-Minister Nagbe Raps On Corruption Fight

 

Fighting against corruption in a war ravaged nation like Liberia with decimated infrastructures and institutions is undeniably challenging despite the blood and sweat efforts made by Africa’s first female President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

 

Successes scored and challenges faced in these efforts since 2006 was communicated today, October 26, 2017 at the Crans Montana Forum held in Brussels, Belgium by Liberia’s Minister of Information Culture and Tourism, Eugene Lenn Nagbe who represented President Johnson-Sirleaf at the occasion.

 

Minister Nagbe told his audience that the President Sirleaf inherited not a government to administer, but a failed state to rebuild. He indicated that as “onerous as the task was to bring back Liberia from the brink, the Liberian leader did not for a minute believe that the fight against corruption, the prime culprit which had fuelled the war in the first place, should be left to wait. The fight to tackle the corruption menace was therefore carried out in concomitance with the even more herculean task of nation rebuilding.”

 

According to the Liberian Government’s spokesman, the Liberian government under the leadership of the 2011 Nobel Laureate saw the need to build the institutional infrastructures through the establishment and reorganization of the General Auditing Commission (GAC), the Public Procurement and Concession Commission (PPCC) the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) and the Liberia Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (LEITI) since in fact accountability was at zero and the looting of state resources was uncontrollable. “Our Government under the Leadership of President Sirleaf has leveraged these institutions, with marked progress, to prevent public sector corruption, waste and abuse. The GAC is equipped to perform audits of the system to unearth any weaknesses, supply evidence that could be used by the LACC to prosecute those who violate the public trust,” he intimated.

 

Notwithstanding the challenges that abound, the Liberian Information Minister recounted that the gains made in the fight against corruption are “strong and foundational”.

“We now have strong anti-corruption laws and institutions that can, with some additional investments and reforms, be used as a spring board for greater success in the fight against corruption,” he added.

 

He averred that the Sirleaf led administration will bequeath to its successor, functional anti- corruption and transparency agencies that have benefited from years of experience and boast of improved investigatory and prosecution capacity.

Minister Eugene Lenn Nagbe stressed that the post-conflict nation has further consolidated transparency in government and the private sector by embracing the tenets demanded by world anti-corruption proponents by and through the establishment and operationalization of institutions like the Open Government Partnership, Financial Intelligence Unit, and Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative. “This has stymied the extensive outflow of illicit capital and has reduced waste and abuse in the public sector,” the Liberian government’s spokesman disclosed.

 

These efforts have not however been a walk in the park in the face of “opaque Judiciary and a push-back in the National legislature. Vested interest by the powerful in the political class has also hindered the anticorruption battle.” The political will to see senior government officials brought to justice as in the case of the indictment of high profile government officials and even ruling party’s executive amongst others, progress in the fight against corruption remains unabated.

 

He noted that to consolidate the gains, the next government will need to deepen judicial reform efforts, form an effective partnership with domestic civil society to pressure elected officers into supporting anti-corruption policies and legislations.

In addition to the challenges mentioned, Minister Nagbe mentioned that there are also budgetary constraints and human resource gaps that need to be consistently addressed over the medium to long term if we are to see significant consolidation of the gains we have made in the space of 12 years.

 

Amid the strides, Minister Nagbe enumerated that there were lessons learnt over the last 12 years from which the successor of President Johnson-Sirleaf should consider: “we have learned that corruption fights back and its reach cannot and should not be overlooked. We see that one of the main ways that the corrupt try to protect themselves is through the political system. Therefore fighting corruption requires building a broad political coalition across political parties, the media and civil society. We also see the need to invest more into improving compensation and capacity in the judiciary. Most of the cases the Government of Liberia lost in courts came down to the twin factors of judicial incompetence and the susceptibility of some court officials to bribes.”

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