Stakeholders Bemoan Corruption, Want Decisive Action -As Liberia Observes World Anti-Corruption Day

By: Stephen Fellajuah

MONROVIA – Stakeholders at the commemoration of this year’s edition of International Anti-Corruption Day organized under the auspices of the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) have highlighted the negative implications of corruption in any society, stating that it undermines development, promotes poverty and bad governance just as they challenged the government to take decisive steps to purge the country of all forms of corruption and related acts both in public and private sector of the country.

The assertion formed part of the deliberations and presentations of speakers from various institutions, especially the development partners and government of Liberia who gathered at the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Ministerial Complex, Congo on Friday, December 9, 2022 at the colorful program under the national theme, “Promoting Integrity and Accountability for Increased Citizens’ Participation in the Fight Against Corruption” which also followed the international theme, “Uniting the World Against Corruption” and witnessed a sizeable number of participants including government officials from the 3 branches of the government, development partners, civil society groups, academics, the business community, community leaders, women groups, students, among others.

Delivering his keynote address at the occasion, Khwima Nthara, Country Manager of the World Bank in Liberia, told the gathering that the fight against corruption is a  a collective effort that all Liberians must help combat, stating that corruption being  as a major challenge to development needs concerted efforts of all Liberians be it the government and the citizens.

The General Assembly of the United Nations unanimously designated December 9th of each year as “International Anti-Corruption Day” when it adopted the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC).

He noted that the fight against corruption needs to be multifaceted because it is a complex situation and with technological advancement, it has become even more sophisticated as stressed that to record any meaningful results in the country, there must be a serious demonstration of political will on the part of the government.

“If the leadership cannot show commitment and lead by example, it becomes difficult for the rest of the citizens and the rank and file in institutions to be committed to fighting corruption”, he stated.

Nthara propounded reasons while corruption should and must be a collective fight of everyone, because it has a disproportionate impact on the poor and the most vulnerable.

“It increases costs and reduces access to services, including health, education and justice.

 If Corruption must be eradicated in Liberia, the Citizenry has a critical role to play, which is in line with the theme of this year’s commemoration of the fight against Corruption.

“Given what we know about the cost of corruption, citizens must take it upon themselves to fight corruption in all its forms. They must not only say no to corruption but must demand accountability and action from their leaders”, he added.

According to him, fighting corruption has to do with a mindset change, noting that in most African societies, corruption has been seen as a normal phenomenon and culture and people do not see any need to address it.

Earlier on in his speech, he commended the war on corruption being waged by the government of Liberia which according to him can be evidenced  by the amendment of the Anti-Corruption law that gives the LACC prosecutorial powers against corrupt persons. He observed that the action has sent a clear signal out there that the government is serious about stamping out the menace in the country and should be complemented by ensuring that those relevant institutions, including the LACC, and the Judiciary, are resourcefully empowered to crack down on corruption. He said this implies that those who work at the LACC and the Judiciary are well paid and are qualified to enable them carry out their operations.

Nthara concluded his speech by reaffirming the commitment of the World Bank to the anti-corruption crusade in the country.

Special remarks came from some development partners including the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Liberia Mr. Neil Scott who said corruption continues to be a threat to peace and security in Liberia and the world at large. He asserted that because of the negative impact of corruption, the United Nations institutions will continue to support the fight against corruption.

For his part, the Swedish  Ambassador to Liberia, Mr. Urban Sojostrom, pinpointed that the recent state of corruption report released by the Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia (CENTAL) revealed that corruption remains high in Liberia. The Swedish envoy called for more support to strengthen the capacity of institutions that are in the fight against corruption and among other things, encouraged Liberians to prevent corruption.

Earlier in his welcome remarks, LACC Boss, Cllr. Edwin Kla Martin, said the fight against corruption remains challenging, but reaffirmed the government’s commitment through the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC)  to tackling corruption in every area.

“As Liberia joins other countries around the world in celebrating these days, it is extremely important for us as Liberians to strengthen all sectors of our society in order for us to collectively declare a massive war against Corruption..

“Seventeen (17) months ago when I assumed the office as Executive Chairman of the LACC, I made pledge to the Liberian people, In my capacity, I solemn pledge that we can all work to reduce incident of corruption and to establish the atmosphere where all Liberians can equally benefit from the resources of this country”, he said.

Cllr. Kla Martin, termed corruption as a dangerous recipe that impedes and undermines the development and growth of any nation and urged Liberians to rise up to the task in fighting corruption.

 “As we celebrate this day, let me bring to your attention that exactly one year in my journey as Executive Chairman of the LACC, the Commission has encountered and is still encountering a series of challenges. These are all attempts to distract our goals and weaken the war we have declared Against Corruption.

“The LACC under my leadership is deeply concerned about Liberia and its future – a future where corruption will no longer be the way of Life. I take the pledge to commit against corruption”, he concluded.

Also Speaking, Deputy Minister for Codification, Cllr. Nyenati Tuan, who represented the Minister of Justice and Attorney General,  Cllr. Frank Musa Dean, Jr., explained that corruption remains an existing threat to the stability and prosperity of Liberia therefore, combating it requires concerted efforts. He therefore urged the Liberia Anti Corruption Commission (LACC) to step up their efforts at ensuring a corruption- free public service of Liberia.

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