By Festus Poquie
In the race for the presidency, main opposition leader Joseph Boakai has delivered the most eloquent and titillating speech on corruption but the composition of his inner circle leaves the crux of his campaign plunging and wanting.
On top of sleazy people working on his campaign team is Brownie Samukai, a Johnson Sirleaf-era minister convicted of corruption in 2022. The former Defense Minister is currently playing a prominent role on the former Vice President’s team, representing his interest at various fronts.
He openly appeared with other Unity Party officials meeting with European Union Elections Observation Mission in Liberia in Monrovia recently.
“Government in Liberia fail on day one,” one foreign official with interest in governance told the Oracle News Daily on the basis of strict anonymity since his position does not permit public comment on the matter.
“It will be callous a mistake to place Samukai at forefront of governance again in Liberia.”
The Supreme Court of Liberia handed down two-year prison sentences to the former defense chief along with deputies Joseph Johnson and James Nyuman Ndokor after they failed to return $1.9 million United State dollars stolen from a government pension account.
The funds were stolen from the Armed Forces of Liberia pension account when Boakai served as vice president during the Sirleaf’s administration. The three were found guilty of theft of property, criminal conspiracy, and misuse of public money among others for embezzlement from the Army’s compulsory savings account.
corrupt people are found on the Weah camp, the same as the Unity Party. The US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control sanctioned three top officials in August 2022 for corruption.
Growing public demands for Liberian authorities to investigate graft related issues raised in the Treasury report linger unattended. Two of the three officials – Bill Tweahway and Nathaniel McGill are finding their way in the Senate for apparent safety since it has become the haven of local thieves and murder suspects. There will even be ta-ta to the matter should Boakai Wins.
Reason: On December 9, 2021 the US Treasury sanctioned former warlord and Senator Prince Johnson for corruption, alleging that Senator Johnson “is involved in pay-for-play funding with government ministries and organizations for personal enrichment. As part of the scheme, upon receiving funding from the Government of Liberia, the involved government ministries and organizations launder a portion of the funding for return to the involved participants.
Senator Jeremiah Koung, a fellow Nimba Senator is Johnson’s political next of kin. Johnson coroneted Koung as leader of his Movement for Democracy and Reconstruction party, an organization now allying the ex-vice president under the Unity Party alliance in this year’s elections.
Koung, 45, is Boakia’s running mate who upon victory on October 10 will become vice President of Liberia. He will play the game in accordance with Johnson’s written script, as the former rebel leader of the 1990s carries the belief that Senator Koung, will be President-in –Proxy to the septuagenarian veteran stateman.
Koung, too, faces allegations of corruption. According to Transparency International’s country unit – the Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia (CENTAL), in 2021 then Representative Jeremiah Koung, Montserrado County Senator Saah Joseph and District #6 Representative Samuel Enders, and others to large-scale corruption. The group said between 2012 and 2021 Koung received nearly one million United States Dollars to run his privately owned hospital – the Esther and Geraldine Hospital in Nimba County.
In this year’s elections, Boakai has vowed to nip corruption in the bud, promising to prosecute corrupt public officials should he wins.
Liberians have suffered too much in the hands of corrupt leaders and the best way to curtail stealing in government is to prosecute national leaders who engage into such practice, the former Vice President told supporters in Gbarnga, Bong County in August.
“The cancer is eating up the country and it must be faced with utmost brutality,” said in a July 12 statement.
“I will fully empower renowned anti-corruption czars, entrusting them with the critical responsibility of recovering stolen funds and ill-gotten properties from officials of the Weah Government.”
Writes Festus Poquie