14 August 2012

Liberia: Nepotism

Amid persistent public outcry and accusations by some lawmakers that President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf is employing members of the first family in top government jobs, nepotism has surfaced at the Capitol Building, but Senate President Pro-tempore, Sen. Gbezohngar Findley strongly defend the practice.

"I wouldn't say that...that practice (employing relatives in one's government office) is wrong. All of the legislators, who come here, go through a campaign process. And after the process, they bring in people who helped them canvass and campaign, be it relatives, be it non-relatives.

"We bring people because of political interests. I don't see anything wrong with that...you scratch my back, I scratch your back," Sen. Findley told a press conference last week.

A New Democrat Newspaper investigation indicts key legislators, including Sen. Findley, of employing their siblings and sons to occupy key capacities such as chief-of-office-staff or office assistant, amongst others.

Rep. Numene Batekwa, who chairs the House Committee on Telecommunication, for instance, has his son, Numene Betekwa Jr. as his chief of office staff, while Sen. Sando Johnson, allegedly has one of his siblings, and a childhood friend as chief of office staff.

A relative of Sen. Gbezohngar Findley is employed as a staff member in his office.

Sen. Findley told legislative reporters that the practice of employing individuals, including relatives who assist them during campaigns, are not unique to Liberia.

"That is not only unique to Liberia. It is common in all parts of the world where you have political leaders coming to power and putting in positions, people that have helped them achieve their political ambition," he reiterated.

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