So much noise attending the petrol crisis in Liberia appears to be shielding the real culprits and finding the innocent. That’s what witchcrafts do in Africa. Often the doers of crimes would use the faces of the innocent to mask themselves, confuse investigations and scurry to impunity.
These are political times. The pressure of the opposition is budding. The cries of the masses are bobbling. Under such a situation, the political leader of the country, this time President George Manneh Weah, may feel the heat of the national pressure, summon his hammer and ax the culprits. Under the circumstances, politicians in the radar, particularly those that appear to be responsible for acts creating the current gasoline shortage, would naturally want to maneuver and beat the corridors of power and present the innocent for crucifixion.
This is exactly what is obtaining right now. For instance, much of what is being said about the causes of the petrol crises has skipped institutions that have direct fiduciary responsibilities to regulate the petrol sector—institutions of Government as well as private entities that directly supervise the importation of fuel and gasoline, provide storages and oversee the distribution of these critical commercial products.
Those familiar with statecraft know that Liberia’s petrol business falls within the domain of the Liberia Petroleum Refining Company (LPRC), and the National Port Authority which manages the country’s major port and harbor at which these products are offloaded to the country. Also unheard of and rarely talked about is the case of the Liberia Petroleum Importers, their role in what appears to be disappearance of millions of gallons of gasoline.
Besides, there are a few giants, or cash cows, that parade Liberia’s contemporary power corridors who have the guts, the purpose and the influence to dictate how petrol products are managed in the country. These are powerful bureaucrats, very imposing personalities who personalize this government and intimidatingly influence shady deals across the Executive Branch and other sectors of Government. These are the folks calling the cards in government, and as investigation progresses, these cash cows will maneuver their way out to impunity and leave the heads of the innocent in the balance.
One of the innocent persons targeted by the mischief makers is Professor Wilson K. Tarpeh, the Commerce Minister who communicated to the Liberian people, based on apparently doctored information from some petrol stakeholders that gasoline was in the country.
Though the information provided by Prof. Tarpeh is yet to be contradicted by the LPRC or Petrol Importers, detracting colleagues in Government continue to float propaganda pieces in the media and the public space to implicate a person who got absolutely no link, both legal and otherwise, with petrol import and distribution.
Tarpeh has been on the radar of the detractors for a very long time since the government took over state power. And he continues to cow to their designs perhaps because he thinks the political job he holds were a pastoral vocation and a sheer professional domain. So, over the last two years, the CDC-Government’s prided Messis and Ronaldos, who think all apolitical but highly professional bureaucrats, statesmen and academics in the Government are mere appendixes, continue to unleash their devilish pangs in all manners to implicate him in one scandal or another.
The Messis and Ranaldos of the Weah regime, who were caught in the most vicious scandals successfully made their way out of them with impunity. Their survivals have come through orchestrations of mischief, principally gossips and concoction of scandals in which they often plunge important colleagues, individuals who bear the true face of the government in terms of rich experience, qualification, integrity and honesty.
Thus, it is also a certainty that the current crisis in Liberia’s petroleum sector is apparently being used by certain elements, both within and out of the corridors of the Liberian Government, as a political weapon against their perceived enemies.
Despite the records being very obvious that previous utterances made by Minister Tarpeh, at the genesis of the gasoline crisis that there was sufficient supply in the country were on the basis of inventory data provided the Liberia Petroleum Refinery Company (LPRC) by importers, there are glaring signals that Prof. Tarpeh is being made by these elements to look like the one responsible for the entire gasoline crisis.
Certain portion of the current media environment in Liberia has not seized running both editorials, news items and unprofessional talk shows, which continue to negatively and unjustifiably portray Minister Tarpeh as the one to carry the blame.
The investigation has also uncovered that the essence of the entire ball game is to shield those who are supposed to be bearing the blunt for the gasoline crisis for their reported failure to put in corrective measures, either to detect what was ahead of the country concerning the shortage through early warning signs.
The investigation by the team of media professionals was also able to follow further clarification made by Minister Tarpeh, jointly with the Crisis Committee, that a week after informing the public about sufficient supply of the product in the country, there was a variance contrary to what the previous data contained.
The Commerce Minister, considering his sacred duties to the country and its people therefore wasted no time in expressing the Crisis Committee’s regrets over his previous pronouncement, informed by the available data.
“For other commodities, you can easily do head count, but with the issue of petroleum, the Ministry’s only reliance is inventory data, so blaming Prof. Tarpeh in this scenario is the wrong thing to do,” an experienced Liberian petroleum dealer, speaking on the basis of anonymity said, during the investigation.