The Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia (CENTAL) has pointed out how Liberia is consistently under-performing in its drive towards governance, transparency and accountability, rule of law and socio-economic development.
According to CENTAL’s Executive Director, Anderson Miamen, the 2018 Corruption Perception Index report puts Liberia at number 29 among the worst corrupt countries, with Guinea taking the 28th position and Sierra Leone following with 30.
This, according to CENTAL Executive Director, is an indication of the government’s inability to address an entrenched culture of impunity and enforce anti-corruption laws and policies.
This unfavorable information about Liberia from a corruption watchdog has grave consequences on the country’s image and has the potential to retard its investment and economic progress as people who want to do business with the country may withdraw their decision. It may even result in those who are already here to fold up their businesses and consequently shut down.
The nightmare of Liberia’s under-performance questions Liberians’ abilities to think and make decisions that will put them on par with other countries like South Africa, Rwanda, and Botswana, which are also fighting corruption to improve the lives of their citizens.
Liberians in all spheres of life cannot escape the problems affecting this country; whether government, ordinary citizens or leaders of opposition political parties.
The emerging report from the Corruption Perception Index received its backing from events that have unfolded in our country over the first year of President George Manneh Weah’s administration.
Liberia, one year ago, suffered from the alleged missing of LD$16 billion; there were constitutional violations, the signing of bogus financial deals, among others. Of the 87 promises made by President Weah, he could fulfill five and the rest recorded as yet to be completed. He fulfilled the payment of the West African Examination Council fees for all students, renovated the John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital; passage of the Land Rights Act; Reduced salaries of public officials under the Executive Branch, and paved the Doe Community Road to Clara Town (NAYMOTE President’s Meter 2019).
As the country turns tough on its citizens, big contracts are reportedly awarded to foreigners. We recall when President Weah said early last year that the government would even go ahead to bypass the Public Procurement and Concession (PPCC) law because of delays on its procedures not to hinder projects that the government would like to undertake.
This was an affront to the laws and policies set to create some level of transparency and good governance. We also witnessed in recent days when the Executive appointed an ambassador to the United States without the Senate’s confirmation as required by the Constitution while the Legislature was on its Agriculture Break.
Amid these gross violations and what seemed to be disrespect to the Upper House, some Senators upon returning from their recess, reportedly staged managed the issue to provide justification for the President’s action; disregarding their own independence as a separate branch of the government.
The sudden erection of personal properties by officials of the Weah administration, who have yet to file their assets declarations, remains of great concern. This government must be honest in the provision its checks and balances to ensure accountability to the people on how funds were acquired for these numerous constructions.
The underperformance of the country is not only attributed to economic hurdles caused by the government’s failure to act appropriately, but also the opposition’s failure to constructively hold the government accountable and to serve as voices of ordinary citizens.
We have heard in some quarters that most of the opposition politicians are silent now because voters overwhelmingly elected President George Weah and therefore they should face the consequences of their decision.
It, however, remains clear to voters that politicians have failed to form a cohesive coalition to reduce the numerous parties that only signal greed and selfishness.
Opportunities provided by the past administration to have an environment of free speech seems to be endangere, and there are still some die-hard supporters that may want to settle scores with those who are noted for speaking out boldly on issues of national concern.
In this harsh economic condition and slow pace of development, the Liberian people look up to opposition politicians to flag the government’s shortcomings objectively and compel it to do what it must. Yet, the current political environment carries perception that opposition parties only exist to lambast the ruling party during election season to score points.
The media, too, has taken a paradigm shift in some ways, with some institutions reneging to report objectively in order not to be denied of advertisement or settlement of debt owed by the government. The church is divided against itself that some have compromised their objectivity in guiding society against its ills.
We believe that the problem confronting Liberia presently is not cause by one person or group, but the fault emanates from every citizen. We hope that the unfolding situation will teach all of us to begin to play more meaningful role that will change the country’s negativity to positivity.