Students Group, Partisans of Unity Party Take Former Liberian Justice Minister to Task

By Josephus Moses Gray
Monrovia, Liberia

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

April 16, 2004

The Concerned Students of the Universities of Liberia (COSUL) is calling on all Liberians especially members of the National Transitional Legislative Assembly (NTLA) including Deputy Speaker Eddington Varmah to remain vocal and speak against corruption in the government.

Mrs. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf
Liberia's Good Governance Chairperson in hot water
The students denounced recent statement made by the Deputy Speaker of the NTLA in which he called on the Chairperson of the Governance Reform Commission, Madam Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, to resign for alleging that some legislators and their operatives require nominees for public offices to pay a fee to go through the confirmation process.

The students said “we believe that Hon. Varmah’s call for the resignation of Madam Sirleaf as Chairperson of the Governance Reform Commission was not done in good faith, [but] instead to silence vocal Liberians who would like to speak against ills in our society.”

They noted that it is the legitimate duty of Madam Sirleaf to speak against the ills and vices in government as chairperson on Good Governance. The students stated that it is time for members of the first branch of government to roll up their sleeves to actively, vehemently and objectively speak against the ills in the society including corruption in the government.

The students indicated that Hon. Varmah’s statement clearly shows that he is one of those who endorse corruption in the government, which has the propensity to deny the nation much needed financial and material supports from the international community and friendly nations.

The students challenged the Deputy Speaker to address himself to recent allegation brought against that body by Assemblyman Mohammad Sheriff that some members of the House were reportedly receiving bribe before confirming public officials.

The students, however, are anxiously awaiting the finding of the Committee constituted by the House to probe the allegation of corruption brought against it.

Meanwhile, Unity Party National Youth wing says it is taken aback by Deputy Speaker Eddington Varmah’s call for Mrs. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf”s resignation on the account of her alleged revelation of bribery at the Capitol for confirmation.

The Youth Wing emphasized the need for Hon. Varmah, in his capacity as Deputy Speaker, to conduct a thorough inquiry into Madam Sirleaf’s allegation rather than calling for her resignation which in the youth wing's view will not prove or disprove the allegation.

The Youth Wing sees the call by Hon. Varmah as, what it described, “scarecrow tactics” intended to dissuade Madam Sirleaf and her Commission from setting standards of good governance that will attract investors, the international community and donor countries to assist the Liberian people come out of the nightmare they find themselves in.

True democracy, the Youth Wing observes, will come to our country only when the Liberian people develop the will and courage to realistically and firmly investigate and check the actions of individuals who are entrusted with greater national responsibility to run the country.

Though the Youth Wing believes that the Liberian people are aware of the difficult task of reforming age old attitudes and bad governance in the Liberian society, it wants Madam Sirleaf and her Commission not to be deterred by clever moves to thwart the Liberian peoples’ desire for accountability and good governance.

The Unity Party Youth Wing therefore argues that Madam Sirleaf, as head of the Good Governance Commission has a national obligation to not only speak on, but to tackle matters of corruption, misrule and unaccountability in government and to explore avenues for solutions.

Further, the Youth Wing is reminding detractors of reform that the Liberian people are ever more active in the affairs of the state, and therefore it employs the Hon. Deputy Speaker to throw his weight behind the fight for democracy and good governance that meet international norms.

The Youth Wing believes the process of evolving transparency, good governance and accountability will require individuals of courage and good will to stand their grounds in the sole interest of the Liberian people who have suffered the worse of human degradation for 14 years as a result of bad governance and misrule.

Finally, the Youth wing challenges Hon. Varmah to further explain the rationale behind Chairman Gyude Bryant’s policy of zero tolerance on corruption if advocates of the policy are being degraded.