Liberia: President Weah Must Put an End to Corruption or Corruption Will Put an End to His Government


Nathaniel Blama's dismissal from the Environmental Protection Agency, which he has headed since this Government came to power, has since raised eyebrows given the Executive Mansion Press Release indicating that Blama was fired because he had attempted to illegally dispose of Government assets. Just what those assets were or might have been have not been disclosed. Blama, for his part, has maintained that his dismissal stems from a US$20 million non-binding contract which he had signed. He further maintains that the allegations against him do not bear the full truth.

However, the Executive Mansion Press release claims that Blama's dismissal stems from acts he committed of a criminal nature, namely his alleged attempt to illegally dispose of GoL assets. But informed sources have told the Daily Observer that Blama's dismissal actually stems from disputes over custody of the US$100 million GCF facility. The funds are intended to be directed to a number of environmental related projects, one of which is the protection of West Point from coastal erosion.

From all indications and from experience, donor funding for such projects are usually managed by the United Nations Development Fund. Under such arrangements, accountability requirements are strict and in the case of Liberia, for example, where public sector corruption is high, conditions for the release of funds to projects are demanding and strict. In such a situation, chances or opportunities for officials to pocket or siphon off money are significantly reduced.

Thus, it is understandable why Blama would incur the displeasure of top officials, especially Justice Minister Musa Dean and his colleague, Finance Minister Samuel Tweah because, according to informed sources, he (Blama) signed such an agreement conceding custody of such funds to the UNDP rather than to the GoL thru the Ministry of Finance for deposit into government's consolidated account.

Interestingly, the details of the contract allegedly signed by the dismissed EPA head, has not been disclosed to the public, thus leaving room for wide public speculations about the actual truth of the situation. If it is claimed that Blama's dismissal is in consonance with President Weah's declared Zero tolerance to corruption policy, then what about the Justice and Finance Ministers who presided over the US$25 million infusion exercise, which independent reports have concluded was by gross corruption?

Why have they not since been given the axe as should be expected? Is it because they are sacred cows as it is been widely speculated in the public? The public does have the right to know the details of the contract including the government owned assets he allegedly attempted to illegally dispose of. This is a matter which should not be left in the realm of public speculation, especially for a government whose public image has become battered and tainted with charges of rampant corruption.

Whatever the case, officials of this government should not lose sight of the fact that those projects identified for funding under the GCF facility are intended to benefit the Liberian people and their implementation should be considered exigent, particularly that concerning the protection of the slum community of West Point.

The rapidly growing public image of this government as a lawless government does not augur well for the future of this government because it tends to undermine donor trust and confidence and, above all, the trust and confidence of the Liberian people.

This will be put to the test in the December Polls which President Weah has challenged his supporters to leave no stone unturned to unseat incumbent opposition figure, Darius Dillon. In a true sense, the December Polls will actually be a referendum on President Weah's leadership.

It would not be surprising, given the spate of violence which attended the District 15 by-elections and given the recent sponsored mob attack in Zwedru against opposition figures, Alex Cummings and Yekeh Kolubah, that the December Polls would be marred by violence. Should that scenario unfold, it would constitute a clear declaration of intent and a rugged determination to maintain power at all costs.

It must not be forgotten, however, in history, that such rugged determination by leaders usually contains within it the seeds of their own destruction. Coming to home, the defunct True Whig Party, the bloody military junta, the vicious blood-letting armed factions, the fascist and convicted war criminal Charles Taylor, all possessed, in common, a rugged determination to cling on to power at all costs. But look what has become of them and their ambitions.

Rather than placing his focus on winning elections to prove to his detractors that he is still popular, President Weah should instead focus his attention on governing the nation properly and effectively. By now he ought to know that under his watch, things are not working, that the people are losing hope and that state sponsored violence has returned to stalk and stare them in the face, which they strongly resent.

If, just if, President Weah is not aware of what is unfolding under his watch, then he is doing himself great disfavor. It is because, in the final analysis, he will take the blame for every wrong happening even if it was done by others against his will and or instructions.

He will still have to take blame. As the Daily Observer has repeatedly pointed out, President Weah still has considerable time left on his tenure to turn things around for the better. Transparency and accountability in government, he needs to restore.

And he must do so across the board without prejudice or respect for persons. Officials around him who have earned public scorn for their corrupt activities must be dismissed forthwith. It is shameful on the one hand to be touting Zero tolerance to corruption as reason for dismissal for a public official while on the other hand, some public officials are virtually stealing big time without reproach.

President Weah should bear on mind that he must put an end to corruption or else corruption will put an end to his government.

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