The last time we heard of Robert Sirleaf was when it was revealed that the National Oil Company of Liberia (NOCAL), one of the most lucrative of state enterprises, had gone bankrupt under his chairmanship!
But that was not all: US$30 million to US$40 million or more had disappeared!
Amidst this tragic embarrassment and monumental loss to the country and its impoverished people, Robert’s mother, the President of Liberia, Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf who, despite national and international outcry, appointed him to that position, announced that she had taken “full responsibility” for NOCAL’s losses.
This told the nation and the world three things: first, that she was personally responsible for that lost money; second, that she was also responsible for the ruin of one of Liberia’s most hopeful and most lucrative state enterprises; and third, that by taking “full responsibility for the tragedy at NOCAL,” she was letting him off the hook, meaning that she and her government, including the Ministry of Justice, the General Auditing Commission (GAC) and the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC), were NOT holding him accountable and he was free to go, without answering a single question of what had happened to NOCAL and its millions under his watch.
So the big, unanswered questions are, what happened to all that money? And, who will pay it back and satisfy the grave anxiety, concern and longings of the Liberian people? The repercussions (consequences) are so grave that NOCAL has been unable to pay off its many top personnel that were sent home because of the bankruptcy—not to speak of the great opportunity for Liberia LOST!
Many of the major world petroleum giants that saw promise in Liberia’s potentially profitable petroleum prospects quickly got cold feet and the biggest of them all, Exxon-Mobil, wasted no time in departing the country for the Ivory Coast. Why? They must have wondered at how Africa’s oldest independent republic could squander such a golden opportunity. All NOCAL’s money was not used to empower Liberians to supply basic services to the oil rigs, such as food, water and toilet facilities. So the disappointed and frustrated Exxon-Mobil left for the Ivory Coast, where these facilities are readily available. You are talking about a major multinational which, without yet making any money in Liberia at all, had done more than Firestone ever did in its 87 years of making billions of US dollars in Liberia—Exxon-Mobil erected a high rise building in Monrovia, on Tubman Boulevard, adjacent the Environmental Protection Agency. The building is now being used by the Carter Center.
But if all these painful and tragic losses were not enough, the President has again appointed her son Robert to another highly visible post—Commercial Counselor at the Liberian Embassy in Brussels, headquarters of the European Union!
This seems to have been done surreptitiously, for at least the Daily Observer knew nothing of it. That appointment was not one on which we received a press release from Presidential Press Secretary Jerolinmek Piah. Even The Inquirer, the nation’s second oldest daily, did not remember carrying such a story.
That is why we ask, do these people never learn? Or is it the arrogance of power which causes them to think, “I can do whatever, and no one can do anything about it.”
Then you have not learnt anything from Liberia’s recent history which you, as a passionate political activist, helped to make. It was you who vigorously and persistently criticized the past five governments—those of Tubman, Tolbert, Doe, Taylor and Gyude Bryant. And what were the results of all this political activism? Coups d’état leading to civil war.
You even imprisoned Gyude, former Chairman of the National Transitional Government of Liberia (NTGL), from whom you took over as President of Liberia, for allegedly misappropriating a million or so US dollars.
Ellen Sirleaf, an audacious and fierce political activist, once called Samuel Doe and his government “idiots.”
Now here you are, making the same dangerous assumption that the Liberian people are stupid.
Beware the ides of March, or April . . . or those of any other month on, so it seems, Liberia’s perennially fateful (ominous, threatening) calendar.
Heaven help us, we pray Thee, to avoid, in our long, perilous (death defying) history, yet another self-inflicted, tragic denouement (finale, end)!
Lord, you know we don’t deserve it. We have suffered too much, too long. So please come, Heavenly Father, once again, and save us from ourselves.