By Bai M. Gbala, Sr.
Rules, Regulations, Public Policies and Laws are made to guide action in protecting society for peace, security and stability; and to do so, governments are instituted to enforce, protect and defend the laws so made in the effort to ensure peace, security and stability, with specific, particular emphasis on “international peace and security”, during these fast-paced, modern days of the 21st century.
In this light, the Liberian President, Mrs. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf described as “unacceptable”,the decision by the Gambian President, Mr. Yahya Jammeh, to challenge the results of the elections (a seeming selective disobedience not only to the reported will of the people, but also, the Laws of the Republic of The Gambia in such cases made and provided) which he (the Gambian President) reportedly lost, and to which the Liberian President observed that:
“Leaders have no room for Selectivity – to accept only outcomes which give mandate to lead and deny a result which withdraws that mandate, especially when election procedures and modalities are applied. Our common commitment to the precepts in the Charters and Treaties of these regional, continental and global institutions are binding and prescribe consequences for non-compliance”.
While we are in complete agreement with our President’s observations with advice to the Gambian President, we wonder if the person of Mrs. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and as President of Liberia, has the moral-ethical, legal grounds from which she may lecture other world leaders on the necessity for National/International Peace, Security and Stability and Selectivity – conscious selective obedience-disobedience to national laws.
Pre-Coup d’état & Present-Prevailing
The facts of Liberian History, pre-the 1980 coup d’état, speak volumes of war – armed hostilities of death and destruction, instability with selective obedience-disobedience to law – such that it is not necessary to burden the readers with historical citations of that which is already known to be the reasonable cause of the 1980 event.
Following the military coup d’état, Mrs. Ellen Johnson-Srleaf, as Head/Founder of the Association for constitutional Democracy in Liberia (ACDL), conceived the idea of removing the government of Liberia by force of arms, an illegal action. The facts of Liberian History show, will show, that Mrs. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and members of the dreaded True Whig Party disbanded and dissolved by the military coup d’état after 133-year, singl-party, national rule, recruited agents, planned and financed this illegal action. The first recruited agent was Armed Forces of Liberia’s (AFL’s) Commanding General Thomas Quiwonkpa, a member of the military coup makers who lost his life in the attempt on November 12, 1985, with thousands of innocent Liberians.
The second agent was Mr. Charles Taylor as Head of the insurgency which invaded Liberia on December 24, 1989 and developed, rapidly, into the civil war, a nightmare of mind-boggling looting, destruction, refugees, human suffering and death of an estimated quarter of a million Liberians, with millions displaced in refugee camps in neighboring countries and hundreds of millions in self-imposed exile in distant, foreign lands.
Thus, the war conceived, planned, financed and led by Mrs. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and associates (ACDL) brought the Liberian nation and people face-to-face with near-total collapse and destruction of the nation’s meagre economic and political infrastructure.
In a letter dated October 11, 2012, to the Nobel Peace Committee of Norway, Journalist Gibson Jerue questioned the wisdom of the coveted Peace prize awarded to Mrs. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, President of Liberia. Journalist Jerue claims that “The Liberian people are ashamed to even identify with the award given her. They do not know how to explain how she qualified for the award as there is no single evidence or criteria that qualifies one for a Nobel that Madam Sirleaf . . . has achieved. However, sir, I am petitioning your noble committee to revoke the award given to Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of the Republic of Liberia. She does not deserve it . . . She is the tormentor-in-chief of the Liberian people, financing and directing armed groups, and paying for the drugging of child soldiers . . . She has confessed that she lavished $10,000 on the NPFL rebel organization . . . By awarding her the Nobel Prize, you have knowingly or unknowingly put a slap in the faces of Liberians, both living and those whose bones were crushed by Madam Sirleaf’s paid murderers. The reasons to revoke her prize are hereto attached for your consideration”.
Today, December 13, 2016, all four of the Liberian daily newspapers report that
“In June 1990, the government (of Samuel Doe) announced plans to more than double the electricity generating capacity of the project and adding a reservoir to allow more generation during the dry season. The plans called for a new 4,000 feet (1,200 m) dam to be built upriver on the Via River to provide storage capacity, while two 52 MW turbines would be added at the existing power generating plant. The US$300 million expansion was never begun due to the Civil War”.
“Then came the civil war (of Mrs. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf) in 1990. The dam was ransacked, and left in ruins. And the future hope of Liberia’s economy was dashed. Rebel forces under the command of Charles Taylor seized the Mt. Coffee plant in July 1990, halting production and causing the dam to breach. Approximately 180 meters (m) of the 12.2 m high dam, which was founded on overburden, was eroded down to bedrock”.
