Liberia: Ex-President Sirleaf Blames Dark RIA for Failure of More Dignitaries to Attend Dr. Sawyer’s Funeral
MONROVIA – Ex-President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf caused a roar of laughter at the Centennial Pavilion while delivering her tribute to the late Dr. Amos C. Sawyer, former interim president of Liberia. She disclosed that she expected more of her colleagues who had expressed willingness to attend the funeral.
“I received many calls from people who wanted to attend the funeral of Dr. Sawyer, but I do not see them here. Maybe RIA was dark,” she said.
The country’s only international airport has been faced with electricity challenges over the past months which at times leave the airport in absolute blackout.
Dr. Sawyer was the President of the Interim Government of National Unity. He remains well-acknowledged for his exemplary leadership role exhibited during his days in public service.
Professor Sawyer died at the age of 76 at the John Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland in the United States of America on March 17, 2022.
The funeral service which was held at the Centennial Pavilion brought together past and present government officials including Nigeria former President Goodluck Jonathan.
Madam Sirleaf said, the name “Amos Sawyer” is a household name for Liberia both home and abroad.
Dr. Sawyer was a founding member of the Movement for Justice in Africa (MOJA) and in 1983 founded the Liberian People’s Party.
The former President who said she was not a member of MOJA or believed in similar principles or values but added that the way the late Dr. Sawyer confronted issues during the True Whig Party and other regimes was in a non-violent way.
Madam Sirleaf added: “I was a junior government official when the late Sawyer tackled issues in the then True Whig Party government and its establishment.”
“Many days when we look back with reflection on that, we remember the methods of Amos. He does not take violence to challenge a dinosaur,” Madam Sirleaf said.
According to the ex-president, in the 1985 election she came from exile to join the Liberian Action Party to contest in the election while at the same time MOJA had turned into a political party called the Liberian People Party –with the late Sawyer being the party chairman.
The former Liberian leader said it did stay any longer after the election turned chaotic when she and the late Sawyer went separate ways into exile in the United States of America.
Despite their differences, Madam Sirleaf said she and the late statesman later found common ground as they both joined hands with other Liberians to form the US-based Association for Constitutional Democracy, an organization comprising Liberians at home and in the diaspora dedicated to political change.
“But Amos, the one who fosters unity, reconciliation and common ground, would always say that the common goal and the purpose were meant for national unity,” she said.
Also, they move their separate ways until they converge again in Gambia when he (Sawyer) was elected as Interim President of the Government of National Unity.
“Again, above all of the odds, taking on the brave responsibilities that he took on, one could say that Amos stood firm to his principles, firm to his value of earnestness and work, until the time when he voluntarily led the transition,” she said.
The former president called on Liberians to look back on how Dr. Sawyer, the former statesman, led the country and maintain the peace.
“We all love his work, we all benefit from his work,” Madam Sirleaf said.
According to Madam Sirleaf, she relied on the late Liberian statesman’s advice and counsel many times before winning the presidential election in 2005.
“In 2006, I was pleased and honored when Dr. Sawyer accepted my offer for him to head the Governance Reform Commission –to take on the task of the reform of the entire national governance architecture,” she said.
During his time at the Governance Commission, Madam Sirleaf said he was able to address issues in the Constitution and law while working with civil society organizations and the Legislature to give the government more scopes, more authority and more independence.
“Again, I am forever grateful that he remained in that position until my administration ended and today I ask where is the Governance Commission in addressing current national issues,” she said.
Liberia Loss an Exceptional Leader
Also speaking, the Speaker of the House of Representative Bhofal Chambers praised the late statesman for his contribution to Liberia when he served as Interim President and other areas of trust.
“We express our deepest sympathy for the passing of Dr. Amos Sawyer. Liberia has truly lost an exceptional leader. We want to say with a heavy heart that we are sorry,” Speaker Chambers said.
Social Science Department at the University of Liberia Named after the late Dr. Amos Sawyer
At the funeral, the president of the University of Liberia Dr. Julius Nelson disclosed that the Department of Social Science where the late Sawyer served as Chairman would be named after him.
The University of Liberia president also praised the late professor for the exemplary leadership he played at the University of Liberia.
“We have come from the University of Liberia celebrating social consciousness and now we lay this wreath on the remains of the former president of Social Science and now the Amos Claudius Sawyer College of Social Sciences and Humanities at the University of Liberia,” he said.