Given the experiences of many in our country, the answer to that question is strongly in the affirmation, meaning, yes.
Remember how the President had to fire the top management at the Liberia Water and Sewer Corporation little over two years ago? Why? The main water supply in White Plains, Montserrado County, was left without electricity and the city was without water for weeks. Yet, some LWSC staff members were selling their own water from trucks roaming the streets of Monrovia! How corrupt and unpatriotic can one be!
Depriving their own people of water that these officials were paid to supply, not with their own equipment and resources, but those bought by government with hard earned taxpayers' money.
The President was thankfully DECISIVE in moving against these heartless and unscrupulous recreants and replacing them with honest, committed and well-meaning people.
But what caused us to make this woeful recollection? A not-too-different situation is pertaining at another critical parastatal–the Liberia Electricity Corporation (LEC).
Lands, Mines and Energy Minister Patrick Sendolo recently issued a stern warning to LEC workers, who cause unnecessary delays in connecting customers. The Minister said he was tired of hearing complaint after complaint from customers yearning for electrical connections but experiencing delay after delay that they cannot understand.
Well, here is the problem. We have first-hand experience with LEC people who demanded money under the table before they could proceed with connections. Without that, there would be delay after delay, backed by one excuse after another and totally NO action until . . . We have heard similar stories from many Ministries, including the Ministry of Finance, where staff members would look endlessly for documents they cannot find until . . .
Such people are patently anti-development. There are people who have complained that they are unable to pay their taxes without "scratching" some staff member's back, or responding to their hungry cry because they complain "Empty bag can't stand."
Are such GOL employees committed to their jobs, to their Ministries or Agencies and to the development of their country? The answer, obviously, is a resounding NO!
Then how do we build a country?
Minister Sendolo has a lot more to do to get LEC employees to be faithful to their jobs. Like all other Ministers and Agency Heads, at least those who are wholly committed to public service, he has to take decisive action and set examples. But more than that, he, and all other Ministers like him, need to develop a system of whistle blowers and seriously encourage them to be uncompromising in their vigilance.
Minister Sendolo must also know that there are many private businesspeople, including Lebanese and Indians, who are peddling electric power around. Unconfirmed sources have long suspected that the "delay in connections" which the Minister is lamenting, may be due to kickbacks which certain government functionaries receive from these electricity peddlers.
This situation makes one weep for Liberia–a country full of people who do not love their country but want to find every means possible to milk her for personal gain and deny, retard and frustrate and undermine any development effort their own government is trying to undertake.
The time has come for government to start spying on her own employees if ever Liberia is to move forward.
But can government find honest brokers– honest spies–or will she end up in a vicious circle of corruption?
We think, however, that it is worth the try–empowering people to check on their mates.