Liberia’s most hated and controversial president, Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
By Melissa D. Kaita
I have been an admirer of Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf for years, and I had considered her a courageous, hardworking, smart and progressive individual in many respects, but it would be foolheartedly to have such level of admiration from a distance. It is obvious that the reasons for which I had admired the Liberian leader are, perhaps, the same reasons why many around the world do admire her as well.
The reasons many of us admire the Liberian leader from a distance is simply because we really don’t know her; the people who know her and know her best don’t share our bravado and logic. They don’t share our admiration for the Liberian leader because they have known for a long time that she is a deceiver.
The word deceiver comes from the deceive which means to mislead by a false appearance or statement; delude: (Webster’s dictionary). Hence the word deceiver according to the dictionary is someone who leads you to believe something that is not true. A deceiver is also classified under nouns denoting people with the several Synonyms including the following:
Hypernyms (“deceiver” is a kind of…):
offender; wrongdoer (a person who transgresses moral or civil law)
Hyponyms (each of the following is a kind of “deceiver”):
bluffer; four-flusher (a person who tries to bluff other people)
imitator; impersonator (someone who (fraudulently) assumes the appearance of another)
fake; faker; fraud; imposter; an impostor; pretender; pseud; pseudo; role player; sham; shammer (a person who makes deceitful pretenses)
liar; prevaricator (a person who has lied or who lies repeatedly)
misleader (someone who leads astray (often deliberately))
a charlatan; mountebank (a flamboyant deceiver; one who attracts customers with tricks or jokes)
obscurantist (a person who is deliberately vague)
sandbagger (someone who deceives you about his true nature or intent in order to take advantage of you)
two-timer (someone who deceives a lover or spouse by carrying on a sexual relationship with somebody else)
dissembler; dissimulator; hypocrite; phony; phony; pretender (a person who professes beliefs and opinions that he or she does not hold in order to conceal his or her real feelings or motives)
chiseler; chiseller; defrauder; gouger; grifter; scammer; swindler (a person who swindles you by means of deception or fraud)
decoy; steerer (a beguiler who leads someone into danger (usually as part of a plot))
dodger; fox; slyboots (a shifty deceptive person)
betrayer; double-crosser; double-dealer; traitor; two-timer (a person who says one thing and does another)
defalcator; embezzler; peculator (someone who violates a trust by taking (money) for their own use)
falsifier (someone who falsifies)
finagler; wangler (a deceiver who uses crafty misleading methods)
My perception of Madam Sirleaf changed after I began to question why this woman so admired around the world, mainly by wealthy individuals or people in developed nations where access to basic social services and things like food, housing, electricity, education, and healthcare are reasonably available, is vehemently disliked by 99.99 percent of Liberians except those who are part of gang of thieves. My view about her also changed when I began watching videos and listening to her interview responses to critical and honest questions about issues affecting her people.
Questions about nepotism in her administration she has a favorable answer. Questions about her family members corrupt practices she has a favorable answer. Questions about why Liberia still has not had good roads, access to better health care, electricity, improved educational system, and robust private sector she has a favorable answer by diverting the blame and placing it on history and the Liberia people. Putting the blame on Liberia’s history and the Liberian people as to why basic social services are lacking or poor in Liberia is falsehood and bad governance.
After all, Liberia is not the only country that has experienced war. Rwanda experienced the worse civil war in Africa and Paul Kagame doesn’t have a college degree from an Ivy League institution neither has he worked for any international organizations before. But apparently, he is turning out to be one of the best leaders in Africa’s modern history. Even neighboring Sierra Leone where some don’t hold the president in the highest of esteem, life there has triple-times improved than Liberia. There is maximum electricity nationwide, road networks are far better, sewer system great, investment in agriculture far ahead and national security has improved significantly. In fact, Sierra Leone is becoming a booming tourist destination.
In addition, my view about the Liberian change when I also realized that she has a leaderless attitude of ‘I know it all’ and don’t need any suggestion. People with such attitude always want to do things their way or always insist that things be done their way or no way.
In 12 years, no one can really pinpoint what major or substantive achievement President Sirleaf is leaving behind with the Liberian people. The so-called that is being maintained in the country and for which she undeservedly received a Nobel Peace Award in 2011 is not because of her effort; there has been peace in Liberia because the Liberian people made the calculated effort that they want peace and that peace is better than war. If president Sirleaf was really a woman of peace or deceiving of the Nobel Peace Award that would have been reflected in Liberia’s political transition and in the 2017 Presidential election. To date, Liberia is more divided than when Madam Sirleaf assumed office. Besides, there is more hardship in Liberia than when William V. S. Tubman, William R. Tolbert, Samuel K. Doe and even Charles Taylor were presidents. And her government is more corrupt than all past Liberian administrations combined. These are facts and before authored this article I sought the view of some Liberians on things what the salary scale of elected officials and heads of agencies were under previous Liberian administrations.
As under-developed as Liberia is and as poor as 98 percent of the Liberian population is, lawmakers in the country earn about $20,000 US dollars per month and cabinet officials earn about $10,000 US per month in addition to other immunities. The judiciary the same. President Sirleaf also receives $3 million US dollars just for her globetrotting travel. In salary, she is allegedly making more money than all the presidents in western nations––nations that send development assistance and relief support to the suffering people of Liberia.
Prior to authoring this article, I did all I could to be connected to a veteran Liberian lawmaker asking to interview him. I specifically asked him how conscionable it was for him and others to earn such salaries? The lawmaker who asked not to be named in my writing responded by saying, “Every bad thing in this country and about this government is the making of the president. If she stops enriching she and her family, cronies and others loyal to her we (lawmakers) see no reason not to enrich ourselves. But we will not sit down for this woman use us.”
What particularly turned me off about Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is the fact that her deceptive activities go hand in hand with hypocrisy. I read a good number of recent reports where she is said to grimace about corruption and therefore decided to set commission to investigate some government officials accused with no actual ‘evidence’ for prosecution based on reports we read. But this same president did nothing when millions of dollars were allegedly embezzled from the Ministries of Agriculture; Public Works; Finance and Development Planning; Foreign Affairs and even the so-called Executive Mansion where revolving funds for renovation is a cash-cow for her acquisition of wealth and more. Her government even jailed journalist Rodney Sieh for reporting corruption and her administration is said to be emboldening a foreign national, Nigerian Tony Lawal, who is accused of falsely receiving more than $18 million US dollars to take her government to court. How can a man who stole the Liberian people money take the government to court for auditing him his work and the funds disbursed to him? By taking the Liberia’s Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) to court, Tony Lawal is basically taking the Liberian government to court for stealing from the Liberian people.
Had Tony Lawal being a Liberian citizen and had done what he did, President Sirleaf would have probably called multiple press conferences, set a commission headed by another ‘High Priest’ lawyer to prosecute him and his fake company, but the fact that the gossip-mail says her sister and family members are allegedly involved in Lawal’s criminal activities, she has turned a blind eye.
My reason for penning this article is not disparaging Madam Sirleaf, but to draw her attention to the reality: The world is watching and that the best legacy she can leave behind is not one obtained by bribing international press and institutions for publicity and honors, but one that would involve how she makes the lives of ordinary Liberians better. So far, she has failed, and miserably too.
One would recommend that the Liberian leader desists from acts that would appear to be plunging the country into chaos. As she retires, she needs not be the center of chaos and national animosity. Instead, she should focus on her post-presidency in terms doing what she fails to do: Reconciling the nation from one village to the next so that the pain and suffering she contributed to will end.
About the Author:
Melissa is a social media jerk and feminist.