Pres. Sirleaf Defends Appointment of Her son, Robert Sirleaf, to Board of National Oil Company

MONROVIA, LIBERIA          ___________________________________________________________________________________

 Office of the Press Secretary to the President                                                       President Sirleaf Re-Launches Conversation with the President


(MONROVIA, LIBERIA – March 23, 2012):  The Liberian President, Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf says at the completion of her second and final term, she envisages a Liberia stabilized and transformed.
 “I want to see a Liberia where government is responsive to the needs of the people; where resources are being used in an equitable and balanced fashion to benefit the people; transparency, where accountability and the rule of law prevail, and that every citizen feels that truly the country belongs to them,” she said adding that Liberians are not just contributing to the country’s development, but they are benefitting from it.
President Sirleaf made these comments when she appeared on the maiden edition live interactive public phone-in program, “Conversation with the President,” on Monday, March 26, at the Liberia Broadcasting System. This is the maiden edition of the program since President Johnson Sirleaf commenced her second term two months ago. She wants to continue this public interaction on a monthly basis.
The Liberian President noted that she undertook the fundamentals during her first term and expects to graduate from stabilization to transformation by the end of the second term. She did admit that transforming the Liberian society is an herculean task; but she will vigorously pursue her objectives so as to leave Liberia better off than how she met it as she passes the mantle of authority at the end of her tenure.
She reiterated that she contested the 2005 presidential elections with a purpose of transforming Liberia. The President expressed satisfaction that Liberia is gradually being transformed from a failed state to a recognized state within the comity of nations.
Touching on the Poverty Reduction Strategy, known as Lift Liberia, President Sirleaf said her government achieved about 75-80 percent of its overall objectives. “From whence we’ve come, I think the last six years under the PRS went a long way,” she said.
On the150-day Action Plan government has initiated as a start to her second term, the Liberian president said this plan is a detail of specific actions government will undertake during the next few months.  She did indicate that beginning July, government will proceed with the long term agenda, Vision 2030.
On the formation of the government, President Johnson differed with those suggesting that this government is not one of inclusion.  “People say the senior cabinet is the government. No, the senior cabinet is not the government. The government includes a whole lot of other parastatals. If you look across, you’ll find that we’re putting some young people in places, you’ll find that we have some key opposition; but we’re not over yet,” she stressed, adding that the government is still being constituted.
President Sirleaf reiterated some of the basic criteria for working in the current government as qualification, integrity, record of having performed in the past, as well as not being a human rights violator.
On the question of generational change verses youth empowerment, the Liberian President believes that young people have to begin to assume leadership in the country, which they are doing at all levels. She suggested that they need to begin to prepare themselves for the future so when the leadership passes, they will have the competence and integrity to lead the country. “I am very comfortable with the fact that the young people are preparing themselves and the young people will be taking over. The nation is very young and the leadership will reflect that,” she said.
On the discovery of oil in Liberia, President Johnson Sirleaf reminded Liberians that the discovery simply means that there is a possibility of oil; but they’ll have to drill to see whether the oil is in sufficient quantity which will probably take the next five to six years. “In the oil sector, my responsibility will be to make sure that we have proper laws and policies to be able to rationalize our institutions, to model them after those countries that have done well in the oil sector like Norway so that oil revenue will benefit not only current but future generation,” she emphasized.
Commenting on the nomination of her son, Robert Sirleaf, to the Board of the National Oil Company of Liberia (NOCAL) on a pro bono basis, President Johnson Sirleaf indicated that her son is qualified.  “My son is well qualified: over 20 years of working on Wall Street… He knows the business; he knows the private sector. Most of the people with whom they work now are people that have been friends of his. They respect him. Should I deny him the opportunity when he’s well qualified?” she wondered.

Mr. Jerolinmek Matthew Piah
Presidential Press Secretary/Office of the President
Department of Public Affairs
Republic of Liberia



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