As the elected head of state of Liberia, Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf became Africa’s first democratically elected president. While she has made history in some respects; she has also deconstructed Liberian politics and the country’s economy in several ways.
Before Madam Sirleaf became president of Liberia in 2006, many young and old Liberians who served in her administration had less than $50,000 in their life savings, or personal saving and checking accounts. Most, in fact, had less than $5,000 or $10,000 United States dollars in their total savings. But today, they are the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s made millionaires.
Big Money Didn’t Just Corrupt Politics in Liberia. It Also Corrupted People.
Since Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s ascendancy to the leadership of the country up to the hour she retired, one way to think about politics in Liberia today is that it brings together a bunch of unethical public servants who before entering politics or public life, were paupers. But soon after entering public service in Liberia, they turned out as millionaires not just from the astronomical salaries they make, but from the vast amount of illegal wealth wrongly amassed without any repercussions.
While it is true that after 12 years of Madam Sirleaf’s leadership, Liberia remains peaceful and the country has made another history because the inauguration on January 22, 2018, was the first time that Liberians have ever witnessed and celebrated a smooth democratic presidential political transition when former President Sirleaf turned over power to incumbent President George Manneh Weah. But that transition comes with a big curse and severe pain to all Liberians except the millionaires made by the outgoing Liberian leader.
The Sirleaf-made young and old millionaires now spend an inordinate amount of time hanging out with rich people in Africa and around the world, their collars and noses pushed up against the window of an affluent lifestyle that they could never have afforded prior to 2006. So, in the case of Liberia and the Liberian people, bad things have happened in this situation. Not just to Liberia’s democracy, but to the Liberian people’s values.
If one looks at case after case where some Liberian elected and appointed officials have gone astray ethically, he or she will see a familiar pattern: the Sirleaf’s made millionaires are today the people of consequence in the country. They have major assets and other properties not only in Liberia but in places like the Middle East, North Africa, southern Africa, and in some West African nations like Ghana, Sierra Leone, and Guinea.
The evidence is clear: Liberians overwhelmingly disapprove of the Sirleaf’s Unity Party-led government political, social and economic management of the country. Most Liberians don’t believe that President Sirleaf, her appointed officials, as well as some members of the other two branches of the Liberian government, share their priorities.
The fact is, there may be plenty of room for debate over whether the Sirleaf’s Unity Party-led government had shared Liberians and the Liberian voters’ priorities on political and social policy issues. But when it comes to collective and personal economic priorities, at least, almost all Liberians and Liberian voters have good reason to be skeptical of President Sirleaf and most of those who served in her administration. Most members of the Sirleaf’s administration simply didn’t share in the average Liberian experience. And the sad part is: former president Sirleaf didn’t and continues not to get it.
In Liberia, the national unemployment rate has lingered above 85 percent for longer than a decade under President Sirleaf, a Harvard trained “economist” with years of admirable international and national careers.
The Sirleaf’s government, meanwhile, was a club that consisted of familiar corrupt millionaires with ties to either Robert Sirleaf, the president’s son, Jenny Johnson-Bernard, the president’s elder sister, or President Sirleaf herself. These people constitute the 1 percent of Liberians who are also wealthy. This is why James Sirleaf boosted in an email exchange in 2016 that his bank had an annual turnover of more than $52 million United States dollars that year. In Liberia? Really?
Sent from my iPhone
On Apr 21, 2016, at 5:08 PM, james sirleaf <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:I live in Liberia and our annual turnover tops $52 million. No government content but a lot to do with the banks and banking.Sir, Liberia is on a very progressive path.Cheers!james sirleaf