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Prez Sirleaf’s Bravado Clamp Down on Corruption: Where Is The Substance? (Commentary)

Prez Sirleaf’s Bravado Clamp Down on Corruption: Where Is The Substance? (Commentary)

(Jan 23, 2009) By: Paul Jackson
The current Liberian government and many of its supporters continue to use the misgovernance of Charles Taylor as the official rubric to measure the success of this present administration; not only is this self-serving notion ridiculous, but it has also given birth to a political season of irresponsible governance and poor decision making, especially when it comes to clamping down on corruption.  

I am so sick and disgusted of being told: “isn’t the Oldma doing better than Charles Taylor?” Duh! Who wouldn’t do better than that scoundrel and jackass? Even the schizophrenic Prince Johnson would have had some decency and treated the Liberian people and economy with more respect than Taylor. 

President Sirleaf has done nothing concrete to combat corruption: appointing the clueless Frances Johnson Morris as corruption czar, setting up commissions that are managed by cronies and bedfellows of the perpetrators of corruption, firing and rehiring lower level managers who become scapegoats of a very corrupt system, are all part of the complex and ineffective schemes this government continues to employ as means to staff anti-corruption. 

No one is asking for quick fixes; Liberians just want good faith on the part of the President. Just look at the so-called Dunn Commission- Having Dunn investigate Willis Knuckles and Estrada Bernard is the classiest of the many foolish paradoxes of this political administration; it is like appointing Cyril Allen as the chief prosecutor in the ongoing Charles Taylor’s case taking place in the Hague. 

Don’t get my argument twisted; Madam Sirleaf is not Charles Taylor, No! She’s not that arrogant and deliberate, and she wouldn’t dare put her hands in the proverbial cookie jar while Liberians are looking her directly in the eyes. However, recent trends in Liberia and the increasing involvement of people in the President’s inner circle make one to suspect that perhaps the “Oldma” is not as innocent and far removed from corruption as we have been led to believe. Why the heck should mere friends and relatives be messing around with the President’s official laptop? Why is the President suddenly showing some bias remorse over the “misuse” of her computer? It’s probably just me, but I have this healthy suspicion that this President is getting away with a lot of malpractices and being insulated from charges of corruption by folks in her inner circle.  


I don’t usually have the luxury of giving advice to an economist; in this case, a Harvard trained economist- but since this President is proving to be a whack job of an economist, and a President who obviously seems to be too preoccupied with her legacy than the plight of the people she’s serving, I have opted to suggest the following: 

  1. Appoint trained, qualified, and neutral persons to investigate allegations of corruption-In the real world, you don’t appoint individuals who have personal stake and well documented relationship/s with the accused. Speaking of qualification, neutrality, and competence, I am thinking loudly: how much longer can this President continue to ingratiate herself with the quarterly appointments of Madam Frances Johnson Morris to new positions? The elections were indeed free and fair, and there is no need to continue to appease the ineffective Madam Johnson-Morris. 

  1. Stop cashing-in on the Liberian Presidency- On the surface, this might not seem as a corrupt practice, but making hundreds of dollars in speaking engagements while at the same time serving as President is just as corrupt as Knuckle-Gate and Watergate.  Typically, Madam President, leaders don’t start cashing-in while still at the helm of power. Just ask your good friend Mr. George Bush. What has even been more disturbing is the manner in which you have managed to confuse these unofficial trips with official ones. Don’t you get simultaneously compensated by the Liberian government and the organizations that invite you when you mix your personal business with presidential duties? 

  1. Lastly, find real jobs for your sister who has been mouthing contradictory statements during the Knuckle-Gate investigation, and those personal friends and cronies of yours who always just happen to “accidentally” be messing with your computer and creating national problems for you. 

If these simple steps are still hard to follow, then I am all for the design of a crash course in good governance, modeled on one of Microsoft programs- This one should be titled: Good Governance 101 for Political Dummies. I am convinced this would be the final resort to learning effective strategies to staffing anti-corruption. 

Editor’s Note: Paul Jackson lives in Minnesota and can be reached at views expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of The Liberian Journal or its staff.



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