Opinion

Weah’s success depends on honesty in fighting corruption

Liberia’s president-elect George  Manneh Weah in blue

MY TURN: First thing: Do not make too many promises to our people that you may not be able to fulfilled

Also, please conduct a comprehensive forensic audit by a reputable independent international accounting firm of the government’s financial health. Promise the Liberian people you will make the findings public and prosecute anyone implicated in corruption. This is first the test of a Weah presidency.

Why? You must know what you are inheriting moneywise from the Sirleaf administration. You must know the government monthly and yearly expenditures and balance sheet (payroll obligations and periodic monthly revenue intakes) to meet any obligation to the people.

This must include ALL government officials’ salaries, bonuses, and perks including all heads of public corporations and every elected and appointed official.

You will know whether those salaries are justified and can be sustained and how you intend to fund your priority projects or programs to lift people from poverty, hardship, and misery that is seen throughout the country—from Lofa to Grand Bassa and from Grand Cape Mount to Cape Palmas and most parts of the southeastern region where you hailed from.

You must lead by examples. Cut your own salary and benefits first, then go for the fat salaries of all top earners, including the Supreme Court and the entire judiciary as well as the entire legislature. Make your salary public and those you appoint. That will make the lawmakers follow your lead.

And what about the Executive Mansion that was damaged by fire on July 26, 2006? What happened to the more than $30 million United States dollars allocated to renovate the Mansion that is still not renovated and ready for you to move in? Where is that money? How much money did we pay as “rent” for government officials living in their private homes, including the president, vice president, speaker, Senate pro-temp, chief justice and associate justices?

And then why NOCAL was never audited? Promise to audit NOCAL and all ministries, especially finance from Augustine Ngafuan to Amara Konneh and now Boima Kamara, and public corporations, including the Central Bank of Liberia under Mills Jones who left many so-called loan money floating with people he has enriched. It is the right way to start off.

Don’t eat your crab meat with shame. You either fight corruption or it could tarnish your legacy. No picking and choosing. Go after all. Take no prisoners. No friends and family business either.

But above all else: be honest with yourself first and the Liberian people will trust you. Do NOT lie to our people if you know what I mean. And don’t have too many friends and advisers. Don’t be so trusting of people, especially Liberian “professional politicians.” They will take you down so fast.  All the political “gurus’ want is money.  President Sirleaf knows them very well and she used their greed to calm and quiet them by putting them on commissions and in advisory roles.  Don’t go for the so-called PhDs that have not benefited Liberians.  Bring people around you with sound education blended with common sense, love for country and patriotism.

Pick the right people for your Cabinet even if it means you can take them from opposition parties. There are many good people still in Liberia and some are abroad. Two names that come to mind are: your godfather Dr. Togba-Nah Tipoteh. He will make a good Finance and Economic Planning Minister or a foreign minister. International partners want to deal with people with integrity and good character; honest people. And whatever you do, do not leave the fearless, take-no-prisoner former Auditor General of Liberia, Mr. John S. Morlu. If you want to win, give jersey to good players.

Also, focus on job creation, jobs and jobs and jobs. The more jobs you create the more our young people will trust you.  Look for and bring people with experience and qualification in formulating policies that create jobs, drive innovation and facilitate workforce development.  Jobs and workforce development must be your daily song for our young people that voted for you.  If you cannot create jobs, don’t ask our young people to respect and love you after five years when you are seeking re-election.

Be careful, because not everyone needing you is or will be in your interest. There are people who want to challenge you in five years for the presidency but today they want to ride on your popularity so that they can get elected as lawmakers, or become the face of Liberia as foreign ministers. In front of you they show their white colors and behind you they show their dark plans.

And for those who don’t know, I supported you in 2005, 2011 and 2014, please read my Liberian African News Service, LANS endorsement of you written on October 25, 2005 and republished in the perspective.org on December 24, 2014: “George Manneh Weah: Marking the Beginning of Majority Rule in Liberia,” and will be coming out later by next Monday in the reputable and widely read online journal GlobeAfrique.com just in time for your inauguration this month.

As a fellow Kru man, and one whose brother played against you for the Bameh Football Club, Thomas Sieh Wion, who doesn’t have a grave today and my sister Sharon Nyonohtoe Wion who was next to Thomas; both of whom are without graves to honor their memories, I decided to support VP Joe Boakai once you agreed to tag-team with individuals who confessed to their roles in the Liberian civil war.

My support for Vice President Boakai was on philosophical and moral grounds. My friend Wilson Tarpeh knows of my efforts to have you and Mr. Boakai for a coalition, but that is now behind us. And now, I will do all I can to support you to succeed now that you are our new leader.

Ah-mou-wo boe-ma Bahbe Manneh Weah. Moh Wehtee. Congratulations President-elect George Manneh Weah of Liberia.

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Jerry Wehtee Wion

Jerry Wehtee Wion is a veteran Liberian journalist and political commentator. His work experience includes serving as a former radio announcer and sports journalist for the ELWA radio in Liberia, press commentator to the Liberian presidency (1980- 1981), and as a staffer with the Associated Press in New York. He is currently based in Washington, DC and runs an informative call-in Liberian news hotline known as LANSNews.

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