Why doesn't this Administration get it? The President, in her first Inaugural Address, pledged to the Liberian people and the world that she considered corruption "public enemy number one" and was determined to combat it frontally. It is sad that the administration does not consider nepotism as part of the corruption syndrome.
But in our system, where so many talented and highly qualified people are yearning for an opportunity to serve, it is. If the government wanted a Liberian youth to participate in the recent NOCAL conference discussing the new Petroleum Law, they could have scouted high schools throughout the country where there are any number of very bright students, who have excelled despite the many deprivations facing their schools.
Some of these students rise above the difficulties they encounter personally at home or at schools without libraries or laboratories, yet go on to excel academically wherever they go to college.
So why choose for participation in the NOCAL conference the President's grandnephew?
We applaud Estrada Bernard, III for his accomplishment—only 17, a high school senior, already with university admission. It is in his genes, since his father is a highly accomplished neurosurgeon, hisgrandfather an eminent Liberian international lawyer and his grandaunt a Harvard graduate, President of Liberia and a Nobel Laureate.
We know that young Bernard has a very bright future and is bound to do well. But is he Liberian? It is said that he himself announced during the NOCAL conference that he is an American from Alaska. Yet, Ms. Khoury of the NOCAL said they were looking for a Liberian youth to participate in the conference. So that alone is problematic.
Did not the Administration see that?
Now it (the Administration) has invited criticism unto itself by this small but highly controversial incident. Ordinary Liberians are incensed by it, and so are many others, including the President's co-Nobel Laureate, Madam Leymah Gbowee.
Everyone recalls that the Nobel Duo fell out over another incident of nepotism, after the President appointed her son Robert Sirleaf to the highly lucrative position of Chairman of NOCAL. Leymah blew her top against that appointment, and that caused a rift between the Nobel duo. This newspaper editorially quoted women from the World Bank who stated that they blamed President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf for that rift, because she had no business doing what she had done–appointing her own son to that position. That appointment alone caused her more bad press than anyother single decision she had made. It took over two years for her to realize this, and eventually she asked him, however reluctantly, to step aside.
But then she turned right around and appointed him Liberian ambassador to the oil-rich Gulf state of Kuwait! Next thing we know, he had, apparently singlehandedly, emerged with a US$14 million loan!
We thought that was the business of the Foreign and Finance Ministers.
Leymah Gbowee has now spoken out again against the Bernard, III fauxpas, distancing herself some more from her fellow Nobel Laureate.
Most people familiar with this prestigious Prize say it has never happened before, for two recipients, especially sisters from the same country, to be quarreling.
The President must rethink her approach to the handling of national affairs. She must realize that she is the Mother of ALL LIBERIANS, not just the Sirleaf Family, and should treat all her children equally.
She has too much on her plate as our President, and does not need these totally unnecessary distractions, some of which, though they may appear petty and insignificant, have the tendency to undermine her credibility as a fair, forthright and transparent leader.