Liberians decided in August 2003 to end the 14 years civil war when they signed the Accra Comprehensive Peace Accord that paved the way for disarmament, elections and socio-economic reforms. Today the war is over. The guns are silent. Genuine efforts are being made to improve the livelihood of the citizenry. The citizens too continue to fight day and night to pick up the broken pieces and move ahead with their lives.
But though the guns remain silent, another war continues to threaten the stability of the nation – a war which left unchecked, could likely serve as a recipe for chaos. President Sirleaf termed it public enemy number one when she took the oath of office in January 2006 as Africa’s first democratically elected female head of state. In 2012, Madam President again placed another scary epithet on the scourge – naming it a vampire when she took her second oath of office.
Yet, with all of these frightening labels; with the establishment of countless anti-graft institutions in the country, corruption continues to thrive unabated. The vampire, it seems is even now immune to daylight- strutting under the clear blue sky, pillaging and pilfering with impunity.
The latest revelation from Global Witness makes one to wonder why this country ever went to war over societal vices, when we keep repeating the same mistakes and expect all to be well.
If what Global Witness says is true, then Liberia is in serious mess. How a chairman of a ruling party would collude with foreign investors to bend the laws, allegedly bribing government officials, is indeed a wonder of wonders.
If what Global Witness’ “Deceiver 1” report says is true – that a UK firm, Sable Mining, and its lawyer Varney Sherman paid over $950,000 in bribes and other suspicious payments to state actors, majority of whom hold influential positions in government, then, indeed the fight against corruption is akin to casting duck in a placid lake and expecting duck to drown.
Alex Tyler is the current Speaker of the House. Morris Saytumah is a member of the House of Legislature. Sumo Kupee runs the lucrative national oil refinery company. Fombah Sirleaf heads the nation’s premier security-intel organization. The identities of Big-boy 1 and Big-boy 2, named in the GW Report, have kept speculators awake, especially as the duo were fingered to have collected the heftiest bribes from Sable. All those named in the leaked emails are not ordinary individuals. The fact that Africa Confidential fingered Cllr. Varney Sherman as the purveyor of the identities of the alleged bribe takers even raises more eyebrows.
In the midst of these stern accusations, President Sirleaf has immediately constituted a committee to investigate the matter. Headed by the recently appointed Minister of State without Portfolio, Cllr. Fonati Koffa, the committee’s work seems already cut out.
While the move by the President is laudable, anti-graft pundits are wary that such committee should have included corruption watchdog institutions such as the LACC and the GAC, to be headed by the Minister of Justice.
For us at the Capitol Times, we sincerely believe that this is one of the few golden chances that this government has to exhibit the political will – that come what may, it is ready to take the fight against corruption on the streets. Anything short of that will be business as usual.