“When Push Comes to Shove”!

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The National Housing Authority (NHA) bribery scandal appears not to be going away soon — at least not before or even after the ongoing trial of NHA managing director Duanna Siryon, who on trial, facing charges of economic sabotage and bribery. Controversy surrounding the scandal have intensified even further with revelations by a purported cousin of President George Weah who goes by the title of Ambassador Augustine Weah.

Ambassador Weah, speaking on the Costa Show aired on Thursday October 31, narrated a story that bears strong resemblance to statements attributed to the former NHA managing director, Duana Siryon, currently facing trial. More to that, Ambassador Weah made some troubling revelations which smirk of gangster-like behavior by top ranked government officials.

To say the least, the allegations he made are very damaging; they cast President Weah in a very negative light, suggestive of his involvement in an extortionist racket. The public is left wondering just where were the President’s advisors in all this “going back and forth”. Are individuals acting in his name or at his behest?

Disclosures by Amb. Weah that he is part owner (20% ownership) of the GelPaz company, from which officials of this government attempted to extort money, has raised a lot of eyebrows in the public and there are nagging questions whether President George Weah was/is actually complicit in a deal whose details were leaked in an audio recording aired on a local radio station sometime ago.

Mr. Weah further disclosed that while serving with the UN in Haiti, the future President visited him along with his wife and they took pictures together, some of which he displayed. This was apparently to support claims of his close familial relationship to President George Weah. According to Amb. Weah, it was he who encouraged his Burkina Faso based company to come to do business in Liberia, trusting that his close family ties to President Weah would have worked to his company’s advantage to gain a foothold in the housing sector.

According to information gleaned from official court records, former NHA managing director Duana Siryon solicited a bribe from the company in order to win a contract to construct housing units in Liberia. Several individuals are being charged for bribery, amongst them, Augustine Weah. But the interesting twist to this is the fact that Mr. Augustine Weah, who is part owner of the company, is accused of soliciting bribes from the very company which he is part owner of but he is currently out of the bailiwick of Liberia.

Mr. Weah has since disclosed that he fled the country for fear of losing his life. He claims that he is part owner (20%) of the Gelpaz-Immo company, based in Burkina Faso. He added that his most recent trip to Liberia was at the behest of the management of the company and its majority shareholder (51%) to handle matters relating to his company’s quest to do business in Liberia, which the company’s agent and representative had found extremely challenging.

He said shortly after attending a meeting at the President’s office he was accosted by three armed men who showed up at his 8th Street residence, demanding that he went along with them to the Police Headquarters where he was detained for three days and, after which, he was taken to the South Beach Monrovia Central Prison where he was held for 8 additional days without formally being charged.

It took the intervention of lawyers dispatched to Monrovia from UN headquarters in New York specifically to seek his release from detention. According to him his official UN Passport/Laissez Passer was seized and never returned to him, adding that he was forced to flee the country under cover of darkness for fear of being killed.

Whatever the true and actual facts of the matter may be, it has gone viral on social media. Beyond that, it has come to the official attention of the FBI, the US State Department and the UN. Whatever the fallout may be and whatever consequences may ensue appear unclear at this point. It however appears more likely than not that there will be consequences, one of which could be the erosion of President Weah’s projected image as a “Mr. Squeaky Clean”.

President Weah, unlike any contemporary Liberian politician, acquired a lot of wealth by dint of hard work and sweat before becoming President. For this reason, so many in the public held the belief that he would not be prone to stealing from the nation’s coffers since he was already wealthy. Most of those now “in the photo” were virtually penniless before his ascendancy. Now they are millionaires, their wealth skimmed off the backs of poor and suffering Liberians. And for this reason they appear prepared to kill anyone perceived to be standing in their way.

The Daily Observer notes that history records that this kind of mindset and behavior always bear tragic consequences for those who believe they can ride roughshod over the people without consequences. President Taylor probably came to this realization as he sat in the criminal dock at the Court in the Hague. President Doe may have also come to this realization as he pleaded for mercy sitting helplessly before an impervious Prince Johnson.

Even President Sirleaf may have come to such realization when she saw her beloved son in handcuffs appearing before a criminal court and being whisked off to jail. This newspaper has consistently warned President Weah of allowing others to take charge, lest he be led by others to an unkind and untimely fate.

