By Alva Mulbah Wolokolie
The Archbishop of the Catholic Church in Liberia Rev. Lewis Jerome Ziegler has identified corruption as his worst memory for 2013 which he believes undermined progress in every sector of the society.
Bishop Ziegler who spoke on the Catholic Radio Station in Monrovia (Radio VERITAS) recently said corruption is seen as a cancer, a real disease and sickness that is eating up the fabric of the society.
“We must talk about it at all times because it destroys everything. Corruption is very dangerous in society. It’s my worst memory for 2013. It undermines progress in all sectors of our society, so it is important that we find a solution to this problem,” Archbishop Ziegler asserted.
The Catholic prelate mentioned that corruption as the primary vice is destroying the national progress, supported by greed, selfishness and disrespect crowned by lack of nationalism.
Asked whether he (Bishop Zeigler) could suggest or make an intervention to combat corruption, he explained that as a country, corruption should be approached at the family level because it filters through society and individual homes.
Bishop Zeigler indicated that the educators should ensure that the students are taught about the danger of corruption in society, while parents on the other hand should teach their children about corruption and its effects on society. He added that “If we, as a people succeed at that level, then I believe we can achieve something at the national level.”
The Catholic Bishop acknowledged that corruption cannot be eradicated in society but he is very sure that it can be minimized.
Commenting on the educational system that has been described by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf as a mess, Archbishop Zeigler said progress needs to be made because with the intervention of international partners, there are signs of improvement but he expressed regrets that development is very slow in that sector.
According to Rev. Ziegler, the lack of trained teachers, low salaries and allowances to those who are trained, and good learning environment for the students, are contributing factors to the low progress in the education sector.
The catholic prelate declined to comment on the economy though it is glaring that the hardship is on the increase throughout the country to the extent that many Liberians are complaining on a daily basis about the increase in the United States dollars to the Liberian dollars backed by high purchasing power in commodities and low unemployment rate.
Touching on infrastructural development, Archbishop Zeigler showered praises on government that there has been some improvements in this regard because everywhere an individual goes; there must be some discussion about government building roads.
But he however recalled that some of those road projects need to be questioned because the implementation aspect was not too good. The Catholic Priest named the AB Tolbert Road that the government put in lots of money where the initial work done there was very poor.
“The quality of work done there was poor and that’s why we need to study the intentions of some of those initiatives,” Bishop Zeigler said.
As for reconciliation, Bishop Zeigler said the current approach to national reconciliation will not lead the country anywhere. He said Liberians have heard too many good speeches at big programs or conferences and dialogues about reconciliation but Liberians have not yet achieved anything in this area.
He suggested that Liberians should begin reconciliation with family units by organizing meetings at both community and family levels. “When we reconcile ourselves in the family and community, then we can move forward to national reconciliation and set the stage for everyone within the 15 political sub-division of the country,” The Catholic Prelate stated.
Looking at security, Bishop Zeigler explained that Liberia is still fragile because its security is in the hands of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL). He said Liberia must begin to create that space where everyone will begin to appreciate its own and government must ensure that technical and capacity supports are given the security sector while UNMIL is approaching its draw-down plan for Liberia.
The Catholic Bishop encouraged Liberians to unite and forgive one another since the country is the only place God has given to them and cautioned them to take good care of it.