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The Deception of Pres. Sirleaf’s Gov’t; More International Fundings but Poverty Increases in Liberia

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Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Africa’s first female president and one of the west favorites is in sharp deception, with more international support but an increase in poverty in mama Liberia.

Facts findings of the amount of support given to the Liberian government since 2005 to present:

According to the Global Humanitarian Assistance fast fact, Liberia was the 36th largest recipient of official humanitarian aid in 2010, Liberia received the equivalent of 62.4% of its gross national income (GNI) as aid (ODA) in 2010, GNI rank in 2010: 197 of 215. China has offered 20 million Yuan (2.5 million dollars) in aid for Liberia’s reconstruction.

According to Relief Web (2006, 20 Jan) “an agreement was signed in the Liberian capital under the agreement; China is to provide Liberia with an interest-free loan of 40 million Yuan (5 million dollars)”. The loan is to be used to cover part of expenses incurred in the renovation of Liberia’s sports stadium, the Samuel Doe Sports complex, and other projects to be identified by the Liberian government. The Government of the People’s Republic of China has revealed that its investment in Liberia has reached a total of US$9.9 billion dollars (Allafrica.com, 2010). The Vice Minister of Commerce of China, Mr. FU Ziying, made the disclosure during the signing ceremonies of six agreements between the Government of Liberia and China which took place at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Washington, June 26, 2013 – The World Bank Board of Directors approved US$10 million IDA* credit to support Liberia’s long-term strategy to strengthen government’s capacity and oversight, expand the economy, and to invest in more accessible and higher quality education ( The World Bank ,June  2013). The Liberian government continues to receive huge amount of money in aid, but it is very alarming as the country economy has no direct impact on the lives of the ordinary Liberians outside of governmental circle. The country’s economy continues to move at a down trend instead of an upward trend as evidences of our brothers, sisters, mothers, uncles, grandmother’s, and grandfather’s lives.  Below is a critical look at situations our people are faced with. The current unemployment rate is estimated as 85% in Liberia. Even though Dr. T. Edward Liberty the head and Director General of Liberia Institute of Statistics and Geo- Information Services (LISGIS), says the unemployment rate in Liberia was 3.7 percent as of September 2012, placing Liberia above Ghana, Ivory Coast and Nigeria (FrontPage Africa, September 2012) and even the United States at 7.6% (US Department of Labor). From the day Dr. Liberty came out with his report it is still debated in the streets corners, intellectual centers and offices of Liberia. Dr. Liberty claimed that his findings were based on the international definition of unemployment. If we as intellectuals in and out of Liberia should agree with the findings of Dr. Liberty, The critical question than will be, Why our sisters and future mothers still standing on the streets and at entertainment centers in and around Monrovia waiting for men and in the act of prostitution?

Poverty/poor health facilities in mama Liberia: It is recorded by the World Health Organization (WHO), since the election of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in 2005 in the country’s first post war democratic election health circumstances in Liberia is still appalling, The under-five mortality rate was 110 per 1000 live births and the maternal mortality ratio was 994 deaths per 100,000 live births, with the latter figure demonstrating a 71% increase from the 2000 estimate of 550. Malaria, which is pervasive in Liberia, is a major cause of morbility and an important contributor to under-five transience. In 2006, one-third of the populace had at least one occurrence of the disease and an estimated 6000 children died from its complications. Mental health problems related to war trauma and intensified by dislocation are also a tenacious concern. A 2008 survey found that 40% of the population had self-reported symptoms indicative of major depression and 44% probably had post-traumatic stress disorder. The prevalence of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection in Liberia was estimated at 1.5% in 2007, a figure similar to that in the bordering countries of Guinea (1.5%) and Ghana (2.2%) but substantially lower than in eastern and southern Africa, where seven countries had an HIV infection prevalence higher than 15%.( World Health Organization 2010)

