The political leader of the All Liberian Party (ALP), Benoni Urey, is one politician who has in recent days accused the Unity Party led government of corruption. At the ALP’s recent political rally in Ganta, Nimba County, where he selected Alexander Duopue as his running mate, Mr. Urey called on Liberians to ensure that Unity Party does not win the upcoming election. “Let’s Remove this corrupt system,” he insisted.
The statement in Ganta is not the first that Urey has expressed in his determination to prevent the ruling Unity Party from securing a third term in Liberia. Early this year, Mr. Urey, in an interview with the Daily Observer stated, “I am not wishing that I become President of this country at all cost, but to ensure that this corrupt government does not get a third term in office.”
There have indeed been reports of corruption in the Unity Party-led government and by many public officials, most without trial. Of the few that have gone to trial, government prosecutors have lost those cases.
The truthfulness of corruption in this government is indisputable, as confessed by President Sirleaf in her last Annual Message last January. Earlier, the President even took responsibility for the bankruptcy of the National Oil Company (NOCAL) under her son Robert Sirleaf’s leadership. Whatever the case, it is expected in this election that the ruling party will face serious accusation of corruption especially during the campaign period. This will definitely be one of the charges which the UP standard bearer, Vice President Joseph N. Boakai, will have to contend with. He must first, if at all he can, attempt to distance himself for the widespread corruption that has taken place under the watch of President Ellen Sirleaf and his watch. He must go further to convince the Liberian people, again if at all he can, that his administration will be different.
Nevertheless, as politicians, including Benoni Urey, criticize, they must also be realistic enough to tell Liberians the main cause(s) of corruption and provide way forward as to how to go about eliminating or minimizing it. Urey and the rest of the politicians need to realize that the very officials of this government are related to them and are perhaps part of the corrupt system.
Let us see the instance with Benjamin Sanvee, former Chairman of the Liberty Party and a beneficiary of the Private Sector Development Initiative (PSDI) fund intended to help Liberian businesses. He took the money, did not pay and kept silent for years until his name surfaced just in recent days.
The most frustrating and deceptive aspect is that when the same corrupt officials defect from the ruling party and join oppositions, they are embraced and praised to be some of the good people on earth. Does this not imply hypocrisy and dishonesty? Greek Philosopher, Socrates wrote this about deception: “Man’s mind is so found that it is far more susceptible to falsehood than to truth.” While we cannot dispel that this government engaged in widespread corruption, people that wishing to grab the presidency and other elective positions should be fair and honest in presenting their platforms, citing in them definite measures to combat corruption and doing everything possible to convince the public that those seeking office are determined and serious about repeating the terrible mistakes of the past. Criticizing the past is definitely not enough.
Now that Mr. Urey is aiming to ascend to the highest position of the land, Liberians will be happy to know what his economic and social platforms are for Liberia. More importantly, he needs to come clean with Liberians and tell them when and how he started business to become the wealthy man that he is. What business did Mr. Urey engage in prior to the ascendancy of Charles Taylor as President of Liberia.
People are anxious to know how, now that Mr. Urey anxiously seeks the presidency, how he managed the Bureau of Maritime Affairs during the regime of Taylor.
Explanation is needed from Mr. Urey about his connection with Sanjivan Ruprah (alas Samir NASR), an arms dealer named in the United Nations Security Council Report on Liberia. The report states that Mr. Urey was the direct supervisor of Mr. Ruprah, and both of them played key role in arm procurements starting in the summer of 2002.
The UN Security Council Resolution 1343 placing travel restriction on officials of the Taylor Administration names Benoni Urey for being one that secured money at Maritime and facilitated purchase of arms through Ruprah. Can Urey make his side clear to the Liberian people in this matter? If he realistically wants to see Liberia moving forward without rampant corruption, can Urey evaluate and tell the Liberian people which of the two governments, the one he served in and the current one, was impactful? In a state of an ethical dilemma wherein one needs to compare the two evils to choose the lesser, what conclusions can Urey draw between the regime he served in as a Commissioner of Maritime and this government of corrupt public officials?
We bring all these concerns to remind Mr. Urey and other politicians about the past and present so they may adequately be able to defend themselves to win the minds of Liberians.
The challenge is, therefore, yours, Mr. Urey, to convince Liberian voters on things that make you different from current officials who have instituted a corrupt system that has grossly mishandled the affairs of the Liberian people. Pointing the accusing finger is not enough, but dealing forthrightly and convincingly the rest of your own fingers pointing at you is what truly matters.
How different are you from the accused? Liberians need your answers!