Monday, 2 May 2011

Open Letter to US and EU Ambassadors Accredited to Liberia

Dear Ambassadors Greenfield and Pacifici:
I have chosen to write you in this manner because I believe, as stakeholders in Liberia’s recovery and development also do, that the issue of corruption and the need to have an independent, committed, relentless and un-compromising person to fight this menace which manifests itself in faulty systems and controls is supreme to the overall interest of the Liberian public. There are too many Liberians, including Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), media, youths and students groups, religious community, marketers—I mean every well meaning Liberians—who continue to be frustrated by the fact that mismanagement, corruption, abuse of public resources, unemployment, graft, lack of basic social services, under development and exploitation continue to keep Liberians in abject poverty and make them vulnerable to armed conflict and premature death.  
Let me say kudos to you for your incessant endeavors to ensure proper fiscal management and accountability for the Liberian people and your countries’ taxpayers’ monies here in Liberia. I particularly thank you for the recruitment under the Governance Economic Management Assistance Program (GEMAP) and with European Union (EU) financial support to the position of Auditor General under the no-nonsense and unbending Battlefield Commander General against CORRUPTION, John S. Morlu, who upheld during his tenure your trust and expectation and who effectively executed the scope of work description required by his contract and keeping Liberian people’s trust and confidence by his demonstration of high integrity and principle. Truly, he worked tooth and nail and to the last atom of his strength amid fierce resistance for four years from some of the same government and government officials only to protect taxpayers’ monies.
And so I was not surprise when you, Madam Greenfiled, US Ambassador to Liberia, held a special program on April 26, 2011 in honor of outgoing Auditor General Morlu for his dedication and unyielding stance to protect public resources and to effectuate efficient systems and controls that will also protect donors’ funding. Your honor indeed showed a mark of respect and appreciation of his work and I join all meaningful Liberians to heartily commend you for this and to also extol him for his hard work striving to ensure improved financial management in Liberia through limiting the opportunity for corruption and faulty systems and controls.
Also, it was never a surprise to me when few months back a Senior US State Department official praised the work of Morlu in tracking government revenue as efficient and thorough.
Moreover, it was never a surprise to me either when European Union (EU) , through you, Ambassador Attiloi Pacific few months   back  visited   GAC  and  expressed unwavering commitment and support to  Morlu  for the high level work being done  for the Government and people of Liberia in safeguarding  the appropriate use  of public funds and increasingly effectuating systems and controls in Government ministries , agencies, public corporations, bureaus, autonomous commission, etc.

