President-elect George Weah has declared that his top priorities will be to fight corruption and to transform the lives of the masses of the Liberian people.
In his Acceptance Speech, delivered at his Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) headquarters in Congo Town last Saturday, December 30, Mr. Weah declared, “…those wishing to cheat the Liberian people will have no place in my government.”
As a follow-up to that, he stated, “I declare publicly that my singular but very important mission in seeking the presidency is positively impacting the lives of grassrooters who are popularly known as the masses.
“I declare publicly that transforming the Lives of all Liberians is the single mission…of my presidency.”
These are great pledges made by the President-elect. And the Liberian people are hoping and praying that the foregoing are not mere words, but a sterling commitment to keep these promises throughout his administration.
This prayer comes against the background of something we heard in an Inaugural Address nearly 12 years ago in January 2006, when President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf declared corruption to be “public enemy number one.” She received the longest applause in the entire speech from that remark.
Alas, what can we say today? President George Weah, when he takes the Oath of Office on January 22, 2018, will be inheriting from his predecessor a government that is broke, due primarily to massive corruption that has characterized the Sirleaf Administration. President Sirleaf was unable to tame even her own son, Robert Sirleaf, whose mismanagement of the National Oil Company (NOCAL) as its chairman, led to the disappearance of over US$40 million, and some people insist the figure is far higher than that. President Sirleaf acknowledged this monumental catastrophe (ruin, tragedy), and pledged that she takes “full responsibility for it.”
Among the many problems this situation presented is, who will pay the money back?
Another problem that the NOCAL calamity created was that it opened the floodgate for corruption, with many government officials saying that, “if the family can get away with that, we can, and will take our part.” Corruption thence experienced a free fall. And this is why the government is broke, also with an approximately US$1 billion domestic and foreign debt.
Moreover, look what happened in Amara Konneh’s Ministry of Finance and Development Planning: US$4.5 million was secretly set aside to give loans to Liberians to enter business. And who got the loans? The very Finance Ministry officials themselves, totally outside banking rules,with NO collateral. All of that money is now considered LOST!
We are very sorry that President-elect Weah will be inheriting such a dismal (gloomy, miserable) economic and financial scenario. That is surely not what he asked for. He and his lieutenants, especially those that will be handling the nation’s economy and finances, will need to work very hard to turn the situation around. That would be the only way President Weah would be able to fulfill his “singular” commitment—to transform the lives of the Liberian people. We are sure he knows that he cannot do it without money.
This transformation means fixing all the ills of the society, such as we recounted in last Friday’s Editorial—Education, Health, Agriculture, Infrastructure, including housing, electricity, roads, water and the restoration of all the destroyed public buildings, including the Ducor Intercontinental Hotel, the Executive Mansion, the E.J. Roye Building, etc.
President-elect Weah will have to look very keenly among all his lieutenants and the nation as a whole to find those people who will be COMMITTED to the implementation of his vision. But we urge him first, as President, to set the example by living above the fog, which means, conducting a clean and corruption-free government, with NO compromises to those who wish to do otherwise.
That would be a good beginning; and all other GOL officials would be bound to follow suit.