Tough Action Is the Remedy to Ex-Officials’ Refusal to Turn in State Properties

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It is President George Weah’s second time warning ex-government officials to turn in state vehicles to which they were assigned in the past administration of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

Prior to the warnings, the General Services Agency (GSA) began a vigorous campaign, with the aid of the Liberia National Police (LNP), parking and arresting vehicles owned by the state.

This exercise saved a good number of vehicles from notorious and unpatriotic outgoing officials, who had already begun removing license plates and inscriptions on the vehicles that had been assigned to them, with the intent of diverting them into their personal properties.

Such behavior on the part of  those ex-officials already made it quite clear that they intended to steal more from the country and leave government and the whole country in economic ruins.

Here are people who led the country with former President Sirleaf for many years in an administration in which corruption became rife.

The corruption watchdog, Transparency International (TI), in its recent reports about Africa recorded Liberia to be the second most corrupt country worldwide.

These outgoing officials who are intent on squandering the vehicles and other properties assigned to them give further credence to the TI report about Liberia’s dismal performance in tackling corruption.

And this woeful menace is not limited only to officials in Monrovia. The new Superintendent of Bong County, who attended the festivities at Cuttington last weekend, told the Daily Observer that when she got to the Superintendent’s office in Gbarnga there was absolutely nothing there—no furniture, no nothing!

This is a reminder of what the new Information Minister during the government of Chairman Charles Gyude Bryant, Dr. C. William Allen, successor to Information Minister Reginald Goodridge, reported when he entered the Ministry in 2003. He found nothing in the office; even the printing machinery and all the computers had been stolen away.

These ex-public officials who served in the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf government seem to be determined to behave the same way. What is wrong with Liberia and Liberians? Why must we always behave in the same old negative way, consistently unpatriotic and dishonest? This is a question this newspaper has asked over many years.

When President George Weah pronounced that his administration would fight corruption to end it, the ordinary poor people who are most affected by the corrupt practices of government were happy to hear that declaration.

But remember in January 2006 our new President, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, received the longest applause of her entire Inaugural Address when she proclaimed that “corruption would be public enemy number one”! Alas! It turned out to be only words, words, words, for many of the people she appointed to her very Cabinet thought—and ACTED very differently. Some hardly lasted two years and they were fired.

But then nepotism soon overtook the administration and corruption zoomed throughout, leading TI to make its atrocious (terrible) and shameful declaration on Liberia.

Many of these Ellen officials, no longer in office, are determined to continue their corrupt behavior by holding on to public properties which they should have left for the incoming administration.

We at the Daily Observer believe that the best thing President Weah can do is to set an example by arresting those ex-public officials who are caught holding on to government properties.

The President should send a team of investigators to Gbarnga and other parts of the country where such thievish practices have been experienced and call the former officials to explain and account for the missing furniture, etc.

This would set a serious precedence and begin to teach government officials that theft does not pay.

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