AT LONG LAST, the nation is at peace after all reports on the so-called missing billions of Liberian Dollars are done and released and as all insinuations and theories about the money are anchored at some logical point. The two teams that were tasked to probe circumstances surrounding the missing money last week released their respective reports and to date, the substance or qualities of the findings remain unquestioned by the anxious public. Indeed, to some reasonable extent, calm has returned to the psyche of the Liberian mind as a result of the professional manner in which the reports were done by the Presidential Investigative Team empaneled by President George Weah and Kroll Inc., the independent auditing firm hired by the US Government to conduct probes into what looked like missing billions.
LET’S FIRST OF all thank the Government of Liberia, particularly President George Weah, for mustering the courage to stand the national storm generated by the alleged missing L$16b saga. The President kept his word that there would be independent investigation and that there would be logical conclusions. He also kept his word that punitive actions would be taken against anyone found linked to the mishandling of the money then in question. Today, the nation has seen that there are culprits and that, indeed, the President’s administration has laid its dragnet on individuals apparently having greater responsibility in the irregularities and discrepancies that attended the printing and circulation of the money. It is totally excellent on the part of the President. This is a show of strong leadership and genuine political commitment to national governance.
WE MUST COMMEND, also, the United States Government, particularly its embassy near Monrovia, which did not ignore the plea of President Weah and his government to participate in the investigation process. Almost instantly, the US Embassy here accepted Government’s request to help with the investigation process, and in no time, it hired through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), a firm call Kroll which did an expert job that most Liberians have found confidence and trust in.
SO FAR, THE intervention of the US Government added value and credibility to the investigation, and largely helped to reduce tension after the reports were present, because most Liberians believe in the United States of America, regarding it as a paragon of transparency and accountability. Without the US version of the reports on the L$16 billion saga, some mischievous Liberians would have incited the public to reject the Liberian version on the platitude of lack of trust and faith in a government-appointed team to do the job.
PRESIDENTIAL INVESTIGATIVE TEAM (PIT) which has done a very perfect job also deserves hats off. Their conclusions are no different from those of their international counterparts. In fact, most Liberians believe PIT’s revelations and discoveries are more detailed and their recommendations decisive. We are proud that a group of Liberians, after the days of John Morlu at the General Auditing Commission, can prove so robust, clear and comprehensive in their audit conclusions.
FINALLY, WE FOREWARN that the job is not over. Despite the release of the reports and in spite of the initial apprehending of alleged wrongdoers, there are still lingering critical issues. There are issues about public trust and faith in the CBL and the rest of its Board of Governors and senior staff. There are issues about the US$25m whose disbursement the reports uncovered to be in gross discrepancies and irregularities. There is the issue of the recommendation that there must be immediate forensic audit of the US$25m of state reserve used for mopping excess liquidity. There is the issue of the recommendation to withdraw all current local banknotes and the ordering of the printing of completely new ones. And there is the issue ensuring the logical conclusion of the legal push already started by the Government, which has begun with a few arrests already done. The public expects many more arrests and hope there will be a continued push for litigation against all those involved as per the revelation of the reports.
WITH THESE DONE, and done un-biasedly, the better the public will celebrate and sing hosanna to the Weah regime which has so far threaded where angels before it had fear—fighting Public Enemy Number One, corruption in all its ramifications.