Dusty Wolokolie Responds to EJS’s ‘Devilish’ Legislators Jab

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Dusty Wolokolie represented Montserrado County District #10 at the 52nd Legislature.

-Says former President incentivized bribery, corruption during her regime

Former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s recent description of members of the National Legislature during her 12-year administration as ‘devilish’, has not only shocked the Liberian public but also provoked some to term her statement as “deceptive and a mere act of blame-shifting.”

Liberians were left surprised as Madam Sirleaf, in an op-ed firstly published in the Daily Maverick, a South Africa-based news outlet, claimed that Liberia had been seriously affected by corruption, lack of commitment, and personal greed—a factor that continues to perpetuate to the backwardness of the state.

She laid some blames squarely on the Legislature, notably, members of the 52nd, and 53rd Legislature.

Former President Sirleaf said in the article that Legislators during the 52nd and 53rd Legislature were “Devilish,” and that her biggest surprise was that some of those lawmakers were from her own party.

These comments and descriptions have not gone down well with some Liberians, especially some of those who served in the Legislature during her regime. One such person is Mr. Dusty Wolokolie, a one-time Representative and a popular member of the Progressive Alliance of Liberia (PAL).

Mr. Wolokolie was a ranking member of the House of Representatives and Chairman of the House Standing Committee on Good Governance and Government Reform from 2006 to 2011. During his 6-year term, he represented Montserrado County District #4 (which is now District #10, represented by Representative Yekeh Kolubah). 

Wolokolie did not go for re-election for his incumbent position due to his own confession that he failed during the six-year term he served.  He, however, contested along with presidential candidate Dew Mayson on the ticket of the National Democratic Coalition (NDC) as Mayson’s running mate.

Mr. Wolokolie described former President Sirleaf’s statement as “disingenuous” and emphasized that she is being economical with the truth.

“Assertions by Madam Sirleaf that Legislators in the 52nd and 53rd Legislatures were “devilish” are quite disingenuous, and she is being craftily economical with the truth,” he said in a rejoinder intended to counter her commentary in the Daily Maverick.

He said Madam Sirleaf betrayed her “Public Enemy Number One,” pledge made to the nation during her January 16, 2006 inauguration, and started incentivizing bribery to get her nominees confirmed by the Liberian Senate.

“I recalled very vividly that it was the very Madam President herself who pledged, at her inauguration, that corruption would be ‘Public Enemy Number One’, who somersaulted at the very onset of her administration by incentivizing bribery to get her nominees confirmed by the Liberian Senate,” he said.

The progressive icon noted that the bribery pattern continued throughout her twelve years in office, spanning from orchestrated removal of Speakers of the House of Representatives and Presidents Pro Tempore of the Liberian Senate; swift and uninformed passage of concession agreements without due diligence; and lack of serious critical debate on public policy options in the prevailing democratic space engendered by years of sweat, blood and the supreme price of life paid by many compatriots.

“I would have let a sleeping dog lie, but my good conscience and progressive instinct would not allow me to countenance Madam President embellishing her democratic credentials for legacy purpose at the expense of other compatriots, howbeit wanting they may be in character,” he said.

Mr. Wolokolie strongly believes that Madam Sirleaf had the best opportunity amongst contemporary Liberian leaders to advance and to consolidate a genuine democratic culture in Liberia, “but she blew it for whatever reasons I still cannot fathom.”

Holier than the pope/Throwing the Legislature Under the Bus?

Mr. Wolokolie wonders what reasons can Madam Sirleaf give for starting with bribing the Liberian Senate to confirm her very first set of cabinet officials who, many believe, were nominated by her on the basis of merit.

“Why did she have to bribe Legislators to do their jobs in legislating policy decisions and concession agreements if she was convinced, they could pass the smell test of transparency and accountability?” he asked rhetorically.

“It is sad,” he said, “That the former Unity Party leader now wants to throw the Legislature of her twelve-year regime under the bus with the insinuation that she is holier than the pope.”

“I lay the blame for introducing and institutionalizing corruption and decadence in our governance architecture squarely at the feet of Madam President,” he said, adding that Madam Sirleaf’s intermittent outbursts of frustration came only after the culture of impunity for corruption had been embedded in the society with the stakes for increasing perks continuing unabated.           

