In Liberia, being decent and staying above the fray of corruption and mismanagement of public funds come with much more retribution, slander, and a campaign of denunciation than being morally bankrupt and excessively corrupt.
The Liberian mind and psyche are wired to hate, sabotage, and condemn the upright while canonizing those who fleece the public treasury and use a dangerous combination of theatrics, lies, and deceit to ascend to positions of significance in the country’s public sector.
It is this mindset that has given rise to social and ideological degenerates playing a crucial role in serious institutions of national relevance, and it is this trend that explains why attempts at instituting financial probity and discipline always end with the denunciation of the ones who exude national consciousness being lampooned and slandered even by the so-called media and the stalwart forces of reaction and backwardness.
The latest baseless assault on the reputation of Auntie Miatta, who was asked to spearhead the inaugural committee of the then-incoming president Joseph Nyumah Boakai, can be placed in that category of thoroughly decent people refusing to accept business as usual and wanting something decent constantly raged against in the press and on social media by those who are not even fit to be her moral equivalents.
However, Liberia is an upside-down society where the moral lens is vitiated to the extent that those who are decent and incorruptible are crucified, while thieves and degenerates are celebrated.
It is a country where gaslighters and manipulators think their alliance with scandal sheets, stenographers, and echo chambers in the Liberian media guarantees them a carte blanche which they can use to ignite misinformation and propaganda to maintain a false narrative as well as go after anyone who refuses to be in the sordid club of imbeciles, rogues, and political scoundrels that have plundered the commonwealth.
Now, the inaugural committee.
Following the realization that he was well on his way to the Executive Mansion, incoming President Boakai reached out to Auntie Miatta to head his inaugural committee, which would have worked collaboratively with the outgoing regime to organize, in the words of the incoming president, a “modest inaugural program,” reflecting the diversity of the Liberian society as well as promoting the culture of the country.
Having received the message of her principal with immense enthusiasm, she set herself the task of implementing exactly what he wanted, beginning work early, and personally bankrolling the inaugural secretariat, an act this writer frowned on and told her was unsustainable.
However, she insisted that the work had to be done, and therefore, spending her funds for a patriotic cause was the greatest act of patriotism.
As she set out to implement her plan, she encountered challenges from both the outgoing regime and the forces of reaction in the Unity Party led by Amos Tweah, Cornelia Kurah-Togba, and the rogue’s gallery of deplorables that reek of the kind of political tribalism that has corralled into the perfect storm of ego-tripping, self-entitlement, and snobbery.
Tweah, obsessed with power and exuding that Napoleon complex associated with men of his psychology, sat in the comfort of his office at the headquarters of the Unity Party (UP) on Broad Street, constituted a parallel inaugural committee that issued gag orders and drew up a sordid list of inaugural volunteers that did not reflect the plurality of forces in the UP and the alliance formation that were at the forefront of catapulting Joseph Boakai into power.
Even worse, he included on the list 60-odd persons, including two children of the of the then-incoming president.
Against this background, Auntie Miata told him that she was not prepared to be the ceremonial head of the inaugural committee and, second, whether the incoming president was consulted about the list.
On the first count, her view was reflective of the fact that the initial list of people appointed to the inaugural committee was six, and as the head of the committee and in consultation with the other members, they would have set up subsidiary committees responsible for various aspects of the program.
On the second issue, her concern was based on the nepotistic dimension associated with including the names of two children of the president on the list; an excess the incoming president had vowed to not repeat.
This was also in line with her rejection of the notion that the leader of the country was the lead distributor of political patronage.
Auntie Miatta’s rejection of this objectionable list became a harbinger of disrespect, gossip peddling, and sabotage from elements of the Unity Party.
Regarding the outgoing regime and its acts of sabotage, the discredited regime of the outgoing president had little appetite to substantially cooperate and coordinate anything with the committee.
It was made clear to Auntie Miatta and her secretariat that the inaugural program was the exclusive preserve of the outgoing regime, and that it was not binding to accept input from the inaugural committee.
It was thus this mindset that led the outgoing regime to print 7,000 invitations as opposed to the 4,000 that were requested, which led to the seating challenge and the utter collapse of protocol at the program.
The lack of cooperation also explains why a master of ceremonies, completely out of her depth and spectacularly mediocre, was chosen as opposed to the venerated Kwame Clement, who was recommended by Auntie Miatta.
To add insult to injury, the Weah regime rejected the inclusion of protocol officers trained by the inaugural committee who had also attended the Gabriel Dennis Foreign Service Institute of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The sabotage, grotesque infighting, and lack of cooperation of the outgoing regime led to the dysfunction in the execution of the program.
This explains why even basic things such as water were not on stage, and its adverse impact was felt across the program.
Despite alluding to these issues, it is not an attempt to absolve the head of any responsibility, but rather an attempt to explain the challenges and constant horse-trading that were initiated to balance various vested interests for the inaugural program to be a success.
