Integrity: A Lost Value that Liberia Needs

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The English dictionary defines integrity as “moral soundness.” Being morally sound means or says a lot of things about a person. Such a person is conscious of his/her daily activities, ensuring that he/she avoids anything that would bring about character assassination. Controlling your ego not to dishonestly take what belongs to others; avoiding actions that will hurt others; speaking the truth; being faithful to duty; and impartially rendering justice are all values associated with integrity.

A man or a woman with these attributes needs no maneuvering, whether political or social, to gain people’s admiration or respect. Beyond admiration and respect, any such person will build trust and be trusted in a family, group and country at large. But where are the people with integrity that can be trusted with public office in Liberia today? This scarce value is what this country needs in its leadership.

Why do we say this? It is an open secret that many Liberians describe the country’s resources as “elephant meat,” implying that anyone getting into power can butcher his/her share to maintain that person when his/her term in public office expires. On the basis of this selfish, inhumane and impious (wicked, bad, immoral) philosophy, Liberians enter into government, and in some instances, the private sector, with the mindset of cheating and stealing to satisfy their personal desires. Even at the level of the judiciary, justice is for sale to the extent that only the rich and those from the same cult can get it.

The high degree of anxiety exhibited by both young and old, women and men to contest a single seat for the House of Representatives from a district, and the establishment of many political parties centering around financially potent individuals leave no doubt in the minds of many astute observers that people are seeking these public positions to enrich themselves to the detriment of the country.

Besides government, there is a high degree of dishonesty in a lot of ordinary Liberians. Without fear of challenge, we can boldly state in this editorial that a lot of Liberians will credit from a bank or an individual, and will fail to pay. Last year the Bankers Association published in the Daily Observer and other local dailies the names of debtors who have failed to settle their obligations with most of the banks. Research shows that many people will use different identity (ID) cards to dupe banks of huge sums of money. Some Liberian construction engineers will think of nothing more than stealing building materials, including cement, when awarded contracts. Such a behavior was demonstrated by engineers of the Ministry of Public Works on the Jallah Town road project, under the stewardship of former Minister Luseni Donzo. When a non-governmental organization is awarded a contract to distribute food and other assorted materials, those same materials will be seen at marketplaces the next day. At both public and private hospitals, nurses and other healthcare workers without conscience/integrity will steal drugs to fill private drugstores and pharmacies, leaving those hospitals empty, and subsequently referring patients to these drugstores.

Nowadays in Liberia you will note that people do not choose a profession because of passion, but with the intention of acquiring quick money because that field is considered to be lucrative. It is on the basis of this belief that many Liberian students enter into the Business College, Law School and even the Nursing field. This mindset of entering into a profession, especially in finance, to steal is cited as the alleged reason First International Bank (FIB) was taken over by GN Bank.

We reference all these incidents because they are the ills affecting our daily interactions as a people and nation. Now that we are fast approaching elections, there is a need that we thoroughly evaluate the many political candidates that are saying the same thing over and over, to weed out the good ones with a minimum record of integrity.

We want to thank the Institute for Research and Democratic Development (IREDD) for initiating and launching the “2017 Integrity Platform” to track political candidates that are coming into the races. It is our ardent hope that this project will liaise with media institutions to bring the candidates/politicians closer to the electorate to hear and examine their platforms in order to give voters the right information to enable them to make the right choice of leaders for the future of Liberia.

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3 COMMENTS

  1. There is an oversight or inadvertence here when the editor writes:

    “Besides government, there is a high degree of dishonesty in a lot of ordinary Liberians. Without fear of challenge, we can boldly state in this editorial that a lot of Liberians will credit from a bank or an individual, and will fail to pay.”

    Mr. Editor, for God in heaven sake, WERE OR ARE THOSE ORDINARY LIBERIANS WHOSE NAMES WERE PUBISHED BY THE BANK FOR “CREDITING FROM THE BANK AND FAILING TO PAY”?????????? NO NO NO NO! THOSE NAMES WERE OR ARE PROMINENT PAST AND INCUMBENT GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS!! And you know it!!!

