By Julius T. Jaesen, II
The wave of political uprisings in Africa especially of recent with the people of Sudan and Algeria in April of 2019 that saw the governments of Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir and Abdelaziz Bouteflika lost legitimacy and brought on their knees was tied squarely and fundamentally to corruption and the lack of good governance. And certainly, these uprisings advertently or inadvertently point to the failure of African governments to curb corruption and promote good governance. Where the quality of governance is poor, corruption flourishes with results that are hugely damaging for development.
In any democracy and the world over, the lawmaking bodies should be occupied by men and women with the highest degree of integrity and fiscal discipline to lead efforts of checks and balances on the other two branches of government to ensure transparency and accountability which are key elements of good governance are upheld. The lawmaking body is a central institution of oversight and accountability. If the Legislature fails to effectively exercise its oversight responsibility, there can be no accountability and without accountability, the quality of governance deteriorates.
In any serious democracy, the legislature serves as a catalyst in the fight against corruption. But sadly, the Liberian Legislature is the reverse. We see lawmakers who supposed to be men and women of unrelenting valour, high honour and dignity serving the public trust with probity are the ones conspiring to rob the people from whom their legitimacy, authority and source of power to govern cometh.
The recent is Senator Peter Coleman of Grand Kru County who in a leaked text message sent to Jlateh Sayon, the Controller of Ministry of Health, requesting the share of 200k out of 1M USD from IMF proposal for goods and services for our ravaged health sector among themselves amid the strikes or go-slow actions of thousands of health workers and the lack of fuels to run public health facilities across our country. This is complete wickedness on the part of Sen. Coleman, political pundits told Parrot Newspaper.
How will a Senator who should be noble in character and discipline in his service to humanity think of stealing money intended to improve our ailing health sector even in the face of Covid-19? This on the part of Peter Coleman is an incessant demonstration of greed and insanity.
This is not the first of its kind for Sen. Peter Coleman to appear in the media for financial improprieties. Almost nearing the end of the government of former president Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf in 2016, Sen. Peter Coleman dominated almost all media outlets in the country for collaborating with few folks at the JFK Medical Hospital to rob from our health sector, millions of dollars under a purported consultancy scam that never existed.
The growing wave of greed and insatiability for wealth on the part of people who have been entrusted with public resources is what that is affecting our poor African citizenries and have stunted growth and development on this continent of ours for centuries if not millennia.
Public service in African democracies no longer appears as an honest opportunity provided politicians to serve the public interest by providing better livelihoods for the poor citizens but rather, it is more of a license given them to arrogate onto themselves, the mass of the public resources while the governed feel the brunt of the hardship. And with no uncertainty, the Legislature has provided the corridors for a better partnership with the Executive to further frustrate the hopes and aspirations of the poor who have longed for a better livelihood.
Sen. Coleman is among the many bad apples ever elected to in the Legislature since the cradle of Liberia’s pseudo-democratic republic. And most of these corrupt lawmakers who have abused our country and people in public service were mostly elected on the strength of party affiliations which escaped public scrutiny and x-ray on the deficit of their character.
Aside from Peter Coleman, one of such lawmakers was Edward Ford of District 16, popularly referred to as ‘you eat, I eat’. During the early part of Ellen second term in office as president, the corrupt lawmaker in Edward Ford was heard not on text message like his colleague Coleman, but on a leaked audio recording with Mrs Grace Kpan, former Superintendent of Montserrado County, to eat the county development funds in its thousands.
Edward Ford didn’t acknowledge then that there was a compelling need to invest a significant portion of our budget resources in our devastated health sector to improve facilities at public health centres across our country so when even public officials themselves fall sick, we will not spend thousands of taxpayers’ money to fly them abroad for advanced medical treatment. Unfortunately, he felt the punch of he and his colleague legislative kleptocrats’ collective actions when on the heels of the deadly Ebola Virus Disease when he took his daughter, the late Nikita Ford, may peace be onto her ashes, at JFK and she was rejected by nurses and later died in his hands like chicken, to use his own words. These are some of the things that fall at the doorsteps of the wicked and the corrupt.
When lawmakers who have all the contacts and connections to make their relatives to be accepted and given preferential treatment at government-run health facilities daughter can be rejected and died in his hands like chicken, just imagine sons and daughters of the poor!
Millions of our poor citizenries in Africa are dying from the associated actions and inactions of our leaders. The lives of millions of our people are resting on the actions of leaders. What they do in public service depicts the lives our people live. If our people will remain in poverty and lack, is predicated on the policy choices of their governors.
While our nation is finding it difficult to stomach over what appears to be mysterious deaths of four of our country’s distinguished auditors who had served the public with dignity and probity, we woke up to a disturbing text message trending the social media of Sen. Coleman which reads below:
“Good Morning Jlayteh there have been some changes due to pressure from the IMF. As a result of this only 2M for hazard pay and an additional 1M for additional goods and services. So need to do some changes to our previous arrangement. So US$ 200k from the US$1M to be set aside for us to share. Please inform your boss. So another letter requesting the 200k needs to be sent to the MFDP (Ministry of Finance and Development Planning).”
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