Indeed, this article is re- reminder of the shocking reality of the deeply troubling socio-economic and political doldrums in which Liberia had been, and is - the nation’s historical experience since its founding in 1847. A re-reminder, because we have written extensively, repeatedly of this socio-politically deadly condition.
Moreover, the “reminders” included our own, Liberian Press detailed investigative reports; international Watch-dog (Global Witness, etc.) organizations’ repeated, consistent exposures of economic/financial management improprieties; and Liberian donor community’s reported criticisms, with warnings and advisories. All, of these detailed analyses and reports, catapulted the Republic to the unenviable status of being the most dishonest and corrupt of the nations surveyed, world-wide.
Ministry of Finance
We begin this report (predicated on the latest headlines of March 9, 2017) with the Ministry of Finance & Development Planning (MF&DP). In several articles, we held that the new, tongue-twisting Super Ministry (merging of the Ministries of Finance and Economic Affairs) and its former Bureau of Revenue, now the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA), had been, and are the nation’s GURU of public dishonesty and centers of “get-rich-quick” schemes or stealing.
The Ministry of Finance and the Liberia Revenue Authority are public agencies that had been, are involved, massively, in stealing of public moneys and related resources, carried out by “experts” in computerized Financial Management (or miss-management) and Reporting. The agencies are not only over-paid, but also, over-staffed, some of which are foreigners, called dual citizens.
In terms of very poor (at best) or non-performance of the Planning aspect of the Ministry’s lawful responsibilities, favoring allocation/expenditure of millions of US dollars to non-existent or phantom organizations, the Ministry of Finance & Development Planning has earned, should be renamed the Ministry of Finance & Development Stealing (MF&DS), while the Liberia Revenue Authority should, also, be renamed Liberia Revenue Stealing Authority (LRSA).
Today, under March 9, 2017 headline, “who’s Chopping Money at Finance?”, a local newspaper wrote that “The ministry of Finance . . . is drowning in corruption . . .”. Repeatedly, throughout the entire, twelve-year term of the current political administration, this theme of organized theft has been exposed. Revenue collected had ben and is being spent on three major state agencies, in addition to their lawful, generous compensations – the Ministry of Finance & Development Stealing; the National Legislature (its county Legislative Caucuses) and the President of Liberia, with no questions asked.
The Super Monsters
In a speech delivered in the United States, former Minister of Finance & Development Planning, Honorable Amara Konneh foresees, Bloodbath? ‘This has to stop, Minister Konneh cautioned on how the Sirleaf government expends revenue generated and warned if revenue generated is not equitably expended across the population, he foresees another April 14th Rice Riot-style incident in Liberia’”.
The speech was reported by In Profile Daily,April 28, 2015 and dubbed “Super Monsters”. According to the paper, “corruption is creating . . . Super Monsters . . . conflict Insight”, with photographs of the Honorables Binyah Kesselly, CEO, Liberia Maritime Authority; T. Nelson Williams, Jr., dismissed Managing Director, LPRC; Mrs. Matilda Parker, recently suspended Managing Director, NPA; and Amara M. Konneh, the National Money Manager & Development Planner whose bombshell is now on the lips of the other Super Monsters in offices, barbershops, salons and bow-tied lunches at fashionable Hotels and Restaurants; and the Liberian rank and file in “Fufu & Soup, Rice & Palm Butter Cook Shops and side-walk “debates”.
We held that “The nation is now reeling under the weight, domination and control by the instant-wealthy ‘Super Monsters’ – ministers & deputes; agency heads & deputies; managing directors/presidents & deputies/vice presidents of state enterprises; heads & deputies of special committees/commissions; boards of directors & chairpersons; and just any former Joe Blow who has become Super Monster with “connections” – socio-cultural, economic, political, etc., etc., and easy access through the doors of state corridors of power with patronage appointmentsand card-carrying membership in the Liberian ‘roaring’, not, any longer, ‘rampant’ corruption, Inc.”.
Because of this speech, it was speculated in high-profiled offices of government that the Super Minister, Honorable Konneh could or will be dismissed. But, on the contrary, Minister Konneh was rewarded for outstanding services at a gala, pomp and pageantry State Investiture held in his honor in the ornate Hall of the Ministry Foreign Affairs, performed by none other than the nation’s President. Honorable Konneh is now retired (temporarily, from Liberian politics), quietly packaged and, conveniently, recommended off to the Republic of Kenya on political vacation.
The Liberian Voter
This brings us to the issues raised by the questions posed regarding the Liberian Voter during this Elections Year, 2017 - relevant and compelling.
In a Commentary (FPA, March 9, 2017), writer Benjamin Fyneah posed the question, “Are Liberian voters the Problem?”, the “problem” being that of incompetent candidates elected to important public offices as the result of the voters’ votes. Now, we have this deeply-troubling problem of incompetent public officials not only because of lack of the required performance qualifications, but also, because of moral character – graft, greed, lies, deceit, thievery or corruption.
The main question of the Commentary is rhetorical, because Mr. Fyneah answered his question by detailed analysis in which he raised the following, additional questions:
Re-phrased, these questions are, in fact, affirmative answer to the original question. They say “yes, that, indeed, the Liberian voters are the problem because of the way they vote, continuously, against their interests”.
But, we hold present a contrary view, Firstly:
And therefore, we argue that the Liberian voters are not the “problem” and that “the way they vote” is a reasonable expectation, given the imposed socio-economic and political conditions in which they live, for the following reasons:
Now, the Political Process of votingis, in fact, the process of making informed, rational choices. In this respect, the political process may be likened to the process of the market, capitalist Economywith products, producers and consumers.Similarly, in the domain of the Political Process, products are the Candidates for office; producers are the Political Parties and consumers are the Citizens-Voters.
In both processes, education and some level of information are necessary and required of the economic consumersand the political citizen-voters. In the Political Process, the Citizen-voter must be educated or informed of several candidates’ relative policy orientations, character, performance qualifications in terms of training/experience, in the light of prevailing conditions.
However, we all know that an overwhelming majority of the nation’s population, the Citizen/voters, the body-politic of the Nation, are mainly rural, town- and village-dwellers, live in abject poverty, uneducated, relatively illiterate and uninformed. The information required for active participation and making rational choices is unavailable, does not get to the relatively illiterate and uninformed rural dwellers as easily as it does to the urbane, educated inhabitants. Poverty, also, plays an extremely important role in diminishing the ability of many rural citizens to be politically-informed.
State-owned and controlled media entities focus, mostly, on presentation of positive, government activities, while such reporting mediums as radio and television stations do not extend service beyond urban areas. Newspapers are published, mainly, in urban cities, but are not distributed in rural areas.
In relative, culturally-homogeneous Liberia, there is little or no communication infrastructure, such as all-weather roads/highways, railways, airports and telecommunications that can and will serve in linking the geographically-dispersed, rural communities and groups. Furthermore, the electoral process – laws, demarcation of constituencies, registration of political parties, registration of voters, campaigns by the political parties, votes counting, declaration of results and adjudication of disputes in Liberia, as we have experienced – are not free, fair, transparent, credible and legitimate.
How dare writer Benjamin Kofa Fyneah to declare the Liberian Voters guilty of the responsibility for the colossal incompetence of many of our elected officials and the cesspool of corruption in which the Nation had been and is slowly drowning?