“Until construction, including lifting of the spillway gates, began in January 2014, uncontrolled discharge continued through the partially open spillway and, in the wet season, through the breach. With the shut-down of generation, the powerhouse was vandalized and virtually stripped of power generation equipment, and much of the gate equipment. The powerhouse cladding was also removed. The remainder of Liberia’s electricity infrastructure was almost entirely destroyed during the conflict” (FPA, December 13, 2016). Highlights mine.
Selective Obedience-Disobedience of Laws in Liberia
The incidence of this illegality occurs mostly in violation of the laws against bribery, corruption or graft and greed, extortion, public bidding for the purchase of goods and professional services, laws requiring citizenship for membership of the National Legislature, sensitive national security, political economy and other related positions in government. It is one of the major drawbacks or critical impediments throughout the 169-year history of our country that impacts policy-making/policy-implementation and on our national/international image and our political leaders’ tradition of law-making with lope-holes to benefit the very few, and selective obedience/disobedience of the laws debated, approved and passed by them, the lawmakers.
National Legislature, First Branch of Government
Historical examples of “law-makers” as “law-breakers” are far too many to be cited here, but a few of the recent, most current episodes of violations will suffice:
1. The Act creating the Public Procurement & Concession Commission
There is no need to cite the PPCC Act’s article by article, because the Honorable Men & Women, lawmakers of the August Body, are informed and knowledgeable of the articles’ provisions better than we are informed. But, despite this reasonable, honorable and noble position of knowledge, the Honorable Men & Women ignored, rejected, disobeyed and flagrantly violated the PPCC Act by “sole Sourcing” the purchase of 30 vehicles (one for each of the 30 Honorable Senators) for the amount of US $1, 395,000, simply to satisfy their desires and personal egos at the expense and needs of their constituents. It is important to note that some of the Honorable Members of the August Body are the “New Breeds” of our political leaders and Revolutionaries who are “graduates” of our recent mind-boggling civil war tragedy.
2. Article 30 of the Liberian Constitution
This Article provides that only “citizens of Liberia . . . are eligible to become members of the Legislature”. But, since 1847 and up to this day, the Honorable Houses of the Liberian Senate and Representatives had been and are enclaves dominated by individuals who are citizens of foreign countries – Liberians who have renounced and denounced their Liberian citizenship with sworn allegiance and patriotism to foreign countries, the flagrant violation of Article 30 with impunity – aided and abetted by the notorious National Elections Commission.
3. Traditional “Cold water” & related Graft and Greed – Bribery & Extortion Payments
For confirmation of nominated officials, “consulting, lobbying, ratification and/or approval fees” are demanded and paid for signing mining development, off-shore oil blocks and related concession agreements and making new petroleum laws. Examples are:
a) The US $31,000 each paid by the President of Liberia to 30 senators (or US $930,000) for “approval” of an oil agreement between Liberty Petroleum Corporation, a US company and Liberia upon the request of the President (The Perspective, December 28, 2014).
b) The celebrated US $150, 000 demanded from NOCAL and paid by Honorable Clemencau Urey as Chairman of the Board of Directors on behalf of NOCAL for off-shore oil-block agreement and/or new petroleum lawmaking or simply, “lobbying fees”.
c) The more than one million US dollars paid to the House of Representatives through Deputy Speaker (who admitted receipt of the money) for “national consultation/information” of constituents “stakeholders” nationwide. The use and accounting of this huge sum of money has yet to be made. Under the rug?, Likely.
d) The US $25,000 LACC-NOCAL investigation involving the Honorable Speaker Tyler and the late Attorney Allison is still in limbo.
With these and several and other proved cases of bribery of huge sums of US dollars, there is no wonder that some Honorable members of the Legislature have built, while others are building mansions with swimming pools and million-dollar hotels/motels in the poverty-ridden Cities of Monrovia and county capitals, all at the expense of the nation and people, with the usual, historic impunity.
The Executive - Second Branch of Government
The Executive Branch of government - all ministers of state, agencies and state-owned enterprises – are under the direct supervision of and serve during the “will and pleasure of the President” of the Nation. It is the sole executor or implementing agency of all policy decisions, the translator of all such decisions into lawful actions. As such, no corrupt plan or design can be translated into action without the participation of a relevantly-concerned agency of the executive branch of government.
