to one US dollar before October 10, Election Day. The level of poverty will become much higher than anyone can predict at this moment. Today, there are more sellers than buyers in most marketplaces all over Liberia. Therefore, the sellers are getting poorer and poorer every day.
According to the Transparency International 2022 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), Liberia was ranked 142 out of 180 countries. This ranking means Liberia has now joined the list of countries that are significantly worst when it comes to corruption globally. We must show to the world on October 10, 2023, that we Liberians are against those who are making us to suffer. In 1997 we sang the song “You kill my pa you kill my ma I will vote for you”. In 2017 “you know book you na no book I will vote for you”. This year we must not sing the song, “You corrupt, you eat all our money. I will vote for you.” Anyone who does that will be bringing too much suffering to Liberia because nobody will have sympathy for Liberia anymore.
The respect that Liberia had, as the first independent Republic in Africa, has diminished because of corruption. Corruption has reduced Liberia as a nation to nothing and made the citizens of Liberia so poor that nobody respects us anymore. Under President Weah, Liberia has been placed among the ten poorest countries in the world. What an achievement! Why should any Liberian of sound mind think about keeping a government in power that has made Liberians so poor, that Liberia has been placed among the ten poorest countries of the world? Corruption became a vampire under the Ellen Sirleaf Government; but things were not as bad as they are today! Prices of basic commodities were not so high and more people had a little more money to take care of their families. Today, corruption has become so bad today that it has put Liberia virtually in the intensive care unit (ICU).
As we gather here in the place where the Declaration of Independence was signed on July 26, 1847, I call on my fellow Liberians to join me to denounce corruption and all corrupt government officials. Additionally, we must recommit ourselves to the noble dream of the founders of Liberia as contained in the declaration of independence that Liberia would, “evince to all who despise, ridicule and oppress our race, that we possess with them a common nature, are with them susceptible of equal refinement, and capable of equal advancement in all that adorns and dignifies man.” Many other African countries are showing to the rest of the world that they are “susceptible of equal refinement and capable of equal advancement” but Liberia, the origin of this dream, has done nothing to give meaning to this great dream.
Liberia is naturally fit to make this great dream a reality if we Liberians choose a good and transformative leader. Liberia is a naturally rich country with fertile soil, diamonds, gold, iron ore, and many other minerals, as well as huge forest and a long coastline with sandy beaches thereby giving Liberia sources of economic empowerment that are not available in countries that are doing much better than Liberia.
For all Liberians to attain maximum benefits from the income generated from the natural resources of Liberia, we must follow what Article 7 of the Constitution of Liberia says about the management of our natural resources. It says, “The Republic shall, consistent with the principles of individual freedom and social justice enshrined in this Constitution, manage the national economy and the natural resources of Liberia in such manner as shall ensure the maximum feasible participation of Liberian citizens under conditions of equality as to advance the general welfare of the Liberian people and the economic development of Liberia.” But because those who should obey this law are corrupt, they have refused over the years to carry out this constitutional mandate. This situation has to change for Liberia to be a sweet land of liberty for all Liberians.
Our children are entitled to completely free and mandatory education from kindergarten to 12th grade, trade schools to develop their skills as carpenters, mechanics, tailoring, etc. Liberians are entitled to an excellent healthcare system that saves lives with sufficient medicines, equipment, and other medical supplies. With Liberia being one of the tenth poorest countries in the world with the highest maternal mortality and infant mortality rates, our pregnant women and children under the age of five as well as Liberians above the age of 65 must be given free medical treatment in all government hospitals and clinics. It is the duty of the government to ensure food sufficiency in the country because no nation with hungry people can make progress. The people have a right to freedom of movement and the government is duty-bound to build roads and to maintain them at all times. Today, these duties of the government of Liberia have been totally neglected. Yet, some Liberians have chosen to thank the current president for his leadership over the nearly six years, ignoring the massive failures of this government in building or maintaining roads in the interior parts of Liberia, improving healthcare, improving primary and secondary education, amongst other basic needs of the Liberian people. What a great deception!
Our president claims to be the best administrator in the history of Liberia; yet his poor administration has placed Liberia amongst the ten poorest countries of the world with huge national debts (US$2.03 billion), with virtually nothing on the ground to support the debt burden. He could not even succeed in getting Liberia to qualify for the African Cup of Nations, although he is the only president in the world that won the highest award in football. How can Liberians ever expect Mr. Weah to succeed in meeting any of his obligations in any other area when he cannot succeed in football, his area of expertise?
All these failures are due to corruption stimulated by uncontrollable greed for money, selfishness, and lack of patriotism. The president usually boasts that he has built more roads than all the presidents of Liberia combined. But this is far from the truth. The truth is that since 1847, he is the only president who has built more private houses for himself, than all the presidents before him, including the interim leaders of Liberia. He calls himself bad road medicine but refuses to visit the interior roads during the rainy season. Last Saturday, when I was experiencing difficulty traveling on the bad road to District 5, Grand Bassa County, with vehicles stuck in the mud less than one mile from Buchanan, the President was in Buchanan riding on the road paved by his predecessor.
We must reject corruption on October 10 this year by sweeping all the old and new corrupt politicians away from the government of Liberia. Government is a place to serve, not to steal. A better Liberia is possible. Without corruption, we can succeed and make Liberia a true sweet land of liberty for all Liberians.
Let me now conclude by calling on all Liberians to unite and get rid of corruption in Liberia, guided by the line of the second stanza of our national anthem which says, “In union strong success is sure.” The broom revolution will succeed because all Liberians believe that a better Liberia is possible.
I thank you