As I can vividly recall during your visit to the GAC, you expressed willingness to support Morlu because of the outstanding and high work in the fight to cleanse Liberia from the virus of fraud, waste, fiscal improprieties and abuse of resources that have existed for centuries.
Never was it a surprise to me either when 24 January 2011 Annual Message to the 52ND National Legislature of the Republic of Liberia, our President lauded the unwavering commitment and dedication and the fearless effort of the Commission operating in an independent way under Morlu’s direction without fear from the powers that be   protecting public resources and proffering recommendations for effective and efficient system and control reforms.
Also I was never surprised when the Search for Common Ground/Talking Drum Studio of Liberia in its 2010 Survey on Public Perception and knowledge on Corruption on the General Auditing Commission (GAC) shows that 93.4% of those sampled either ‘agree’ or ‘strongly agree’ that “public confidence in the government under AG Morlu has increased since the creation of the GAC.” In addition, 70% of the individuals surveyed feel that the actions of the GAC under Morlu are reducing corruption in Liberia.
And so it was never a surprise when the University of Liberia Student Union (ULSU), Liberia Student Union (LINSU) and the Federation of Liberia Youth (FLY); jointly  catalogued Morlu’s accomplishments in 20 counts  anxiously asking President Sirleaf to re-nominate Morlu.
And never was it a surprise when Open Budget Index highly praised Morlu for openness of the National Budget, which was once a taboo or sacred document and when Global Integrity rated the General Auditing Commission under Morlu of Liberia in 2009 as the most highly performing Government institution as well as the Collaborative Africa Budget Reform Initiative (CABRI) also recognized the efforts our hard work and effort in budget and aid transparency.
Really so it was not a surprise when the Press Union of Liberia(PUL), quotes: “The President has the right to exercise her constitutional powers, but the people too have the right to question their president when they feel that that power has not been exercised in the supreme national interest… the President needs to be told that she has withdrawn  a fearless general from the battle field when this “public enemy” called corruption is attacking on all fronts and crippling the development of the citizens.”
Never was it a surprise when the head of Liberia Democratic Institute (NDI) Dan Saryee added his voice: "The controversy that attended the AG re-nomination debate coupled with the president’s decision represents unfortunate missteps in the fight against corruption by the political regime. More besides, we strongly think it’s rather the tactical differences of AG Morlu which the President described as needless distraction and controversy that rather influenced the President’s decision rather than the email.”
And was not a surprise when  Global Witness, recently wrote President Sirleaf  that it was pleased with  “the quality of audits conducted by the General Auditing Commission (GAC) under the leadership of John Morlu and is concerned that the great work of the Commission may be jeopardized by Mr Morlu’s departure.
What surprises me most are listed below:
1.      When I just read in one of the media outlets that our President during cabinet meeting last week said in order to dispel public misperception about the non-renewal of the hard working and committed Auditor General Morlu contract, she instructed the Ministry of Planning and Economics Affairs to engage both of you, US and the European Union (EU) to vet for the vacant position of Auditor General following her personal reasons she proffered not to re-nominate him.
2.     That   Jafian consortium, a   composition of reported former corruption gurus during the Taylor years, is contracted by Government to recruit the new AG.
3.      That Morlu has never been convicted by court for gross nonfeasance and neither there has been any medical judgment or report on his mental and physical disability and also there is no prove of the professional judgment of incompetency on the part of Morlu since Section 35.2 of the 1972 Executive Law of Liberia creating the General Auditing Commission (GAC) proffers that the Auditor-General shall be  eligible for re-appointment and that the Auditor-General shall be removed by the President for gross malfeasance or gross nonfeasance in office for mental or physical disability or incompetence, but the President do not want him for the next tenure.
4.     And lastly   when President Sirleaf March 25, 2011, said she will not re-nominate Morlu not for any professional, concrete, viable and overall interest of the Liberian people but rather summed her reasons   on four grounds of what she referred to as “… indictment that our Government was three times more corrupt than its predecessors, even before he officially commissioned his very first audit…disagreements over his mode of operation…needless distractions and controversies…the Office of the President demand a certain amount of respect…”
Frankly I want you to be aware that this is a trap, a complete setup if both bodies take part in the recruitment of the new AG. If you do, you will be legitimizing a process that has begun wrongly and it is just a pretense and sham and you are just needed to add good name and value to a flawed   process whose conclusion as per the recruitment  is foreknown . You will definitely be blamed by the Liberian people and the very government when it comprised new auditor general who will obviously work at the “yes sir ma” appeasement of our President--pleasing the president’s sole interest than the overall interest of Liberians.
Why do you have to bother to recruit another person who you will find  difficult to trust and work with when you in fact  continue  to have  explicit and overwhelming  confidence  and trust in your own Morlu who you  competitively recruited  and  who  is fresh, energetic, ever focus, uncompromising to always and for all times  exactly do the job to the letter  without fear ,favor, foes and friends in protecting public resources and effectuating systems and controls.
What any reasonable person  in your situation could reasonably do as you stay have vast interest in the fiscal reform and management of  our country Liberia is to maintain and insist that  your choice, Morlu be re-nominated or you back out from the process and allow our president to recruit  on her own as she already started  to get her best wish of controlling an AG; manipulating, deciding how audit reports be done and what to publish or not to publish at all, deciding not to conduct audit at all or what audit to conduct and who to clear or not to clear from audit reports.
What any reasonable person could also do for best practice and succession purpose  is to insist to  President Sirleaf , other than Morlu that Mr. Winsley S. Nanka, who is currently acting Auditor General to be the Auditor General proper instead of just acting for few months and recruiting another new person. Nanka, served for over three years under Morlu as Deputy Auditor General of Audit Service. He meets all the requirements of EU used in the recruitment of AG Morlu such as having high experience in auditing and accountant with relevant international recognition like CPA and Certified Fraud Examiner. He has impeccable personal and professional character, integrity and standing and has proven over the years to his staff having a unique track record in heading a large audit departments and familiar with the commission works and functions. EU requirements, if  you go by this , Nanka is eligible since also EU indicates, the Auditor General in performance of his duties should not be subject to the control or direction of any person or authority. Nanka will definitely be independent and committed to protect public resources and work hardly with his auditors like was done by his previous boss and win the confidence and trust of his staff and international community and will make the international community and the Liberian people to repose confidence in the government on a serious corruption war declared by President Sirleaf.
Other than this, allow the President to use the business-as usual approach- forget about Morlu and Nanka or any other person from the General Auditing Commission.  Reasonably, this is the easiest approach for the President to just hand pick any other person without going through the headache of another vetting process. She has the wide widow to do so. At least by hand picking her new AG, our President will be free and relax since her handpicked new AG will dance, play, laugh, walk and talk to her tone  and say “ Ellen administration is 1million times free of corruption, 1million times   free from faulty systems and controls and is 1million times perfect and perfect and that there will  always be agreements over the new AG mode of operation and there will also be smooth distractions and smooth  controversies and  always “yes sir ma”  respectful answers from her new AG.
EU and   US ambassadors, the caveat is understandably clear in black and white!  You will either have to take part in days, weeks, months or years every time in a recruitment process for a new AG once there is a disagreement between the AG and the President or you have to insist to maintain the person you recruited or back out of the process, or insist on retaining Nanka or you allow our President to do her own recruitment easily.
Thanks so much.
Ernest S. Maximore
Director of Communications
General Auditing Commission (GAC)



