EDITORIAL – A Takeaway From EU Ambassador’s Opinion on Corruption perception

THE HEAD OF the European Union(EU) to Liberia, Ambassador Laurent Delahouse, has treaded where angels feared. He has brought some amount of sobriety to Liberia’s public discourse on graft and corruption in Liberia—something many had ignored or were just too timid and devious to utter. He stated emphatically and forcefully, the first to be said by an independent person for a long time now, that all or most of the alarms and lamentations about corruption in Liberia is mere perception unsupported by research-based evidence.

AMBASSADOR DELAHOUSE’S STATEMENT which was made during a Steering Committee Meeting to review Government’s development plan, the Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (PAPD) at the Ministerial Complex on Monday, April 11, 2022, must have been prompted by largely trumped-up and usually unverified allegations that corruption is massive in the public sector in Liberia. More often than that, the Liberian civil society, opposition elements and at times some diplomatic figures do hype ‘massive corruption’ lamentations with finger-pointing at the ruling elite.

THOUGH THE WEAH administration and its lackeys have put up some brave counters, invariably denying helplessly and demanding proof of corruption against it, the accusers have shown little or no interest to back their claims with empirical evidence. Meanwhile, they are not stopping in their bombardment and demonization of the government over claims of corruption. The Liberian public and perhaps some foreign actors who are already used to and deadened by such incessant lamentations about corruption in the public service from time in memorial only look stupefied and dumbfounded. And like one old-lady in an African village being persecuted for being a witchcraft because all old folks are deemed witchcraft, the Weah administration just lies there seared by the court of weird public opinion.

WHAT IS MOST unfortunate in all this is that even foreign diplomats and otherwise internationally acclaimed transparency and accountability proponents have also joined the never-ending refrain of untested and unsubstantiated claims of corruption. The other day, Nimba County Senator Prince Johnson who has absolutely got nothing to do with public procurement, executive functions of any kind, including executing programs or projects requiring fiscal actions and accountability was lynched by United States authority on account of being corrupt. The other day, the Ambassador of the United States to Liberia, Michael McCarthy and, before him the head of US delegation to the launch of Liberia Bicentennial celebrations, drummed up blanket insinuation about corruption. The other day, threats were made to the effect that an unnamed number of Liberian government officials would be slapped with sanctions and other punitive measures by US authorities for corruption. In all those instances, the accusers have characteristically failed to say let alone adduce any trace of evidence, not to talk about evidence itself.

BUT EU AMBASSADOR Delahouse is abundantly clear and on point with a powerful and fair message that was long unheard from the mouth and domain of an independent source: Where is the evidence of all the noise of corruption in Liberia.

WE DON’T BELIEVE the Western diplomat is declaring Liberia or the Government of Liberia corruption-free. We are not sure he’s saying the Government is a saint. No. Like Amb. Delahouse, the question that any reasonable independent mind is asking is this: “Where is the evidence?” His argument, we believe, is that much of the allegations that the Weah administration or any of its officials are corrupt is void of the evidence. And that’s the fact; isn’t it.

AND THE BIG and troubling question is this: Why do some folks, including international organizations and big countries loudly blow the trumpet of corruption in the country as they do without doing the honorable thing of accompanying the allegations with the proof? What is there to achieve in making unsubstantiated claims of corruption against a country when they have the capacity to do what it requires to get proof? Is it to alienate the country, to allow well-meaning investors run away? Or is it that one just hates the administration of a particular member of it? Or is it to incite the citizenry against the government.

WE JOIN THE EU Ambassador in his objection to any reckless, un-researched allegations of corruption against Liberia. It hurts more when people use mere perceptions to indict a country like Liberia already struggling to make ends meet for struggling people. But it helps more to keep silent on the grave issue until the evidence is empirically established. To do otherwise is totally disingenuous and crippling. Those involved, like how Amb. Delahouse has warned, must stop.

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