War Against Corruption: A Big Job for the General Accounting Office (GAO)

By Gbe Sneh

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia
November 3, 2003


Are we experiencing too much theft? Yes. So let's get a guard dog - a General Accounting Office (GAO). We don't mean the "gbagbati" one in place now that comprises state auditors that steal. These guys put on expensive suits and hold shinning attaché cases. They roam the dusty roads, from cities to towns to even villages. Instead of reports, their shinning attaché cases are filled with raw cash by the time they return to Monrovia. That's when the party begins. They hit Dualla and New Kru Town, and take over the bars. They take off the coats, loosen the ties, flaunt money, chatter the bars, and all the "tities" flock around them. Oh, by the way, if the auditor is a woman, she only sends for the "godchild" (son).

Monrovia people are very good at handling thieves. All they need to hear is "rouge, rouge". We know the rest of that story. This is the way the people deal with those who steal pepper and or cash from the market women. Won't it be nice to extend the same treatment to the paper thieves, the ones who works in our government? Theirs is Theft By Vouchers, or should we say, Theft By Vultures. We are talking about that government worker who misappropriates our funds by falsifying vouchers.

With a new administration, we are vowing to stamp out corruption, we are issuing a zero-tolerance warning to all who work in the various government agencies. As of late paper trails of corruption are being uncovered. Case in point, the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) looting. Eye witness accounts by departmental insiders are coming forth, all decrying corruption of wide spread proportions - the Postal Boss, the Public Radio Boss, and several others, who have personalized public assets. Oh, the gross misappropriation of Maritine Bureau revenues, confessed to my the out-going Speaker of the House in his radio interview, let's make mention of that one. The list is lengthy. It is not that we did not know this all along. These highlighted cases are simply pinpointing the serious need to tackle the problem. These cases are asking questions as to what is going to be done in keeping with accountability. Let's factor in the veil of impunity that must be pierced. This administration, and any other henceforth, needs to take note of findings like these, and refrain from the old, "and so what must we do about it". Situations like these, if sufficient evidence can be mounted, warrant probes, resultant charges, ensuing prosecutions, and subsequent retributions. Nothing short of this process is what the people want.

There is an urgent need to back up all this stamping-out-corruption talk with an All New General Accounting Office. We already have in place a good weapon to attack this system of corruption. What weapon are we talking about? No, we are not talking about the kind carried by rebels and government soldiers. We are talking about the Vice Chairman, Mr. Momo Johnson! He is our weapon. Here, we have a man fully equipped to take on this all too important task. Our man is a Certified Public Accountant! Let's break the tradition of having the Vice President, in this case, the Vice Chairman, do nothing but sit and wait for his boss to croak. Mr. Johnson knows all about network systems encompassing all government revenue sources, and all government disbursement procedures. He knows how to place controls to verify what goes in and out of such a network. He even knows when what should go in doesn't, and when what shouldn't go in makes its way into the system. Our man is a full fledged accountant, and our country needs his services at this crucial time when we are striving to clean up all the mess made by prior administrators of public agencies.

We are calling upon the Chairman to not take the position of his Vice for granted, as has been the status quo. Let's place Mr. Johnson at the head of the War Against Corruption. Let him, perhaps by delegation, shred the existing GAO and reconstruct it ! Liberia now has several Certified Public Accountants. At the risk of being selfish, I'll go on a limb, to vouch that this team is made up of honorable citizens, men who take this country at heart. Let him contact and assemble these men and just empower them to execute this program. In this age of High Tech, setting up such a system of networks is not far fetched.

Liberia has a population of just three million. It used to be that, plus half a million, but we know what woefully happened to that half. If we control our resources, making them less accessible to predatory government bosses and their clones, every man, woman and child should have a comfortable life. There is no doubt we have enough natural resources to wipe out poverty in our nation. We have an enviable rain forest that revenues from these resources can transform into a massive agricultural haven, where we can produce more than we need to feed ourselves, where cash crops can be cultivated for the global markets, thereby bolstering our revenues intake. To paraphrase what Mr. Obasanjo said to us at the inauguration ceremonies, there is no reason why anybody in our land should be poor. We have enough resources, but the only dark side is that we have people, who for generations, are bent on corruption and greed, propped up by intimidation of the public.

So, just as we are proposing to put in place a mechanism to stamp out war, we equally are proposing a system to stamp out corruption. We have to go for the twin kill.
If And When we follow this path, WE WILL FIND OUR WAY HOME, AT LAST!

Related Documents and articles:
All the President's Men: A Case of Massive Corruption?
Opposition leaders in Taylor’s Ring of Corruption?
Willie Belleh Must Resign from Interim Government
Corruption at the Central Bank of Liberia

About the author: Patrick Gbe Sneh Davis is a Certified Public Accountant, has a BSc. in Accountancy, is a Computer Programmer, has taught Math and General Science in the Catholic School System in Liberia.