In the last analysis, it was this horse-trading and challenges that led to the abortion and vehement rejection of her initial plan to host a modest inaugural program at the Centennial Memorial Pavilion rather than on the grounds of the Capitol.
To put it more bluntly, her suggestion to use the Centennial Pavilion was rejected by both the Unity Party and the outgoing regime, including members of the 54th Legislature.
The Mystical US$ 650,000
The other issue that characterized the post-inaugural denunciation of Auntie Miatta is the circumstances surrounding the so-called US$650, 000, which is comparatively a paltry sum considering how much was spent on the preceding three inaugural programs.
Because the incoming president established an inaugural committee, some in the public hold the view that the amount was turned over to the inaugural committee to manage, and therefore the lapses in the program, the lack of fans on stage, and the lack of chairs mean that the funds were squandered by the committee, particularly the head.
To begin with, it is not all the more surprising that such unfounded allegations would be made since those who have been entrusted with public funds have used the slightest opportunity to plunder them and divert a huge portion to personal use.
But sorry to break it to you, the inaugural committee, which Auntie Miatta headed, neither managed nor coordinated the distribution of the funds.
As indicated earlier, the outgoing regime, true to its twisted line of reasoning that organizing the inaugural programme falls on its shoulders, and it is the last act of state that it must execute, presided over the management and disbursement of the funds to the exclusion of the committee.
Contrary to the misguided public perception of malfeasance, misfeasance, and nonfeasance by the inaugural committee as well as its head, it is important to emphasize that the inaugural secretariat received only US$22,000 from the 650,000 USD budget.
This amount was meant to be disbursed to the designated committee heads.
Therefore, the distribution of the amount followed this pattern: inaugural choir, US$7,000; inaugural souvenir, US$12,000; children’s performance, US$3,000.
It is thus crucial to state that the amount for the choir was distributed to various choirs, with the heads signing for the amount.
The inaugural secretariat, to avoid claims and counterclaims about one choir alleging it did not receive its portion of the funds, presided over the disbursement of the funds.
As for the funds intended for the kids, they were handed over to the caretaker who signed for them, as the kids are underage and could not sign for their money.
Meanwhile, the funds were meant for drinks and the kids’ upkeep. The souvenirs were made in different styles, and each group responsible for production was given a fair share of the amount.
Interestingly, those who have embarked on the ad-hominem rampage would bury their heads in the sand, like the proverbial ostrich, when they were made aware that an extra US 550.00 was spent by Auntie Miatta to produce souvenirs, an amount which she has yet to be reimbursed.
Having learned about the financial challenges the inaugural committee faced, the then-incoming president, out of his pocket, directly made a contribution of US$22,000 to the committee, an amount that was not enough to cover the pre-financing interventions that Auntie Miatta made before funds could be released by the Liberian government on January 17, 2024.
Distribution of US$650,000 inaugural funds.
Having established that the inaugural committee did not preside over nor disburse the 650, 000 for the program, it is absolutely important to highlight how the money was distributed so that a clear understanding of the culpability of mismanagement can be established, especially for those who are interested in hearing the facts.
The funds for the inauguration were paid in these categories: 1) to GOL institutions and 2) to designated inaugural sub-committee heads; the distribution of checks was done by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and not the inaugural committee.
For instance, some GOL institutions that received funds were Public Works, Health, and Justice on behalf of joint security. GSA received funds for the following: venue preparation, chair rental, transportation, fuel, and vehicle hire, while the office of Zanzan Kawor received the check for all the chiefs, the Ministry of Information received money for media, and the office of the Cultural Ambassador received the money for culture and entertainment.
It should be reemphasized that, although the inauguration was slated for January 22 and the president-elect constituted the committee almost two months before the slated date, the Weah government only began issuing checks on January 17, 2024, less than a week before the inaugural program.
So far from the disinformation spewed out in the public space, neither Auntie Miatta nor her inaugural secretariat presided over the 650,000 meant for inauguration.
The management, spending, and disbursement of the funds were managed by the outgoing regime through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as evidenced by the distribution pattern and the line ministries, agencies, and designated persons who received checks.
This is an account to dispel the lies being told about Auntie Miatta by scoundrels like Edwin Snowe, Stanton Witherspoon, and their social media ventriloquists.
In fact, the irony is thus not lost on us when a convicted criminal and patently shortsighted vagabond, who is awaiting a sentence in the United States, plays at the gallery of morality by using his microphone to malign and impugn the impeccable reputation of a woman who is the paradigmatic symbol of spartan discipline and decent virtues.
If the issue was not so serious, one would have refrained from even responding to the diatribes of Stanton and his likes, who cannot thick all the boxes on basic decency.
In closing, the committee headed by Miatta Fahnbulleh is preparing a final report to submit to the president’s office.
A cover letter will be attached to the report, appealing to the president to initiate a comprehensive forensic audit of all activities surrounding the organization of the inauguration and the expenditure of the funds.
Kiadii is a Liberian social and political analyst who writes on contemporary affairs and global issues. For additional inquiries, feel free to reach out to him at email@example.com.