President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf's Press Secretary, Jerolinmek Piah, has responded to presidential hopeful Benoni Urey's claims that President Sirleaf is disinterested in Liberia for being out of the country during an Ebola crisis:
Mr. Jerolinmek Piah
Presidential Press Secretary
Comments Made By Mr. Benoni Urey
Thursday, April 3, 2014
Welcome ladies and gentlemen of the press. We have followed a lot of loose comments made by Mr. Benoni Urey, specifically targeted at the presidency.
Our initial thoughts, I must say in all honesty, is that Mr. Urey’s comments reflect serious lack of governance, political ineptitude and naivety on the part of a “political nobody” who has allowed his quest for the presidency to render him mischievous and disingenuous.
Mr. Urey argues that President Sirleaf has no interest in Liberia and its people simply because she departed the country to participate in the 4th EU-Africa Summit at the time an outbreak of Ebola was reported in the country.
If this statement came from just anybody, we would not have been surprise at all; but coming from a man who says he has the desire for the Presidency, we are not only surprised but ashamed of him.
As a person who currently works at the presidency and is intone with presidential activities, duties and functions, let me use this time to provide a little education to Mr. Urey about the presidency.
The presidency, not just of Liberia but all other countries, is an office of government that is not and cannot function as a one-stop-shop. In fact, a President must deal with multiple issues at the same time and does not shut down all other activities of government due to one. When one is President, he or she remains President no matter where he or she is – whether in Guinea, Sierra Leone, Brussels or in any other part of the country.
It cannot be considered that a President has abandoned a country simply due to her absence from the country. Mr. Urey needs to know that when the President of a country is out of the country on official business, he or she mobilizes and directs the government to perform. In fact, on such occasions, Presidents are always engaged bilaterally, most times to the benefit of the country.
Let me quickly state to Mr. Urey that many of the bilateral engagements that President Sirleaf has had on her current visit abroad has been dominated by issues surrounding the outbreak of Ebola in Liberia.
The simple reason is this: A disease like Ebola not only requires the intervention of the Government of Liberia, but international partners as well to ensure that it is contained. This is exactly part of her agenda during her bilateral discussion while away.
At every opportunity, President Sirleaf has informed her colleagues, partners and friends who are now on the alert to assist Liberia, should we find it difficult to control the current outbreak.
Another issue here is that if a person who desires the President of Liberia does not understand these simple elementary principles of the presidency, such person, we advice should remain selling scratch cards and making their farms rather having a naked desire for a presidency that he or she does not understand. Mr. Urey has reflected clearly from his outburst that he has gross limitations in understanding the intricacies of the presidency – a fault he has exposed as a result of his loose comments.
An interest to us is a suggestion also made by Mr. Urey that other well meaning citizens who are providing services to the government are “Americans” that should be, according to him, voted out of office so that they pack their belongings and return to America – what an agent of divisiveness. Is this the Urey who craves for the Presidency?
What kind of President will he be when he has started, on his own accord, to draw dichotomies between and among our people? He knocked his chest and brag to be president for murderers and criminals.
Let me quickly remind him that Liberia does not need a murderer-in-chief nor a criminal-in-chief but a Commander-in-Chief who will transform even the murderers and criminals to productive citizens.
If there are people who by the deeds and actions have made others murderers and criminals and therefore already see themselves as president for those people, then that is a zone of comfort that they could remain rather than seeking the presidency which they have demonstrated that they have no understanding about.
Let me also say to Mr. Urey that before the President departed the country, she was engaged with the Ebola outbreak. Three separate meetings were held with the President by the technical committee who provided adequate briefing to the President which enabled her to direct the course of affairs as was required in handling the Ebola situation.
He needs to also know that more than three times a day the President receives briefing from the acting Chair of the Cabinet, Honorable Morris Dukuly, which is also enabling her to perform adequately her supervisory responsibility.
Mr. Urey ought to know that in six weeks, nearly 70 persons died in Guinea from the outbreak. In the past three weeks, you can see for yourselves the mortality rate in Liberia. This should be a clear demonstration to him that those who are in charge of this process are performing with efficiency and proficiency purely based on an account of the kind of supervision that is being provided by the President.
Finally, the Executive Mansion will like to strongly advice all Liberians and politicians in particular to refrain from using this serious health issue for politics as the spread of the disease knows no bounds. This is a situation, in our view, that requires all hands on deck as this is not the time for politics.