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Thursday, July 25, 2024

Editorial: When Will Tomorrow Come?

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The sun had barely risen over the dilapidated shacks of the Monrovia slums when Fatima awoke, her young children already stirring beside her. As she rose to prepare their meager breakfast, a familiar sense of dread filled her heart. Another day of uncertainty and struggle lay ahead.

Fatima is one of the millions of Liberians trapped in the vicious cycle of bad governance that has plagued her country for decades and leaving them poor and destitute.

Despite the promises of her government’s leaders, the powerful elite have time and again betrayed the trust of the voters, leaving the population increasingly hopeless and destitute.

Just last year, Fatima had dared to hope that things might finally change. She had cast her ballot with the fervent belief that the new administration would work tirelessly to uplift the lives of the poor and marginalized. But as the months wore on, that hope slowly turned to ash.

The infrastructure projects touted on the campaign trail never materialized in Fatima’s community. As the rain falls, she’s left homeless due to flood. The jobs and social services that were meant to lift people out of poverty remained elusive.

Instead, Fatima watched helplessly as corruption and nepotism flourished, with the country’s resources siphoned off to line the pockets of those in power. Nearly 12 years after then President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said lawmakers were manipulating or committing budget fraud, the practice still continues today.

The benefits of lawmakers is a looming controversy til date. In 2012 during the Council on Foreign Relations interview with former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf the issue was raised.

Professor Bernadette Atuahene from Fordham Law School asked:  I wanted to talk briefly about this issue of corruption. One way to fight corruption is to give people increased salaries. But what we see now is in the 2012-2013 budget law — each lawmaker’s entitled to up to US$30,000 in benefits. So at what point do we go too far and at what point is this idea of good governance or legitimacy corroded by these kinds of salaries we’re giving the legislators, especially since other — you know, in order to balance the budget, we’re expecting all sectors of societies to take cuts, but legislators, lawmakers are still receiving these very hefty salaries? I just want to get your thoughts and opinions on how that fits into your vision of good governance and perhaps your critique or — of that particular practice.

Johnson Sirleaf responded: We didn’t give it to them; they took it. (Laughter.)

In June this year, Amara Mohammed Konneh, the Chairperson of the Senate Public Accounts and Audits Committee provided clear picture of how Senators place taxpayers’ money in the national budget during the appropriation period and ordered Finance Ministry officials to off load immediately after the approval of the budget.

The senate collects the money in totality before the end of budget cycle, the Gbarpolu County Senator said in his article: Demystifying the Senate Retreat: A Tale of Two Unrelated Senate Disbursements.

So, as Fatima fed her children their meager breakfast of rice and boiled greens, while they sit in the pool of water with flood across Monrovia, She couldn’t help but wonder: when will tomorrow come? When will the government finally fulfill its promises and deliver the change that the people so desperately crave? When will corruption end? When will procurement fraud end? When will lawlessness end? When will professionalism and integrity in public sector even come?

The sad truth is that for Fatima and millions like her, tomorrow may never come. The cycle of bad governance in Liberia is deeply entrenched, sustained by a political elite more interested in preserving their own power than in serving the needs of the people.

Unless drastic reforms are enacted – reforms that address the root causes of corruption, nepotism, and mismanagement – the people of Liberia will continue to languish in poverty, their hopes for a better future fading with each passing year.

It is a heartbreaking reality, but one that cannot be ignored. People who care about this country, humanity, justice and the rule of law must hold Liberia’s leaders accountable, and the Liberian people must continue to raise their voices and demand the change they were promised.

Only then might Fatima and her children finally see the dawn of a brighter tomorrow.

 

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