-Cite integrity issues
It was a moment of truth for many institutions in and out of government, including non-governmental organizations aligned with fighting corruption, to choose whether or not to honor an invitation from the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) to participate in the National Anti-Corruption Conference, which began on Wednesday, September 16 at the Ministerial Complex in Congo Town.
And while the Executive branch of the Government of Liberia appeared well represented, the Legislature and several key non-government institutions and groups cited integrity issues on the part of the LACC Chairman Ndubuisi Nwabudike as a major reason for not taking the national conference on corruption seriously.
As Chairman at the LACC, Mr. Nwabudike continues to enjoy the confidence of President George Manneh Weah, despite several condemnations by integrity institutions, citing the fact that he entered the legal profession and rose to influential levels in the executive branch of government under the Weah administration on the basis of falsified naturalization documents.
For these same reasons, Nwabudike was also rejected by the Senate in a confirmation hearing following his nomination by President Weah to head the National Elections Commission (NEC). Following his rejection by the Senate, he was expelled from the Liberia National Bar Association after the Bar conducted its own investigation, confirming the reports of his false claims to Liberian citizenship.
Those institutions of government and others that failed to turn up for the National Anti-Corruption Conference include the National Legislature, Liberia National Bar Association (LNBA), and some civil society organizations as well as citizens who usually graced these events. The opening day of the two-day conference was poorly attended, leaving observers with doubt as to whether the second day will actually be successful.
The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of the Legislature is currently chaired by Bong County Senator Henry Yallah, who was absent along with his co-chair, Edward W. Karfiah, Representative of Bong County District #5.
However, there were a few others, mainly officials of the Executive Branch of government who showed up to the conference.
Deputy Auditor General, Winsley S. Nanka who presented the General Auditing Commission’s reports and the impact on corruption perception, called for the timely implementations of audit reports and recommendations.
“Today, lots of government institutions do not keep records; therefore, when we go back to audit, the same thing keeps coming up,” Mr. Nanka indicated.
According to him, the lack of implementation of GAC’s reports continues to influence the perception of corruption. “GAC reports submitted to the Legislature PAC are not acted upon timely,” he said.
Mr. Nanka added that the Legislature PAC receives the GAC audit reports and, after perusal, the reports along with recommendations should then be submitted to the office of the President to be acted upon. However, wherever the audit reports end up after submission by the GAC, they remain there for the longest without any decision.
However, former Justice Minister, Cllr. Benedict Sannoh, told the organizers that there is a need to work with both state actors and non state actors, particularly the CSOs in the fight against corruption.
Cllr. Sannoh, who addressed the conference, said the fight against corruption will not be possible in the absence of these actors and support of the citizenry. He also stressed that adequate funding of integrity institutions could not go unaddressed.
The Daily Observer has also gathered that some of the civil society organizations’ leaders selected to serve as panelists are poised to boycott the discussions due to claims that the LACC itself is not led by credible people. Furthermore, the CSOs cited the decision on the part of the organizers to deliberately not allow any CSOs to make remarks during the opening program.