Two stories making headlines in the news last week have caught the attention of the Daily Observer. Both stories were carried in the Friday, January 29 edition of the newspaper.
The first story has to do with Grand Bassa Senator Nyonblee Karnga Lawrence’s call for the cancellation of the financing agreement between the Eton Finance PTE and the EBOMAF SA.
Both agreements, signed and approved by the Legislature have however turned out to be grand fiascos but yet remain on the books. In other words, Liberia has committed to paying back loans which it has not even received.
And as long as these instruments remain as they are, Liberia could eventually become liable to pay. According to Senator Karnga Lawrence, “It is important to note that unless the two agreements are canceled, they stand to be legal and binding on Liberia”.
The Daily Observer story recalled that on May 7, 2018, President George Manneh Weah submitted to the Legislature for ratification a loan financing agreement between Eton Finance PTE Ltd and the Government of Liberia in the amount of Five Hundred Thirty-Six Million, Four Hundred Thousand United States Dollars (US$536,400,000.00) for financing the coastal corridor connections of county capitals.
Again on May 31, 2018, President Weah submitted to the Legislature a loan financing agreement between EBOMAF SA and the Government of Liberia in the amount of Four Hundred Twenty Million, Eight Hundred Ten Thousand United States Dollars (US$420,810,000.00).
According to the terms of the Agreement, the loan was for the financing of the design, construction and supervision of road corridors in Monrovia (Somalia Drive-Kesselly Boulevard to Sinkor), and southeastern Liberia (Tappita-Zwedru-Greenville), with a duration period of 36 months following ratification of the Agreement by the Legislature.
But three (3) years later, it has become abundantly clear that the loans, as rightly suspected at the time, have turned out to be hoaxes although they remain as signed legal instruments committing Liberia to paying back shady groups close to one billion US dollars, money which it never did receive.
“Nothing has been heard of the commencement of any of the projects named supra, though Liberia has a commitment to repay loans in the periods specified in the two loan agreements,” declared Senator Lawrence recently.
And it is all the reasons, apparently, why Sen. Karnga Lawrence has called for their immediate cancellation. Questions about her motivations for making such a call pale in significance to the stubborn fact that these agreements are bogus and hold no good for Liberia now and in the future.
Accordingly, they must be cancelled to save the country from future embarrassment, says a prominent legal practitioner. He further called for public naming and shaming of those legislators who appended their signatures to those bogus agreements to serve as deterrence to future action of such despicable kind.
The next issue has to do with Nigerian fraudster Ndubuisi Nwabudike as head of the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC), despite wide public outcry calling for his removal by President Weah. President Weah has so far steadfastly refused to budge.
His nonaction on the issue may have been significant contributory factors to the lawless action recently by a riotous mob, allegedly UL students, who invaded and ransacked the LACC offices. The Daily Observer strongly condemns such lawless behavior and it calls for those responsible to be brought to justice.
But just why President Weah has remained unmoved by overwhelming public calls for Nwabudike’s removal remains unclear. However, there are growing and widespread public speculations that Nwabuidike’s longevity is due to the alleged influence of Minister of State Nathaniel McGill, whose patronage and support Nwabuidike allegedly enjoys.
Whatever the case might be, this newspaper is constrained to warn that there appears to be a growing spirit of public intolerance to corruption and officials perceived to be corrupt.
Excruciating economic conditions and hardships being experienced by the people and ostentatious display of extravagance and the flaunting of illegally acquired wealth and privilege by members of the ruling elite are together serving to breed public discontent that could easily morph into extreme and lawless behavior.
The latest example of this is the recent ransacking of the LACC offices by a riotous mob. In the view of the Daily Observer this is a dangerous development with unknown potential consequences if left unchecked.
What if, just what if for example, angry mob over a hundred thousand strong should swarm the streets demanding that the government steps down? These are hard unpalatable questions which must be asked, given this alarming but growing trend of general and lawless behavior.
In view of this, the Daily Observer cannot help but agree with those Senators calling for President Weah to take decisive action by sending Nwabuidike packing. President Weah has to realize, at least for his own good first and that of the country second perhaps, that his continued refusal to remove Nwabuidike, a known fraudster known to and detested by even his own Nigerian community, will do him more harm than good.
He (President Weah) will only open himself more to speculations and charges of collusion with this individual with a criminal past. Already, a leading senator in his government has been sanctioned by the US for alleged criminal-like behavior while, the newly elected Deputy Speaker of the House is known to have a criminal past having been convicted and served jail time in the US.
In view of all the above, if President Weah fails to remove Nwabuidike, what defense would he mount against critics who say, “birds of the same feathers always flock together”? Don’t they?