Deception of press freedom; The incarceration of  “Rodney Sieh” the Editor In Chief of one of Liberia’s most effervescent and popular newspapers FrontPage Africa, is a clear dishonesty of press freedom in mama Liberia. Mr. Rodney Sieh was found guilty and ordered incarcerated by the superlative court in a civil case involving Dr. Chris Toe and FrontPage Africa but it is now cleared that the government of Liberia has vested interest in the case because Mr. Rodney Sieh was successful in exposing corrupt government officials within the Liberian government. Speaking to a group of journalists at a well-attended press conference in Monrovia “the legal team representing jailed FrontPage Africa newspaper Publisher and Managing Editor Mr. Rodney D. Sieh, has accused hidden powerful hands of being behind the imprisonment of Mr. Sieh and the subsequent closure of his newspaper’s office.

At a news conference, Atty. Samuel Kofi Woods said his statement is in the wake of recent comments made by Justice Minister Christiana Tah at a press Conference held in Monrovia. Cllr. Tah is said to have requested the legal team representing Mr. Sieh to visit the library and research on before undertaking their plans of bringing the matter before the ECOWAS Court. Cllr. Tah spoke in response to a question from a journalist that the team was seeking legal redress at the level of the ECOWAS court.

Atty. Woods described Minister Tah’s comments as derogatory, irresponsible and reckless noting that it is contradictory to earlier comments made by government that the case involving Dr. Chris Toe and FrontPage Africa was a case between two private citizens. He said, the legal team representing the FrontPage Africa are and will never challenge the decision of the Supreme Court but are currently exploring other means to get legal redress and promised that he and his colleagues will never be intimidated by any one despite their position and will go ahead in taking the matter to the ECOWAS court if the need be.

Atty. Woods said: “No one will discourage us; when the need be, we will approach ECOWAS; If anyone thinks they can tie us into submission they are mistaking. The ECOWAS laws are very clear on violation of human rights against ECOWAS citizens and if any portion of our constitution violates the African charter on human rights or if any ECOWAS citizens suffer and is been held because of an outdated law we will result to the ECOWAS court.”

Responding to Cllr. Tah’s comments further, Atty. Woods called on the Justice Minister to make research on how to address the deplorable prison condition; address the issue of 66 out of 68 concession agreements that did not meet up with basic international concession practices and address the issue of young girls being raped and video-taped under her watch as Justice Minister.

“Cllr. Tah will do well to begin to show compassion and will do well to begin to address the case of our young girls who are being raped and video-taped by men, visit our prisons and see how to improve it from a state of human dungeon.”(FrontPage Africa.com 2013)

Poor justice system in Liberia; According to the human rights watched world report 2011 there are huge Judiciary Weaknesses; Persistent deficiencies in Liberia’s judiciary led to widespread abuses of the right to due process and undermined efforts to address impunity for the perpetrators of crimes. The problems include insufficient judicial personnel, including prosecutors, public defenders, and clerks; an inadequate number of courtrooms; logistical constraints, including insufficient computers, photocopiers, and vehicles to transport prisoners and witnesses to court; archaic rules of procedure; and poor case management. Witnesses’ refusal to testify, jurors’ willingness to accept bribes, and unprofessional and corrupt practices by judicial staff also undermined progress.

Because of the courts’ inability to adequately process cases, hundreds of prisoners were held in extended pretrial detention in overcrowded jails and detention centers that lack basic sanitation, nutrition, and health care; in 2010 just over 10 percent of the roughly 1,700 individuals detained in Liberia’s prisons had been convicted of a crime. The number of jailbreaks-at least 12 in 2010-illuminated continuing weaknesses in the criminal justice system. Improvements included the deployment of over 20 public defenders throughout Liberia and a mobile “fast track” court operating out of the Monrovia Central Prison, which helped to clear the backlog of pretrial detainees. (Human Rights watch world report 2011 Liberia)