“Madam President, I beg your pardon, they were not “devilish” men and women who were elected by the people just as you were, but predominantly unenlightened political virgins, the critical mass of whom, could have been cultivated into decent people if we, who considered ourselves more sophisticated, were sincerely patriotic enough to take bold and courageous decisions and actions to redress the scars of our civil war and embark on truly participatory democratic development.”

Meanwhile, during his time in the House of Representatives, he also served as member of the Pan African Parliament (PAP), the parliamentary body of the African Union (AU), and Vice Chairman of PAP Permanent Committee on Cooperation, International Relations & Conflict Resolutions (2006-2011). 

11 COMMENTS

  1. I can’t agree more with veteran activist Dusty Wolokolie. Ellen epitomizes the shaming of our so-called intellectuals who fought the oligarchy in brazen attempts to restore multiparty democracy. I could not fathom but wailed in utter disgust why would someone who fought, so ferociously, for change end of being worse than those she fought?

    It happened the change agent, herself, did not have a plan but rather fought the system out of mere envy and jealousy. She wanted power but beyond power she rarely had a plan. She complained privately that she was abused by the Liberian military under Sergeant Doe. For her, it was a payback against the country for the emotional pain few individuals inflicted on her while she was placed behind bars.

    Before she got elected, Ellen was completely impoverished. She had emptied her bank account and made way to Accra to lobby for the interim leadership in 2003. She spent $40,000.00 bribing conference delegates to win their unanimous votes for the interim presidency. Her effort failed and she returned to New York and vowed never to participate in Liberian politics.

    She was enraged and, more so, she took umbrage at the way Grude Bryant and Willie Belleh refused to support her despite being members of the same political party, the defunct Liberian Action Party.

    When she returned to again to contest in 2005 , she did so with alright hatred and vendetta toward those whom she felt denied her the interim presidency. Moreover, she felt it was her time to rekindle all she had lost in the cause of the struggle against the military and in her failed attempt at the Accra conference.

    She had one strategy to achieve an overnight affluence at the expense of the weakling nation: put family members in strategic positions to siphon state funds, encourage bribery, and encourage corruption so as to stifle criticisms against her. She was successful. That one person who defected cabal and wanted to expose her and sons, was murdered. I am talking about Harry A. Greaves, Jr.

    She was the one handling brown envelopes to the so-called legislatures every other Friday. She was the one who restructured the salaries of legislatures. She was the one who, for the first time in the history, raised the salaries of our Chief Justice to nearly one million dollar a year. She increase her own budgets and she paid misfits, incorrigible, uneducated miscreants dubbed lawmakers $17,000.00 monthly while teachers, doctors, professional civil servants were paid meager salaries less than what janitors make abroad.

    She did all of that to deflect attention away from her stealing enterprise under the auspice of her son, Robert Sirleaf, and other sons. Ellen came to power with less than $10,000 dollars in bank account but left with 3 billion wealthy according the Forbes Magazine of wealthy women around the world.

    George Weah feels vindicated for corruption based on what he saw Ellen did in her 12 years as president. He often jokes about his stealing that Ellen bought homes abroad but he is building his in Liberia.

    • Thanks for the half truth; how did you know the amount that was in EJS bank account? Was it not difficult for EJS to be elected president because of the way she was categorized by everybody in Liberia that she was responsible for the war in Liberia, even though that was not the truth; how many of the so-called progressives even come out to explained to the Liberian people the role they played: Even Baccus Matthew who was working with Taylor, outrightly blamed EJS for the war; what did Ezekiel Pajibo, Amos Sawyer ,Randall Cooper and thousands other in the miltary political party and the UL students community said, nothing. They were satisfied because their
      names were not called.
      This woman became the bogey man of Liberia. She was even unpopular when she won the election, she had to find a strategy to appease all of the opposing groups against her, so perhaps bribery, high incentives were means to enable her navigate through the system.
      So her outburst in her memoir speaks a lot. Thanks

    • “For her, it was a payback against the country for the emotional pain few individuals inflicted on her while she was placed behind bars“, and for you who were advisers, cronies from LPP, etc., “it was it is our time to chop since we did not really chop under, Doe, and under Taylor, especially “I Jackson and others including this very Dusty“!

      “Jackson“, the truth told, were you guys not the very ones who jubilated when those criminals THEN at the UN, and those in Abuja, and at the AU jubilated with these aliens for rigging the lections for Ellen, simply because she borrowed money from the banks to bribe them…money which Antoinette Sayeh repaid, and you people were awarded with jobs?

