Former Liberian President Says Lack of Funding Hampered Delivery of Electricity and Water


Princeton, New Jersey – Former Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has expressed regrets at not being able to build more vocational schools and complete the restoration water and electricity throughout the country.

Speaking during questions and answers session following a lecture at the Robertson Hall, Arthur Lewis Auditorium last Tuesday, Sirleaf, who was the first elected female head of state in Africa, said her only regrets will be “Not Building More Vocational Schools” and putting more emphasis on education to meet the challenges of our educational system.

Vocational Education could have addressed the urgent needs of post war conflict among some of Liberian students who lack the basic skills to succeed in the educational system due to the impact of the war.

Electricity and water will be the other two that needed more of her government time and resources, but felt short due to lack of funding, the former Liberian President said.

The Former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf made these remarks while speaking on the theme “Post-Conflict Democratic Consolidation: The Liberian Experience” to a jammed-packed audience at the Arthur Lewis Auditorium located in The Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.

Former President Sirleaf added that building government capacity is an essential services, regardless of who is ahead in the poll or at the ballot box”, the Former Liberian Leader sounded to the crowd made of majority women, students, and Africans who reciprocated with an applauses of their own.

President Sirleaf added that democracy is on the march in Africa today and Africa has finally seen what a women president can do in a fragile state like Liberia.

A recent poll taken indicates that 7-10 African states prefer democracy over other forms of governments. The Former Liberian President indicated that women are playing a vital role in Africa rising democracy.

With just six weeks after leaving her presidency in Liberia, The Former Liberian President felt very optimistic of Africa’s trend to democracy compared with other powerful countries.

President Sirleaf highlighted Gambia, South Africa, Angola, and Zimbabwe as a positive influence to Managed Democracies in Africa.

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf further stated that world is watching other forms of governments fall backward; for example, China abolished term limits; and Russia and Egypt will be standing for an election with no viable contenders running against them. “Africa will be watching this global trend” she stated.

Looking on the Liberian Experience, President Sirleaf elaborated on the first peaceful democratic transfer of power in Liberia since 1944 as a historical consolidation of democracy in Liberia’s recent 2017 peaceful-democratic election.

She said that her administration only scratched on the surface of the problem and hoped that the new administration of President George Manneh Weah will continue on this trend. 

Former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf reflected on the challenges faced with her government coming to power in 2006 and what her government did to addressed such issues as 80% unemployment, 100,000 ex-combatants, roads, hospitals, Ebola, civil service, war, guns, gender parity, debt relief, building a relations with the international communities, free press, and now social media without responsibility. 

President Sirleaf summarized her speech on two priorities to Liberia’s workable solutions: (1) Addressing the value of giving young people, especially women, their skills for life; and (2) The critical role of a professional civil service. 

Former President Sirleaf while touching on her first priority said that Africa’s Young Population is over 65% of the age of 35 years can be a youth burst and become a de stabilizing force if not attended to with education and job creation by creating a path of building their own future.

She admitted that her administration only scratched on the surface and hoped that the new government of President George Manneh Weah will continue on this trend. President Sirleaf said that she hoped that young girls in Liberia will refused to accept limitation and cultural practices. She emphasized her government achievement on gender parity in elementary education. 

In her second priority on the critical role of a professional civil service, Former President Sirleaf stated that a Civil Service Reform would have a long term effect in Liberia.

She said Liberia needs a Professional Civil Service to strive toward. President Sirleaf’s Pet Child “President Young Professional Program” where she brought in young people for a two years training program on a merit-based system demonstrated her proudest moment as President of Liberia when she said to the Princeton University Public that the Young Liberian Leaders are leading Liberia in a New Chapter with 90% of them are continuing to work in the Liberian Government of today.

President Sirleaf said others are looking at Liberia’s Model as a good example that youth is not a problem, but an access to success. 

President Sirleaf recognized Elizabeth Betsy Williams, an alumnus from Princeton University, for her dedication and commitment in training young Liberians in the Civil Service Program; and her vision for adopting the President Young Professional Program in Ghana.

“Young Leaders Attributes to Their Needs of Society”, President Sirleaf concluded.