22 February 2018

Liberia: Mr. President, Declare Assets If You're Serious About Fighting Corruption, Your Lieutenants Should, Too

ON THE FIRST DAY OF PRESIDENT George Manneh Weah's official visit to Paris, France, Tuesday, February 20, he spoke about his "broke country" to the French press.

THE PRESIDENT TOLD THOSE PRESSMEN and women that he inherited a country that is "very broke, depleted by political malfeasance," according to enca.com, a South African-based independent TV and online news outlet.

PRESIDENT WEAH FURTHER TOLD THE FOREIGN press that he would make sure that the things that happened in the past administration will not happen again.

THE PRESIDENT ALSO REPEATED the bad news about his country when he and the French President, Mr. Emmanuel Macron, had a standout yesterday. According to the President, Liberia being poor is the result of decades of mismanagement of the country's natural resources.

IN THE LIBERIAN LEADER'S VIEW of solving the problem of his broke country was to order an audit. "I ordered a complete audit to make sure that what belongs to the government goes to the government."

WHILE WE COMMEND YOU, Mr. President for this move of conducting an audit, whether of the entire system or partially, we think this is not going to produce any helpful result that Liberians expect. It's going to be a waste of state resources as has been in the immediate past regime. Remember, your administration needs every penny now in order to meet your agenda.

PRESIDENT AS YOU MAY be aware, in fact you should be aware being formerly in the Liberian Senate, many audits were conducted by the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf-led administration for the last 12 years. Sir, the one million dollar question is what became of most of those audit reports? The General Auditing Commission (GAC) recently told this newspaper that the Executive and the Legislative Branches have reneged on acting on most of its audit reports it submitted.

YOU SAID IN YOUR INAUGURAL address on Monday, January 22nd, that the overwhelming support you received from the Liberian people was one to fight corruption, which leads to a "very broke country." Let's add to that Sir, you are not only to just fight this menace for fighting's sake, but you must do all to win, which we think you can if you muster the true political will to attack it from all fronts, excluding old tactics that yielded no positive results in past regimes.

WE THINK YOU CAN TRULY END corruption in public service as you promised in your inaugural address

"AS OFFICIALS OF GOVERNMENT, it is time to put the interest of our people above our own selfish interests. It is time to be honest with our people. Though corruption is a habit amongst our people, we must end it," he also stated in his inaugural speech on January 22nd.

INDEED, MR. PRESIDENT, you and your lieutenants can truly end corruption in Liberia; but not by and through your initial steps toward achieving it. Commissioning an audit won't bring the desired result; it has never done so. Certainly, it won't under your administration.

ENDING CORRUPTION IS ACHIEVABLE. This is what we think can be the very good beginning of reaching the desired result; and this wasn't done by your immediate past predecessor, Mrs. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf from the onset of her 12-year reign-- assets declaration!

IT IS LAW THAT ALL PUBLIC officials, including you, Mr. President, should declare your assets.

IN SECTION 10.2 OF THE CODE OF CONDUCT, you are to declare your assets and "All such declarations shall be accessible to both the public employer and the general public upon a court order; as well as to the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) and the General Auditing Commission (GAC) for investigative purposes. The declaration shall be promptly updated by Public Officials and Employees of Government upon subsequent changes in his or her interest and/or assets. Each declaration along with the updates thereto shall include disclosure of income, assets, liabilities, net worth, financial and family interests held by the official."

ON JANUARY 17 THIS YEAR, Cllr. Jerome Toe, one of five commissioners at the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC), reminded you that you are to declare your assets.

WE THINK WHEN YOU DO THIS, it is going to prove two very important things:

SHOW THAT YOU ARE ready to tackle corruption head-on and

YOU WILL BE MANDATING your lieutenants to follow your footsteps towards achieving your administration's "pro-poor policy."

PRESIDENT, LIBERIANS need to know what all of you are bringing to your various positions assets-wise.

THIS IS GOING TO HELP DISPEL negative rumors in the future when the question or discussions surrounding your individual wealth come to the fore.

IT IS ALSO GOING TO SERVE AS the basis of reference when some Liberians would think that what some officials have acquired while in their positions didn't commensurate with their current or past earnings.

SO MR. PRESIDENT, YOU and all your lieutenants, need to declare your assets.

THIS DOESN'T ONLY REST WITH the Executive Branch alone. The Code of Conduct in the Section cited above, calls on all public officials, including those in the other two branches -- Legislature and Judicial -- to do likewise.

Liberia

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