Corruption is another problem with in the Judiciary system; Corruption scandals-including allegations involving the ministers of information, interior, and gender; the inspector general of police and police deputy commissioner for administration; the head of the Telecommunications Authority and high-level members of the Finance Ministry and Central Bank-resulted in few investigations and only two convictions, with a third case pending. The work of the Anti-Corruption Commission, created in 2008, was hampered by insufficient funds, personnel, and authority to independently prosecute cases. The government’s refusal to prosecute some high-ranking civil servants and to take action against individuals cited in a controversial financial audit led to the perception that the president lacks the will to address the problem. Corrupt practices in large part gave rise to the armed conflicts that wracked Liberia in the 1990s and ended in 2003, and have long undermined the provision of basic education and health care to the most vulnerable. (Human Rights Watch world report on Liberia 2011)

Poor educational system in Liberia; it was recently revealed to the world according  to the BBC News Africa that  Approximately 25,000 students failed the test for admission to the University of Liberia, one of two state-run universities. Reacting to the News of the student’s failure the President of the republic of Liberia Ellen Johnson Sirleaf acknowledged the education system was still “in a mess”, and much needed to be done to improve it. She added Many schools lack basic educational materials and teachers are poorly qualified. However, this is the first time that every single student who wrote the exam has failed. The Education Minister Etmonia David-Tarpeh told the BBC Focus on Africa program she intended to meet university officials to discuss the failure rate.

“I know there are a lot of weaknesses in the schools but for a whole group of people to take exams and every single one of them to fail, I have my doubts about that,” Ms. David-Tarpeh said. “It’s like mass murder.” (BBC NEWS AFRICA 2013)

Corruption remains a major problem in the Liberian government even in the mist of huge public condemnation. The latest ranking from the watchdog group, Transparency International puts the post-war nation at the top of the heap as the “Most Corrupt” nation on the face of planet earth. (FrontPage Africa.com 2013). The former auditor general of Liberia John Morlu is frustrated over President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf failure to prosecute corrupt government officials in Liberia. In an aggrieved tone he said “Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has not only failed to prosecute corrupt officials implicated in GAC audits, LACC audits, Ministry of Justice investigations and the multitude of presidential commissions that have investigated graft, President Sirleaf has mastered the “technique” of firing people publicly to get international attention but she soon turned around and hired them when she thinks Liberians and international media have forgotten. Ellen Sirleaf has always managed to get attention for firing while at the same time getting these officials to remain her friend and in her Government, somehow, some way.

For Liberians, including myself with expertise in forensic accounting and computer forensic, we have to keep an eye on Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s game playing. Integrity is doing the right thing when no one is looking. Saturday, 7th September 2013, the Executive Mansion’s Press reported that President Sirleaf has made new appointments in Government. The Press Release is entitled, “Officials Nominated to Investment and Elections Commissions, GSA, LRRRC, Ministries of Internal Affairs, Public Works, Justice & Grand Gedeh College Trustees. “The initial Press Release published on the Executive Mansion website showed that under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, President Sirleaf nominated “Pearine Davis-Parkinson – Ambassador – at – Large.”

I was informed in advance that the President has nominated the dismissed GSA Director. So I monitored the Executive Mansion website. As soon as the Press Release was posted on the Mansion Website I copied it and saved (see attached). I alert a closed ‘confidante’ of President Sirleaf and I said “this is just wrong.” I told the ‘confidante’ that we are fighting hard to get Rodney Sieh release from prison because Dr. Chris Toe claimed he was not prosecuted. It is likely the dismissed GSA Director too will sue FrontPage Africa and other media because her appointment is a vindication.” (AllAfrica.com 2013)

