Liberia’s former auditor-general, John S. Morlu, II, has said that the country’s democracy is in all practical terms a democracy that is run by a Presidency who lacks moral clarity, a bribe taking Legislature and a judiciary.
Speaking at the weekend at the 2015 Annual Congress of the Press Union of Liberia (PUL) in Buchanan, Grand Bassa County, under the theme, “Journalism and Self Regulations: Towards A Better Media Contribution to Liberia’s Democracy,” Morlu said one of President Sirleaf’s missteps was to allow her Vice President (Joseph Nyumah Boakai), to declare he was running for President when he was supposed to be the last to enter the race “because of the benefit of incumbency.”
In his critique, Mr. Morlu quoted a statement from President Sirleaf’s recent special message to the nation: “as we approach the 2017 electoral cycle, there are many who are set to put everything in political context and begin the process of assigning blame and scoring political points at the expense of moving our country in the right direction.”
By Boakai declaring his presidential ambition, Morlu believes that electioneering politics started on the day the Boakai made public his aim. Morlu also believes that the time for Liberians to make their case for election is still ahead, and that there is more than enough time to score political points, albeit still two years away.
He added that President Sirleaf is running one of the biggest patronage systems in Liberian history, surpassing President Tubman, the man, he said, President Sirleaf blasted for making everything in Liberia a political business during his 27 year rule.
“Can anyone get a job, contracts and newspaper advertisements in this country if you are not politically connected? Can anyone get anything done in Liberia if you are not part of the political class that sings praises to this President?” Mr. Morlu rhetorically questioned.
He said the President, “for the first time in the history of our country, established County Development Funds (CDF) to support priorities decided by the people themselves across villages and towns. We also encouraged and maintained a policy of corporate social responsibility by which corporate entities are encouraged to extend support to community projects and developmental efforts through the establishment of Social Development Funds. Better accountability and management of these funds will bring development to the communities.”
These programs, he said, were set up with the understanding that “better accountability and management of these funds will bring development to the communities.”
He said at the time he stepped down as auditor general, US$31 million had been spent on county development, adding: “as of today, more than US$100 million has been spent on county development. And the President is saying better accountability and management will bring development to the communities. Has there been better management or not?”
He said after nine years of being President, Madam Sirleaf ought to be in the position to tell Liberians whether there has been better management since she has been in office.
“The fact of the matter is that the funds have been mismanaged, including the unaccounted for US$10 million that she told Chevron, a foreign-based oil company, not to give to the Ministry of Finance because, according to her, the Ministry is unable to account for money, but at the same she can put her neck on the line for the officials.
“We have attracted more than 15 companies in forestry, four in mining, five in oil palm, and several other sectors amounting to agreements for more than US$16 billion in Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). Often, this is construed to mean we actually did receive this volume of investment, whereas most of these investments were projected over a 25-year period… As a result, only US$4.2 billion of the US$16 billion that we talked about was (set aside) to produce the jobs, infrastructure and revenues,” he said.
He then wondered who, in President Sirleaf’s mind, misconstrued that the $16 billion was not paper money, noting, “I think the Liberian people have long concluded that the so-called US$16 billion was all cheap political talk designed to swindle their resources and sell it on the world market for cheap to the lowest bidder willing to give a few kickbacks.”
He said instead of their famous slogan, “Liberia is open for business,” it was more like “Liberia is on sale for a cheap price.”
But according to him, the President says US$4.2 billion has been spent to create jobs.
Mr. Morlu said perhaps, President Sirleaf’s “beloved son,” Robert Sirleaf, took three of country’s most lucrative jobs: Senior Advisor to the President, Board Member and then Chairman of NOCAL and Special Envoy to Kuwait—the oil money, which he, in Mr. Morlu’s mind, has not accounted for up to present.
He said the President has basically thrown in the towel and accepted that she has failed to work in the interests of the Liberian people when she delivered one of her many Special Messages to the Nation on Thursday, November 19.
“People called and told me that the President was going to resign during her special message. Instead she surprised the nation by talking about all the small things she has done for Liberia. The main point of the speech, as I saw it, was that the President wanted to tell the Liberian people that they are going to suffer economically over the last two years of her failed administration, as though Liberians have not already being suffering for the past 10 years,” Mr.
Morlu told PUL members in Buchanan.
Meanwhile, no sooner did Mr. Morlu conclude his speech, did the Deputy Information Minister, Isaac W. Jackson, sharply react to and describe the entire speech as “loose and reprehensible talk that borders on bitterness.”
“We rejected Mr. Morlu’s speech assertion about President Sirleaf because the fact that, [since] he is no longer benefiting from the close to 15,000 Euros from the European Union when he served as Auditor-General, he will now thrive on bitterness,” said Mr. Jackson when the Daily Observer contacted him via mobile phone yesterday.
Mr. Jackson said among other things that, “Mr. Morlu cannot argue that President Sirleaf does not have moral clarity to lead the country when her name has surfaced among women (aspirants) who would want to replace United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki Moon following the end of his tenure.”