>Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf’s Five Wrong Steps: Why the Unnecessary Distractions?

>Written by Varney Anderson

The Editor,

Source: FrontPage Africa

I have tried my hardest over the years from writing opinion pieces about happenings in our beloved country Liberia. But events over the last couple of months have convinced me to voice my opinion about things that I consider unnecessary distractions as they relate to the presidency of our country.

It is also important to note that in this critical election year, it does not auger well for well-meaning Liberians to remain silent on issues of national importance. With this said, I would like to say right off the bat that the Executive Mansion and the entire Government of Liberia public relations is very, very poor! I also believe that the president’s advisers are very inept and they always seem to ill advise her. These two factors are causing her unnecessary distractions that are not needed in this crucial election year.

As a strong and die-hard supporter of the president, the obvious question that arises is: why all the unnecessary distractions? Madam President, here is a list of unnecessary distractions that is constantly calling your leadership into question:

1. The first distraction was sending your entire cabinet on administrative leave a year ago. As your supporter and admirer, my first thought about this unusual decision is that it was made in good faith. I sincerely thought that you took such a bold move to entirely remake your cabinet and get rid of those who were inefficient, and those who were causing controversy for the administration. I bitterly argued with friends that you were going to bring in some fresh blood to breathe life into the last year of your administration. But to my utmost surprise, you recalled almost all of your cabinet ministers back to their posts, leaving one like me to wonder why such a decision in the first place. If you send the entire cabinet on administrative leave only to get rid of Eugene Shannon and Richard Tolbert, couldn’t you have just fire the two individuals and safe yourself all the noise and distraction? Simply put, Madam President, your decision to send your entire cabinet on administrative leave was out of place, and does not bear the resemblance of your “Iron Lady” persona.

2. The second distraction, Madam President, is the issue of the British investor giving you a white envelope in public. When I first came across this story, I was in total shock. The question that came to my mind was that why will your advisers allow such a thing to take place when the issue of corruption is on every Liberian lip nowadays? Didn’t your handlers screen this investor to know that he had such an intention? And If they did; why didn’t they advice him otherwise? It could have been best if the investor had gone up on the podium and announce to the audience that he was making a gift on behalf of his company to The Sirleaf Market Women Fund! But pushing the envelope towards you secretly put your hard-earned reputation at stake and brings about unnecessary public scrutiny for your administration.

3. Madam President, the third distraction I would like to bring to your attention is your defense of former managing director of LPRC, Harry Greaves regarding the GAC recent audit report about the controversial Nigerian Oil Deal. In your defense of Harry Greaves at your recent news conference, you declared that Mr. Greaves did nothing wrong, and that the Nigerian oil deal was transparent. You went on to say that the records are available at LPRC for journalists and the entire public to see. But Madam President, the very record you are referring journalists and the public to, is the same record the GAC went through and found major discrepancies. The GAC audit report clearly stated that the Nigerian Oil deal was very much shady and that Mr. Greaves did not follow establish procedure regarding the deal. Except you don’t have eyes to see, but it is clear from the GAC audit report that the Nigerian oil deal was full of corruption. How then you could go on record to defend the man who managed and executed the entire deal, and even going as far as defending the deal itself? If you truly believe that Mr. Greaves did nothing wrong, and that the Nigerian oil deal was transparent, then the onus is on you to provide documentary evidence to the Liberian people to prove that the GAC audit is far from the truth. Referring journalists and the public to LPRC to go in search of documents when the GAC has already done so is a mockery to the Liberian people, and it clearly demonstrates that you are paying lip service to the issue of corruption. Again, this is the one where you could have just gone along with the GAC audit report because it was sanctioned by your administration. But instead you shot yourself in the foot by defending a man and a deal that cannot be defended.

4. The fourth distraction is the firing of Auditor General John S. Morlu. I am still baffled by this decision, Madam President, especially in this crucial election year. Why did you choose to let Morlu go when you could have re-nominated him, and then let him go during your 2nd term? If you were going to re-nominate Morlu, his 2nd four year was going to expire during the third year of your administration. By then, it was going to be safe to let him go without any noise and distraction. I am not arguing in any way shape or form that Morlu is the only qualified person to run the GAC or fight corruption in Liberia. But the issue about Morlu is not so much about qualification, but about the young man’s work ethic and productivity. It is an established fact that Morlu was one of the hardest working men in your administration, often winning rave reviews from the international community. In my mind, this is exactly the kind of person you need to help you in your professed fight against corruption. The excuse you gave in letting Morlu go is politically weak and just gives your detractors more armor to attack you on the issue of corruption.

5. Lastly Madam President, your decision to appoint Mr. Emmanuel Shaw as Chairman of the Liberian Airport Authority Board leaves me scratching my head in total confusion. Why Emmanuel Shaw of all people Madam President? This is a man with a tainted past, including his being listed on the United Nations travel ban. Mr. Shaw is synonymous with everything that is wrong with Liberia. Yet you chose to bring such a man into your administration at a time when you are begging the Liberian people to give you a second term? It seems to me Madam President that you old guards in Liberia just don’t get it. You guys keep taking the Liberian people for joke and playing fool out of them. You stated in your last state of the nation address that Liberia is a youthful country, but yet your administration is denominated by bunch of old guards with questionable records, most of whom are responsible for the pillaging of our country resources. There are lots of potential young men and women in Liberia that are better suited for most of the positions in your administration, but you always passed over them and go for the old guards. Emmanuel Shaw, John T Richardson, etc, cannot help you get re-elected. They are more of liabilities than assets, so why would you cause yourself unnecessary distraction by bringing them on board?

I will hate to see you lose the upcoming election because I am going to be personally campaigning for you, but if you don’t stop shooting yourself in the foot, the Liberian people will vote you out of office.

Enough is enough, and it is time that you start making the job easier for your supporters and sympathizers to make the case for your re-election to the Liberian people. If this means getting rid of your ineffective and inefficient advisers, then so be it. But I have come to the conclusion that those advising you are very inept and out of touch with the modern day realities in Liberia.


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