Finance Minister Amara Konneh has been invited (far away from home) by the fragmented Organization of Liberians in Minnesota (OLM), to deliver this year’s July 26 Independence Day oration.
What is obvious to all is the importance of this day often celebrated with much fanfare by Liberians of various social, political and religious stripes, who will assemble in unity in their respective communities to celebrate Liberia’s founding.
On a normal day or year, Konneh’s appearance as guest speaker would have been celebrated because of his sudden and laser-like rise to political power and fame in just a short span of time.
However, this year’s Independence Day is not a normal one for Liberians in Minnesota, and the young finance minister, whose possible appearance there has been dogged by threats of boycott and mass demonstration sponsored by the Movement of Liberians Against Corruption (MOLAC).
MOLAC alleged that Konneh’s hands are tied to the missing $13.5m funds from the EU meant to combat maternity mortality and morbidity in Liberia. As such, they think it is a slap in the face for Liberians to give him a red carpet and a platform to spread the administration’s propaganda to a global audience, even though Konneh is mute about the fund’s whereabout.
Familiar? This is the Sirleaf way. Say nothing, and do nothing when there’s major controversy. Ignore the Liberian people and public sentiments; and hope the controversy dies down and thrown in the forgettable column.
However, according to the Movement of Liberians Against Corruption (MOLAC), Konneh has yet to come clean for his alleged role in the disappearance of those funds; and shouldn’t be given such a prominent role to speak to Liberians on such a historical day.
A decision of this kind by the once obscure group that attempts to highlight, heckle and possibly preclude a prominent government official once considered a “new face’ and a rising star in Liberian politics, for corruption is a bold one that deserves our collective commendations.
And it is about time (wow!) that Liberians stand up to officials in the Sirleaf administration and President Sirleaf herself, for the damage she has done to our country.
Whoever thought the once clean-cut Amara Konneh would be the fall guy for the corrupt, distant, defiant and unaccountable Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, and her administration?
Of course, it is no surprise that Konneh is the guy (the trusted confidant of President Sirleaf) whom the administration would rather want to see and hear discuss her fiscal policies, and other policies to diaspora Liberians and others outside of Liberia.
As the president’s point man, Konneh’s public role in defense of Sirleaf’s policies often puts him in the crosshairs of critics, who sees him as another ambitious and opportunistic young man who will do anything to maintain political power, affluence, prestige and fame.
As finance minister, Konneh have access to public funds, which can easily make or break a would-be politician or any seasoned politician, who is not careful of how he or she handles those funds. Unfortunately, Konneh has been linked to the missing funds.
It is about time Liberians – for the sake of the Liberian people and that wonderful country, stand strong and tall in fighting corruption and oppression.
It doesn’t matter which ethnicity or region of Liberia the individual who is alleged to have stolen those public funds hails. What matters is anyone who’s found to have stolen public funds must be ridiculed, boycotted, heckled, extradited and brought to justice, if found guilty of the criminal act.
Liberians who decides to protest what is perceived as a dishonorable conduct of their public official shouldn’t be intimidated, ridiculed, bullied and seen as anti-Muslim, anti-Mandingo or anti-this or anti-that for standing their ground in fighting official corruption in their country.
Unfortunately, some members of Konneh’s ethnic Madingo group see it differently. They wholeheartedly believe Amara Konneh is being publicly shamed because of his Mandingo origin and Muslim faith, which I strongly think is untrue.
What these people – Konneh’s ethnic brethren failed to realize is the fact that Amara Konneh, as Minister of Finance, is open to public scrutiny and public praises if he performs above or below his call of duty.
These individuals are blindly and vehemently defending Amara Konneh, and are not looking at the issues from a broader patriotic perspective, even though Konneh is officially Minister of Finance, Republic of Liberia, and not Minister of Finance for the Mandingo people.
This behavior has led those individuals to carry out a smear campaign against MOLAC’s co-founder and co-leader, Kirkpatrick Weah, whom they want the world to believe allegedly stole money from a chapter of his ethnic RiverGee County association.
It is so true; this is about credibility and judgment. And if Kirkpatrick Weah truly stole money or embezzled funds from his county’s association, it certainly will put a huge dent in his character and public crusade against corruption, even as he point fingers at others.
However, this is not about Kirkpatrick Weah, but a planned protest rally organized by other Liberians in that area against Amara Konneh, and other visiting Liberian government officials.
The pro-Konneh group would have done themselves and the Liberian people a favor and be credible partners against corruption had they not dwell on blind ethnic loyalty, but work to rescue Liberia from the hands of the criminals in the Liberian government.
However, for such a key figure – a close aide to President Sirleaf to maintain his silence even as allegations of perceived corruption swirls around him, shows Amara Konneh, Madame Sirleaf and the Sirleaf administration are not serious about transparency and accountability; but wants to maintain the status quo.
Even if the scheduled protest rally in Minnesota against Konneh is unsuccessful for reasons beyond their control, organizers and planners ought to pat themselves on the back for putting corruption in the Sirleaf administration on the front burner and on a global platform, with Amara Konneh as the poster boy.
This is already victory in my eyes. MOLAC deserves our support.