In what could be seen as a major policy shift towards doing business with Liberia’s foremost traditional partner, the President George Manneh Weah led government dispatched a high power delegation to Washington DC to interface with the officials of the US government, business leaders, lobbyists and other major stakeholders in the socio-economic and political chemistry of the United States. The team went and as per its mandate, according to a release from the Ministry of Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism, the journey was successful. With this reassuring statement from the government, ordinarily, there should be some kind of excitement among the citizenry but unfortunately there is a backlash, casting doubts in the mind of the people that after all, the government is being economical with what actually happened in Washington DC. The Analyst went out to get the views of the people and came up with this report.
Upon conclusion of the trip, the delegation dispatched a report back home via the Ministry of Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism outlining some major breakthroughs among which are the commendations the Liberian government received in some key areas of governance and also being told to make some improvements in other sectors so as to assure the outside community of government’s seriousness to provide the right leadership for development and progress.
According to the report, while meeting with Deputy Assistant Gonzales, the US government official stressed the need for the Liberian government to demonstrate strong steps in the fight against corruption and continue to work on improving governance. This issue, according to analysts, is the foremost challenge that the government will have difficulty to battle.
“I don’t see the government succeeding with this because corruption, mismanagement and misconduct remain friends to this government. This government has not been able to demonstrate the political will to prosecute the waves of corruption in the country”, Said Mr. Clay Dunbar, a retired Nurse.
His views were corroborated by Madam Annie Wuo, a female activist who runs an anti-corruption civil society group, CITIZENS UNITED AGAINST CORRUPTION. She put it more squarely: “I have not seen a very corrupt government for a long time. For this one, it is not debatable. In less than 1 year in offices, most of the officials have become property owners and super rich people. These are people that could not afford common rental fee before they came to government”
Some citizens took a swipe at the delegation’s call for an objective evidence-based framework that guides and informs US government and US embassy’s assessments of on the ground developments and actions of the government of Liberia.
Mr. Paul Yartue, a lecturer in Political Science in one of the Private run universities in Monrovia told this paper that the government was taking the Liberian people for a ride by diverting attention from what is obvious in the public space. “Which evidence are they talking about? Is it not true that we have a deteriorating state of insecurity in this country? Are we not seeing people dying mysteriously and the government cannot bring the culprits to book? These are some of the reasons I maintain that nothing will come out of the whole delegation jamboree”, the obviously furious lecturer said.
He is not alone in this critical line. Moses Tamba, a regular caller on talk shows said that it was laughable that the government is looking for evidence when they should be thinking about being remorseful to address what they told them to do.
“Do we have good human rights in this country? Are we not bribing judges to pervert justice in this country? Are we auditing government officials? Is it not true that corruption is all over in the government and the government dares to take action? So you see these people will not change”, Mr. Tamba said.
It can be recalled that Mr. Alexander B. Cummings, political leader of the opposition Alternative National Congress (ANC), recently described the Government as corrupt and backed up his assertions with a report from Transparency International, a well-recognized global civil society organization that listed Liberia amongst the five most corrupt countries in Africa. The report also listed the country amongst the 10 poorest countries in the world.
Other citizens who spoke to this paper condemned the failure of the government to see the tourism potentials of the country to the extent that a congress woman in Clyburn proposed to launch Liberia’s tourism ambition around the 200th Anniversary of the landing of free slaves on the shore of Liberia.
“The government must be very ashamed of itself to listen to a foreigner to tell it delegation of an important event that can generate a lot of money for us and showcase the country to the outside. That shows the government is not evening a thinking institution”, said Fred Tippayson, who describes himself as a tourist guide.
“Which macroeconomic stability are they talking about? Do we even have an economy at all? Show us the physical evidence of what they are saying”, asserted Mr. Timothy G. Bahn, a former banker when he was asked to respond to the aspect of the report where the government was praising its records on the economy.
Mr. Simon Paye, an insurance broker, told this paper that the economy is the least that the government should talk about when it is scoring itself.” It is fair enough to say that Liberians are poorer now than ever before, at least speaking from the point where Liberia was before this government took over”.
A senior government official who is fond of maintaining a balanced view of issues of national concern and preferring not to be named in the press said he took enough time to read and digest the whole report and one of the saddest thing he saw was the fact that there may not be a second Millennium compact project for Liberia because there is no sign that this government will improve on the scorecard that she has been failing over the years.
“For three years this government failed woefully to have a pass in the scorecard and I seriously doubt the government’s commitment to ensuring the continued success of the MCC compact investments”, he said.
Since their departure to the United States, there have been a lot of concern about the trip and the possibility of succeeding to the extent that while speaking on a live radio talk show recently former Vice President Joseph Nyumah Boakai had this to say when he was asked what he make of the team’s trip to the US:
“Their success will be seen from what they will bring. Let us wait and see. Those days when we travelled, we brought good news, we brought resources, we brought investment and the people saw them”, he said.