By Jefferson Kruah
WASHINGTON, USA – In an exclusive video interview with The Bush Chicken, former Auditor General John S. Morlu, II discusses his intentions to run for president of Liberia in 2017 and his plans for the country. Morlu, who currently owns an accounting and auditing firm in Washington, DC, was head of Liberia’s General Auditing Commission from 2007 to 2011. During his time at the agency, he released more than 65 audits and gained a reputation as a strong crusader against corruption, often butting heads with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and other government officials.
The Morlu campaign has selected integrity and the fight against corruption as their primary focus for the 2017 election cycle.
“The number one issue that has retarded the growth of Liberia is the issue of financial mismanagement and corruption,” he said. “Absolutely nothing will happen in that country until we deal with corruption.”
Instead of fighting corruption via legislative reforms, Morlu said he would use existing laws in addition to agreements with international partners, to punish offenders and set an example.
“If I were president today, the first thing I would do is to sign a compact with the international community, particularly America and Europe,” he said, referring to the pact such as the one signed by the US and Kenya in July 2015 to share information and cooperate more closely on graft and money laundering.
Besides corruption, Morlu identified healthcare as another key area for his administration to tackle. “We will invest massively in healthcare,” he said.
To that end, he would immediately recruit roughly 225 medical doctors — Liberian doctors, he stressed — to return to Liberia. This would involve spending $50 to $60 million out of Liberia’s national budget and would immediately improve Liberia’s chronic doctor shortage. The doctors would simultaneously serve as teaching physicians as well as work at area hospitals.
Morlu spoke of a similar massive investment in the education system, indicating that funding for these investments would come from the money recovered from his fight against corruption.
He added, “For every dollar that is saved from corruption, 60% goes toward healthcare, 40% goes toward education.” His proposal, was, however, not specific about the potential amount that could be recovered from clamping down on corruption.
In a country where many citizens are leery of politicians due to promises made to address serious issues and failing to make good on campaign rhetoric once in office, Morlu is positioning himself as one of the few presidential aspirants with the ability to change the status quo.
His campaign touts a concrete background in dealing with his priority area of concern, corruption, in addition to having built a public image of a trusted government official.
“What distinguishes me from the crowd is the whole issue of integrity,” he said. “I’m an action-oriented person and I think people know me. I do what I say and I say what I do.”
Jefferson is a co-founder of The Bush Chicken. He has a Masters in Transportation Infrastructure and Systems Engineering and previously worked for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority in Washington, DC.