More on Arcelor Mittal "Gift"
What is the Value of a Liberian Legislator - A Mitsubishi Pickup?
Sunday, September 21, 2008
By Emmanuel Abalo
The present Liberian administration has in recent times been buffeted on all sides by allegations of corruption, malfeasance and "crocrogee" dealings involving some former and current government higher-ups; and in some instances, trusted associates of the president. Although we want to unequivocally state that there is no evidence that President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is directly accused of any of these improprieties.
The latest is news emanating from Capitol Hill in Monrovia early this week that a major business venture, Arcelor Mittal Steel has donated 100 Mitsubishi vehicles to the Executive Mansion, and these have been turned over to the country's lawmakers and members of the National Legislature for use.
Some of the legislators couldn't wait to test drive the vehicles in the parking lot of the Capitol Building while sporting broad smiles and glee at their latest acquisition.
The official pronouncement of government is that there would be zero tolerance for corruption in the Sirleaf Administration, and took steps to fight corruption. The same National Legislature just passed a National Anti-Corruption Bill which was just signed into law, and the new anti- Corruption Commissioner czar's staff have not even found an office building in Monrovia yet to begin work, and the legislators have started accepting "gifts"?
In fact the irony is that some members of civil society groups and the opposition had voiced concern about the preferment of the Anti-Corruption Commission czar, Counselor Frances Johnson Morris less than a week ago claiming that her preferment lacked broad-based consultation, nepotism and cronyism, had called for her non-confirmation. But less than a week ago, the Commissioner got the nod instead from the Senate.
Why would Arcelor Mittal Steel Company purposefully present such "gifts" to the government, and why has some members of the National Legislature exercised poor judgment in acceptance, while the international community whose development dollars continue to flow to the country watch in amazement at governance in Liberia.
What would prompt the Arcelotr Mittal Steel Company to even make such an offer? On the other hand it is for Arcelor Mittal Steel Company to offer the gifts, but it is for the government and lawmakers to do the right thing and either refuse acceptance due to the perception of "bribery or impropriety," and divert the use of the vehicles to much needed programs and agencies and institutions such as the University of Liberia, the John F. Kennedy Hospital and leeward county medical practitioners or such.
No one is impugning the integrity of the honorable legislators except that the perception of "quid pro quo" now looms even larger. The Krio proverb says " When crocodile runs from rain, he'll fall into the water." The correlation is that if government is sagging under allegations of rampant corruption, even as admitted by the Chief Executive, it doesn't make sense for a branch of government to be seen as accepting such "gifts."
And so we challenge the Honorable Legislators to issue a statement refusing such gifts and maintain their integrity, or donate the vehicles to other agencies of government that are in dire need of such.
Let us not be tempted to place a cheap value on on our lawmakers or invoke the term "Mistubishi Pick-up legislators
Emmanuel Abalo is an exiled Liberian journalist, media and human rights activist, and a former Acting President of the Press Union of Liberia (PUL). He now resides in Pennsylavnia, USA and serves as News Director of WRAR-96 Internet radio on www.runningafrica.com.