Since the announcement by the Minister of Information alluding to the disappearance of billions of Liberian dollar banknotes and the subsequent announcement of the invitation extended to US Federal Reserve to assist in the investigation, virtually little or nothing has been heard of the outcomes of the investigation.
This newspaper in its October 17, 2018 editorial called on the Americans involved with the investigation to release their preliminary findings to give the public a clear picture of what has so far been uncovered. The investigation into the missing billions as well as that involving the said infusion of 25m US dollars commenced since over a month ago. The public, as a result, has been left to speculate which has given rise to conjectures of a conspiracy of theft involving top officials including possibly President Weah himself.
Like his predecessor, President Sirleaf, President George Weah did declare an unflinching war against corruption, declaring now was the time for public officials to work in the interest of the Liberian people. But, from all appearances, President Weah, just like his predecessor, was playing to the galley, making promises which they had no intention of keeping.
The first real test to President Weah’s resolve came with the submission of a report which he had commissioned on the allegations of bribery of former officials involved in negotiations of the ExxonMobil concession agreement. Since his “Special Presidential Committee” submitted its report recommending restitution of the monies paid to those officials by ExxonMobil, President Weah has since failed to act on the recommendations.
Similarly has his reaction been to the missing billions and the US$25 million infusion money. Rather than providing coherent explanations on the missing billions and the US$25 million infusion, officials, it appears, have been hard at work trying to exact a pound of flesh from journalist Philipbert Browne, who initially broke the story of the missing money.
Interestingly, the Minister of Information Eugene Nagbe did confirm the story that money went missing just as the Minister of Finance did also but in a series of twists and turns flip-flopping, denying in one breath that any money got missing and yet in another breath, admitting that money did go missing. But as if that debacle was not enough, another was to soon rear its head and that involved the Managing Director of the National Housing Authority, Duannah Siryon.
Mr. Siryon’s voice could be clearly heard on a tape recording discussing the solicitation of bribery from a Burkinabé businessman. Several government officials are said to be linked to the bribery deal. And of course all the unsavory details of the deal have been released and posted on social media. Needless to mention, this deal has also claimed the attention of the public and there has been no shortage of suggestions from the public linking our beloved President Weah to this latest scam.
This newspaper strongly urges President Weah to step back for a moment and reflect on what has brought us as a nation to where we are today. Officials of his government are behaving as if there is no tomorrow or that there are no lessons learnt from our past as a nation and people that brought to an inglorious end to a 100-yr old oligarchy, a fascist military dictatorship and a bloody civilian cum fascist military dictatorship.
The freedoms or whatever little of it being enjoyed by Liberians today was attained through the blood, sweat, tears and suffering of the people with a high cost in lives. The Liberian people as such will never surrender their hard earned rights and freedom to the likes of Monrovia City Mayor Jefferson Koijee who, by his actions and utterances, is clearly doing more harm than good to the image of the George Weah led government and to the public interest.
In all this, President Weah must be told or be made to hear the truth. The Liberian people elected him not only because they love him so dearly but because he gave them a lot of reasons to hope and believe that he can fix the problems of the country. It cannot be done by coercing public servants and officials to swear or declare allegiance to the CDC as is currently being done in government institutions.
President Weah’s officials appear not to realize that, even if the entire country were to fill in CDC party membership forms and became members of the CDC, the problems of the country would not just disappear. This newspaper recalls the history of the National Democratic Party of Liberia (NDPL) and how it attempted to foist itself on the Liberian people through outright coercion, thuggery and naked oppression.
This newspaper recalls the notorious NDPL Task Force marauding around Monrovia and beating up people. This newspaper also recalls the notorious Charles Taylor, NPFL thugs and their chants “anybody that say they don’t like Ghankay, we will treat you like a dog!” The Liberian people nevertheless endured and they are here. But where are they now who once threatened to treat people like dogs? Gone as though they were never ever here!
President Weah should take a cue from this. History will judge him very harshly and treat him very unkindly should he continue along this trajectory. His officials are clearly misleading him on so many scores and he has to be able to recognize that. He must take charge and lead and not be led instead. Let him visit Bentol and Gbalatuah and see once luxurious palaces now being vigorously reclaimed by nature.
Better still, let President Weah visit Tuzon and Arthington and see the homes of Presidents Doe and Taylor (respectively) and reflect. Like them, his slew of ongoing construction projects could befall a similar fate somewhere down the road and he, too, could be visited by the same troubles our leaders always inflict on themselves by virtue of their power, arrogance and unbridled greed.
But President Weah can avoid such a fate. He must take charge, lead by example and let others follow. Should he however fail to take charge and lead, others will likely take charge and lead him to an unknown and undesired fate.