It is an open fact that prostitution remains a serious social problem in mama Liberia. Even though our president madam Sirleaf said prostitution was not a crime in mama Liberia. Due to the high degree of poverty in Liberia in the mist of huge international support to the Ellen’s government our sisters and future mothers in Liberia see prostitution as a means of survivor.  According to the Public agenda online newspaper a research was conducted by the conducted by the United Methodist University Health Club, indicating an increase in prostitution, especially amount teenagers in Liberia. Teenagers in Liberia are carrying on prostitution for money due to difficult economy hardship in the country. The research also stated an unprecedented amount of 14.2 percent of the female population involved in prostitution for money. The four months participatory-research detailed Five Hundred Thousand (500,000) Liberians, including foreigners are involved in various forms of prostitutions, describing commercial prostitution as cause for the prevalence of HIV/AIDS and other Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs). The research reveals that a significant portion of sex-active Liberians willingly go in the streets to “commercialize their genitals” in Sinkor, Paynesville and Central Monrovia. These place, the report provided, sex- merchants charge Three Hundred & Fifty ($350) Liberian dollars for short-time between 6 to 11 in the evening; while One Hundred Fifty Liberian dollars (L$150), in the morning hours. Also, that around the Matadi area in same Sinkor, between forty and a Hundred ($40 – $100) Liberian dollars is charged for sex. On the Freeway and around Red Light in Paynesville, sex is bout between thirty and Seventy-Five ($30 – $75) Liberian dollars for ‘common people. ‘But the report said in the same communities, people; especially foreigners with fair complexion are charged ten ($10) United States dollars for short-time, an amount that could be paid for a whole night affair. In Ganta and Saclepea, Nimba County, Five ($5) US Dollars is charged for short time. However, the report emphasized that people are charged based on appearance in Nimba.

The Liberian government failure to organize social service programs for the Unemployed youth in the mist of huge aid to Liberia by international organizations as listed above is one of key factors to the high degree of poverty in Liberia. Child labourers is now very prevalent in Liberia. Children are now use as bread winners for their families.

Children are exploited in the worst forms of child labor in Liberia, many of them in hazardous work. A number of working children are engaged in agriculture where they may work long hours, perform physically arduous tasks, use dangerous tools, and face a high risk of occupational injury. On some rubber plantations, children are commonly employed to tap rubber trees, clear brush, and carry buckets.2899Children work in stone cutting and the mining of natural resources, including alluvial diamonds and gold. Children are also employed as domestic servants. In such work, they may work long hours and their isolation in homes may put them at risk of physical and sexual harassment. Children transport heavy loads as porters, truck loaders, and sand baggers, and some children are employed to carry imported goods from Côte d’Ivoire into Liberia and load them onto commercial trucks. Children are also employed as domestic servants. In such work, they may work long hours and their isolation in homes may put them at risk of physical and sexual harassment. Children, especially girls, engage in prostitution. Some children are trafficked within and outside of Liberia for domestic service and exploitive labor. (United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of International Labor Affairs)

Above all else, if Ellen Johnson Sirleaf government fail to still away from broad day dishonesty and corruption as was intellectually outlined in the article and strategically use aids given the country for the benefits of the Liberian people and stop playing game with the Liberian people, the patients of the Liberian populace will run out.

The average citizens of Liberia are not benefiting from the huge international support as testament of the huge unemployment rate in the country. Government focus should now be directed to the deplorable health sectors and combat early deaths in Liberia. Press freedom in Liberia should not be a privilege but rather a must and the chief editor of the FrontPage Africa Mr. Rodney Sieh should be release from penitentiary in the true spirit of reconciliation. The justice System in Liberia should be revamp so the citizens of Liberia can have faith in the Justice system. Government should invest in the competency of the Judges and public defenders. The government of Liberia must have the political will to prosecute corrupt government officials regardless of family tide or personal interest and justice should not be selective. Our sisters and future mothers should see the government as a safe heaven and say no to sex-trade. Government should establish social service programs for our vulnerable sisters and future Mothers.

 

About author:

Dashward A. Wumah is a political commentator and activist. He holds a degree in Police Science from the Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota, degree in Criminal Justice from the North Hennepin Community College, Certificate in Law-enforcement, Minneapolis Community and Technical College/ Center for Criminal Justice and Law-enforcement, all of the United States of America. He can be contacted at politicaldash@yahoo.com, Cell 763-400-6828

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