Who will Rid Liberia of Corruption?”: A Response
By Bai M. Gbala, Sr.
Monrovia, Liberia, September 25, 2012
The Independent EYE News (IEN), an online news magazine, in a banner, headlined Editorial as noted above, posed the question, designed to engender a thought-provoking, intellectual discourse, aimed at providing solutions to Liberia’s chronic problem of corruption, with request for comment/response, according to The IEN. This is our contribution.
Definition of the Problem of Corruption
Corruption is the extortion, bribery, demand/acceptance of money and/or goods and services not lawfully due, by public or private officials, arising from greed, graft and moral deterioration or decadence; the unbridled desire for and dishonest, unlawful action to acquire more and more of one’s wants and perceived needs. Found in every country, culture and society, corruption is a vice and universal phenomenon, intrinsic in human nature. As such, the Republic of Liberia and Liberians do not have a monopoly of corruption, and that no institution, public or private, cultural or societal, can eradicate or rid itself of corruption, completely and immediately. But corruption can be controlled and minimized, reasonably, by lawful means – public policy prescription and consistent application of corrective action against the critical, unique conditions that support the Liberian corruption.
Unique Conditions of Liberian Corruption
The problem of corruption in Liberia is due, partly, to illiteracy, ignorance (uninformed) and abject poverty of the overwhelming majority of the nation’s population; relative, extremely low wages/salaries of those who are fortunate to be employed; the absence of job security and related, employment benefits, such as health and life insurance that are taken for granted in the developed west. Public and private resources stolen by public and private officials and utilized in building palatial homes, buy expensive, luxury automobiles, electric power generators, invest in personal, business ventures by the same, public and private officials are regarded as “smart developments”, with the officials concerned/involved rewarded with promotions, “not brought to book” or prosecuted for theft.
Much more importantly, there is little or no meaningful, economic activities in rural Liberia (where the majority of the nation’s population lives) nor is there such “premier, national, economic development multipliers” as all-weather roads and highways in the nation. Moreover, the major, most important impediment has been and still is our inability to summon the “political will” in the effort to address, effectively and efficiently, these “unique conditions” of our, Liberian corruption.
In this respect, we quote former, Vice President Bennie Warner that “the problem with us is us”. We lack personal initiative, commitment and dedication, attributes that are necessary to complement public or government activities and/or apply pressure to achieve pre-determined, desirable goals. Our country is endowed with more than its share of natural resources – abundant sunshine, more than adequate rainfall, lush greenery, rich and fertile soil and more land (all suitable for tropical agriculture) than people, but we import rice (our staple), cooking oil and many food items from other, Third World, developing countries.
And lastly, we argue that given the nature of corruption (intrinsic in human nature), it is not possible to invent or create a super-human, Liberian who can eradicate or “rid corruption” of our country “with immediate effect”. But corruption can be minimized and controlled, reasonably, by rational, public policy prescription, applied against the defined, unique, critical conditions of Liberian corruption, including diligent, aggressive prosecution in a court of law.
Moreover, the introduction and management of socio-economic and political reforms, including the much talked-about corruption, can be achieved by the increased, increasing number of young, energetic, idealistic and patriotic Liberians who have acquired, are acquiring the requisite education and experience. Successful action, however, is on the ground, here in Liberia; for, we cannot reform or change Liberia by remote control. One needs and must be physically present on the ground in Liberia, in order to observe and experience the dynamics of the socio-economic and political process – who does what to whom, why, how, when and where – and the context of these dynamics.
Bai M. Gbala, Sr.