The Daily Observer expended a total of five of its full pages to convey to our readers the full text of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s 10th Annual Message to the Legislature. As always, this is the 10th time we have done this, free of charge. No, when no one else was doing it, we felt it our patriotic duty to do so, for the benefit not only of our readers, but also the entire reading public.
There were 17 comments under our lead story on the Annual Message published on our website, most of them highly critical of the President.
Even so, we strongly believe that Ellen has herself to blame for what is happening to her.
The Tuesday comments on her Annual Message, which we carry today, is a clear indication of this truism—that she has herself to blame for these severe criticisms regarding her Annual Message.
Why do we say that? Read the comments, then reflect on the theme of this editorial—“the Perception of Corruption,” as we explain it here.
We think the President made a cardinal mistake when she told the Legislature and the Liberian people that there was “a perception of corruption” in the republic.
The import of that remark—or what it told—us is that there is really no real corruption in the country, only what people are thinking or perceiving.
Has the President forgotten what she told the nation in her Inaugural Address in 2006 that corruption was “public enemy number one”? She later told the nation on several occasions that corruption in Liberia is “endemic.”
Corruption has indeed compounded during her administration. A few examples are in place here. The President has fired many of her key officials, including leading Ministers, for corruption, and said not a word about the corruption in which they were involved. One of them built a huge mansion, and when she was invited to see it, she asked where he got the money from for that. When he could not answer, she fired him, even though he was from her county, probably a relative.
Another Minister from the same Ministry was, we understand, in the midst of transferring a huge amount of money out of the country when someone in the bank tipped her off. She immediately summoned that Minister and demanded to know where he had gotten the money from. When again he could not answer, she fired him on the spot. But like the previous one, he was given a slap on the wrist and the public never got to know why.
There is also the scandal regarding the over US$200 million paid to the Liberian government over the ELENILTO Western Cluster deal, which that bogus company paid to sell its shares to an Indian company. Government made no comment on this deal, nor do the Liberian people have the slightest inkling of what happened to that money. How much of it went to the President’s reelection campaign? Does any know what US$200 million could have done to boost agriculture, or health, or education in Liberia?
What happened the Korean business people’s US$250,000 confiscated by the National Security Agency (NSA), headed by the President’s step son, Fumba Sirleaf? That, too, may have been “a perception of corruption”; yet the government has made not a single comment on it.
What about the US$500,000 which our Security Agencies confiscated from the Nigerian business tycoon? We understand that the Liberian government secretly paid that money back but never told the public about that. Was that another “perception of corruption”?
And then the NOCAL bankruptcy after the President’s son, Robert Sirleaf, steered its Board of Directors for nearly two years and we understand is still in control of the company even though he “resigned” as Chairman two years ago. Remember that when Clemenceau Urey was removed as Chair in 2013 and replaced by the President’s son, there was US$31 million in the company’s bank accounts. In less than two years of Robert Sirleaf’s chairmanship the company became bankrupt, unable even to pay its top executives, who had been summarily retired!
The President in her annual message expressed concern about the increasing incidences of rape in the country. One wonders how concerned she was when it was her government that released Lebanese men who were convicted of rape and human trafficking, which amounted to the betrayal of Liberian womanhood.
This, in the President’s mind, had to be “a perception of corruption”—nothing else.
Ellen has to realize that, as in the case of all past Liberian leaders, there must come a day of reckoning. Will she be prepared for it?