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President's Signature Still Has Power

The admission of the president that her signature was forged in the scheme that transferred one million US dollars from the Central Bank of Liberia to a private account at ECO Bank speaks to the sad reality that the president’s signature still has the power to do anything. If you notice, the flag that was raised at the Central Bank after the fact was not whether the President had the right to make the transaction but whether it was the Mrs. Sirleaf herself who ordered the transfer. This was not money from one of the president’s accounts to the other or from her checking account to her saving account but the check in place at the bank was not to check that. It is the president’s signature, end of the story!

I know President Sirleaf has changed a few names here and there and added new ones; she has traveled the World and made speeches to wow her audiences. She has even gone to the extent of writing a book while in office to document her life with a number of should haves and could haves. But it is the system that has not gotten the president’s attention that I am worried about the most. Nothing has changed when it comes to the system within which the country is run. It is still business as usual and that is the part that scares the devil out of me. As someone who has just taken a detour in my academic pursuit so as to go back home, I am scared that this same worn out and corrupt system left untouched may not be able to accommodate me or anyone who has become allergic to still ideas old bad habits. Mrs. Sirleaf was my hope in bringing about a change in the way we do business. She had said everything to make everyone think that way.

With an Ivy League school graduate degree, experience working with the World Bank, and her role as a political activist that earned her the name Iron Lady among other laurels, I would have thought that Mrs. Sirleaf knew what works and what does not work in Liberia. The fact that she has been there when the country bloom and then took a nose dive would put her at a vantage point to see the whole picture for an accurate prognosis. But it is so disappointing to see that no changes have been made to a system that has doomed us over the years. It is so heart breaking that she will get in the paths that led other past Liberian leaders down the pit.

Although she has identified corruption as one thing that is holding the country back and declared it a public enemy, Mrs. Sireaf or her government is yet to define what it sees as corruption so that others who have not gone to Harvard can identify this public enemy when they see it. If corruption is a crime, then it relieves the president of a "fight against corruption" as the the laws take over but we are yet to see clear definitions and ways of dealing with it.

Regrettably, Liberia is still the same. The rule of law does not rein supreme. Instead, the president is still a little god with hiring and firing power that extends even to households and places of worship. The President decides what should be done to corrupt officials and other criminals – if the president declares you innocent, you are free indeed! People are still dropping dirt anywhere at anytime; people still don’t have the discipline to board a bus or taxi in an orderly fashion or wait for their turns in waiting room. Sanitation workers are still dumping and burning garbage in residential areas and market places. Government officials with overseas traveling experience are still top notch in town. The police and other law enforcement officers are still taking bribes and coerced tips as forms of income. People in higher positions are at liberty to employ whoever they want without any due regard to equal employment opportunities. Some civil servants have become civil masters; public service is still not a place for service but to make money and people who “don’t make money” while they are in top positions are still thought of as “stupid.” There has been no effort to assure the people that their political leaders are not only looking out for their own best interest. There is no assurance that hard work can ever be rewarded in the country. It is still about whom you know, whatever dishonest deal you can strike or go to heaven on earth -America.

Few names can change and relocations can take place every now and then but if the system does not change, all the other changes are useless. It is just like the American politicians said “putting lipstick on a pig.” As then candidate Obama said, “it’s still a pig.”

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