Liberia: Thank You, America, But…

Thank you, America, for sanctioning three corrupt officials but include other big fishes as well, who are still swimming in the cesspool of corruption.

“Drastic medicine for drastic disease,” goes the old saying, and the Daily Observer joins the rest of Liberia in welcoming and applauding the decision by the US Department of Treasury to sanction those officials accused of corruption, perhaps of the runaway kind.

It came as a shocking surprise to most Liberians including probably President Weah and his corps of officials. But it was as if the nation had breathed a sigh of relief after waiting for so long to exhale. The principal and foremost player amongst those sanctioned, Nathaniel McGill, has for long been a subject of incessant public calls for his dismissal.

Both he and Finance Minister Samuel Tweah has also been described by the public as two of the most hated government officials. Bong County Superintendent, Esther Walker, recalling her encounter with McGill and Tweah sometime ago at President Weah’s private Jamaica Resort, declared that power in the Weah government was actually in hands of three individuals, namely Tweah, McGill, and Monrovia City Mayor Jefferson Koijee.

She recalled that in her attempt to reach President Weah, she was hailed by Tweah and McGill. According to her, McGill asked whether she was not aware that anyone seeking to meet Jesus/God in person must first see the keeper of the gates, Angel Gabriel.

What that meant was McGill was likened unto the Angel Gabriel and Weah, Jesus/God. Time and space would not allow for a listing of his alleged misdeeds; however, it can be said without fear of contradiction that Nathaniel McGill was indeed the most powerful cabinet minister. Some, including leading human rights lawyer and presidential hopeful Tiawan Gongloe, have described him as a de facto President of the Republic of Liberia.

Now President Weah has announced his suspension from office along with Solicitor-General Cephus and National Port Authority manager Bill Twehway, otherwise referred to as ‘Gbehkugbeh Jr’, suggestive of his/a very close relationship to President Weah — a father and son type of relationship. 

From all indications, President Weah has come under fire from the public for merely suspending the sanctioned individuals rather than dismissing them altogether. And it appears that calls for their dismissal continue to mount. But the President has instead called for an investigation into the charges levied against those officials by the US Department of Treasury.

Just what shape or form such investigation is going to take remains unclear. What remains clear is that the Americans have decisively acted by giving teeth to their accusations by slamming the individuals with sanctions. And the fact that the official publicly acknowledged being the closest to Weah has been hit with such sanctions should serve as a wake-up call to him.

According to political analysts, President Weah may likely find himself faced with a choice to decide between outrightly dismissing those sanctioned officials and attending the pending Washington summit with African leaders in December and availing himself of a possible opportunity to be received into the White House by President Joe Biden. 

Further, according to analysts, the removal of McGill from such a position of power and influence would have a baneful effect on the upcoming Presidential and general elections in just about 14 months from now. 

They further opine that drawing on the unwholesome influence he allegedly exerted on the National Elections Commission and the electoral process in general during past legislative by-elections in Gbarpolu, the failed referendum and, most recently, the Lofa County senatorial elections where millions of Liberian dollar banknotes were dished out to literally buy votes, he was drawn into the crosshairs of the US Treasury Department. 

Whatever the case, it appears that the three officials may more likely than not find themselves out of government in the final analysis. But whether they will continue to wield power from behind the scenes is the question on the minds of the public. 

This is in view of the very influential role and unwholesome influence sanctioned Grand Cape Mount Senator Varney Sherman continues to exert in the legislature. He is accused of being the mastermind behind the manipulation of the Act establishing the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission to create a new law restricting public access to information on the workings of the LACC. 

Given the above, public suspicion about the likelihood of McGill and others retaining positions of influence and authority howbeit from the sidelines or behind the scenes cannot be considered far-fetched, especially if one considers the fact that officials indicted by the LACC for corruption have since remained fixed in their respective positions.

This includes amongst others, the likes of Agriculture Minister, Jeanine Cooper and NEC chairperson, Davidetta Brown Lansanah. Suggestions that President Weah would have relieved those individuals of their positions prove unfounded when he declared that the government cannot operate on rumors. But the point is, those individuals were indicted not on the basis of rumors but on the basis of investigations conducted by the LACC.

Further, judging from comments made by Bomi County Senator, Edwin Snowe, calling for those indicted to be confronted by their accusers and accord them the opportunity to clear their names, it appears likely that President Weah may dig in and remain steadfast to his decision to suspend and not dismiss the sanctioned officials.

Moreover, there is a general perception that President Weah is not unaware of McGill’s indiscretions — at least most, if not all. But those sanctioned individuals aside, there are others as well who rightfully deserve a place on that list. And they include a powerful senator and good friend to President Weah.  

Truth be told, President Weah has a crisis situation on hand brought upon himself by the doings of those professing unbending loyalty and filial allegiance to him. He probably does not understand the full implications of the decision by the US government. But just when will he — when it is too late?