Close to the end of this year, Liberians will go to the polls to vote in Presidential and legislative elections.
This is the time for the Liberian people to send a message to the country and the rest of the World regarding the direction of the country. I do not believe the ruling Unity Party’s Government or its associates should be allowed a third term. My reasons are not limited to the followings:
1. Ellen wrote off a huge chunk of the Liberian population
Here, I am not talking about the Southeastern region of Liberia which includes Grand Gedeh, Maryland, River Gee, and Sinoe Counties, a major part of Liberia the Sirleaf’s government has paid little or no attention to throughout her presidency. The region’s deplorable road network, depopulation, and alarming unemployment rate have become so pervasive that citizens in that part of the country have resigned to the fact such is their destiny. As dire as their plight is, Southeastern Liberia is not the population that I am focused on in this work. That will be reserved for another time. The government under Sirleaf has neglected our brothers and sisters who, not by any fault of their own, are stranded in refugee land across West Africa. Even before the ECOWAS mandate which ended their status as refugees, the government of Liberia has already written off those Liberians who were catching hell in deplorable camps. From Camp Kola, Gbeke, Yomou in the Republic of Guinea to Oru, Ijebu Ode in Nigeria, Liberians continue to languish in refugee camps while their President tour the globe and reward herself and her cronies very fat salaries. Throughout Mrs. Sirleaf’s presidency there was no sustained effort to return, repatriate or resettle Liberians. Even at the time when Liberians were being mistreated and murdered in refugees’ camps, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf did not crack her teeth. She acted like those people did not exist or that their lives did not matter.
2. Failure to acknowledge the war and heal the wounds
For fourteen years Liberia was plunged in one of the worst wars in human history. Of a population of less than three million people, over 250,000 of our brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers, friends, classmates and loved ones were killed, some in the most brutal and gruesome manner. Even the sitting President at the time was mutilated to death. It was the election of Mrs. Sirleaf that marked the closing chapter of the brutal war. Her government is the most stable and longest lasting of post war Liberia. Sadly, throughout the nearly 12 years of Madam Sirleaf’s presidency, she pretended that the country has had no war thus she made no attempt to acknowledge that the country and its people have been hurt for over a decade of wars and needed healing and reconciliation. She did not acknowledge that thousands of mothers, fathers, and families have lost loved ones and there is a need for some consolation from their leader, especially the one they have called Ma Ellen. One will expect that a President of good conscience and empathy will rally the country and work to heal the wounds and build the hope that such nightmare will never happen again. The only group President Ellen Johnson thought was victims were the children of the thirteen former ministers who were killed following the coup of 1980.
3. Ellen’s arrogance and disdain for the majority
President Johnson Sirleaf has presided over the country as if she is omniscient. Even in situations where she has sought the input of the general population through national conferences, she has treated the outcomes of the people’s voices with disdain and failed to act on their recommendations. The Truth and Reconciliation Committee Report and the Gbarnga Constitution Review Conference are just few of the examples where the Government of President Sirleaf demonstrated a clear disdain and disrespect for the views of the majority.
4. Failure to build a system that may outlive her
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has failed to put into place a system that will outlive her presidency. There is no genuine policy or doctrine that she has contributed to the country which can be attached to her legacy. As the result, after twelve years in office, Liberia remains a trial and error nation. Now she wants her Vice President to continue with such junk policies that will continue to render the country impoverished and as she described the education, a mess. This trend has been ongoing and seemed unabated. It gets even worse and disheartening when one considers that this nation is turning 170 years since the declaration of independence.
5. An economy in shambles
If the economy of Liberia goes well, everything goes well. Liberia like any nation on Earth needs a vibrant economy to build roads, hospitals, schools, improve education, feed the people and perhaps make progress on almost everything. Sadly, after nearly 12 years of the acclaimed Harvard’s economist presiding over the country and its economy, it remains in shambles. The economy still largely depends on foreign aid, handouts and solicitation. For 12 years, government has been unable to resolve which currency to use. Government under the leadership of Madam Johnson Sirleaf has failed to pay attention to the pillars of the Liberian economy which include small businesses (e.g. market women and men, tailors, weavers, farmers, etc.) The Liberian taxation/revenue systems are misguided and served only the needs of the elites. The same can be said about the oil and mining industries which account for no economic inputs for the country but as milking cows for the President, her relatives and her cronies. Under the Sirleaf’s leadership, there is the working elite government’s class and the scraping poor. There is no sustained attempt to create a middle class or encourage private sector emergence and growth. The case of the National Bank of Liberia and its inside loaning process or the PSDI Loan Scheme at the Finance Ministry will be another area that I will address at length in another work.
6. Unemployment at near 0%
Some time ago a key person in the Liberian government was boasting that Liberia’s unemployment rate is among the lowest in the World. He said the number of people actively searching for jobs indicates the number of capable people that are not working. So, if the unemployment rate is near zero, it means that there are more people working so they are not looking for work. Really Mr. Bigshot! It means there is no work to look for so nearly 95% of the able body men and women in Liberia have no jobs and must toil with brute force to feed themselves and their families. For nearly 12 years the government remained unable to link standards of living to being employed and seemed incapable to establish mechanism for job creation. The government seemed incapable to connect roads and building constructions to job creation for Liberians.
