Monday, December 15, 2008


Who wins the Corruption War?

Ibrahim Al-bakri Nyei

President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf in her inaugural address declared corruption as publc enemy number one, indicating that a fierce battle would be launched against corruption. But President Sirleaf did not indicate where the battle front or the buffer zone will be. Moreover the word corruption has become a political cliché to either destroy opponents or to score political victory. Both are evidence in the ongoing war.
Since then the government had continuously decried the presence and prevalence of corruption in the country, portraying a forceful resurgence of the public enemy. But when one thinks about who or what really represent the public enemy on the front, it creates a pseudomystic thinking to either assume or dismiss that those who are decrying the public enemy are the ones representing the forces of the enemy. Thus the enemy becomes invisible, and practically invincible.
And now it seems that the public enemy number one has worn bullet proof to survive, there seems to be serious inadequacy on the part of the battle front commander who declared the war open. The inadequacies are not the absence of logistics, equipments, and resources. The inadequacies are manifested in the deep-seated cronyism style of leadership and the lack of political and administrative will in the Frontline Commander to move vigilantly. Moreover, the war has been influenced by peddling, bigotry, and a system of ‘cover-up’ for those who are in or near the ‘kitchen cabinet’
The government of Liberia is armed with all necessary weaponry and units to ensure victory. The infantry battalion at the GAC is doing all to dig out the hidden public enemy in government agencies. But it seems that forces representing the government in the illusive, yet publicized war are not appreciative of each other. Some public occurrences in recent time can actually tell where the public enemy is being hosted. The Deputy Auditor General was brutally attacked at the Ministry of Public Works, while officials indicted by audit reports are sponsoring bogus ‘pro-democracy’ groups to undermine the credibility of the GAC. Reports of influence peddling are lingering in the spheres of government operations in terms of contracts, concessions, and political appointments. The worst of these reports are the ones occurring in the camp of the commander-in- chief, and the u-turn in decision concerning the Western Cluster deal which was widely believed to be characterized by ‘palm greasing’.
The judiciary is swimming in serious pool of malfeasances where justice is now on bonanza for sale, and the Supreme Court is nearly turning to a partisan syndicate, where majority votes, influenced by lobbyists - not reasons, precedence, and statutes - are determining verdicts.
The Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission was intended to reinforce the battle, but its rejection by the civil society has dumped it into a pool of the incredible syndicates. This had left the people with no hope in the war, as the public enemy gluttonously consumes their resources with no accounts.
After crying wolves for nearly three years, the president announced a policy on corruption which still falls short of effective political will to prosecute and restitute stolen assets. Yet she claimed that the battle will be won. Intellectually, as they are now fighting the war using public speeches and gimmicks, they may win applause from their cheering squads for their oratorical skills. Fantastically, the government claims that the widespread talk about corruption in the country is an indication that the fight is succeeding, but that is a sheer farce. The noise is publicly made because the people are deeply frustrated and tired of corruption because they are still feeling its impacts in the presence of intellectual grandiloquence and opulent pleasantries.
The battle line has been absorbed in extreme hypocrisy thereby putting the true owners of the nation’s resources, in whose interests the war is purportedly launched, in sheer disillusionments.
But at the end of the six-year term, it will be no surprise to see the masses of the people weeping for losing the corruption war, because it is not fought in their interest. The war has taken a trend that had left pundits to believe that it is intended for those who are innocent and have no real affiliations with the ‘untouchables’. Audit reports from the statutory audit institution, the General Auditing Commission, have been reduced to legislative debate where anything can happen and anyone can lobby to go free, while audit reports from quasi panels are used as the basis in the fight against corruption. But let them know that whatever the case, we are aware that the prosecution based on the ECOWAS Panel Report is in no way a fight against corruption in this government. What we know is that those accuse of corruption in this government are either changed from one Ministry or Agency to another, or forwarded to the Justice Ministry for investigations- the reports of which are never made public or heard of anymore .
Finally, let’s make no satire of this situation; the Liberian people will definitely lose the corruption war. At the end of the six-year term, those that have been destitute will still be the same or deteriorate beyond conventional poverty classification, while the central clique, the group that earns nothing except in government, will grow their bellies and secure big accounts out of the country; paying huge mortgages on properties in the U. S and Europe while Liberia remains undeveloped; paying tuitions in schools and Universities in Europe and the U.S thereby giving them no reason to improve educational facilities in the country. Shamelessly, the same group seeks medical treatments abroad, benefitting from the products of the farsighted leadership given by others while resources given to them to manage are squandered. The much talked about Poverty Reduction Strategy, a fine intellectual paper, is nothing but an illusion, because even those that are preaching it around are aware that it cannot be achieved in three years, and resources to be used for its implementation are transferred to private pockets. But the sycophancy and hypocrisy has to go on, to pave the way for continuity in the spree of ‘gobachopism’. Who wins the war is left with anyone to determine, but the loser is clear.
But I say this to my dear people: The days of weeping shall one day be over, and a leadership that will fight corruption in the true interest of Liberia will one day come. And so, ‘endure the times and weep no more, for your days are ahead’.

In the Cause of Democracy and Social Justice, The Pen Shall Never Run Dry