He should learn from history. Intimidation of opponents, use of unbridled violence, even extra-judicial killings, would simply serve to harden resolve and encourage greater resistance. He should not, like Presidents Doe, Taylor and Sirleaf, sow seeds of his own calamity.

Why? Because in the final analysis when “Push comes to Shove”, all his “men dem will give it” and he will be left alone to his fate as the nation suffers again. This must be avoided at all costs.

3 COMMENTS

  1. Bribery and corruption in Liberia will not stop as long as the leaders themselves are setting the pace and the tone for it. For example: How can Weah evoke the strong arm of the law against personalities like McGill, Tweah, Chieh, and many others when they know about his shaded activities? Certainly, this is one of the primary reasons that encourages these men to commit high crimes against the state and get by with impunity.
    Is Weah in the know of many of these criminal offenses done by his government officials? Of course, yes. Nevertheless, he covers them up by playing intentional innocence, unintelligence, and dumbness.

    Time is late, or if not, this situation is nearly impossible for Weah to resolve because he lacks the moral courage and political will to enforce the institutional norms prescribed by the nation’s constitution. Instead, he and the criminal gangs have become bedfellows

  2. Samolu,
    Let’s just say that our country, Liberia, has got a long list of incurable problems. One usually hears the words” incurable desease”. Unfortunately, there are incurable deseases! But, it’s about time that the reality of Liberia’s incurable leadership crisis had sunk in. There seems to be no way out. This century is quickly going by. A lot of work needs to be done.

    The crises exist in the three branches of government!

    The Legislative Branch:
    The legislators of Liberia earn more money than their US counterparts. While such money is being earned, motor roads are in a mess. Public transportation is rotten! But yet, they continue to earn more money! Earning such money by our lawmakers in a poor country such as ours is a travesty.

    The Judiciary Branch:
    Although I am not an IRRED advocate, it’s been revealed by the watchdog group that over 120 unresolved cases have been found on court dockets. The question is why hasn’t those cases been looked at? Corrupt intent? No need to guess! The salaries of the judges is a secret. Don’t be misled, they make good money too. But hot cases will be left on the drier.

    The Executive Branch:
    The executive branch is critical. It is composed of many departments or ministries unlike the legislative or judiciary branches. The appointed Ministers of the Departments exhibit various types of characteristics. Some of them are not judicious. Some of them are slackers. Some of them are uncanny and sadly some of them were born with a violent sinister penchant for theft.

    Existential Conundrum:
    The problem of anoiting one candidate for president has been with us for a very long time.
    When Taylor ran for the presidency, (the uneducated voters who are in the majority) chanted slipshod slogans such as, “whether you killed my mama or daddy, we want you Taylor boy”. Taylor was chosen even before the electorate went to the polls. Other presidential candidates were not vetted. What did the country gain from Taylor’s leadership? Zilch! He was anointed prematurely.

    Then Ma Ellen came on the scene. When she ran, other presidential candidates were not properly scrutinized! Again, the poor people shouted in unison for Ma Ellen. Now, are we happy with the job she’s done? One of Ma Ellen’s legacies is her idea of paying lawmakers and department Ministers huge sums US dollars. The country is broke. ExxonMobil on which hopes for oil was placed has packed up.

    The Americans have a primary system. The presidential candidates go (according to a set-up schedule) from state to state to make their case. If a particular candidate cannot sell his or message to the American people, she or he drops out. No sweat! Why can’t we have a primary system in Liberia? If the presidential candidates of Liberia could go from county to county, hold debates and mini elections in the counties, a good selection of a candidate will be made.

    The Chinese and Russians have changed. Thirty years ago, there weren’t millionaires and billionaires in China and Russia. But today, there are. Why? Because the Chinese and Russians have changed a little bit in the area of economics. Their societies are not as rigid as they were thirty years ago. The Russians’ charismstic leader, Gorbachev championed the concept of”openness”. It worked!

    Unless we change in Liberia, our problems will continue to be incurable.

  3. Uncle Hney,

    Strong word, Incurable. Our problems, I dont think, are incurable. a different methodology perhaps needs to be applied to the many problems that confront us as a people and society. We have to apply that collective effort to find that method that can propel us forward.

    Our people needs massive education about their rights, election process, that their votes matter and they should not just be suckered in by any tom, dick or harry who comes their way and spew lies and promise them the sky if elected into office.

    The task seems daunting, but me, im undaunted. I teach civic education to a small group of people and how they and their votes can alter election events. Baby steps, but, the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

    Peace

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