Ministry of Education Deserves Pat on the Back for Program seeking to make writings of fame Liberian authors requirement in the classroom

THE ADVENT of years of civil war has seen Liberians from all walks of life pen their tales of how the survive a devastating period which left their homeland in shambles.
FOR YEARS, prior to the war, Liberian classrooms at both the high school and college level were marshaled by stories about Liberia told from the perspective of Europeans and Americans.
VERY FEW STORIES told by Liberians made it into the classrooms. Now, it appears all that is about to change.
THE MINISTRY OF EDUCATION in collaboration with the United Nations International Children’s Fund(UNICEF) is embarking on a program to have Liberia authors’ books instituted in the syllabuses of Liberian schools.
WE APPLAUD Minister Othello Gongar and the Ministry for undertaken such a unique program and open a window of opportunity for bonafide and talented Liberian writers to showcase their work.
ADDRESSING THE LAUNCHING of the Albert and Bertha Porte Foundation in Paynesville on Sunday, May 1, 2011, the minster averred that the ministry is looking to shape a new focus on Liberian writers. “We are working in collaboration with the Liberian Writers Association to acquire books written by Liberians,” the minister said.
TO DATE, according to Minister Gongar, the ministry has acquired the writings of the late Bai T. Moore’s Murder in the Casava Patch and Ebony Dust along with The Obituary of Hawa Barchue.
THE ACQUISITION comes in the wake of one of the biggest problems facing post-war Liberia: The absence of  a reading culture to keep youngsters and students busy, especially after school.
THE MINISTRY’S support to the Albert and Bertha Porte Foundation shows that there is at least a willingness on the part of the government to improve the learning landscape of a post-war nation lagging behind the rest of the world in reading.
WE HOPE that the ministry will work diligently to encourage each and every school in Liberia to adopt a reading culture and if possible work with UNICEF and other international organizations to ensure that each and every school in Liberia has a library.
LIBRARY MUST become a mandatory requirement for schools and government must introduce mandatory library time in schools at least once a day.
TOO MANY of our youngsters are wasting their after-school time on the streets selling goods when they should be home studying or in the library reading.
IF LIBERIA is to conquer the post-war fear of reading, we must all contribute our part to ensure that our children take to reading again. But it begins with the willingness of all to play a role. The introduction of the writings of Liberian authors in our schools shows that the government and the Ministry of Education is ready to give a platform to talented writers but the schools too must play a role in making sure that the quest for reading culture is a worthy one where are children and grandchildren will once again feel the urge to read without being told to pick up a book.
THE CULTURE of reading begins and ends with Liberia embracing its own, writers who would have otherwise been forgotten to the pages of history and trapped in the sands of forgotten time.

