Indeed, there had been and is the Desire for top management Positions in the Liberian Government. Over time, this desire has increased and is increasing, exponentially, in correlation with higher education, training and experience, on the part of Liberians. This desire, apparently, is one of the basic motivations for the dual citizenship proposal by educated, trained and experienced Liberians in the Diaspora. The desire, in general, is a reasonable expectation.
However, this incessant desire or, in fact, demand for top management and related positions in government described in local, Liberian provincial parlance as “Lucrative & profitable”, with or having excellent opportunities for acquisition of wealth – meaning public dishonesty - stealing and corruption. Although these positions, perceived as such, are found in and across the entire spectrum of government agencies, but there are specific ministries, state enterprise corporations, agencies of government and board rooms in which these “excellent opportunities steal”, traditionally, abound. Some of the many “wealthy and business tycoons” of today’s Monrovia are those who were given (perhaps, the term “awarded” is appropriate) the opportunity to steal from the state due to appointments characterized by patronage - socio-cultural, socioeconomic, family, and political considerations. Because I am quite sure, that, almost, all Liberians know the identities of the ministries and agencies of government in which these “excellent opportunities” exist as tradition, there is no need for me to name names, but will, if challenged.
Fortunately, while engaged in the composition of this article, my newspaper vender delivered a copy of the New Democrat (New Democrat, December 19, 2013) with this headline, “Gov’t Loses Millions in ‘Bad Deals’ at NPA (National Port Authority)”. According to the newspaper, “A report by the General Auditing Commission (GAC) . . . accused the management of NPA of signing bad lease agreements with business houses causing the government to lose nearly six million US dollars in revenue. Details of the report covering the fiscal years 2006/2007 and 2008 . . . submitted (by the NPA) to the Public Accounts Committee of the National Legislature were not given; but . . . accused the Liberia Petroleum Refining Company (LPRC) of owing the NPA over eight million US dollars in lease agreements . . . According to the NPA . . . 150 (of such) agreements have been signed between the NPA and . . . business companies using the facilities of the port”.
This question, then, arises, who benefits from non-payment of this huge, eight million-dollar lease agreement, due and payable into the public treasury? Of course, the well chosen, well-connected and well-placed architects deeply consumed by the desire/demand for and appointment to the “lucrative and profitable” positions, who have, hereby, achieved that desire/demand. This includes salary/wage allowances in US dollars, electric generators, gasoline, fuel, service, transport, rent, etc., etc.!!!
Also, on today, the vender delivered a copy of the New Dawn newspaper with a banner headline “Patronage stalls Governance” (New Dawn, December 20, 2013) and reports that Dr. Amos Sawyer, Chairman of the national Governance Commission, a think tank on national policy reforms, holds that:
a) “President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf must seriously kick against patronage”;
b) “If President Sirleaf was serious in her quest for governance reforms in Liberia, she must ensure that such unprofessional practice (patronage appointments) be aborted quickly”;
c) “The cardinal requirements of appointments . . . qualification and competence are . . . overlooked in the nomination process (in favor of patronage), creating room for low productivity (and graft, greed, theft and corruption);” and
d) “The current precedence (of patronage over qualification and competence) was (or is) wrong and . . . It creates a huge setback in the reform process . . . the National Policy on Decentralization & Local Governance, the draft Local Governance Act of 2013 and reforms in Liberia . . . campaigns about (the) ongoing decentralization reforms . . .”
An additional example of this condition from personal experience will add clarity. During mid-1980s, I visited a ULAA friend and co-worker who lived in an apartment complex in lower Mamba Point, Monrovia, in which several, young women, also lived. During one of such visits on a Thursday evening, we (my ULAA friend and I) were invited to a birthday party in honor of one of the young ladies in her apartment. There were drinks – several and variety - Johnny Walker, Jack Daniels, Black Label, London Dry, Cognac, Irish Cream, etc. etc, you name it, it was there. The food – Liberian, American and Lebanese - was catered in from restaurants and the party went on to the late hours, but we had to leave. On Friday, the next day, the party continued with music, dancing, drinks, food and etc. catered in, as usual, from outside restaurants. My friend and I popped into the apartment and left.
On Saturday, a non-working day, I went to the apartment complex to my friend as usual. There was music blaring from the young woman’s apartment, with dancing and merry-making. But there was a truck parked in front with workers unloading and delivering household furniture, including icebox, rugs, TV set, air conditioners, landline telephone equipment, radio, etc., etc. into the young woman’s apartment, where the music and dancing were still going on.
Curious, I turned to my friend and asked, who is this young woman and what does she do for job? “Well”, my friend answered, “the young lady, a friend, is an unemployed student of the University of Liberia, but her boyfriend works at the Ministry of Finance as a Tax Collector”.
This was in the 1980s!!