A Plea To Uncle Sam: Bring Back GEMAP To Curb Corruption In Liberia
It was no accident that CORRUPTION in the Liberian government dominated the US Senate confirmation hearings of President Donald Trump’s new US Ambassador to Liberia, Mr. Michael A. McCarthy. This is an affirmation of what Liberians have been saying that President George Manneh Weah and company are on a get-rich-quick mission while 65 percent of Liberians have fallen into poverty.
Ambassador McCarthy’s solution in draining the corruption “swamp” in Liberia is a three-fold approach:
1.) Perhaps, bring back GMAP that had US professional experts embedded in every government ministry and public agencies with veto power on spending that is not in the interest of the country. Like under former corrupt President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf who chased out the Americans so corruption could flourish, I can hear President Weah and team crying the “soverignty” song of virtually turning the country over to the Americans if a foreigner/American must countersign every check. Ambassador MaCarthy has his work cut out for him unless he goes to Monrovia with a page from the Trump playbook like Trump dealt with the Chinese on trade. If not, you will be accused of interfering in Liberian politics.
2.) To empower anti-corruption agencies like the General Auditing Commission (GAC), Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC), and the Public Procurement and Concession Commission ( PPCC) that have become useless because those heading such bodies are President Weah’s cronies and only answer to him. In the case of LACC, the head is a Nigerian citizen and a close friend of President Weah. Ambassador MaCarthy has to be as tough as his boss, President Trump or it is going to be business as usual. Time will tell.
3.) Good that Ambassador MaCarthy brought up the issue of the Millineun Challenge Corruption (MCC) that pumped $257 million into Liberia to solve crisis of electricity and safe drinking in Liberia. Mr. McCarthy has to come in ready to teach and explain the importance of Liberia needing to pass the MCC scorecard.
The last time the issue was brought up with President Weah that Liberia has failed the last two years as you correctly told the Senate Fireign Relatoons Committee, President Weah said the United States needed to give him and his government “enough time and enough study materials so that his administration will pass the MCC Scorecard.” Say what? You heard me Mr, Ambassador. Besides topping the football world as the best player in 1995, Dr.-President Weah is fond of talking about his college degrees; a Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees. Ambassador MaCarthy, please take with you enough “study materials” to Liberia because the swamp in Washington, DC is no match for the 173-year old corruption swamp in Monrovia, Liberia. Maybe “foreign investors” are waiting for you to drain the corruption swamp because Liberia is America’s “stepchild.”
Also, please be as bold as the man that is sending you to Monrovia, Mr. Donald J. Trump because you will meet up with President Weah who is good at throwing football analogies at any scenario whether appropriate or not. By the time you leave Liberia, you should be ready to coach the US National Soccer Team to its first World Cup title. I hope this is not your first visit to Liberia or you will be in for many surprises– no electricity, no safe drinking water, forget about a broken healthcare system, traffic that is a nightmare, and other surprises. And expect protests outside the US Embassy compound from university students, the unemployed, unpaid government workers, market sellers who will see you as their Messiah taking them to the Promised Land of the ever-elusive democracy, press freedom, human rights, etc, in Liberia, Good luck and welcome to Liberia.
Jerry Wehtee Wion
Washington, DC, USA