There is a reason the English inscribed in their language synonym and autonym. According to Webster dictionary, a synonym is a word or phrase that means exactly or nearly the same as another word or phrase in the same language. Words that are synonyms are said to be synonymous, and the state of being a synonym is called synonymy. The word comes from Ancient Greek syn (“with”) and ónoma (“name”).
An example of synonyms are the words begin, start, and commence. On the hand, an autonym, according to Webster dictionary, is an infraspecific name in which the species epithet is repeated or a name used by a group or category of people to refer to themselves or their language, as opposed to a name given to them by other groups. For example, Deutsche is the autonym of a people known in English as Germans.
In Liberia, we have many problems, but our most serious problems fall between synonyms and autonyms. Dishonesty and amateurism are interpreted and understood as integrity and professionalism. Guilt is better than shame, and we celebrate wealthy individuals who got their wealth on the backs of the suffering poor and through acts of corruption than the ethical people who struggle and endeavor to make ends meet through hard work and honesty.
This is Ellen’s Kingdom––the zone where dishonesty and amateurism mean integrity and professionalism, a territory where officials of government are treated like foster and adopted children.
Assuming all Liberians are uneducated, illiterate, unanalytical and unintelligent, this does not dilute or erase the fact the recent comprehensive audit of the Private Sector Development Initiative (PSDI) at the finance ministry in Liberia exposes the virus, infection, malady, disorder, and bug in President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s Unity Party-led administration.
One does not have to obtain a medical degree or knowledge to understand and know this––that the most common and generally devastating sickness in Liberia is celebrated corruption, of which the so-called PSDI project was and remains one of the glaring symptoms. Even the Mursi and the Sentinelese indigenous people, considered the most isolated and primitive tribes of the world know that Liberia is excessively corrupt and that the PSDI program passed the test of dishonesty and amateurism but failed the exam of integrity and professionalism.
This is precisely why the media bliss of the program administrators, led by Dr. James Kollie, former deputy minister of finance for fiscal affairs and the chief implementer of the PSDI program, alleging that they did nothing wrong is not only rhetorically amusing but grossly depressing, unfortunate, and unconditionally shameful.
Instead of admitting the shamefulness with which the program has been misused and the funds dashed into an unrecoverable paradigm, Dr. Kollie, his associates and economic cum political guardians are dangling on spin campaign, perhaps, to smear the current minister of finance, Boima Kamara.
This is not the way to make a sleeping dog to lie still even though we know that President Sirleaf will take no concrete action on and in this clear fraud and waste instance simply because it is something that hits at home––a chicken coming home to roast situation. In other words, the charges are against “foster kids,” instead of officials, who know all of mommy’s little secret and friends.
Since the allegation of fraud and waste was uncovered and published, why hasn’t the President request that Dr. Kollie temporarily relinquish his post in government until the full case is resolved? Also, why is Dr. Kollie and President Sirleaf treating the charges and matter like some palaver between two sons or children that need to be passed on judicially as a family matter? Doesn’t President Sirleaf have a justice ministry in her government? If she does, why hasn’t those involved not yet turn over to the agency?
In fact, we also know that there is a quasi-independent Presidential taskforce on transparency and corruption, the one that has been dragging the political foes (Senator Varney Sherman and former speaker Alex Tyler) on their knees to court and disgrace. So, where is the taskforce in the Kollie-gate? Is the “taskforce” only designed for people who step on the old lady’s toes, or who are not part of the foster kids’ basement?
“Madam President, due to the unprofessional manner in which the audit was conducted coupled with the form and manner in which the draft report that had not benefited from my response was made public, I am of the conviction that the current actors have no credibility and independence in reviewing my responses and/or facts that might be presented to them because they seem to have vested interest in damaging my reputation” – Dr. James Kollie, Former Deputy Minister for Fiscal Affairs, Minister of Finance and Economic Planning. Dr. Kollie went further by saying that: “This was not an audit, but a witch-hunt.” Really?
Minus the audit, the entire program was and is a gigantic failure and a waste of tax payer’s resources and here is why. The program was and is flaw administratively, operationally, and a waste financially. Audit aside, we have people whose names are stated in the program’s report as beneficiaries who have publicly denied ever knowing about the program nevertheless receiving a dime from it. Mr. Samuel Jackson is one of those.
We also have people who have clearly stated that they cannot even locate where their businesses that qualified for the loans are located. Moreover, the entire program is grossly engulfed with the loudest conflict of interest anyone can ever imagine, where loved ones, side-squeeze and sugar-babies were included in the theft with lofty amount of dollars when people with real and legitimate small businesses that hire or with potential to hire were left in the wilderness.
Besides, the administrators of the program prioritize themselves as small business owners and prime beneficiaries. What else does Dr. Kollie want to know? Is this what Dr. Kollie, his associate and supporters as well as President Sirleaf will consider a witch-hunt?
It is one thing to attend school and be considered educated; it is quite another thing to come out of school and leave all the theory behind and begin to use what you learn in the real world. Dr. Kollie and his associates’ argument about how an audit supposed to go is not wrong; the problem is, it is a mere theory.
Imagine what would have happened if the auditors had did not go public with their findings and instead alerted Dr. Kollie and his associates who are supposedly “foster kids” to the President. My widest guess, this whole matter would have stayed in the dark until Jesus return on earth.
Here is why this bothers me the most. First, apart from the fact that these people lack patriotism, and are subjugating millions of their fellow Liberians to excruciating hardship through waste, fraud, and abuse, they remain defensive and shameless. Moreover, they think every Liberian outside their orbit is unwise.
Secondly, the whole PSDI program was my proposal to the Liberian government sent through Dr. Edward McClain, then Minister of State for Presidential Affairs and chief of staff to the President.
Third, the goal of the program was to create jobs through retooling and buttressing small businesses with capital, technical assistance, and oversight. This is part of labor market information and analysis, an element that should be within the authority of the ministry of labor, not finance.
Of course, one can understand that we do not have a real labor ministry in Liberia, since what we have appears to be a small labor union headquarters where disputes that have not reached judicial level are discussed.
Jones Nhinson Williams, Contributing Writer