‘Refelctions of a Troubled Mind’

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In a blistering Open Letter to the Liberian President, former NOCAL CEO Chris Neyor accuses Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of seeking to “destroy” him as part of a plan to boost her son Robert’s chances at the Montserrado senatorial election.

The President calls the allegations, “reflections of a troubled mind”.

If allegations by Christopher Neyor, former president and chief executive officer (CEO) of the National Oil Company of Liberia (NOCAL), are anything to go by, then Liberians should beware that President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf intends to impose her son Robert A. Sirleaf on Liberians through every means possible as senator and subsequently president come 2017.

To ensure that her plan comes to fruition, according to Mr. Neyor, the President and her son are using every clandestine means of manipulation, especially cash, possible violence and threats against him because of his status as a formidable candidate for the Montserrado senatorial seat.

He said President Sirleaf had made what he termed as “venomous” threats against his life in favor of her son clinching victory in the ensuing October Senatorial election for Montserrado County.  Yet, Neyor declared, threats will not hinder his chances to contest and win the Montserrado Senate seat.

But when contacted Monday afternoon, June 16, by the Daily Observer for her reaction to Mr. Neyor’s open letter, President Sirleaf said she was “mystified and horrified” by these allegations. 

She promised that she will prepare “a professional and detailed reply” to the man she had chosen early in her administration to head the National Oil Company.

Mr. Robert Sirleaf is yet to publicly declare his intention to contest.  But his mother, the President, in an exclusive interview with the Daily Observer on Monday, confirmed that her son “is considering” a run for the Montserrado seat in the Liberian Senate. 

In an open letter sent to President Sirleaf, and circulated to many people and institutions,   Mr. Neyor wrote: “I have been reliably informed of your venomous statement on more than one occasion that you will destroy me so that your son can have an easy path to the Senate seat for Montserrado County and eventually to the Presidency of Liberia in the 2017 election to succeed you.”

“Why would I want to harm Mr. Neyor in any way? To what avail?  His allegations are purely the reflections of a troubled mind,” President Sirleaf told the Daily Observer.

In his open letter, Mr. Neyor accused Robert Sirleaf of frantically galvanizing to buy off all the senatorial candidates for the Montserrado County seat, promising cash for others to abandon their political parties to support his senatorial candidacy for Montserrado.

Neyor claimed that the threats against his life emanates from the fact that he has “grassroots support that cannot be purchased even with Robert Sirleaf’s millions.  

“Despite these threats, I will remain a formidable candidate for the senate race,” declared Mr. Neyor, who is the now chief executive officer of Morweh Group of Companies, an energy consultancy firm he established since his exit from NOCAL.

“I take your statement as a serious threat to my person,” he told the President in his open letter, “because in our part of the world when a President with all the power of the State wants to destroy a citizen, the order is usually followed to the letter.

“Destroying a citizen can take many forms, including made up accidents, poison, and fabrication of stories that attack one’s integrity or loyalty to the State (sedition, terrorism, etc.) or any combination of these plus more.

Mr. Neyor said the Liberian leader and her son are capable of taking his life because “We have gone down that road before, including when he tried to frame me as anti-American and had me under 24-hour surveillance when I was removed from NOCAL.

“Because of the seriousness I attach to your statement (which could be reason for impeachment in a non-imperial democracy), I am forced to issue this Open Letter to you so that our citizens and international friends can beware of how far you would go for one son to the detriment of your own administration and our country,” Mr. Neyor  asserted.

Neyor disclosed that he met with President Sirleaf on April 24 at her office to inform her of his intent to honor petitions to contest the Montserrado County Senate seat in the October 2014 Special Senatorial Elections. Also present at the meeting was her Chief of Staff, Dr. Edward B.  McClain.

Mr. Neyor said his intention to contest is to help the National Legislature be more responsive to the critical issues of the country.

“You inquired why I wasn’t running for the Rivercess senate seat instead and I explained among other things that I was born and raised in Montserrado County to a father who came from Morweh in Rivercess and I was a registered voter in Montserrado.”

Mr. Neyor: “You stated it would be a difficult task for me but I told you that elections are about numbers and from survey, I had the numbers to win in the county.”

He furthered, “You told me then that others had approached you for the same seat and that you would do your own survey and see whom to support. I said that was fair enough for I was just informing you out of courtesy but not necessarily for your support.”

The Morweh CEO indicated that since he left the President’s office that day and began consultations with a cross section of Montserrado citizens, she has been doing everything to undermine his participation in the election in favor of her son, though she did not reveal to him that he (Robert) intends to run for the same seat.

“You have been trying hard to coerce officials of your government who are supporting or sympathizing with my anticipated candidacy to work with your son instead, even when some advised it would not be a good idea for your son to contest the Montserrado County Senate seat,” Neyor said in the letter.

He said it would be a violation of the constitution and elections laws for the Liberian leader to coerce or entice support for your son to be elected senator.

Mr. Neyor said he is fully aware of the President’s plan to have her son become senator “at all costs, have him made President Pro Tempore of the Senate and then position him for the 2017 presidential election to succeed you.”

“Your son, if he has given up his US citizenship and legally becomes a Liberian citizen again, is entitled to run for any position if qualified under our election laws but let the voters make the choice whom to support and elect,” Mr. Neyor indicated.

