By Mark N. Mengonfia- firstname.lastname@example.org
MONROVIA-A youth organization, Youth Network for Positive Change is calling on Liberian President George M. Weah to save his face from shame and embarrassment by dismissing the three officials of his administration.
Their call is in relation to the Tuesday, August 16, 2022, U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanction wherein three officials very close to President Weah were named.
Those named are Minister of State for Presidential Affairs, Nathaniel F. McGill, Solicitor General, Sayma Syrenius Cephus, and National Park Authority, Bill Twehway as officials of government who have engaged into different forms of corruption thus bringing setback to the development of Liberia.
The OFAC listed all of the those government officials who have been engaged into malpractices since they took power ranging from soliciting money from investors, facilitating double dipping and sharing corrupt funds among others.
At a news and conference yesterday in Congo Town, the Executive Director YOUNETPO, Amb. Leo E. Tiah said, “We like to say congratulations to OFAC for such a great job and we think if this continues, public officials are going to be meticulous as to how they use public money for their personal gains, they will know that they are being watched.”
“Like you know, CSOs in any country with Liberia being of no acceptation, working should help to push government to do the right things”, Amb. Leo Tiah said.
He said, “To this end, we are calling on the Government of Liberia to dismiss these three sanctioned public officials and other public officials who are believed to be corrupt.”
Amb. Tiah said discharging them of their positions will help save the face of the President from future embarrassment.
“We want the President to stand tall and strong in the fight against corruption and also create an investment free environment”, he said.
According to him, when those who are standing in the way of investment leave the spaces they are occupying to stop the needed development from reaching Liberians, more jobs will be created because they will no longer be the position to ask for kickbacks before Liberians benefit.
“By doing this, new jobs will be created, young people will have something to do and we are hopeful that crime rate will greatly reduce because young men and women will be busy focusing on a job that will be created through the investment by concessionaires and business people” he said.
The youth leader indicated that if the right actions are not taken by the President, Liberia will always be listed among countries that are doing little or nothing to end corruption and more names of government’s officials will surface on sanction list.
“This is why we are calling on the President to sack the three of them”, he said adding, “We are giving the President an official one week ultimatum to dismiss those officials or we will protest peacefully so that the President can see it as a wakeup call”, he said.
Full statement by YOUNEPO
As you might be aware, the United States 2022 Investment Climate report that focuses on Liberia is out and also the U.S. Department of theTreasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has also sanctioned three of our officials of government of corruption.
Minister of State for Presidential Affairs, Nathaniel McGill, Solicitor General, Sayma Syrenius Cephus, and National Park Authority, Bill Twehway are sanctioned for their involvement in ongoing public corruption in Liberia.
First, we want to focus on the United States 2022 Investment Climate.
In that report, there are good things that were said about our nation but there are very bad revelations that were also made public and those bad things outlined are pushing us way backwards as people.
Let me say, thanks to the government for initiating efforts to resuscitate the economy by starting the printing of and minting of provide 48 billion Liberian dollars that runs through 2024.
Ladies and gentlemen of the press, we want to highlight two areas in this report.
The first one is the area that speaks to public perception of corruption in the public sector being high, as indicated by Liberia’s poor showing in Transparency International’s 2021 Corruption Perceptions Index, where Liberia ranked 136 out of 180 countries.
Perceptions are not facts, but the way those in public spaces carry themselves, make one to think that the corruption perception index should be considered as fact.
In our society, most people acquire worth and build mansions when they get government jobs, something they would not do even throughout their lifetime if they were not given public offices.
The recent statement made by Liberia’s Minister for Presidential Affairs, Nathaniel Falo McGill justifying his act of corruption that their government (CDC led government) steals and invests in Liberia unlike other past government officials who invested outside of Liberia.
Although the Minister is making clarifications from one point to the other, as a CSO group in Liberia, we say the minister’s clarifications that he spoke in context should not be taken seriously. Liberians should see it as garbage coming from someone who is very close to the presidency of Liberia.
McGill’s statement has even confirmed the corruption index that public officials are corrupt.
This government has failed to name and shame corrupt officials who are acquiring worth overnight, the President has made little or no efforts to bring corrupt government officials to the light.
The only independent body responsible to investigate cases of corruption and transparency in government which is the LACC has lost its independence because of this same administration putting an end to tenure.
The second point I like to focus on in this report is what I call the meat of this press conference.
The report spoke of how investors complain about the Liberian government to the point it said the government does much to discourage investors and investment.
Some business leaders reported that it is difficult even to meet with government representatives to discuss new investments or policies damaging to the business climate.
The report also talked of weak legal and regulatory framework, lack of transparency in contract awards, and widespread corruption inhibiting foreign direct investment. Investors are often treated as opportunities for graft, and government decisions affecting the business sector are driven more by political cronyism than investment climate considerations. Many businesses find it easy to operate illegally if the right political interests are being paid for, whereas those that try to follow the rules receive very little assistance from government agencies. The Investment Act restricts market access for foreign investors, including U.S. investors, in certain economic sectors or industries.
Ladies and gentlemen of the press, it saddens my heart to see how our government is treating us.
The AML deal as we speak is still lingering in the corridors of the Liberian Legislature, maybe because what is stated in the US State Department report (kickbacks) has not been given to members of that body to buy their signatures.
Members of the press, it is hard time that some of those institutions who come with their development start to name and shame those officials of the government asking to place their self-interest before national interest.
Where in this world does someone want to invest in their country and you are serving as an impediment?
As for the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), we like to say congratulations to OFAC for such a great job and we think if this continues, public officials are going to be meticulous as to how they use public money for their personal gains, they will know that they are being watched.
Ladies and gentlemen of the press, like you know, CSOs in any country with Liberia being of no acceptance working should help to push the government to do the right things.
To this end, we are calling on the government of Liberia to dismiss these three sanctioned public officials and other public officials who are believed corrupt.
Mr. President, by doing this, it is going to help save your face from future embarrassment.
We want the President to stand tall and strong in the fight against corruption and also create an investment-free environment.
By doing this, new jobs will be created, young people will have something to do and we are hopeful that the crime rate will greatly reduce because young men and women will be busy focusing on a job that will be created through the investment by concessionaires and business people.
In the absence of those, our society will always be listed among countries that are doing little or nothing to end corruption, and more names of government officials will surface on the sanction list.