Rights activist and former Minister of Labor, Cllr. Tiawan S. Gongloe, said under President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s administration, the country has witnessed “selective justice, the shielding of some corrupt officials, the jailing of journalists and political activists for sedition, criminal libel against the President, and criminal malevolence, rather than the fight against corruption which she promised.”
Cllr. Gongloe made the statement on Sunday, July 3, when he delivered the keynote address at a program marking the commencement convocation of Ricks Institute in Virginia, Montserrado County, in the Washington Chapel Auditorium, where 47 twelfth graders, who completed the Institute’s prescribed curriculum, were graduating.
He spoke on the topic, “Keeping the Promise of Maintaining Peace in Liberia: An Obligation of All Liberians.”
“In 2006, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf came to power promising she would be in power for one term and her main concentration would be the laying of a firm foundation for good governance through combating corruption, upholding the rule of law and protecting the human rights of all
Liberians without distinction,” Gongloe told the congregation to a round of applause.
According to him, upon taking office, President Sirleaf “declared corruption as public enemy number one.”
However, during her rule, he said, “The President has also engaged in nepotism, preferential treatment of some political appointees in terms of salaries and benefits, the breaking down of viable institutions established by past governments such as the National Oil Company of Liberia (NOCAL), and failed to revive institutions such as the Housing and Savings Bank, the Agricultural Bank, the Free Zone Authority, amongst others,” Gongloe said.
He added that the institutions were established by past governments based on the homegrown vision of building local capital for investment, the development of local entrepreneurship and increased agricultural production, as well as providing a foundation for export and import substitution.
The former solicitor-general said although President Sirleaf promised Liberians change for the better. But, he said, “the process of the change that she promised has been largely driven by prescriptions of the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and other multilateral institutions.”
Gongloe said unlike President Tolbert’s regime that relied on local wisdom and the experience of other countries like Ivory Coast and Tanzania to develop the policy of self-reliance as a sustainable instrument of comprehensive national development and the policy of export promotion and import substitution as a sustainable economic policy for reducing economic dependency, promoting industrialization, with the net effect of increasing employment, broadening the tax base and improving the quality of life of the Liberian people, “this government has largely relied on the prescription of the World Bank and IMF such as the Poverty Reduction Strategy and Vision 2030.”
He observed that the Sirleaf Administration has also virtually relied on non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to carry on rural development, especially in the areas of health and education, and in a manner that appears like government has abdicated its responsibility of intervening in the lives of the people.
Cllr. Gongloe added: “This is a betrayal of the promise of promoting good governance by nationally-driven programs. It should be noted that the interventions by the NGOs are donor-driven.”
He said when donors stop giving money to NGOs; the NGOs will stop their interventions, and sometimes leave the country abruptly.
“Most often the projects that they are engaged in at the time they stop receiving money remain abandoned forever,” Gongloe noted.
He said for today, many of the hand pumps that were installed by the NGOs are broken down across the country, leaving residents in the affected areas to fetch water from streams and or creeks often prone to water-borne diseases.
By that, Cllr. Gongloe informed the gathering that the Unity Party-led government has therefore miserably failed in its promise to lay a firm foundation for, among other things, good governance and development by its over-reliance on foreign aid, which impacts the citizens are yet to feel as road networks and infrastructures have remained appalling.