George K. Fahnbulleh

Ideas and Opinions...

Heroes Cannot Save Liberia

The following is a rejoinder to Samuel Tweah written 06/25/2007

The Editor 

Samuel D. Tweah, wrote:

"Challenges notwithstanding, the larger vision was that the candidacy of George Manneh Weah, who had earned his wealth outside that culture and demonstrated patriotism and love of country, would catalyze a critical mass of Liberians vehemently opposed to public greed; abuse of power; and violence as a means to self-enrichment. If for any reason the abhorrent forces of stasis were to take over that movement, its liberating mandate, whether or not with George Weah presiding, would have ended even before it began."

Unfortunately Mr. Tweah, like all who have come before him, advocating for this "magical" social transformation, still does not understand how to change Liberia.  Opposition to public greed, and abuse of power are not the domain of any single entity. 

The problem in Liberia is THE SYSTEM.  Everyone who has come before, has come to utilize THE SAME SYSTEM, while pushing one new hero or another!

Being mindful that one definition of insanity is "doing the same thing over and over, and expecting different results each time," it is time for Liberians to wake up and step away from the insanity that is the Liberian Government.

Liberian leaders, political aspirants, opposition leaders have all longed for, and spoken passionately of, social transformation of the "masses."  I submit there can be no social transformation without a complete technical overhaul or re-invention of the government.

The success of any social transformation is due to the capacity of the government to provide a space and ensure opportunities for all its citizens.  All of this capability can only be possible if the government has the ability to manage its fiscal resources in a manner that is transparent, and accountable, and to the benefit of its citizens.

The government cannot create equal opportunities in education in a vacuum.  The government cannot create equal opportunities in health care in a vacuum.  These programs cost money, and when the government's money is mismanaged, those opportunities do not exist.

The latest UN Panel of Experts Report tells us LPRC has under collected taxes to the tune of 7.5 million USD.  The Report also tells of no-bid (opportunity reducing) contracts being awarded.  The Report further lists another contract for oil that has gone un-reported.  Who is to blame for this mismanagement? The President of Liberia, no one else.  The Buck Stops at the President's desk!

The law which set up LPRC requires LPRC has 3 deputy managing directors.  To date, the President of Liberia has not appointed any deputy managing directors of LPRC.  The President is required to follow the law.  She cannot ignore the law, because she does not agree with the law.  

If the President disagrees with the management structure of LPRC, as prescribed by law, then the President must seek to have the law changed.  She cannot shirk from her solemn oath to "faithfully execute the laws" of Liberia, simply because she disagrees with one law or the other.  She does not have that choice!!!  Appropriate advice from the Minister of Justice should have made this clear to the President.  But then again, the Minister is busy finding caps to fit whatever head she chooses.

But LPRC represents only a microcosm of what has always been wrong with governance in Liberia. I have always maintained Liberia is in the predicament it finds itself in, because Liberian Presidents have selectively enforced the very laws they swore to uphold.  They have used that selective enforcement of the laws to persecute their enemies and/or reward their friends.  The same selective enforcement is going on in Liberia today.

Bank robber, Willie Sutton, when asked why he robbed banks gave a concise and clear answer: “Because that is where the money is!”  The same is true of the Liberian Government: that's where the money is.

If Liberia is going to be transformed, it will not be transformed by the cult like worship of Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf!  Madame President don't be fooled, every Liberian president before you has had a cult worshipping him.  Every one of them!  Everyone one of them before you has failed because they tried to manage the same broken system!  If you decide to do the same thing, please see the above definition of insanity.

If Liberia is going to be transformed, it will not be transformed by the cult like worship of a George Weah or any other personality.

Liberia must be transformed, it will be a by leadership which understands graft and corruption are crimes of opportunity.  That opportunity exists because the government of Liberia is technically broken and cannot be repaired by the sheer will of any personality.  The government of Liberia needs a complete audit of all the processes in EVERY MINISTRY and agency to identify those processes which present opportunities for graft and corrupt activities. 

Once this audit is completed, existing processes can be re-engineered or new processes can be put in place, which are more immune to the practices of the past.  Until this is done, it does not matter who is president of Liberia, the government will remain the target of the Willie Suttons of Liberia, who have rightly figured out "That's where the money is!"  

George K Fahnbulleh,
Mesa, AZ