      You guys better keep quiet and let your accomplice Ellen call you people names as devils, for that is exactly what you people are…DEVILS AGAINST DEMOCRACY!

  2. Why you called him a man? He should have one of those constantly correcting the system, but sat there did not performed as a legislature and admitted to his failure. Then had the guts to run as vice presidential candidate to another misfit who lie to Samuel Doe and called himself a revolutionary, but was seeking opportunity to also steal, that he did under Samuel Doe.
    Dusty should have been a shining example of the so-called progressives in action, but he also blew it and is angry that EJS is exposing all of them. A cry for Liberia.

  3. This scenario is really a turning point. This very Dusty, Commany Wisseh, Amos Sawyer, and even Tipoteh and others from their so called “progressive camp“ were FOOTSOLDIERS FOR ELLEN JUST AS CHARLES TAYLOR, TOM WOEWIU, HARRY GREAVES, TOGAWEH MCKINTOSH, WERE HER REBELS ON THE MILITARY FRONT.

    You may like to recall how, this very Ellen used Boima Fahnbulleh Jr. Tom Kamara, James Fromoyan, and others in their November 12, 1985 abortive invasion when according to this same Boima Fahnbulleh Jr. ranting here, told the Liberian people years after that “Quiwonkpa was pushed into battle by Ellen.“So, that Dusty one of the main foot soldiers of Ellen and Ellen at each others throat is serious.

    And why were they foot soldiers for Ellen when she was preparing her NPFL military invasion to kill and destroy. She used to give them HANDOUTS while she worked at the UN. And because of this, most of them said they could not criticize her because of their “conscience“. It seems what they referred to as “conscience“ has worn out.

    Tipoteh’s was the first,who took her to court on her Chairman of the NEC Korkoyan being an alien. Boima Fahnbulleh’s eroded after Ellen exited power. Dew Mayson’s, after she refused to make him Foreign Minister. Now Dusty’s because she says they are devils.Chief opportunist Comanny Wisseh is still hanging on. A journalist needs to go to him Wisseh for his reaction to this exposee. of them as DEVILS.

  4. POSTED AT 6:58 PM EST on TUESDAY, OCTOBER 6, 2020

    PART I OF IV

    A lot of people speak of corruption in Liberia and their desire to reduce, if not, eradicate it. In some cases, they point fingers at one another. In other cases, international partners take the holier-than-thou position and lament corruption. Sadly, they all fail to realize that the mathematics, accounting, and economics are not on our side. So, corruption will linger for a long time. Let me now account for the basis of my conclusions.

    —————

    Let’s review some basic accounting principles. Recall that INCOME = REVENUE – EXPENDITURE. If revenue exceeds expenditure, there is a surplus. If expenditure exceeds revenue, there is a deficit.

    Now, let’s focus a bit on PERSONAL FINANCE. A person works, earns salary [or wages] & other benefits, and has taxes withheld.

    The person’s original salary is the GROSS SALARY. After taxes are withheld, that’s NET SALARY [ aka TAKE-HOME PAY]. That’s when the person now proceeds to pay his/her bills and hopefully retains some surplus for SAVINGS and/or INVESTMENTS.

    Thus, the person’s REVENUE aka TAKE-HOME PAY is called the DISPOSAL INCOME. The funds spent on rent/mortgage, food, transportation, etc. constitute the EXPENDITURE.

    If there is a surplus, it is referred to as PERSONAL INCOME (used for savings and investments).

    CONTINUES WITH PART II OF IV

  5. POSTED AT 7:02 PM EST on TUESDAY, OCTOBER 6, 2020

    PART II OF IV

    Now, let’s take a look at the budget of the last fiscal year. Recall, that there were 68,000 employees with a payroll expenditure of 329 MILLION US. DOLLARS. Do the maths and you’ll arrive at an AVERAGE annual salary of US$4,838.24 per employee. That’s US$403.19 per month.

    But again, the emphasis is on AVERAGE. That means that some GOL employees earn less while others earn more. Case in point. Police officers have earned as low as US$150 per month until they got a raise a few years ago.

    Now, let’s be realistic here.

    #1. Can anyone live on a gross or even NET SALARY of US$400 PER MONTH in Liberia ?

    #2. If not, then isn’t it logical that the person can not support of family of roughly 5 ( according to the 2008 census) on the same salary OR one that is as low as US$150 per month ?