7. Disregard for the separation of power and check and balance system
Liberia is one country where the President exercises unfettered powers across every branch of government. Under the President Sirleaf’s leadership, there have being visible Presidential overreaches which use money and cronyism to influence the fragile system. The President actively took advantage of the high rates of incompetence and impoverishment among members of the various branches of government especially the Legislative Branch of government to usurp her power and influence.
8. A divided nation
Under President Sirleaf’s leadership the nation is divided than ever and she does not seem to have interest in fostering unity and cohesiveness across the country. She has helped to foster a culture of tribal embrace and alienation to keep the nation divided and perpetuate the rule of her tribe (the Congau). President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf failed to reconcile the nation and foster a spirit of people coming together for the good of the nation.
9. An educational system in mess
Needless to write much about this because in her own words, she described the educational system of the country she leads as a mess. And she was right. And even at the end of twelve uninterrupted years of peace, the story is still the same. From kindergarten to tertiary levels, the Liberian educational system is a total disaster and those in positions of responsibilities seemed to lack the capacity and will to make meaningful changes. The trend of mass failures at the University of Liberia and other institutions of learning are just tip of the iceberg. Even when one considers the creation of the community colleges as a plus but on close observation the attempt is misguided and ill-conceived. The various counties are financially distressed and do not have the human capacity to sustain themselves. The smarter approach is to allow and equip the University of Liberia to expand into the various counties.
10. The scourge of an East African disease
Under the leadership of President Sirleaf, Liberia has experienced the worst disease ever in its nearly two hundred years of existence. It was under her leadership that Liberians were falling in the streets with blood gushing out of them as they perish in droves. The havoc of EBOLA is a testimony to her administration’s failure to revitalize a failed healthcare system. (This is how you will know that a country does not have a healthcare system when it must take foreigners to teach or remind people how to wash their hands). What have they been doing since they took power and staffed the Ministry of Health? Maybe this is why someone once stated that the E in Ellen stands for Ebola. This is the President and Vice President, in fact the government’s legacy which they must own. This must be disquieting and disqualifying for a third term in Boakai and Nuquay.
11. The death traps they call roads and highways
The evidences are found across the country and even in the capital city. Maryland, Sinoe, Grand Kru, Lofa, Bopolu Counties and other parts of the country are considered no-go zones. They are cut off from the rest of the country especially during the rainy season due to broken roads and bridges. Recently a higher up in the Liberian government shamelessly stated that government was trying to bring the roads up to pre-war level. How sad, that after almost 12 years in office that the desire state should be a prewar level! No, (I told him) you are not bringing the roads to pre-war level; you have kept them at pre-medieval level.
12. The Boakai-Nuquay factor, a recipe to perpetuate the chaos state
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is the number one person in the Liberian Government. Joseph Boakai is the number two person in the government and the Margibi lawmaker and Speaker of the House Mr. Emmanuel Nuguay is the number three person in the same government. At the same time, the number two person (i.e. the Vice President) is constitutionally the head of the Liberian Senate. This is the government which its own auditor, Mr. John Morlu characterized as 10 times more corrupt than any government in Liberian history. For nearly 12 years the legislative Branch of the Liberian Government has served itself with fat bonuses, luxury cars, gas slips and other amenities while the people it is supposed to serve swim in abject poverty. In fact, in one of their proposed bills, they dished out benefits for themselves and their families even to the point that when they die, their wives and children will continue to rake checks from this impoverished nation up to three generations. And let us not forget that this very legislative branch has not written a single substantive bill on how to create a vibrant economy and enact laws that will protect the interest of the struggling population. Where do they expect the money from to pay their wives and concubines and service their gluttonous lifestyles?
Mr. Joseph Boakai has conceded the notion to continue with this legacy. So, he picked the third person in line as his running mate. By such choice, Mr. Boakai has endorsed the failed policies and corrupt practices that have thrived under their leadership. Mr. Boakai did not give Liberians any assurance that he will think outside of the box but has wrapped himself wholly and solely with this failed legacy and a chaos state. If Mr. Joseph Nyumah Boakai thought he did not support the failed policies of the government, he would have long cut away from Ellen Sirleaf by resigning from her government. Or he would have picked a running mate who seemed to think and act outside of the corrupt circle to take the country in a different direction.
My fellow Liberians – brothers and sisters, on October 10 of this year (2017), I appeal to all of us to end the system of impunity, corruption, nepotism, incompetence, and disdain by giving the Unity Party’s government a knockout punch. Knock them out in the First Round! This will be our time to punish slothfulness, divisions, apathy, negligence, and a sluggish economy. Let us not reward those who have failed to serve their country with distinction.
In Liberia, we do not kill chicken for a student who has failed his/her class. We say in Liberia that there is no food for a lazy person. The people of this country gave the government 12 stable years to perform and deliver. Our neighbors and the international community and lavished good will on the Sirleaf regime with a high hope that the government under Sirleaf and Boakai will deliver. It failed. Let us not give them an additional minute to continue the dismal performances. May the Lord bless us all and save our Country!
Dave Toh Jah, Contributing Writer,