By J Yanqui Zaza
I am sure many Liberians are pleased and do welcome the patriotic, honorable and peace and unity statement made by Dr. Joseph Nyemah Boakai, former presidential candidate and former Vice President of the Republic of Liberia. Dr. Boakai has recommended to the members and officers of the former ruling Party (Unity Party) to forgive and unite for the good of the country.
But equally too, if the former ruling Unity Party is to be considered as a Party ready to fight corruption, then Unity Party, a legal entity in Liberia, to investigate some of the questionable business transactions of its former officials as well as disclose some of the seventeen issues referred to by Mr. Amara Konneh in his post on social media. Mr. Amara Konneh, former Minister of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP) and a staunch stalwart of the Unity Party was quoted in the October 29, 2019 Daily Observer Paper, that the former Vice President had a list of seventeen grievances against his former boss-former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, which hardened his heart to reconcile with her.
In Mr. Konneh’s views, Dr. Boakai’s insistence on the seventeen issues was the primary reason why the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) defeated his Party. While reconciling internal issues is good for the country, an internal audit would also help in assuring Liberians that the former ruling party is prepared to help in moving Liberia forward. Therefore, the Unity Party should investigate significant questionable financial transactions listed below and, if necessary, disclose the seventeen issues mentioned by Mr. Konneh.
2. What Ebola-excess money-arrangement, according to page # 5 of the IMF Report, between former President Sirleaf administration and IMF, which allowed the IMF to withdraw money from Liberia’s excess cash held at the CBL?
3. Did former President Sirleaf administration withdraw money from bank accounts owned by Liberian state-owned entities (Liberian Electricity Corporation, Liberia National Social Security Corporation, Liberia Petroleum Refining Company, National Port Authority, etc.?
4. Why did former President Sirleaf inform Liberians in 2018 that the country held US $154M rainy-day-savings as of December 31, 2017, when the country was owing US $260M as of December 2016 to the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL)? Also, CBL stated on page XV of its 2009 Report that out of the US $296M International Foreign Excess Reserves, the real cash was US $42M, while US $254M the credit arrangement called “Special Drawing Rights.” This Special Drawing Rights information from 2009 Annual Report of the Central Bank of Liberia is evidence that former President Sirleaf misinformed Liberians that the country had US $154M real cash on December 31, 2017.
5. What happened to the (US $30M or US $60M) donated for the rice project in Lofa County?
6. Did former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf prevent Mr. Robert Sirleaf, her son from accounting for the US $10M in corporate social responsibility fund provided by Chevron? President Sirleaf, at an official gathering, stated that she authorized Chevron to give the government’s US $10M to Mr. Robert Sirleaf because he (Robert Sirleaf) would prudently spend the money on behalf of the people of Liberia.
7. Did former President Sirleaf authorize Mr. Robert Sirleaf, her son, to spend US $138M out of US $140M in the 2012/2013 National Budget as per the schedule below? This amount was a significant percentage of the National Budget in 2012/2013.
Liberians do not know whether former President Sirleaf herself was directly or indirectly responsible for any of these questionable transactions nor do they know whether any of the above issues are part of the seventeen grievances. Nonetheless, Liberians want to reconcile and move toward nation-building. This is because forgiveness and unity will create an environment conducive for investors to create jobs, thereby, spurring the economy.
Undoubtedly, reconciling, unifying, and spurring the economy require fairness, transparency, and accountability. For instance, ordinary Liberians will not honor the calls by our elected officials to become patriotic if officials fail to set an honest example. Neither will the people respect the call on Liberians to tighten their belts if former officials are not held accountable for past corrupt practices, which in fact engender the economic woes currently being experienced today, while current officials are arrogantly, conspicuously lavishly squandering scarce public resources.
Most interestingly, we Liberians have perhaps the unique behavioral tendency to worship and reward our compatriots in society who constantly and recalcitrant plunder, loot and violate our everyday humanity as well as display blatant disregard for our constitution and laws. This attitude will continue as long as society does not begin to investigate and prosecute violators (former or current), which would continue to be a recipe for visual circle chaos.
If our own history is a guidepost, democracy becomes reformed and effective when everyone searches and demands transparency and accountability. Therefore, it behooves every Liberian, including officers and members of the former ruling Party (Unity Party) to apply the principles of transparency and accountability. Especially so, now that Dr. Boakai and some other partisans of the former ruling Party (UP) have agreed to reconcile and move forward, Unity Party is in a better position to investigate its partisans, including former President Sirleaf.
The old adage that says “charity begins at home” supports the call for the former ruling Party to hold its own members accountable. The former ruling Party could perhaps be the first in Liberian history, we stand to be corrected, to probe its own officials for their official conduct/misconduct. More so, such a bold and courageous step would sound a clarion and unmistakable call to all and sundry that this country is visioning a new path of doing away with business as usual and the perennial culture impunity.