Presidential Affairs Minister Nat McGill Justifies Corruption In Weah’s Government
GBARNGA, Bong County – The Minister of State for Presidential Affairs, Nathaniel McGill says he sees nothing wrong with public officials stealing government’s money as long as they are using the stolen money to improve the lives of the citizens.
Minister McGill, in his portfolio, serves as the Chief of Staff of the President and is President Weah’s closest aide. He, along with the President and other officials, mostly members of the President’s inner circle continue to come under staunch criticism for amassing “questionable wealth” since their ascendancy to power.
Addressing a group of women in Gbarnga, Bong County, Minister McGill said although the government is not corrupt, he sees nothing wrong with government’s officials stealing public money to give it back to the citizens to impact their lives and not taking the money out of the country.
“There are people saying oh, the government people stealing the money, even if I were stealing the money and giving it to the Liberian people, that’s not go thing I did? Because at least I am not stealing and carrying it in Europe,” he said.
Further justifying his comments, he said during the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf-led Government, public officials amassed wealth just as current government’s officials are doing, but the difference between the two administrations is, unlike in the past government, officials of this administration are giving their wealth back to the people.
Although Minister McGill, as the President Chief of Staff is no nowhere near the country’s financial institutions, he is often seen on many occasions ditching out huge sum of money, especially in Bong County where it is believed he is building his political based for a post-Weah presidency.
Prior to his recent statement, he accompanied Bong District #3 Representative Marvin Cole to Gbarnga and together, they presented almost L$20 million to group of women who had graduated from the lawmaker’s skill training program. At that event, McGill said he is willing to be prosecuted for doing good.
Call to Fire McGill
Following Minister McGill’s reckless comments, there have been a plethora of calls on President Weah to fire him as a move to distance himself from the his Chief-of-staff’s comments.
Owing to his proximity to President Weah, McGill’s comments may serve as an embarrassment for the President who has been invited by United States President Joe Biden to Washington for the 2022 Summit for Democracy.
This invitation was due to President Weah’s pledge to, among other things, fight corruption and promote the rule of law under his administration during the first Summit which was held in December 2021 virtually due to COVID-19.
The President alluded to the pledges he made during the virtual summit in his January 2022 state of the nation address.
He expressed delight and honor for an invitation from the President of the United States, Joseph R. Biden, Jr., allowing him to be amongst 111 invited countries, including 17 from Africa to participate in the Biden Summit for Democracy, which was held in December 2021.
“In Liberia’s Pledge at the Biden Summit for Democracy, we reiterated our government’s unflinching commitment and support to defending democracy against authoritarianism; fighting corruption, and promoting human rights and good governance,” the Liberian Head of State stated.
“We also made it clear that it is only when democracy is strengthened and defended against dictatorship and authoritarianism; fighting corruption, and promoting human rights that the global political system, including that of Liberia, can be conducive to sustain peace, adhere to the rule of law, uphold freedom of speech, stability and development.”
To review these promises, President Weah has been invited, along with several world leaders by Biden to Washington in December where he is expected to report on the progress of his promises.
CDC Partisan Warns Officials
Meanwhile, the Minister of State for Presidential Affairs’ comments also come in the wake of a staunch warning from an influential member of the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC), Dr. Lester Tenny to officials of the current government.
According to Dr. Tenny, if the CDC-Government does not retain state power, there will be a mass prosecution of current public officials who are being accused of corruption by the new administration.
“We need to be honest with ourselves. We need to be honest with our President because he is the standard bearer of our party,” said Dr. Tenny, former Vice President of the National Oil Company of Liberia.
“We need to stop pretending. This mystical illusion where we keep pretending that all is well will embarrass all of us after election because if we are not careful, power will slip from our hands.”
He continued: “But it is not the slipping of power that matters, it is the consequences of not retaining power. Because if we don’t retain power, there is going to be a major manhunt of people who are being perceived of being corrupt, people who are on record of being corrupt, and people who are being accused of being corrupt.”
“The new Government is not going to have a magic wane to change the situation in Liberia. They are going to shift their agenda to prosecution. So, I think we still have some time to check on some of the things we have not done.”
Party Lost Touch With Masses
The CDC, made of the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC), the National Patriotic Party (NPP) and the Liberian People’s Democratic Party (LPDP) swept to state power in 2017, winning 14 of Liberia’s 15 counties.
Called the “Grand Coalition,” the party promised to bring about the “much needed change” to its party’s faithful and to all Liberians.
However, the government has been criticized for not doing enough in implementing its promises to their faithful partisans and the Liberian people, rather, officials only care about amassing wealth for themselves and family.
Just within months after his ascendancy, President Weah built his estate with several units on the outskirts of Monrovia. He then demolished his Sinkor residence and replaced it with a multimillion dollar building.
Minister McGill too was criticized when he constructed a private building worth several thousands United States dollars. of late, he has shifted his attention to Bong County investing in private properties, ditching out money to rural women and offering scholarships.