Liberia: Former Minister Opens up on "Ills" in Govt

Former Public Works Minister, Attorney Samuel Kofi Woods, has asserted that the future of Liberia remains jeopardized and threatened if those negative vices that led to the 14-year- civil war continue to show their ugly faces.

Atty. Woods, who is now the Legal Consultant of the Liberia Law Society, observed that such immoral acts like corruption, nepotism and disrespect for one another are still prevalent in the Liberian society, especially in government.

He said even though the country has made significant progress in the stride towards peace, but said majority of the Liberian people continue to live in abject poverty due to the uneven distribution of the country’s wealth.

The former top government official made these assertions on Sunday, August 18, 2013 at program marking the observance of the 10th anniversary of peace organized by the Women in Peacebuilding Network (WIPNET) of the West Africa Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP).

WANEP began in 1998 as a response to the decade-long civil war in Liberia. WANEP works with grassroots organizations doing peacebuilding work. As an umbrella organization, WANEP exists to empower local people working on human rights and peacebuilding projects by creating links between community organizations around Liberia and in 13 other West African countries.

WANEP-Liberia focuses on three main initiatives: a peace education program, a conflict early warning and rapid response program, and the WIPNET. Of these programs, WIPNET is the largest and most vibrant. This is the first time the former Works Minister has made such a public speech since his resignation from government three months ago.

“There are more than 65 concessions signed in this country, but the lives of our people are yet to improve. This is completely regrettable,” said the former Public Works boss.

Atty. Woods furthered that the peace of Liberia will remain fragile unless the Government of Liberia (GoL) headed by the Executive Branch builds a new future where Liberians will have hope of living. He pointed out that total peace remains at stake if the good works of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and the Independent Human Rights Commission (IHRC) continue to be ignored by the GoL.

Commenting on the work of the Legislature, he said the Legislature has over the years continued to work in its “own selfish motive” instead of the people it represents. He averred that the Legislature is the ground for “unfair” bargaining of these concessions that have had any tangible impact on the lives of Liberia.

“When people talk about ills in government, all attentions go directly to the Executive, but there must be concerns about the other branches of government as well, especially the Legislature as well, which have not been doing any justice to the people of Liberia,” the tough talking human rights advocate stated.

The Liberia Law Society Legal Consultant termed as “disappointing” the action of the Legislature to neglect the Decent Work Bill in place of the ‘Political Level Field Bill”, which only benefits only politicians. On the Judiciary, Atty. Woods urged that the law does not only favor the strong against the weak or the rich against the poor, but everyone equally.

“I believe that this country will not have the peace we want except these ills in society especially in government are corrected to the fullest. Ten years of peace must not be celebrated by mere festivities as we are seen around here. There must be something tangible to show that we have peace,” Atty. Woods noted.

“I want to conclude by thanking you, women and the media for your immense contributions to the nation’s peace. To the media, I ask that you continue the campaign for peace and digging out the ills in society that would lead to lasting peace and tranquility,” he added.

For her part, a representative of WIPNET, Rev. Christiana York-Cooper, urged Liberians to know that Liberia is a big family that belongs to everyone regardless the of ethnicity, religious backgrounds and political affiliations.

“If we consider that we all belong to the big family called Liberia, we will not allow our differences to put us aside as one family,” she among other things stated.