That the Government of President Weah is in dire straits is a hard truth which is becoming clearer by the day. The value of the Liberian dollar continues to plummet with one United States dollar now fetching 180 Liberian dollars and prices continue to climb. A sack of mineral water now sells for 10 Liberian dollars unlike two or three months back when the same amount could fetch 3 sacks of water.
Additionally, the Government, hard pressed as it were with severe liquidity problems has proposed salary cuts and the imposition of new taxes as part of measures intended to address the problem. The government has also been unauthorizedly been dipping into donor accounts to meet extra-budgetary expenses. Unbridled corruption appears to be on the rise amid doubts and concerns about the ability of President Weah to curb the deadly menace.
And such concerns as reflected in two stories of the May 13, 2019 edition of the Daily Observer written by Daily Observer reporters Hannah Geterminah and Abednego Davies headlined, “Weah Must Be Impartial in Dealing with Corruption” and “Gov’t Backs Off Prosecution of Crane Currency” have claimed the attention of this newspaper.
The common thread in both stories is the missing billions, a yet unsolved mystery. Reggae artist Nasseman in a new hit tune “Who stole the money from the Central Bank” has again awakened an issue once thought dead. This was highlighted in the statement by the Executive Director of the Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia (CENTAL) in which he called on President Weah to exercise impartiality in dealing with corruption in government if he should succeed in cleaning up government.
Against this backdrop the public has been left to wonder what has become of the investigation into the missing billions. Why did Central Bank Officials refuse to cooperate and allow investigators into its vaults to conduct verification checks has left the public with an uncanny feeling that CBL officials must have been acting to shield some special interests from public scrutiny, whatever those interests might be.
Moreover, revelations that criminal indictments issued against Crane Currency have not been served due to what reports say is the lack of money to underwrite the associated travel costs suggests that the prosecution of those criminally indicted for involvement in the missing money wahala may likely hit a brick wall.
But as if this is not enough, the Government has come under fire from donors for what amounts to an illegal transfer of funds earmarked for specific development projects. To make matters worse, donors are insisting on the return or replacement of the funds, or else! And it goes without saying that sanctions would be sure to follow.
Truth be told, things are bad and are deteriorating by the day. President Weah must act with a degree of urgency to come to grips with the problem. This means that he must take some hard decisions which may affect some “sacred cows” but so be it if his government must not buckle under its own weight.
As in the past the voices of opportunists and hardliners appear to be ringing loudly but history, including Liberia’s, is replete with evidence of hard lessons of those who failed to listen to the cries of the people. President Weah now has the charge and opportunity to turn a new leaf even as doubts persists about his ability to shoulder the burdens of leadership.
Meanwhile, news circulating on social media of a hit and run motor accident involving a convicted armed robber whose vehicle thrice somersaulted in a desperate getaway attempt from pursuing cops has raised further questions of this government’s quasi-official links to unsavory criminal elements just as they did in the wake of the press conference held by ex-rebel generals threatening to arrest Representative Yekeh Kolubah.
A Police source (identity withheld) speaking to the Daily Observer said the individual involved in the accident is a notorious and convicted criminal and had been serving time at the Monrovia Central Prison when he was surreptitiously released in March of this year. Sources say his illegal release from detention was made possible by officials at the Justice Ministry.
Whatever the case, these developments have simply served to cast the Weah-led government in a very negative light as one which cannot be trusted and is one associated with the likes of criminals, be they white or blue collared. For a government which was elected on a welter of popular support this is disconcerting and extremely difficult to fathom that it appears to be undoing itself in so short a time.
Having made this point almost incessantly, the Daily Observer once again wishes to remind President Weah that the buck begins from and ends at his doorsteps. He is the leader of the country and not the Koijees, Twehs or McGills of this world. He has no choice but to show leadership by example and there is no other way around it. The Weah Government is in dire straits and this is the hard truth.
He must either take charge and lead or accept to be led to an uncertain and unkind fate.