Pres. Weah In Contradiction
Many Liberians, including critics and some supporters are still ambivalent over whether not President George Manneh is committed to fighting or ending corruption as he promised during his inauguration in 2018; corruption is believed to be an endemic culture in Liberia; The Public Agenda Reports.
In his inaugural address, the President declared, “I further believe that the overwhelming mandate I received from the Liberian people is a mandate to end corruption in public service. I promise to deliver on this mandate. As officials of Government, It is time to put the interest of our people above our own selfish interests. It is time to be honest with our people. Though corruption is a habit amongst our people, we must end it.”
However, since his inauguration, the President has been under tremendous pressure to make good his promise to end corruption in Liberia, which critics claim, has been accelerated in the last two years or so.
Perhaps due to local and quiet diplomatic pressure, the Liberian Government through Liberia’s Anti-corruption Commission (LACC), recently concluded a two day (September 16-17) National Anti-Corruption Conference in Monrovia bringing together stakeholders who brainstormed on the way forward.
The conference was organized by LACC’s embattled Chair, Cllr. A. Ndubuisi Nwabudike, who is also entangled with act of dishonesty; a form of corruption which the Liberian leader promised to fight or end.
The President has ignored calls from prominent civil society actors; authorities of the Liberia National Bar Association; political parties; lawmakers and ordinary citizens to dismiss Cllr. Nwabudike for act of dishonesty which the LACC boss proved during his confirmation hearing at the Liberian Senate when he was nominated by Pres. Weah to serve as chairperson of the National Election Commission (NEC).
Although the President withdrew Cllr. Nwabudike’s nomination following his failure to prove his Liberian citizenship as evident by inconsistent documents provided.
To further validate and perhaps convince Pres. Weah that Cllr. Nwabudike has lost the moral ground to serve in such integrity Institution, like the LACC, findings from investigation conducted by the Liberia Bar Association has held the LACC Chair accountable for act of corruption (dishonesty) and was finally expelled, yet the President is insinuating that Cllr. Nwabudike is the only person suitable for that position, something many Liberians are saying is a “contradiction in the fight against corruption under his regime.
In his opening remarks, the Pres. Weah claimed that while some of the public debates about corruption in the country is loaded with unsubstantiated claims and propaganda-driven, his government has nonetheless made the fight against the vice a top priority.
“We have acted without hesitation wherever and whenever there has been sufficient probable cause to do so – regardless of who was involved,” the President on Tuesday, September 16, 2020, told participants and panelists at the opening of an Anti-Corruption Conference organized by the LACC. In the President’s mind, the dishonest act of Cllr. Nwabudike does warrant “sufficient probable cause.”
“These actions on the part of the government have led to dismissals, resignations, arrests and arraignment of many persons, including some of the high-ranking officials of this Government,” but it is clear that Cllr. Nwabudike is an exception in this case.
On his instructions, the President noted, the Ministry of Justice last year began the process of recuperating lost and stolen assets of the Republic of Liberia, calling on officials, both past and present, to account for resources which had been entrusted to them by the Liberian people.
“This process will continue in an equitable and impartial manner,” he stressed. “The principal objective is not only to retrieve public resources, but also to serve as a deterrent to potential perpetrators,” but as in the case of Cllr. Nwabudike, it appears the President is establishing a new precedent that would limit the meaning to corruption to only act of financial indiscipline as it was in the case of Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf under whose administration nepotism had different meaning other than it universal definition.
The Liberian Chief Executive said while these actions may not yet, have gained the full traction they deserve, they rest well with Liberia’s development partners – both local and international.
“For example, we have received their plaudits for operating a very unique and transparent budget and financial management system. And Liberia’s ranking on recent anti-corruption surveys, which gauge public perception of corruption, has improved. But we should not, and will not, rest on our laurels.”
He added: “As you are well aware, our country is endowed with vast natural resources, but we still have not reaped all of the benefits that can be attained from their efficient and responsible use. By this conference, we are seeking to change that trend. But I want you to be aware that it will take the collective effort of all of us for that to happen.”
According to him, the conference also presented a unique opportunity for Liberians and stakeholders in particular to tackle corruption which continues to exist in the society, emphasizing that it has eroded trust in national institutions and deprived communities across the country of much-needed development.
“From time immemorial, we have come to perceive corruption as a way of life as it plagues all aspects of the Liberian society,” the President indicated, stressing that it was in response to these concerns that his Government’s four-pillar national development document, the Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (PAPD), designates one of these pillars to improving governance and transparency.
He added that these actions demonstrated government’s willingness to fight incidents of corruption and other forms of malfeasance while at the same time improving transparency and accountability in governance, he noted that while ignoring the act of the current LACC Chair.
Meanwhile, the President has expressed optimism that the outcome of the national conference would allow the government and partners re-focus attention on critical activities that will yield both short- and long-term results in the fight against corruption.
The two-day national anti-corruption conference was held on the under theme, “Reshaping the perception of corruption and identifying new approaches to addressing systemic corruption in Liberia.”