    Is Robert Alvin Sirleaf (son of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf) who raked 2.5.billion US Dollars from state coffers (as reported by the FBI) and broke down NOCAL an ordinary Liberian????????

    With such a great topic for an editorial from such a respected news organ as the Liberian Observer, the public expect you to also mention the lack of integrity on the part of the President – Ellen Johnson Sirleaf who after her son Robert Sirleaf committed all such criminal acts, abuse the constitutional presidential immunity by “taking responsibility” for crimes committed by her 60 years old son!

    It also becomes conspicuously suspicious when the editor deliberately refuses to mention the LACK OF INTEGRITY on the part of Amos Sawyer who A FEW DAYS AGO furtively tried to have a constitutional law (of the Code of Conduct) ANNULLED to “MAKE WAY” for his friend Mills Jones and Ellen´s clandestinely sponsored candidates Alex Cummings, and Brumskine´s running mate Harrison Karnweay.

    You should have also mention the LACK OF INTEGRITY of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf when she knowingly appoints a foreigner as Chairman of the Election Commission!

    Writing about “LACK OF INTEGRITY” the Executive Order 84 of Ellen should have also been dealt with, since it is very clear that Executive Order 84 is utterly incompatible with the existence of the nation, contradicts expressly the letter of the constitution, for it is unauthorized by the spirit of the constitution, and of course inconsistent with every principle of the Liberian Constitution, and worst of all Executive Order 84 is destructive of the great object for which the Liberian nation was founded and the constitution erected…the freedom, safety, and happiness of the people!

    THESE ARE INTER ALIA WHAT AN EDITORIAL ON SUCH TOPIC SHOULD WRITE ABOUT AND NOT such unrealistic phenomenon as “Besides government, there is a high degree of dishonesty in a lot of ordinary Liberians. Without fear of challenge, we can boldly state in this editorial that a lot of Liberians will credit from a bank or an individual, and will fail to pay”, WHEN THE REALITY, FACT, AND TRUTH, ARE THAT ordinary Liberians do not have the capacity to borrow from banks, BUT RATHER IT IS THE BIG SHOTS!

  2. Mr. Zoedjallah,
    The Editor is quite correct on the question of integrity with respect to the Liberian Society. Your personal attack on him is disingenuous especially so when he has written extensively on the ills of the Liberian Society for almost five decades. He showed consistency even during the repressive regimes of Samuel Doe and the ex-Gambian dictator. What you have demonstrated here is intellectual dishonesty. I have noticed from your writings that you choose to convict certain individuals without due process and yet support openly the like of Prince Johnson who should be brought up for war crimes and crimes against humanity. Use your intellect to do something constructive for Liberia rather than sow seeds of division and disunity. Your disagreements with the present government is understandable but that does not give you the right to impugn the reputation of
    an Editor that has stood the test of time. Mr. Best is a man of integrity. I know that first hand because I was born and raised in Liberia and also a student of Liberian History. Verbum sati sapienti!

  3. Mr. Wordsworth,

    This is no personal attack. We are simply pointing out an inadvertence and or oversight on the part of an editor! Period! If doing such is according to you “sowing seeds of disunity and doing something destructive” then you are most definitively tacitly attacking the very Kenneth Best; for this is the hallmark of his profession — pointing out what he believes is a wrong, inadvertence, or and oversight!

    Secondly, an editor or anyone who “has written extensively on the ills of the Liberian Society for almost five decades, and showed consistency even during the repressive regimes of Samuel Doe and the ex-Gambian dictator”, DOES NOT MEAN THAT PERSON IS INFALLIBLE OR IMMUNE TO OVERSIGHT OR INADVERTENCE OR EVEN DOING THE WRONG THING.

    Thirdly, our comment that Prince Johnson and George Weah are the two most popular politicians in the country stems from our research finding which was corroborated by the results of the last elections in Liberia, and such analysis is no show of support for Prince Johnson (nor anyone) who like Ellen “should be brought up for war crimes and crimes against humanity”.

    Again, Kenneth Best, despite his VENERABLE UNCLE Albert Porte´s FEARLESS DNA RUNNING IN HIS VEINS is not infallible. Like anyone he can choose to be subjective.

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