1. The President of Liberia paid US $31,000.00 each to 30 members of the Liberian Senate (US $930, 000 total) for “approval” of an oil agreement between Liberty Petroleum Corporation, a US company and Liberia upon the request of the President (The Perspective, December 28, 2014).
2. An Audit Report of the National Ebola Trust Fund by the GAC
The National Ebola Trust Fund of US $5 million, an estimated 300 motor vehicles and related medical supplies donated by the International Community “showed (selective disobedient) violations of laws, including the Public Procurement and Concession commission (PPCC) Act, the Public Financial management Law and other prudent financial procedures”. Management of the Trust Fund was the responsibility of the Ebola Task Force under the direct supervision by President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, with the Ministry of Finance & Development Planning, Deputy Minister of Health & Social Welfare and Executive Director of the PPCC as leading members.
However, “President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf set the debate on its way when she declared that the emergency situation at the time warranted expenditures and purchases that did not go through the rigorous PPCC and other processes . . . Following the Defense by President Sirleaf . . . senior officials of the team that managed the Ebola funding, including Tolbert Nyenswah . . . Deputy Minister for Health Designate . . . James Dorbor Jallah, Executive Director . . . Public Procurement and Concessions Commission and Andre Pope . . . Ministry of Finance and Development Planning, took exception to the GAC report describing the report as unprofessional”.
1. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Right under the nose of the President, the Diplomats or top Officials of the Ministry reportedly stole US $300,000 donated by the Empire of Japan for the Ministry’s International, Economic Cooperation & Integration (IECI) Department. The Desk Officer who controlled use/expenditure of the funds from the grant “is on the run” in the USA where he is Permanent Resident. The official, lawful Head of the Ministry, resigned recently, without definitive reaction as to his involvement or non-involvement in the allegations.
2. The Ministry of Public Works
Also disturbing is the reported disappearance of, approximately, US $5M donated for various construction works.
3. The Ministry of State for Presidential Affairs
The Ministry of State for Presidential Affairs and the Super Ministry of Finance & Development Planning, are the most important catalysts for efficient/effective operation of government not only because the executive heads of the ministries are representatives of the Presidency, but also because the Executive Heads are personal confidantes of the President, a fact which ensures credible, timely decision-making.
a) The GAC Audit Report
The GAC Audit reported that due to the fire incident in July 2006 at the Executive Mansion, the Government of Liberia initiated renovation of the Executive Mansion and authorized the award of seven (7) Renovation contracts at the cost of US $31, 705, 072 .21, in the following manner with the resulting conditions and consequences that “US $8 million was appropriated for FY2006/2007 through 2009/2010 for the Executive Mansion renovation Project as per approved national budget. Additionally, as per Ministry of Finance & Development Planning template, an amount of US $1, 500, 000.00 was transferred from the appropriation during FY2007/2008 without documenting the purpose of the transfer”.
b) The “Ministry of state for Presidential Affairs and the CNQC Qingjian International (Lib) Group Development Co., Ltd entered into two contracts on April 27, 2011 and December 19, 2012 for renovation and rehabilitation of the Executive Mansion for the total amount of US $24, 788, 101.18 and that CNQC Qingjian was paid US $10, 443, 959. 61 on the two contracts, but terminated the contract without performance”.
c) The Ministry of State for Presidential Affairs, the leading agency in the Executive Branch of Government, “awarded the renovation contracts to Milton & Richards Architects/Engineers, CNQC Qingjian, Building/Construction Engineers, VAXS, Inc., CESAF, Inc., and Cape Resources, Inc. without public bidding and participation of the Public Procurement & Concession Commission (PPCC) in flagrant violation of the PPCC Act”.
d) “The Milton & Richards Architectural/Engineering Consultancy Firm, agent of the Ministry of state, failed to ensure that CNQC Qinglian International execute the contract based on the agreed terms and conditions which, subsequently, led to substandard performance, resulting to wasteful expenditure of US $10, 443, 959.61”.
We argue that the foregoing citations of law violations are based upon validated evidence of SELECTIVITY or selective obedience-disobedience or violations of Liberian laws in force and effect by government agencies and highly-placed officials of government, some work under the direct supervision and/or under the nose of the current President.
The question arises: where, indeed, is the American proverbial “beef” – the moral-ethical high ground, the credibility, from which our President, with confidence, may lecture world leaders on the issue of Selectivity?
Moreover, the facts of Liberian History dating back to the 1930s, let alone 1847s, not 1985 or 2003, speak volumes on Selectivity, punctuated by armed hostilities, human suffering and death like that which obtained during December 24, 1989 – 2003 and the continuing human misery.