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Friday, June 14, 2024

UP GOVERNMENT’S MISINFORMATION CRISIS: PIAH AND BILITY’S CONTRADICTORY STATEMENTS DEEPEN DISTRUST AND EXPOSE IMBALANCE

Date:

LIBERIA – In a troubling turn of events, recent statements by Information Minister Jerolimek Piah have starkly contrasted with those made by Minister of State without Portfolio, Madam Mamaka Bility, raising serious questions about the transparency and credibility of President Joseph Boakai’s administration. Minister Piah’s contradictory remarks about the procurement status of 285 earth-moving machines for road construction have not only disfigured the trust of Liberians in their government but have also exposed potential flaws in the administration’s communication and decision-making processes.

At the UP government’s first cabinet retreat in Monrovia last week, Madam Bility announced that the equipment, including yellow machines and trucks, had already been turned over and were en route to Liberia. This statement was delivered with an air of finality and certainty, suggesting that the procurement process had been completed and that the machines were on their way to bolster the country’s road infrastructure. This news initially brought a glimmer of hope to many Liberians who have long awaited improvements in the nation’s roadways.

However, Minister Piah’s subsequent assertion at the MICAT press briefing on Tuesday, May 28, 2024, claiming that the government had not made a final determination about the procurement of these machines, has cast a shadow of doubt and confusion. Piah described Bility’s earlier pronouncement as merely a briefing for fellow cabinet ministers, not an official declaration. This attempt to downplay Madam Bility’s announcement has raised significant concerns among the public and opposition politicians alike.

What makes critics certain that Piah’s statement is a lie is a post by Sekou Hussein Dukuly, Managing Director of the National Port Authority (NPA), which claimed that $52 million was spent on the equipment, funded by South African businessman Robert Gumede. This raised questions about the transparency of the deal, as Gumede has a reputation for corruption. In his post, NPA Managing Director Dukuly stated, “Thank God! Thank you, President JNB Sr., and thank you, Chairman Robert Gumede of Guma, for trusting our dynamic president JNB Sr. with more than $52M worth of earth-moving equipment. JNB, aka ‘Bad Road Doctor,’ is the only man who can secure a loan like this with no money down. The 2024 budget gave the Ministry of State an allotment to finance these equipment. 25% of our road funds will also help pay for these equipment. There’s no time for politics when it comes to developing Liberia. The president understands the issues of open government, and before the equipment arrives…”

Critics of the Boakai-Koung regime argue that Piah’s statement amounts to a blatant lie and a strategic maneuver by the government to cover up its missteps. The vivid imagery of the earth-moving equipment, prominently displaying the Liberian flag, which was shown during Bility’s presentation, stands in stark contradiction to Piah’s claims of indecision. This visual evidence, coupled with Dukuly’s detailed and enthusiastic post, has only fueled public skepticism and led many to question the integrity of the administration’s communications.

The implications of these contradictory statements are profound. For one, they suggest a troubling lack of coordination and coherence within President Boakai’s cabinet. If key ministers are not aligned on such a significant issue as the procurement of essential infrastructure equipment, it raises serious questions about the overall governance and operational efficiency of the administration.

Moreover, the apparent attempt to retract or downplay the initial announcement by Madam Bility undermines the credibility of the government. Transparency is a cornerstone of good governance, and when the administration appears to waver or obfuscate, it erodes public trust. Liberians are rightfully demanding clarity and honesty from their leaders, especially on matters that directly impact their daily lives and the nation’s development.

The denial by the government, through Minister Piah, is perceived by many as a deliberate effort to obscure the truth. This perception of deceit is damaging not only to the reputation of the current administration but also to the broader democratic process in Liberia. If citizens cannot rely on their government for accurate information, it hampers their ability to make informed decisions and hold their leaders accountable.

Furthermore, the incident highlights a potential weakness in President Boakai’s leadership. As the head of state, Boakai is ultimately responsible for ensuring that his administration operates transparently and effectively. The conflicting statements from his ministers suggest a lack of oversight and control, which could have far-reaching consequences for his presidency.

The Boakai administration must address this issue promptly and decisively. An immediate, clear, and unified statement is needed to rectify the conflicting messages and restore public confidence. President Boakai should also consider implementing more stringent protocols for internal communication and public announcements to prevent such discrepancies in the future.

The conflicting statements by Ministers Piah and Bility, alongside Dukuly’s revealing post, have not only caused confusion but have also damaged the credibility of President Boakai’s administration. The government must act swiftly to clarify the situation and reassure the public of its commitment to transparency and integrity. Failure to do so will only deepen the mistrust among Liberians and hinder the administration’s ability to effectively govern.

President Boakai must take this opportunity to demonstrate strong leadership and accountability. He should initiate a thorough review of the incident and take appropriate actions to prevent recurrence. The future of his administration and the trust of the Liberian people depend on his response to this crisis.

Socrates Smythe Saywon
Socrates Smythe Saywon is a Liberian journalist. You can contact me at 0777425285 or 0886946925, or reach out via email at saywonsocrates@smartnewsliberia.com or saywonsocrates3@gmail.com.

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