Over the last few weeks, our dear nation, Liberia, has been attacked by the deadly Ebola virus. From all indications, we lack the capacity to counter the virus in a rapid and effective way. This is evidenced by the fact that we have not been able to mobilize $1.2 million USD as an emergency fund to fight the outbreak; we have sought international assistance to setup a laboratory; we have emigrated blood samples of our fellow countrymen/women who have been suspected of carrying the virus. The lack of a rapid response and our inability to contain the virus speak of the inefficiency of our national institutions. They are all obvious consequences of massive corruption and bad governance over the years. Millions of dollars are squandered annually through cloudy procurement processes, multinational transactions, bribery at the highest pillar of national lawmaking and the financing of public relations to create impressions abroad.
We could have been well-off and capable to respond to Ebola and other diseases had we mobilized strongly against corruption over the years as we have mobilized against Ebola over the last two weeks. Our lawmakers declared Ebola an emergency, but have failed to act on audit reports, and have failed to empower the Anti-Corruption Commission with full prosecutorial powers. Had we mobilize over the years we would have been able to save enough for emergencies like, or even more than, the Ebola virus. Had we institute democratic governance and reduce imperial central authority, we would have been able by now, to set up effective health systems across the country with capacities for rapid response and prevention.
My argument here is that our main problem is not an outbreak of a virus; it is the perennial existence of a virus that threw us into a vortex of civil war; a virus that continues to stagnate our people in poverty, social injustices, and undermine our sovereignty. That virus is corruption and it is dangerous than Ebola! I do not argue here that the absence of corruption means the absence of viruses like Ebola, but I am convinced that the absence of corruption will enable us to build strong national institutions capable of serving our people, maintaining our pride as a sovereign and independent state, and defeating Ebola and its accomplices.
The existence of this virus (corruption) at the core of public leadership in Liberia have clouded the minds of the citizenry and made them to doubt threatening situations. Ebola is deadly and it has invaded our country, but some of our people assume it is a conspiracy theory designed by some officials to raise and siphon money. While their argument is false, it is however informed by their harsh experiences. They frequently make reference to the case of the army worms that attacked Liberia in 2009 during which money was raised and reportedly stolen by authorities leading the fight against the worms. An audit report indicted some officials, but was never followed-up to a legal conclusion. An activist-journalist used the report as a source of news and analyses. He was dragged to court for libel. Consequently, he was imprisoned and his newspaper temporarily closed. That case taught progressive activists that instead of the authorities in Liberia defeating corruption, they used the institutions of the state to defeat a journalist and cow all other activists into silence and submission. We have a fight, and it gets tougher by the day. We need to defeat corruption if we are to defeat other viruses, because it is the mean virus eating us up. While Ebola kills a patient, corruption kills a nation, deprives generations and weakens the state. We therefore need to institute and enforce a system of good governance capable of delivering services in transparent and accountable ways to our people across the country. In this way we will be prepared enough to contain outbreak of diseases, sea erosions, and other natural disasters.
In the Cause of Democracy and Social Justice the Pen Shall Never Run Dry
April 11, 2014