George K. Fahnbulleh

Ideas and Opinions...

Integrity is not the solution for Corruption in Africa

"Show me a country with poor record keeping systems, and I will show you a poor country every time" 

The fight against corruption, in Liberia, is not about integrity. It is about having RECORD SYSTEMS that can adequately track all transactions. Most African nations, Liberia included, are woefully deficient in their record keeping systems.

How come Liberians who exist in the West seem to not have these "integrity" problems? As soon as they get to Liberia, their "lack of integrity" shows up. Because in the West, record keeping systems exist that will catch them more often than not, so they do not risk committing the offenses.

The DEFAULT proposition is "you will be caught." In Africa, the DEFAULT proposition is "you will NOT be caught."

In other words, people in the West ARE FORCED to be honest, whether they want to or not, BECAUSE of the systems in place.

Another thing that forces honesty, in the West, is the REDUCED USE of CASH for financial transactions. Those credit/debit card transactions force the transactions into RECORD KEEPING SYSTEMS.

In Africa, the vast majority of the transactions are cash transactions, which leave room for theft, at every collection point of the transfer of said transaction.

As long as we continue to look at it as an "integrity" problem we will miss the mark. It is a lack of systems problem.

You can have systems of Accountability without computer systems

What process is used to standardize the collection of data for people requesting or receiving a government service/benefit?

It is not just about "computer systems."

The PAPER FORM is the most BASIC CONSTRUCT for data collection and management. In developed countries, people requesting something from the government must fill out a form. Design of those forms and their elements are controlled by a central entity and the agency requesting the benefit/action is being requested.

In the US, that federal agency is the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).
-The elements and/or wording on those forms can only be altered after a rigorous process between the agency and OMB.
-Any computer systems which capture the data from those forms must be updated before a new version of the form is put into circulation.
-PUBLIC NOTICE must be given, as to the changes to the form.
-These notices and regulations are published in the Federal Register.

Once a new version of a form is released, the old version CAN no longer be used to request or submit information to the government.

So I am not speaking only about computers in any discussion of DATA SYSTEMS. Data systems include all instruments used to collect data.

In Liberia: It is time for The President and Musa Bility to Go

by Omar Fahnbulleh

I have been thinking about this, for a while, and have mentioned it to a couple of people.  It is time for our President Madam Sirleaf to GO.  Madam yesterday undermined her Justice Ministry’s indictment in the LAA case.  The Liberian Justice Ministry issued an indictment of several Liberians, some serving in the Government of Liberia, but our President came out and issued a vote of confidence for one of the major players in the Indictment, Mr. Musa Bility.  Our president instead of letting Justice take its course decided to step on our Constitution and insert herself into the case and undermine the Justice Ministry by interfering with the legal proceeding. 

Why would Madam Cockrum or Mr. Johnson want to return to Liberia to face trial when the President has already vouched for one of the defendants?

Who is Musa Bility?

To know who Mr. Bility is, one only has to read the news out of Liberia.  This calls into serious question the judgment of the President, and her anti-corruption claims.

In July 2012,

State prosecutors alleged that SCRIMEX Chief Executive Officer Musa Bility defrauded the government of U$350,000, adding that their evidence against his company was overwhelming for indictment.

In June 2013,

The Confederation of African Football, instituted a six month ban against Musa Bility, in his role as President of the Liberian Football Association, for “violating statutes relating to the use of confidential documents.”

In June 2013, the Tax Court of Liberia ordered Mr. Bility’s assets seized and sold.

The action of seizure and sale of assets as well as closure of the premises of his companies, according to the writ of execution, stemmed from a September 7, 2012 judgment which compelled Bility to pay US$165,000 representing the amount he owes the government of Liberia in taxes

So even though State Prosecutors have, at least once, presented a successful prosecution of Mr. Bility for defrauding the government of Liberia, the President of Liberia, announces, after a second indictment of Mr. Bility, that she has complete confidence in his integrity.

For the President to say she has confidence in the integrity of Mr. Bility, is at the same time saying she has no confidence in the integrity of the Ministry of Justice.  But it begs the larger question: where in the world, does a President, whose government and country is rife with corruption, step in to serve as a personal character witness for a person indicted for corruption, even before the trial has even begun.
This is the second time, Madam Sirleaf has done this.  She visited Mr. Guyde Bryant when he was under a major indictment for corruption.  Madam Sirleaf has neither the desire, nor the intention fight corruption.  It was never part of her agenda and it will never be. 

Our President, every step of the way, has undermined the fight for corruption in Liberia.  She appointed Mr. Francis Cabah back into her Government when he was fired from Social Security for Corruption.  I am here scratching my damn head, in fact, my head hurts.  In the recent tape released by Madam Cockrum we heard the Defense Minister indict the entire government of Liberia when he stated that there are folks in the Government that have stolen but are still allowed to write checks for the Government.  We have yet to hear from our Elected Leaders.

Again I will say its best Madam Sirleaf leaves office now, considering we have UNMIL in Liberia for another four years.  If she leaves now, this will give her replacement a chance while we have UNMIL to do what is right and put in place the programs to move Liberia forward.  Is there anyone, at this moment in time, who believes if Madam Sirleaf stays in power and we stay on our current trajectory, when her term ends and UNMIL leaves we will have Peace?