Before the great journey to the United States of America (USA) by the still questionable delegation wearing the face of the Weah-Pro-Poor regime, the nation was plunged into serious division with one side hanging and propounding the slim hope of breaking the yoke that has kept President George M. Weah and other high profile government officials from entering into the USA to openly connect with persuasive and influential movers, shakers along with wheelers and dealers on matters of cardinal importance to improved bilateral agreements.
At the same time skeptics, pessimists, critics including detractors with not even an ounce of faith, hope and trust in the Weah-led government held their grounds that besides the traditional September visit to the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), a political crusade accorded all heads of state, the journey of the Weah’s delegation to the USA to engage and make the government’s case would result into sham and a waste of hard earned taxpayers’ money with nothing praiseworthy to show, is not even far from being a vivid reality.
As though it is a national swear or curse on this government, its huge, wide and uncontrollable appetite for unending accumulation of wealth and money no matter how and where the latter may come from, this government has become the renowned butcher of accountability; and so much so that the word (accountability) itself is not only hated to the core by the administration, but craves bitterly not to be or form a part of its operational vocabulary.
The controversial delegation left amidst hullaballoos and arrived on the wing of silence, despite the tons of questions advanced about its achievements, all that we keep hearing is that progress will be realized in due course; in the same vein, all should hang on and give time a chance because according to the delegation, several fresh grounds were broken and the germination of useful fruits shall be established.
The delegation headed by Finance Minister Samuel Tweah was very cognizant that accountability is key in any transaction, and with accountability being a grave nightmare for the government in its entire modus operandi with him (Tweah) who presided over the questionable US$25m mop-up exercise to resuscitate the ailing economy, has generated more angry questions than answers, moreover, without an iota of respect for accountability.
In dealing with peoples who are principally-rooted in accountability and transparency you will definitely have to show your juice of reciprocity in the same discipline of principally-grounded in accountability and not merely shield yourself behind the wall of impunity. Oh no dear, it just doesn’t work that way and if you insist on doing it that way, knowing that impunity will always be there to fish you out, then you must be dreaming dangerously. Like pregnancy, no matter what, it does not grow in the back rather it must protrude in the front; therefore those out there are much more very informed about the way and manner in which you relate to them in transacting business; lest you forget, technology has made information on people, places, things and developments available in this global village we all live in.
In all that we do, we must strive without surrender to trust others and equally so, be trusted by others, mainly those we will meet and need along the way. But where there is no trust, obviously, confidence crisis becomes the order of the day. For heaven’s sake, play by the internationally accepted norms if you will have to be proudly accepted and accommodated in the fraternity of credibility and honesty. If we do that by transforming ourselves and attitude and approach towards the things we set to do and transaction with others, and don’t hide behind impunity and cronyism, more welcoming doors with fruitful glad tidings are bound to seek us with open mind and hands.
While the people are still standing on their toes awaiting useful result(s) from the Weah’s delegation dispatched to the USA recently, like being able to take a horse to the creek or river, you may not be so successful to force it to drink; the same with lobbyists, they could put in all the hard work and plant the most needed contacts and connections; it is the characters of the most in need, that will speak the language of acceptance or delay. It is at this juncture you will know if diplomacy will only fan the heat or you either jump or be pushed.
In the words of the Alternative National Congress (ANC) Political leader, Mr. Alexander B. Cummings once again, the careless and irresponsible attitude of the Liberian Government is being exposed. Under this George Weah-led Government, Liberia continues to be internationally disgraced, shamed and laughed at.
Giving people justice and ending impunity are not issues over which any responsible government ought to wait to be publicly chastised by its international partners. These are things responsible governments do to cleanse the soul of a nation, and to keep countries secure, stable and peaceful.
We have all seen what it means for our country to breakdown and become lawless. And so, Liberia does not need to wait and be reminded to do the things we need to do to build a more just society that will punish crimes. This is the only way to make our society truly law-abiding.
However, it is hard to stop stealing in government when the people who should be stopping the stealing, and setting the good examples by not stealing, are actually the rogues. It is also hard to punish anyone for crimes, however bad, when the leaders are looking for special favors from the criminals, or are themselves, benefiting from the crimes.
Whether it is done by Presidents or Ministers – whether it is done by a friend, opposition, or relative – stealing from the people is wrong. We cannot continue to pretend that one day, stealing in government will stop by itself. We have to stop it ourselves, because as we continue to see, it is keeping too many of our people poor.
Whether it is done by warlords or presidents, killing innocent people, mysteriously or in the name of war, is also wrong. To stop it, we must investigate seriously and punish anyone involved.
We must stop the stealing in government. We must stop the looting of our country. We must stop the killing of innocent people. We must end impunity for crimes. We must become a more just and safer society. I feel very strongly about this, and I know that we can do it.
Placing individuals above the law, and not holding each other fully accountable for crimes, are practices that have kept us backward for far too long. This is why I support the establishment of a war crimes court, and a court on economic crimes.
These courts will help us find justice for victims. Hopefully, they will lay painful memories of loved ones, and innocent souls to their deserved eternal rests.
I believe they will also lift the weight off the shoulders of accused persons who believe themselves to be innocent or wrongly accused. A court is not just a place to seek punishment. It is a place to find truth, to award justice, and to set the innocent or wrongly accused, free.
Importantly, these courts will help us heal, be reconciled, and not continue to live in fear of each other. And especially for a court on economic crimes, I believe it ought to not be limited to only the commission of economic crimes during the war but that it must have jurisdictions to deal with past, current and future economic crimes such as stealing from the people, and passing deals that cheat Liberia and Liberians.
Finally, I know establishing these courts will not be easy. There are many questions to be answered. Public opinions and concerns differ. Lawyers tell me there are a lot of things we will need to do.
But I support the establishments of these courts because I believe it is the right thing to do for our country. It will help us to change for the better, and to be more accountable to each other.
I also know that turning a blind eye to crimes in the name of peace will give us no peace. And so, even if it is hard – even if it scares us – we must find the way to do it. We must also find the help we will need to do it. But in the end, we must do it for ourselves, and for our children.
We have to change, if we will become a country that will give justice fairly and blindly to all who seek it. From rape and the acceptance of bribes by judges and other public officials, to crimes against humanity and stealing from the Liberian people, we must be a country that will hold everyone accountable. When we do this, our children and their children will live in a more just, peaceful, prosperous and reconciled society than we have today. We owe this to ourselves and to future generations.
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