We at the ministry has been look at libraries, not just for books but for books printed by Liberians, produced by Liberians and are focused on Liberians. We  are working in collaboration with the Liberian Writers Association to acquire books written by Liberians. Today, the ministry has acquired the book, Murder in the Casava Patch.  The ministry will beginning this week send fifty copies of Murder in the Casava Patch to the Library.  And as we acquire more of those books written by Liberians, we will keep the library on the list. In collaboration with UNICEF, we are printing the books of Liberian writers. Some of the books now on request include Ebony Dust, The Obituary of Hawa Barchue and Jelemon by Dr. Sherman. We have those on request and as we complete printing we will send fifty copies to the library. This is our meager contribution to preserve the legacy of a giant.

This government inherited a country devastated by war. The focus is on building a foundation and the foundation is still being built. So as we try to build the foundation, we must now move away from secondary education to post-secondary education. We hope that as we move on that we will be able to restore the years that the war took away.


Celebration Now, Fear Tomorrow

Joy Now, Yet Fear Tomorrow: Americans’ Voices on Bin Laden’s Death

Nat Bayjay, (Temporary US #: 202-445-3622)
Trenton, New Jersey, United States-
On the night that Americans celebrated the death of the man who masterminded the worst terror attack against their country nearly 10 years ago, some have mixed the jubilation with fear.

Stephen White, a resident of Trenton who joined the jubilations in the city whose celebrations were far below those in Washington, DC’s White House and New York City’s Ground Zero and Times Square was quick in re-calming himself as he predicted a reprisal attack from the Al-Qaida network and its allies.

"I am celebrating tonight but I fear for tomorrow," said White.

On Sunday, at exactly 11:35pm Eastern US time, President Barrack Obama announced the death of Osama bin Laden, head of the Al-Qaida terror network.

President Obama: “Good evening. Tonight, I can report to the American people and to the world, the United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of al Qaeda, and a terrorist who's responsible for the murder of thousands of innocent men, women, and children.”
The news was greeted with immediate jubilations across the US throughout Sunday night up to Monday morning.

Here are views of other Americans on the aftermath of Bin Laden’s death.

Glad this is the end of the Al-Qaida leader Mason Wright, 33, recalled his days as a student at American University in Washington, DC said:"I was in D.C. during 9/11. It's hard to believe, 10 years later, it's over”.

Twenty-two years-old Juhie Butt, a student at the Princeton University in New Jersey said it is only about celebrating a man’s death but the over 3,000 Americans who lost their lives: "It's terrible to sit here and celebrate someone's death, but to the thousands of lives that were lost -- it's finally come to an end".

Alan Comar, 29, believed it is the greatest moment of a few moments: "There's very few of those got-to-be-there moments," said the Washington resident, who worked as a contractor in Afghanistan. "This is one of them."

But for Rick Uphoff, the fact it is his nation most affected by the terror king’s attack that excites him the most: "I'm glad it was us who nailed him”.

Dustin Swensson, who recently served in Iraq, echoed those comments, calling the news ‘historic’: "(I'll) always remember where I was when the towers went down and I'm always going to remember where I am now."

