-Says former President incentivized bribery, corruption during her regime
Former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s recent description of members of the National Legislature during her 12-year administration as ‘devilish’, has not only shocked the Liberian public but also provoked some to term her statement as “deceptive and a mere act of blame-shifting.”
Liberians were left surprised as Madam Sirleaf, in an op-ed firstly published in the Daily Maverick, a South Africa-based news outlet, claimed that Liberia had been seriously affected by corruption, lack of commitment, and personal greed—a factor that continues to perpetuate to the backwardness of the state.
She laid some blames squarely on the Legislature, notably, members of the 52nd, and 53rd Legislature.
Former President Sirleaf said in the article that Legislators during the 52nd and 53rd Legislature were “Devilish,” and that her biggest surprise was that some of those lawmakers were from her own party.
These comments and descriptions have not gone down well with some Liberians, especially some of those who served in the Legislature during her regime. One such person is Mr. Dusty Wolokolie, a one-time Representative and a popular member of the Progressive Alliance of Liberia (PAL).
Mr. Wolokolie was a ranking member of the House of Representatives and Chairman of the House Standing Committee on Good Governance and Government Reform from 2006 to 2011. During his 6-year term, he represented Montserrado County District #4 (which is now District #10, represented by Representative Yekeh Kolubah).
Wolokolie did not go for re-election for his incumbent position due to his own confession that he failed during the six-year term he served. He, however, contested along with presidential candidate Dew Mayson on the ticket of the National Democratic Coalition (NDC) as Mayson’s running mate.
Mr. Wolokolie described former President Sirleaf’s statement as “disingenuous” and emphasized that she is being economical with the truth.
“Assertions by Madam Sirleaf that Legislators in the 52nd and 53rd Legislatures were “devilish” are quite disingenuous, and she is being craftily economical with the truth,” he said in a rejoinder intended to counter her commentary in the Daily Maverick.
He said Madam Sirleaf betrayed her “Public Enemy Number One,” pledge made to the nation during her January 16, 2006 inauguration, and started incentivizing bribery to get her nominees confirmed by the Liberian Senate.
“I recalled very vividly that it was the very Madam President herself who pledged, at her inauguration, that corruption would be ‘Public Enemy Number One’, who somersaulted at the very onset of her administration by incentivizing bribery to get her nominees confirmed by the Liberian Senate,” he said.
The progressive icon noted that the bribery pattern continued throughout her twelve years in office, spanning from orchestrated removal of Speakers of the House of Representatives and Presidents Pro Tempore of the Liberian Senate; swift and uninformed passage of concession agreements without due diligence; and lack of serious critical debate on public policy options in the prevailing democratic space engendered by years of sweat, blood and the supreme price of life paid by many compatriots.
“I would have let a sleeping dog lie, but my good conscience and progressive instinct would not allow me to countenance Madam President embellishing her democratic credentials for legacy purpose at the expense of other compatriots, howbeit wanting they may be in character,” he said.
Mr. Wolokolie strongly believes that Madam Sirleaf had the best opportunity amongst contemporary Liberian leaders to advance and to consolidate a genuine democratic culture in Liberia, “but she blew it for whatever reasons I still cannot fathom.”
Holier than the pope/Throwing the Legislature Under the Bus?
Mr. Wolokolie wonders what reasons can Madam Sirleaf give for starting with bribing the Liberian Senate to confirm her very first set of cabinet officials who, many believe, were nominated by her on the basis of merit.
“Why did she have to bribe Legislators to do their jobs in legislating policy decisions and concession agreements if she was convinced, they could pass the smell test of transparency and accountability?” he asked rhetorically.
“It is sad,” he said, “That the former Unity Party leader now wants to throw the Legislature of her twelve-year regime under the bus with the insinuation that she is holier than the pope.”
“I lay the blame for introducing and institutionalizing corruption and decadence in our governance architecture squarely at the feet of Madam President,” he said, adding that Madam Sirleaf’s intermittent outbursts of frustration came only after the culture of impunity for corruption had been embedded in the society with the stakes for increasing perks continuing unabated.
“Madam President, I beg your pardon, they were not “devilish” men and women who were elected by the people just as you were, but predominantly unenlightened political virgins, the critical mass of whom, could have been cultivated into decent people if we, who considered ourselves more sophisticated, were sincerely patriotic enough to take bold and courageous decisions and actions to redress the scars of our civil war and embark on truly participatory democratic development.”
Meanwhile, during his time in the House of Representatives, he also served as member of the Pan African Parliament (PAP), the parliamentary body of the African Union (AU), and Vice Chairman of PAP Permanent Committee on Cooperation, International Relations & Conflict Resolutions (2006-2011).