For The Record: We Need Answers

By: Ramses K. Nah


The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

December 26, 2003

So many times in the history of this Republic, have so-called leaders/rulers come to power and we, the people, have no insight into their educational, financial and social standings. For the record, it is now time for full accountability from all who seek political offices in the Republic of Liberia. We, Liberians do not want, at the end of the day, to find these leaders building big houses in Paynesville, ELWA road, Virginia and other parts of the country, sending their children to school abroad and donating ‘personal funds’ to organizations, without we, the people knowing the ‘how and where’ these funds were derived.

Vetting of Politicians
Liberians must demand from this administration, however short its term, a full accounting of their educational background, financial status and moral standing in the larger society. Without answers to these questions, incompetence, thievery and further collapse of our fragile society will find it roots into the fabric of this government, if this is not already the order of the day.

We, as a people have to start now, in order to have our leaders accountable to us, the people, rather than us, the People, being accountable to them. Too many time politicians have played on the ignorance of the ordinary, simple Liberian and manipulated their minds, in order to satisfy their personal agenda.

Soon and very soon, all politicians, beginning with Mr. Gyude Bryant, his cabinet, on down to assistant ministers, must publicly testify and make available to all newspapers and other media, accounting of any institutions attended, degree sought, obtained or not, accounts with financial institutions and balances currently available, real property owned and any lien(s) against said and most of all the derivation of these assets. These should be public records.

Public Salary and Perks
Moreover, the record of salary and benefits provided public officials should and must be made publicly available. We need to know how much these individuals are being paid and what perks the interim leaders get. Most Liberians have no clue what our president gets paid and perks provided him. How much is a government minister salary? Does an official get a free car with monthly allotment of gasoline? Does it become his/her private vehicle to use indiscriminately after hours of official public functions? For the record, we, the People, need answers as to how public funds are being disbursed. Are housing allowances made available for the cabinet and the assembly members? And if so, why?

National Budget
Where is the national budget, the blue print of how our money is sourced and spent? Where and how are revenues and expenditures collected and expensed? This government and any subsequent government must make pertinent information for the record, so that the average Liberian can be apprised of the functions of his government.

The publication of a national budget would be very expedient at this time so that we, the people can have an idea of the activities of this government. Liberia has not seen one in many years and this should be one of the fundamental information disseminated to the public. Moreover, it is time that we know the composition of the various agencies of government and the number of their employees.

Today’s Liberia must not be that of the old days. Information is vital to the success of any administration. Most importantly, transparency should and must be the order of the day. This is why it is believed that Liberians both in the diaspora and at home must be told of the activities of their government: the educational, financial and moral background of individuals who serve us. With information as such we the people can keep those who are qualified, honest and well meaning for the society.

Liberia needs good, honest people to take us from where we are to a better future. Running home to serve in government must be done from a societal perspective and not a personal perspective. Government is not where one goes to get rich, it is where one serves society for the benefit of society. Government service is sacrificial, yes; you get paid reasonably for your service.

Please, Mr. Bryant and this interim assembly, for the record, we need answers!