    #3. If we accept that even the US$400.00 per month is unaffordable, then that leads to a DEFICIT. Remember, INCOME = REVENUE- EXPENDITURE. So, if someone earns US$400 per month or as low as US$150 per month while expenditure requires about US$1,000 per month, that’s an automatic deficit.

    #4. If we concur on this, then we can now see why people are corrupt and will remain so for a very long time as they struggle to make up the difference.

    CONTINUES WITH PART III OF IV

  6. POSTED AT 7:07 PM EST ON TUESDAY, OCTOBER 6, 2020

    PART III OF IV

    EXAMPLES OF CORRUPTION

    #1. The police officer may set up a checkpoint, demand a commercial driver’s license, proceed to the vehicle’s rear, have a discussion, and money will eventually be exchanged for the driver to proceed. THAT’S SMALL CORRUPTION!!!

    #2. The school teacher may prepare student pamphlets, calculate his/her expected profit margin, demand that students purchase the materials, and earn some income. THAT’S SMALL CORRUPTION!!!!

    #3. The office clerk may pilfer some reams of paper and sell them to others in the private sector at prices lower than the regular stationery store’s. THAT’S SMALL CORRUPTION!!!!

    #4. The GOL employee signs in the beginning of the day, leaves office and does private work elsewhere, and signs out at the end of the day. THAT’S SMALL CORRUPTION !!!

    #5. The driver of a government vehicle may pick up passengers for a transportation fare and pocket the income. THAT’S SMALL CORRUPTION !!!
    And on and on and on.

    —————————–

    Of course, that’s the small corruption!!! What about the big one?

    #1. What about the check cashing racket where fake revenue receipt books are printed? THAT’S BIG CORRUPTION!!!

    #2. What about the bribery of custom officials to ensure that goods are cleared without payment of appropriate revenue to authorities? THAT’S BIG CORRUPTION!!!

    #3. What about legislators who demand hefty funds to ensure passage of concessions agreements and confirmation of presidential appointees? THAT’S BIG CORRUPTION!!!

    #4. In the special case of the legislators, they enact laws requiring huge salaries because some of that is used as payments to relatives and close associates who are needed to ensure re-election. They also use funds for developmental projects.

    This contrasts the USA system where legislators sneak in funds for public project in massive bills which are not read at the time of passage. It’s called “bringing in the bacon [ or pork] “.

    In Liberia, a county senator or house rep member needs to be creative to allocate funds for his constituency. So, he votes for high salaries and benefits. The constituents see the funds spent and they return such legislators for additional term(s).

    CONTINUES WITH PART IV OF IV

  7. POSTED AT 7:13 PM EST ON TUESDAY, OCTOBER 6, 2020

    PART IV OF IV

    So, let’s return to the EJS administration. Did anyone seriously expect her to curtail corruption back in 2006 when the OVERALL BUDGET was merely US$80 million? Again, do the maths.

    Was it possible to pay employees decent salaries when the payroll expenditure was a fraction of US$80 million at a time for tens of thousands of GOL employees?

    Did anyone expect the legislators, who earned little salaries, not to demand bribes to make up for the deficits?

    IF NOT, then one can easily see why she failed to curtail corruption.

    —————————

    If you think all of this is bad, consider that in the late 1990s ( around 1998), I read a ‘West African’ magazine which referred to Elie Saleeby’s revelation that some GOL employees were earning only L$240 per month [ That’s US$6 per month] at a time when the OVERALl GOL BUDGET was about US$40 million.

    Saleeby was explaining the challenges that the Taylor administration faced. Low revenue base, bloated payroll, huge unaffordable reconstruction needs [ e.g. electricity restoration was estimated at US$200 million at the time], and huge debt.

    Yet, observers and critics whined about corruption at that time. They whined during previous administrations and they’re whining now.

    Until we address the underlying issues like LOW SALARIES as a first step in curbing corruption, we will get nowhere.

    The international community, which was spending US $3 billion at the height of UNMIL involvement, should have set up a trust fund to pay part of the GOL salaries for a number of years. That would have pumped some US dollars into the economy, reduced the rate of inflation, and provided breathing space for us to accumulate reserves to pay our own bills after their departure.

    Sadly, this didn’t occur and now it’s too late to even consider it. At a time of COVID-19-related global recession, I‘ll probably be slapped just for proposing this as a solution to Liberia’s problems in 2021 and the near future.

    Anyway, I’ll PAUSE here and let others comment.

    ——————————

    END

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