Finance Minister Boima Kamara must have had very accurate and conclusive evidence that two of the Ministry’s senior officials, Emmanuel Togba and Herbert Sobor, “stole US$82,000 from the Integrated Financial Management Information System (IFMIS) and converted it to their personal use.”
The Minister immediately called a press conference to report the matter and demand that the two men immediately restitute the amount or be turned over to the Ministry of Justice for prosecution.
In order to prevent them from absconding, Togba and Sorbor’s photographs have been spread across the country, so that any attempt by them to cross the borders or board a plane would be obstructed.
But Minister Kamara should know how porous Liberia’s borders are and how, with lots of money in their pockets, the two men could easily abscond. Then again, given the vulnerability of our poorly paid Police, Immigration and other security officers, who says that these already criminally-minded men could not bribe their way across the borders?
We think that the Finance Minister should have immediately had the two men arrested and turned over to the law for prosecution, even while they restitute the money.
The thought or hope that somehow Togba and Sorbor would remain free to “find the money and restitute it” may be a vain hope. For already, they did not “steal” the money to give it back. They may have been doing so for a while, and have now become filthy rich, like so many others from that same Ministry who now have big houses and big businesses.
The Minister assured the Daily Observer that the two men are under surveillance.
Togba and Sorbor may be thinking, after all, that so many GOL officials have stolen money and gone scot-free, “so why not us?” That is why it is so sad that the President allowed some of her cronies and even her own son Robert to do what they did with the people’s money. Others, having seen all that, are saying: “If these can do it and get away, why not us?”
That is the essence of what personal example means.
We wish Minister Kamara luck in his faith and hope that Emmanuel Togba and Herbert Sorbor will come forward and repay the money.
How sad, though, how so unfortunate that people entrusted with critical responsibilities would violate the public trust and, in addition, ruin their reputations and harm the future of their children and the Togba and Sorbor names. It was Jesus who asked the question: “What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and lose his soul?”—meaning, his integrity.
The other desperately sad part of this scenario is the hapless (ill-fated, miserable) condition in which Liberia finds itself. When last did these two men pass through Soniwehn, Buzzi Quarter, Douala or Red Light? When last have they visited West Point or New Kru Town, the decrepit (broken-down, dilapidated) dwellings of their own people of Liberia’s southeastern region? Or the southeast itself—Sinoe, Grand Kru—and seen the widespread poverty, hunger—hunger not for food only, but for development of every kind in the lands of their ancestry?
Or perhaps, as is the fashion, with enough stolen money filling their pockets, they will one day show up in Sasstown or Grand Cess and declare their intention to be elected to the House or the Senate! That is the fashion, is it not?
And because the people know the names only too well, they could get elected!
When will we Liberians learn to use our education to lift our people and country up, rather than use it to cheat our people and bring them and our country down?
Remember the question we posed in yesterday’s Editorial, why does almost every Liberian want to be president? Is it selfishness and the dream of getting rich—just as Charles Taylor thought?
A recent young graduate of the University of Liberia, who once worked for the United States Embassy, remembered a parting remark of former Ambassador Deborah Malak. She told a group of Liberians… look at Belgium, a country without natural resources, yet with power and influence in Europe; and look at Liberia, a country very rich in natural resources, yet in abject poverty—why? The people.
That is why we are praying for the emergence of a new President who will MAKE A DIFFERENCE; who will focus not on himself and his family, but on the Liberian people and inspire and help empower them to lift themselves out of poverty into development and prosperity.
Liberians, register to vote! Vote wisely and elect such a leader.