Where has Bomi Senator Sando Johnson been ever since? Is he just now realizing the overweening (conceited, presumptuous) influence of powerful politicians far beyond the branch of government within which they operate and control?
Where was Sando Johnson at the beginning of this administration, when Legislators were demanding financial incentives, to put it more euphemistically, to push concessions agreements through ratification?
Where was Senator Johnson when from the very beginning in 2006 and onward, the coveted confirmations of nominations of officials in the Executive Branch could not be obtained unless each nominee “see us,” meaning show up with some cash—thousands of dollars of it.
Where was he (Senator Johnson) when, from the very beginning, Legislators sat in their chambers waiting for handsome payoffs before the President could obtain approval for ratification of concessions agreements? Remember Clemenceau Urey’s bold confession in 2014 when, accused of paying bribes to Legislators, he told the court that legislators should, in the words of Jesus, “cast the first stone”?
The government was prosecuting Urey and Counselor Bill Dunbar for having allegedly, as Chairman and member, respectively, of the Board of Directors of the National Oil Company (NOCAL), paid bribes to the Legislators for the ratification of certain oil blocks. Urey took pains to inform the court that he was reluctant to comply but that lawyers from the Justice Ministry, also on the Board, advised him that it was “okay” because that was how things were done. Urey and Dunbar wondered why the government was not also prosecuting the Legislators who received the “bribes,” since it is a principle in law that “The receiver is just as bad as the rogue.”
Unfortunately, the timid Anti-Corruption Commission felt it dared not go after the receivers of the bribes—the Legislators.
In the face of this embarrassing, self-defeating impasse, the government withdrew its case against Urey and Dunbar.
Now Senator Sando Johnson is weeping bitterly about what has happened to Senator Oscar Cooper, one of the boldest, most principled and most patriotic legislators on Capitol Hill. As Chair of the Committee on Public Works, Senator Cooper was insisting that things were properly done in that sector. More specifically, Senator Cooper was investigating US$34 million road construction contracts awarded outside the scrutiny of the Public Procurement Concessions Commission (PPCC). But others felt differently, and very quickly, the maneuvering began that eventually got Senator Cooper booted out of the Chairmanship of that Committee!
We submit that Senator Sando Johnson’s is a belated cry, a cry that comes after so many horses have been stolen from the barn! Should he not have already done so, the Senator should go and read the Daily Observer’s last Thursday’s Editorial, “Whither Good Governance in Liberia?”
This is the identical message we have always sent to our colleagues in the Liberian media: Do not get into anybody’s pocket. For the minute you take one cent from anybody, he/she feels that you are fair game and can be bought. And the day you refuse to bow to his/her wishes, the bowl of corruption beans will be spilled in the open for all to see. That is why it is always advisable to remain above blemish, as the day of reckoning will one day come, for us in the media, for the Senators, for members of the House, as Hans Barchue experienced last week; as it will come for anyone who dabbles in mischief.
But we all pray for the preservation of peace in Liberia. Though the nation continues to be tantalized (tempted, provoked), we pray that it will not be to the extent that things fall apart and the peace is again disturbed in our beleaguered (long-suffering, stressed) country.
Our present, persistent, pleading cry, ‘GOD GIVE US PEACE! And lead us to free, fair and transparent elections, during which you, our Heavenly Father, will anoint a leader of your own choosing, to save and carry Liberia forward.’