MONROVIA : Amidst the mixed reactions that greeted the declaration of assets by President Joseph Nyuma Boakai yesterday, Thursday, February 8, 2024, at the National Headquarters of the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission(LACC) in Monrovia, several Civil Society Organizations(CSOs) have called upon the President and any other politician “not only to declare their assets in secrecy at LACC but should ask the institution to publish what were declared to reach the wider audience for transparency and verification.
President Joseph Nyuma Boakai yesterday in fulfilment of one of his electoral promises to lead by example in declaring his assets upon inauguration when he visited the National Headquarters of LACC to honor his promise accompanied by top aides.
Shortly as he arrived at the LACC office, President Boakai was ushered into the assets declaration and verification department where he was received by Madam Patricia Barnaby, the head of the department and the President politely handed over the file containing all the documents related to the assets declared.
After going through all the documents, Madam Barnaby told the President that based on the documents she had gone through, she was satisfied and could enquire from the President again if there is any need.
After the brief interaction with the LACC officials, President Boakai also spoke to the media before departing from the scene where he reiterated the importance of adhering to the issue of honesty and independence within both his government and the LACC.
“I am excited to be here this morning to declare my assets which are required by law and which I promised the Liberian people I will do upon election. Transparency is the cornerstone of good governance. As leaders, it is our duty to lead by example and demonstrate our unwavering commitment to accountability.”
“We must hold ourselves accountable to the people we serve”, the President said.
Some officials of LACC including the Vice Chairperson, Ernest Hughes and the Commissioner for Monitoring and Investigations, Samuel Dakana were present during the brief ceremony.
While the declaration was hailed by many that it could be a sign of good things to come as the President “has stood by his words to make a declaration of his assets”, others said in as much as they will appreciate it, “the unnecessary publicity that is given to something that is legally required amounts to say that the President was not into this for sincerity but for the political side that he stands to benefit from because most of our people are gullible”.
In a press statement issued by three civil society groups, Center for the Enhancement of the Rule of Law(CERL), the Initiative for Total Accountability in Governance(ITAG) and Citizens Rights To Good Governance(CRGG), a copy of which was sent to The Analyst, the group said they wholeheartedly welcomed the decision of any Liberian politician including President Boakai to abide by the constitution of the country and “therefore such initiative should not be reduced to political stunt trying to cajole the people”
“While we see the declaration as important to the quest of promoting good governance, especially accountability and transparency, we do not want to document ourselves in a way that we will be seen as praise singers. There should be nothing special about the President declaring his assets as it is not an abstract call but a constitutional mandate that must be adhered to without him or any other politician being reminded”, the statement said.
The statement further stated that “the whole noise behind the asset declaration should have not risen if the intent of the President and or any other politician was sincere to the cause of ridding the country of corruption and positioning it on the right path for serious business”.
“Be as it may, we are of the strong view that the real issue is not declaring the assets as has been done with the attendant media blitz and the glamor that we are seeing, but what should be paramount and which we should prioritize is for the declaration to be made public for people to see and verify.
“Declaring your assets secretly and putting the same in one file that your citizens will not access and get to know the details is worse than making the declaration. We call on the President and all the politicians who are declaring their assets to do the needful by providing details of what they are declaring in the public so that the citizens can scrutinize these documents and get the facts”, the release said.
The group also said they are taking keen interest in the public declaration against the background of a lot of doubts surrounding how “suddenly after the President and his Unity Party became victorious, tons of unexplained wealth started to go their direction and we need to get to the bottom of these kinds of shady transactions”.
“We cannot forget in a hurry the LD10m and 200 bags of rice the then President elect Joseph Nyuma Boakai donated to the tanker explosion victims in Totota, Bong County and the USD365k distributed among UP partisans nationwide to celebrate the inauguration whose sources are still unknown.
“Today, we are hearing that the President has declared his assets with no information out there about what the assets are, their locations, their values etc and people are jubilating. It is sad and we just hope that the President and other politicians will see reasons to go beyond what they are doing”, the group concluded.