Bob Gibson, a retired New York police officer, said the news of bin Laden's death gave him a sense of "closure”: "I never thought this night would come that we would capture or kill bin Laden," he said. "And thank the Lord he has been eliminated."

One former New York firefighter forced to retire due to lung ailments suffered as a result of the dust from ground zero said he was there to let the 343 firefighters who died in the attacks know "they didn't die in vain."
"It's a war that I feel we just won," he said. "I'm down here to let them know that justice has been served."

Jim Riches, who lost his firefighter son Jimmy when the World Trade Center's north tower collapsed, said he was gratified when he learned of bin Laden's death: "(My) son still isn't coming home," he told CNN. "(There's) no closure, but at last, at least some justice for the murder of 3,000 Americans, finally."

Former US leaders wasted no time in putting out their statements on the issue. For the man who began the initiative of hunting Bin Laden, the moment was a ‘momentous achievement’: “Earlier this evening, President Obama called to inform me that American forces killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of the al-Qaida network that attacked America on September 11, 2001. I congratulated him and the men and women of our military and intelligence communities who devoted their lives to this mission. They have our everlasting gratitude. This momentous achievement marks a victory for America, for people who seek peace around the world, and for all those who lost loved ones on September 11, 2001. The fight against terror goes on, but tonight America has sent an unmistakable message: No matter how long it takes, justice will be done.”
"I congratulate the president, the national security team and the members of our armed forces on bringing Osama bin Laden to justice after more than a decade of murderous al-Qaida attacks”, added former President Bill Clinton.
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi of California said: "As we approach the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, I hope that today's action provides some comfort to the 9/11 families who lost loved ones in the devastating attacks on our shores. Though the death of Osama bin Laden is historic, it does not diminish our relentless pursuit of terrorists who threaten our country”.
Full Transcript of President Obama:
“Good evening. Tonight, I can report to the American people and to the world, the United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of al Qaeda, and a terrorist who's responsible for the murder of thousands of innocent men, women, and children.
It was nearly 10 years ago that a bright September day was darkened by the worst attack on the American people in our history. The images of 9/11 are seared into our national memory -- hijacked planes cutting through a cloudless September sky; the Twin Towers collapsing to the ground; black smoke billowing up from the Pentagon; the wreckage of Flight 93 in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where the actions of heroic citizens saved even more heartbreak and destruction.
And yet we know that the worst images are those that were unseen to the world. The empty seat at the dinner table. Children who were forced to grow up without their mother or their father. Parents who would never know the feeling of their child's embrace. Nearly 3,000 citizens taken from us, leaving a gaping hole in our hearts.
On September 11, 2001, in our time of grief, the American people came together. We offered our neighbors a hand, and we offered the wounded our blood. We reaffirmed our ties to each other, and our love of community and country. On that day, no matter where we came from, what God we prayed to, or what race or ethnicity we were, we were united as one American family.
We were also united in our resolve to protect our nation and to bring those who committed this vicious attack to justice. We quickly learned that the 9/11 attacks were carried out by al Qaeda -- an organization headed by Osama bin Laden, which had openly declared war on the United States and was committed to killing innocents in our country and around the globe. And so we went to war against al Qaeda to protect our citizens, our friends, and our allies.
Over the last 10 years, thanks to the tireless and heroic work of our military and our counterterrorism professionals, we've made great strides in that effort. We've disrupted terrorist attacks and strengthened our homeland defense. In Afghanistan, we removed the Taliban government, which had given bin Laden and al Qaeda safe haven and support. And around the globe, we worked with our friends and allies to capture or kill scores of al Qaeda terrorists, including several who were a part of the 9/11 plot.
Yet Osama bin Laden avoided capture and escaped across the Afghan border into Pakistan. Meanwhile, al Qaeda continued to operate from along that border and operate through its affiliates across the world.
