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RIA saga reinforces Sirleaf administration’s image as corrupt

By Tewroh-Wehtoe Sungbeh    Ellen Corkrum -- RIA



Positions available in the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf administration.

Candidate must be ready to go to Liberia (not to do actual work to change lives and rebuild crumbling institutions) but to steal from government and get rich quick. No prosecution or confiscation of stolen wealth, but reappointment to another influential and lucrative position.

Qualification: Be a presidential friend, or a presidential sycophant.

That’s it, folks, the story is the same almost every day in the Sirleaf administration. You want job, go to Liberia. Steal, get fired and get rehired at another ministry or agency, or leave the country and live comfortably with your stolen wealth in your adopted country, somewhere.

Corruption is running wild like fire and out of control in Ellen’s Liberia. It is like a pandemic.

The most frustrating part about the corruption saga is that the imperial presidency, which historically is not accountable to the Liberian people, wields unlimited power and influences prosecutorial decisions.

The current president’s unrestricted powers and interference in the judicial process makes it difficult for law enforcement and the courts to carry out their duties in a neutral and independent way.

That is because the imperial President is the juror, the prosecutor and the defense attorney in corruption cases, which is unhealthy in a fledgling post-war democratic nation such as Liberia.

And the legislative branch of government that supposed to enact the nation’s laws is weak, incompetent, corrupt, boneless, confused and sycophantic, making governance a joke in that part of the world.

If the Liberian nation is to truly advance as a progressive law-abiding place that warrants the attention of the world and wants Diaspora Liberians to invest and do business, than the government has to be serious in implementing genuine institutional reforms.

The recent $300,000 corruption saga at Roberts International Airport that reportedly implicates former Manager Director Ellen Corkrum and hordes of others including Liberian-born and US-based attorney, Melvin Johnson (who reportedly is Cockrum’s boyfriend), former Chairman of the Board of Directors, RIA, Musa Bility, and Finance Minister, Amara Konneh, is the kind of ridiculousness that often points to the corruption-plagued leadership style of the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf administration.

This soap opera-like story resembles a sensational masterpiece of love, money, power, greed and corruption, with couple of young, ambitious and educated individuals descending on a tropical land to make quick bucks, only to be crisscrossed by a powerful bureaucrat (Musa Bility) who outmaneuvered and out-hustled them as he attempted to get his share of the financial pie before the news leaked out to the public.

As the money allegedly changed hands and the individuals began to point fingers at each other about who is the actual crook and who isn’t, the daily lives of the ordinary Liberian citizen continues to decline, even though Liberians are being told everyday that the “the oldma” is trying her best” as if Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was elected to the presidency to try her best.

Presidents are not elected to ‘try their best’ as supporters of Sirleaf often trumpets; but to show leadership, courage, knowledge and an unbridled vision to guide a nation and its people in good and bad times.

Showing leadership also means fighting corruption by getting with the legislative branch to fund and increase the budget of law enforcement and the Ministry of Justice; and strengthening and empowering the Ministry of Justice, not some quasi Anti-Corruption Agency to usurp the authority of the Ministry of Justice.

Improving the lives of the Liberian people also requires a President to be neutral and not micromanage the official duties of law enforcement.

Because when laws are on the books to combat official corruption or any other crime, the Ministry of Justice, as the foremost prosecutorial arm of the Liberian government should be funded (not pacified for political reasons) but given full authority to execute its duties.

With official corruption (a national security crisis) obviously on the rise in Liberia, laws should be enacted to confiscate the stolen wealth of the indicted criminals. There also has to be signed treaties between the Liberian nation and friendly countries to seize bank accounts and extradite the criminals to Liberia for prosecution.

Obviously, the Sirleaf doctrine of firing government officials for alleged corruption without a court trial, only to reappoint or recycle the individual like aluminum cans to another government job, isn’t working.


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