To this, President categorically denied that she had any such intention for her son.  She emphatically declared to the Daily Observer that that he will not be a candidate in the 2017 elections.

Hear Neyor: “I wonder why you harbor so much bitterness against me, Madame President. In addition to your remarks to destroy me; you have also stated emphatically that you will make sure I am NEVER elected senator of Montserrado County.”

Why Madam President? Is it because as CEO of NOCAL I refused to give in to you and your son Robert’s adventurism to exploit the oil resources for your own benefits? I think the public should get to know why you are so bent on “destroying” me and trying to legitimize the already unconstitutional power you have given to your son Mr. Robert Sirleaf.

He also accused the President of conniving to NPA Managing Director Matilda Parker to give him “the runaround” concerning land at the Port of Buchanan he and his partners want to lease to set up an oil and gas logistics base to provide opportunities for Liberian businesses to participate in provision of goods and services to drilling operations off shore Liberia. 

The full text of Neyor’s letter is published on page 5 in t he Daily Observer. 

Expressing her initial reaction to the open letter during the Daily Observer interview, President Sirleaf said there was no amount of politics that should allow someone to sink so low.  She has also vowed to release a more detailed response to Neyor’s open letter. 

“It shows that he has a troubled mind.  We must respond to it in a detailed and professional manner,” she stated.

“We will insist on a professional response, void of rancor or any means to get back at Chris.  There will be no mudslinging, but we will attempt to correct those places where the information is not factual.”

She denied that Mr. Neyor had ever been put under surveillance—and maintained that her statement could be confirmed by the Ministry of Justice, by the police or any other security agency.  “He was in my office not too long ago to announce his candidacy.  He brought along his daughter and had me taking pictures with her. I’ve never accused him of being anti-American.”

She confirmed that her son Robert is considering running for the Senate. “He has not yet announced it.  Why would someone put up money to buy a senatorial candidate out?

“Neyor accuses me of coercing government officials?  The opposite can easily be verified.   As a matter of fact, I am above that.

“Do I have my son as a candidate for 2017, the answer is NO. I will soon make it known who my candidate is.  Emphatically, unequivocally, it will not be my son.”

Mr. Neyor accused the President and her son of hiring private jets from people to bring in money for the elections.   To this the President replied, “Someday I will discuss with journalists the matter of my integrity and my family integrity.”

“As for Neyor’s allegation that he had once been offered a US$2 million bribe,” the President challenged Mr. Neyor to “tell who it is, so that I can prosecute that person, in accordance with the rule of law.

“Mr. Neyor had always complained about people offering him bribes.”

The President said Neyor had accused her of getting money from GOL institutions, “as though we do not have a system of records in place to get money from the Ministry of Finance. I have to go through the same system as anyone else.  In any case, Mr. Neyor, Mr. Clemenceau Urey, Dr. Foday Kromah can be asked if I have ever asked any of them for money.”

The former NOCAL CEO also accused the President of dishing out to Ghanaians the catering services for oil companies exploring in our waters. “These companies need certain services—water, mud– some kind of mineral they push into the pipe, food, etc.”

The Daily Observer asked the President why some of these catering contracts were not given to Liberian companies. 

“There are plans to do so,” she replied.  The position of the National Port Authority (NPA) is to take over the rig services and lease various portions of them to Liberians.  Those considerations are being made.  She said Neyor had let it be known that he is interested in these services. “I am too open and frank a person.  NPA MD can testify to this. I have not gone behind him to ask her not to cooperate with him.”

“For what would I want to destroy Chris Neyor?” the President asked.   What would I get out of that?  The whole open letter is about Robert Sirleaf entering politics and the possibility of him winning.  This is what this whole letter is all about. Robert Sirleaf’s going into politics has to do with his concerns about other things,” she said. 

Neyor’s aim, she said, is to incite the public and add disaffection to the society.  If I ask him to prove what he is saying, what would he do?

Expressing her horror at the open letter, President Sirleaf said, “We’re in the same church.  The pastor and I have never talked about Chris Neyor.  United Methodist Bishop Innis, who she said visits her in office frequently, has never come with a complaint from Neyor. “But he (Bishop Innis) comes here to me all the time and raises all kinds of issues, but never about Neyor. Our First Church Pastor Erlene Thompson often calls me, too, but not about Neyor.”

“The one thing I like about our society,” said the President, “is that nothing hides; people talk, and they keep documents.  So those who say things that are lies will be exposed.  The embassies will know, because the companies which are mishandled or harassed for one reason or the other will tell their embassies first.”

American companies, she noted, have strong laws against corruption. “These laws forbid it. They have integrity laws that we have to respect.” 

Asked what impact her son Robert had on the decisions she makes, the President replied, “Someone may think I’m crazy.  No son or family can determine the decisions I take. I take personal responsibility for every decision I make because it is I who make them.”

Asked what impact she thought Neyor’s letter would have on the government, she replied, “I don’t think it will have any significant effect on government because what we have done or planned to do are very transparent and known to our partners.  So we will continue to carry our Vision 2030 and our Agenda for Transformation. There is the bigger burden of explaining to the people what we are trying to do. We have a young generation who are easily swayed by stuff like this coming from an intelligent person like this.  But I hope the people will see this as a devilish political play, because that is what it is.”

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