And so shortly after taking office, I directed Leon Panetta, the director of the CIA, to make the killing or capture of bin Laden the top priority of our war against al Qaeda, even as we continued our broader efforts to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat his network.
Then, last August, after years of painstaking work by our intelligence community, I was briefed on a possible lead to bin Laden. It was far from certain, and it took many months to run this thread to ground. I met repeatedly with my national security team as we developed more information about the possibility that we had located bin Laden hiding within a compound deep inside of Pakistan. And finally, last week, I determined that we had enough intelligence to take action, and authorized an operation to get Osama bin Laden and bring him to justice.
Today, at my direction, the United States launched a targeted operation against that compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. A small team of Americans carried out the operation with extraordinary courage and capability. No Americans were harmed. They took care to avoid civilian casualties. After a firefight, they killed Osama bin Laden and took custody of his body.
For over two decades, bin Laden has been al Qaeda's leader and symbol, and has continued to plot attacks against our country and our friends and allies. The death of bin Laden marks the most significant achievement to date in our nation's effort to defeat al Qaeda.
Yet his death does not mark the end of our effort. There's no doubt that al Qaeda will continue to pursue attacks against us. We must --- and we will -- remain vigilant at home and abroad.
As we do, we must also reaffirm that the United States is not --- and never will be --- at war with Islam. I've made clear, just as President Bush did shortly after 9/11, that our war is not against Islam. Bin Laden was not a Muslim leader; he was a mass murderer of Muslims. Indeed, al Qaeda has slaughtered scores of Muslims in many countries, including our own. So his demise should be welcomed by all who believe in peace and human dignity.
Over the years, I've repeatedly made clear that we would take action within Pakistan if we knew where bin Laden was. That is what we've done. But it's important to note that our counterterrorism cooperation with Pakistan helped lead us to bin Laden and the compound where he was hiding. Indeed, bin Laden had declared war against Pakistan as well, and ordered attacks against the Pakistani people.
Tonight, I called President Zardari, and my team has also spoken with their Pakistani counterparts. They agree that this is a good and historic day for both of our nations. And going forward, it is essential that Pakistan continue to join us in the fight against al Qaeda and its affiliates.
The American people did not choose this fight. It came to our shores, and started with the senseless slaughter of our citizens. After nearly 10 years of service, struggle, and sacrifice, we know well the costs of war. These efforts weigh on me every time I, as commander in chief, have to sign a letter to a family that has lost a loved one, or look into the eyes of a service member who's been gravely wounded.
So Americans understand the costs of war. Yet as a country, we will never tolerate our security being threatened, nor stand idly by when our people have been killed. We will be relentless in defense of our citizens and our friends and allies. We will be true to the values that make us who we are. And on nights like this one, we can say to those families who have lost loved ones to al Qaeda's terror: Justice has been done.
Tonight, we give thanks to the countless intelligence and counterterrorism professionals who've worked tirelessly to achieve this outcome. The American people do not see their work, nor know their names. But tonight, they feel the satisfaction of their work and the result of their pursuit of justice.
We give thanks for the men who carried out this operation, for they exemplify the professionalism, patriotism, and unparalleled courage of those who serve our country. And they are part of a generation that has borne the heaviest share of the burden since that September day.
Finally, let me say to the families who lost loved ones on 9/11 that we have never forgotten your loss, nor wavered in our commitment to see that we do whatever it takes to prevent another attack on our shores.
And tonight, let us think back to the sense of unity that prevailed on 9/11. I know that it has, at times, frayed. Yet today's achievement is a testament to the greatness of our country and the determination of the American people.
The cause of securing our country is not complete. But tonight, we are once again reminded that America can do whatever we set our mind to. That is the story of our history, whether it's the pursuit of prosperity for our people, or the struggle for equality for all our citizens; our commitment to stand up for our values abroad, and our sacrifices to make the world a safer place.
Let us remember that we can do these things not just because of wealth or power, but because of who we are: one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
Thank you. May God bless you. And may God bless the United States of America.”