A visiting American diplomat has rallied Liberians to resent and stand against individuals and politicians stealing the nation’s wealth and rendering them poor.
US Under Secretary of State for African Affairs, Ambassador Linda Thomas Greenfield said Monday in Monrovia that increased corruption has stalled economic development in Liberia and that the country will only be developed when theft of public resources is stamped.
Addressing students of the African Methodist Episcopal University, the US diplomat explained that the menace has undermined Liberia’s standing causing the country to lag behind its neighbors in the Mano River Union region – Guinea, Sierra Leone and the Ivory Coast.
Greenfield who served as United States Ambassador to Liberia implored the country’s citizens to fight corruption at all levels.
“All of us should work to stop people from using political connections to fill their bank accounts and build their mansions. We have to fight corruption,” the US under Secretary of State blasted.
She expressed sorrow at Liberia’s economic and human development rating, which the World Bank report for 2016, puts at 179 out of 189 countries. “Liberia is way at the bottom, and this is not good enough,” Ms. Greenfield lamented.
To address Liberia’s infrastructure problems such as roads, electricity and the school system the US envoy said US$257 million has been approved.
“The fund will also be used for rehabilitation of the Mt. Coffee [HYDRO PLANT] when that plan is fulfilled, Liberia will be in the position to supply electricity in and beyond Liberia”.
Ambassador Greenfield pointed out that at present, Liberia has one of the lowest access to electricity ratings with 6.7% of the country’s 4.5 million population having access to electricity.
The American Diplomat’s anti corruption statement is being made amidst renewed bribery scandal involving top current and former government officials.
A Global Witness has uncovered over US$950,000 in bribes and other suspicious payments by UK mining firm Sable Mining and its Liberian lawyer, Varney Sherman. Responding to Global Witness’ findings, the government has pledged to investigate and hold those culpable to account.
The report, The Deceivers (1), shows how in 2010 Sable hired Varney Sherman, Liberia’s best-connected lawyer and current Chairman of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s Unity Party, in an effort to secure one of Liberia’s last large mining assets, the Wologizi iron ore concession in northern Liberia. Sherman told Sable that in order to obtain the contract the company must first get Liberia’s concessions law changed by bribing senior officials, according to a source familiar with the discussions. The account is backed up by leaked emails and company documents seen by Global Witness.
According to the documents, Sherman then began distributing Sable’s money to some of Liberia’s most important government officials.
“Sable and Sherman paid bribes in order to change Liberia’s law and get their hands on one of its most prized assets, the Wologizi concession,” said Jonathan Gant, Senior Campaigner with Global Witness. “The government must act fast and investigate Sable, Sherman, and the officials they paid.”
The Sirleaf administration is investigating the mater but Senator Varney Sherman, the presumptive kingpin in the scandal says not even a death sentence will make him disclose what he did for Sable Mining.