The 4 years tenure of John S. Morlu, Auditor General (AG) of Liberia has been entangled with controversies and challenges. He came under immense criticisms when he declared “the Sirleaf's administration is three times more corrupt than her predecessors”; when he had not even conducted his first audit on the administration. Morlu was accused of breaking a door at the Roberts International Airport (RIA) on his way to the United States of America and was interrogated by security officers at the airport. The Auditor General was also accused of sexual harassment by one of his entry level employees at the General Auditing Commission (GAC).
Morlu to some extent was able to withstand the test of time in the midst of heavy criticisms, different forms of allegations levied against him by his critics. Morlu four years war on corruption in Liberia, as Auditor General was like being in hell, a place described by the Holy Bible as a bottomless pit and a place of torment and everlasting suffering.
Nominated by the President of the Republic of Liberia in January 2007, confirmed by the National Legislature in February of the same year and took over the mantle of authority of the commission in March 2007; Morlu has done great job at the GAC by conducting audits of government ministries and agencies which helped the nation reached the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative completion point and instrumental in building the human resource capacity of the commission by the provision of scholarships to 40 plus staff of the commission to African Universities, European Universities and American Universities and the promotion of GAC staff based on merit system and performance.
Pundits have also criticized the frontline commander of the President Sirleaf's war on corruption for only auditing the Executive Branch of government, thereby leaving the Judiciary and Legislative Branches of government, which are not immune from audits under our laws. They argued, if Morlu attempts to commission an audit on the National Legislature; the Legislature would also commission an audit on the GAC; thereby making Morlu and his team to account for about 14Million United States Dollars place in government's budget over the fiscal years since he was commissioned as AG of Liberia.
His war on corruption will forever be remembered in Liberia's history and his name will go down in history as one of the most controversial Auditor Generals the country has ever had. Not only for his indictment on an administration without conducting his first audit, but also his comments to President Sirleaf in his last days in office by calling on “President Sirleaf to cut off her dogs or else he is coming back for a drawn out battle, straight to 2012 and will take the fight to the mansion as he did in 2007 and 2010” (RE: Tuesday, March 22, 2011; FrontPage Africa Newspaper and Wednesday, March 23, 2011; Analyst Newspaper).
The above statement by unelected Auditor General Morlu did not only warrant an indefinite suspension by his boss, but only needed President Sirleaf to walk at the offices of the General Auditing Commission to immediately relieve Morlu off his post without even reading a clause in the GAC Personnel Policy or the Act that created the commission. His comments were not only disrespectful and immature, but send out a clear message to Liberians that the Auditor General has violated his professional ethics.
John S. Morlu did not exercise restraint as a professional but vented out his anger after a pressure group called on President Sirleaf to not renew his contract, which is a normal phenomenon in Liberia when people called on their leaders when issues of concerns arise; this we think is democracy in the new Liberia.
He could have ignored the group and conducted himself professionally in order to be re-nominated by President Sirleaf for the post of Auditor General and walk away with his monthly check of US$15,000.00 (source: www.theperspective.org - GAC Provides Clarity on Incorrect Salaries Comparison Between AG Morlu, Others; December 31, 2009) in a poverty torn country, with population of 3.5 million inhabitants and poverty rate at 64%. We are aware that his salary is not being paid from the Liberian government's budget, but it is being paid by the European Union (EU). The union has taken their tax payers' money for four years under an agreement with the government of Liberia to recruit a professional Auditor General in President Sirleaf's administration.
To some extent, the president was even embarrassed about Morlu's Job Performance and she had to express her frustration in her Friday, March 25, 2011 press release on his re-nomination issue posted on the Executive Mansion website (RE: `Auditor General John Morlu will not be renominated'- www.emansion.gov.lr). President Sirleaf confessed that she and her team “did not always agree with the way Mr. Morlu performed his job, including an indictment that our Government was three times more corrupt than its predecessors, even before he officially commissioned his very first audit”.
During this election year, President Sirleaf was finding a quiet and smart way to kick Morlu out of the GAC, but could not lay her hand on a strategy. Even the Federation of Liberian Youth (FLY) and the Liberia National Student Union (LINSU) had cautioned and warned the president to re-nominate Morlu. Unfortunately, Morlu paved a way for his own exit from the GAC after threatening the presidency with a drawn out battle, when scrutinize legally is a crime under our laws.
We are also aware that Liberians at all levels will greet Morlu's re-nomination saga with mix reaction, because he is seen as the most powerful anti corruption hero, but the decision by the president was legal and right. It is legal because the constitution of Liberia gives the president the mandate to appoint and dismiss ministers and heads of autonomous agencies. Also under the government agreement with the EU, after 4 years Liberia will assume responsibilities of his monthly salary. We think the government cannot afford to waste this huge amount in the midst of priorities identified in Liberia's Poverty Reduction Strategy Document. It is right because Morlu as an unelected official of government has disrespected the office of the president.
Some Liberians will also confuse the public that he is the only capable person for the job of an Auditor General and the fight against corruption is over. We think, they will be propounding a faulty proposition which they will not be able to defend with reasons and evidences to support such proposition. There are so many qualify Liberians who can perform equal to or better than Morlu for the post of Auditor General of Liberia.
The war on corruption is not yet over with the office of the president stating that “Morlu Will Not Be Re-nominated”. In fact, corruption cannot be fought by an individual, neither by an institution. With collective efforts we can succeed and with the formulation of anti corruption legislations, policies and institutions. That is why this government has supported and restructured the General Auditing Commission; establish the Liberia Anti Corruption Commission (LACC), fought for the passages of the Freedom of Information Act (FOI), the Public Financial Management Act and an Executive Order to protect Whistle Blowers in Liberia.
What is left on the part of the Executive Mansion and President Sirleaf is to continue the fight against corruption by making sure to prosecute alleged corrupt officials who have been booked by the audits conducted by the GAC and implement the recommendations of the 40 plus audit reports submitted to her.