Unscrupulous officials of the outgoing Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Administration have reportedly been attempting to turn vehicles belonging to the state into their personal properties.
This thievish act was inherited by the incoming Sirleaf Administration in 2006, wherein factional heads serving the National Transitional Government of Liberia (NTGL) got off with huge sums of money, vehicles, generators, etc. that the incoming government should have started on.
The same thing happened in the 1990s during the period of successive Interim Governments manned by political parties and warring factions. At the end of each tenure, officials of these governments made off with vehicles and other equipment belonging to government.
The same thing happened in 2003, when Taylor was forced out of the presidency. Many officials took away most of the computers, furniture, vehicles, etc. When Dr. C. William Allen moved in as Minister of Information after Chairman Charles Gyude Bryant of the National Transitional Government of Liberia (NTGL) took over the government, Minister Allen found only a wooden chair in the Minister’s office. That is all the former Minister, Reginald Goodridge, left behind.
As a transition from one elected government to the other is expected to take place on January 22, we are again witnessing with grave concern unscrupulous officials attempting to change license plates of state-owned vehicles to private; a roguish and criminal act for which the culprits should be prosecuted.
Our reporter quoted reliable eyewitnesses who testified that the license plates of most vehicles used by the Ministry of Transport have been changed to private plates. The eyewitnesses also informed the Daily Observer that two users of state-owned vehicles attempted removing the plates and were booked by General Services Agency (GSA) security officers that have been deployed in strategic locations.
Some have even gone as far as stripping cars assigned to them of their engines, seats, tires and undercarriage and parking them as empty frames, with the excuse that the vehicles were involved in accidents and there was no money to repair them.
Two common practices are responsible for the behavior of our public officials. First, there is a culture of impunity in this outgoing administration, whereby public officials will offend public policy and go without punishment for their action. Office procedure requires that upon leaving an office for any reason, the employee must turn in all properties of the entity. The GSA is an agency of government responsible to purchase and assign all public properties, including vehicles, to officials and civil servants and to retrieve same when needed.
Instead of government officials respectfully turning over state properties assigned them, they cheat the state by removing license plates and even spraying the cars with different colors. What a high degree of dishonesty and unpatriotic deportment! If the government were sincere to get an official to account for his/her action, the habitual stealing in the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Administration would not have grown so rampant.
The practice of free-rein leadership whereby the leader will leave workers without proper supervision and accountability is the other factor giving public officials the chance to steal state-owned properties with impunity.
This is why we do not hesitate to laud GSA Director General Mary Broh for the exercise she is carrying on with backing from the Liberia National Police (LNP). As one public servant in this government recognized for her diligence and patriotism, Madam Broh is recognized and highly respected for her exceptional performances in the Passport Division, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Birth Certificate Department, the Ministry of Health and at the Monrovia City Corporation as a Mayor. She has cleaned up the mess everywhere she has served. She even transformed Broad Street, Monrovia, beautifying it with flowers and tree planting.
It was in recognition of these outstanding performances that the Daily Observer named her Person of the Year, 2012.
We thank Madam Broh and the LNP for their determination and resilience to strive to retrieve public vehicles from those roguish officials whose minds are set to defraud the state of properties it used millions of dollars to purchase.
The Daily Observer recognizes this exercise as a way of saving the state from collapse and lessening the burden on the next government that is already set to inherit over US$1 billion in debts.