Integrity Institutions Looking To Recalibrating Fight Against Corruption in Liberia

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Critics continue to label the country’s premier anti-graft body a “toothless bulldog” thanks to its perceived-failure to win a single high profile corruption case

Monrovia – The prestige and reputation of Liberia’s anti-graft institutions are dwindling, prompting hype in negative public perceptions about a failing fight against the country’s foremost nemesis. However, an approach to salvage the vanishing integrity seems to be in the making.

Despite this, skepticism would still haunt whatever antidote unless the end justifies the means. This puts Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission in a challenging position to rebrand the commission and restore what, many say, have seemed shambolic since its being. 

Critics continue to label the country’s premier anti-graft body a “toothless bulldog” thanks to its perceived-failure to win a single high profile corruption case. The palpable excuses have been exculpatory evinced by the Commission’s lack of authority to directly prosecute suspects. The Justice Ministry, which has prosecuting power, is a double-edged sword – wailing it with a detrimental effect on anti-graft efforts, some have alleged.   

This aside, the LACC has hit its all-time low in recent years.  Last year, Liberia scored dismally in the Corruption Perception Index report published by Transparency International. Out of 137 countries, Liberia was 28th. That was worse comparing to a 2016 report in which Liberia was at the 37th position.

This has prompted the LACC to plan a National Anti-Corruption Conference gear towards galvanizing “various sectors of government involved with the fight against corruption into a collaborative system”.

The plan, in black and white, appears ambitious: opting to achieve quick results in the fight against corruption, provide the space for donors, foreign governments, civil society and anti-graft experts to proffer renewed feasible anti-corruption strategies, and build synergies amongst major actors to avoid duplication of existing interventions.  

“How we can foster the strongest nexus between our anti-corruption initiatives, and global and development agendas, and how we can move from commitments to actions,” said Cllr. Ndubuisi Nwabudike, Executive Chairman of the LACC, during a technical working session to prepare for the conference.

Cllr. Nwabudiki seems pretty aware of the herculean task in the reclamation of the Commission’s public image and effectuating its statutory tasks. And that this would require more than just a concept note cultivated into a barrage of speeches in order to curb the menace.     

“This virus called corruption is a treat to our existence as a nation. It emanates in our minds as citizens and until we alter our minds and our attitude towards this virus, it will continue to damage our quest for growth and development,” the LACC Executive Chairman, who also recounted the threat that corruption poses to struggling economy like Liberia’s.

He called on other actors of anti-graft institutions in the country to adopt a “renewed approach”, collaborate and form “a firm stance against this menace.

“The LACC sees you as strategic partners, and my stewardship looks forward to your concerted actions to overcome this menace. Your partnership is critical in this endeavor,” he added while stressing the risk of Liberia losing a massive United States grant in the Millennium Challenge Compact if “due diligence is not exercised”.

“Efforts to improve accountability, promote good governance, manage conflicts of interest, and control political financing amongst other governance issues remain unresolved.”

Cllr. Nwabudike’s assertion is backed by the MCC’s 2019 scorecard in which Liberia passed only eight out of 20 indicators with most of the failures pointing to allegations of missteps and alleged corruption. 

The MCC Scorecard measures a country’s performance in three key areas: economic freedom, ruling justly, and investing in its people. Countries have to pass 10 of 20 indicators and must pass the Control of Corruption indicator to become eligible. 

Interestingly, Liberia passed the control of corruption indicator on the last scorecard, but experts say significant work is needed across the public sector regarding public perception of corruption.

“This virus called corruption is a treat to our existence as a nation. It emanates in our minds as citizens and until we alter our minds and our attitude towards this virus, it will continue to damage our quest for growth and development”

– Cllr. Ndubuisi Nwabudike, Executive Chairman of the LACC

Like redeeming the image of anti-graft in Liberia, the LACC needs more vitality to help the country saves its chances of regaining more than US$250 million to complement its pro-poor agenda.

And many public policy experts, like the LACC boss, are cognizant that “integrity institutions are a vital tool for identifying and investigating, and tackling and preventing corruption” within the public sector.

“I call upon you to commit yourselves to this today two-day history-making process that is intended to have a paradigm shift and chart a new course in our collective efforts to address corruption in Liberia and most importantly to be assured of the political will and commitment from national political leaders,” Cllr. Nwabudike admonished stakeholders.

With approximately 150 participants expected, the upcoming conference seeks to build the national anti-corruption momentum by assessing the effectiveness of the country’s fight against corruption, addressing existing gaps between anti-corruption laws, institutions and their effectiveness.

The conference will also look to ensure a “strong collective” commitment of political leaders, national institutions, the private sector as well as civil society organizations to fight corruption. 

According to the planners, the activities of the conference will be organized in two phases: the Technical Working Session and the National Anti-Corruption Conference. 

The Technical Working Session, which will comprise 30 anti-corruption technicians and stakeholders drawn from the primary governmental integrity institutions, will plan the National Anti-Corruption Conference under the leadership and direction of the LACC. 

The conference will comprise the second phase of the implementation of the activities, which will aim to provide action-oriented recommendations for the country’s anti-corruption efforts in support of national and international development agendas. 

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