Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has been accused of running Liberia like her family affair. It is reported that 17 of her family members, relatives and friends are all not only in government but also hold top and strategic positions.
NOTE: This article was published August 5, 2012 in ThePanAfricanAgenda, and by popular demand, I was asked to republish it. Here you have it!
In July 2012, I wrote an article titled: “What You Do to Others, May Some Day Catch up with you: The Story of Madam Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.” I am very pleased with the positive response received. This shows that many Liberians are aware that the president is engaged in the practice of NEPOTISM. Yet, many of them, particularly, her supporters want us to return to the days of, “Your leave the people’s thing alone;” which in fact got us where we find ourselves today. It is my honest belief that informed citizenry makes better decisions. It is this very fact that drives me to continue my advocacy on behalf of the Liberian people who are being cheated with impunity out of what RIGHTLY belongs to them.
“Liberia: A Country Run as Ellen Sirleaf Unlimited” is a follow-up to my previous article. And as long as the God of our ancestors blesses me to wake up each morning, gives me the strength, I will not relent in speaking and writing the truth about what is going on in Liberia. This I will never betray.
Just the other day, I came across a statement on the Liberian Listserv, which was written under the caption, “One Step into a ‘Modern State.’” It reads:
“Turning on the first set of street lights in Vai Town on Bushrod Island President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf described the moment of lighting as ‘Moving a step into a modern state.’” The President said:
“We want to say to Public Works and CICO how pleased we are that we’ve moved one step into a modern state, just another step.”
To which one E. Toe made the remark below:
It is a pity when Liberian[s] do not expect anything out of Life. Here we have our president applauding the installation of a SINGLE red light and being pleased with it. After six years all we can have is a single traffic light. Now you see why we are calling for a change. Our leaders must dream more than a traffic light. At this rate it may take 100 years for a traffic light to reach us in Rivercess.
In other words, we allow our leaders to treat us as if they were elected “to do us a favor.” And whenever others raise legitimate concerns and to some extent, take the President to task regarding not having safe drinking water, electricity, good roads, sewer system, quality healthcare system, accountability, and rampant corruption in her administration, all we hear is, “The oldma is trying!” She was not elected to be trying! Six year is too much of a time to be trying.
It is this type of practice that the late African patriot, Julius Nyerere referred to in his October 13, 1998 Good Governance for Africa speech. It reads:
Poverty is an enemy of good governance, for persistent poverty is a destabiliser, especially if such poverty is shared in a grossly unequal manner, or is widely regarded as being unfairly distributed as the few who are relatively rich indulge in conspicuous consumption… Known or suspected corruption among the political leaders often makes the problem worse – and corruption throughout the society more difficult to overcome. Good wages or salaries will not stop bad people from being corrupt but miserable wages and salaries are not conducive to rectitude. Political instability, real or imagined, can be a source and is often used as an excuse, for bad governance.
Nyerere’s statement describes what is taking place in Liberia. If we continue to ignore the facts, Liberia will become a country run as a family affairs. As a result of my previous article about the President and her family network, I was provided with additional facts from well-placed sources who are not pleased with President’s disregard for the Liberian Constitution and her reckless abuse of power.
Find below their names and how they are connected to the President. The information provided here was obtained from well-placed sources. According to them:
- Mrs. Medina Sherpard-Wesseh: is cousin of the President through the Cooper lineage. Her late mother is a cousin of the President. Medina is also the wife of Conmany B. Wesseh. Medina is described as the most powerful woman in Liberia next to Ellen’s sister Jeanie Johnson-Bernard. Medina was the Director General of the Cabinet when Ellen first became president but after the LISCR/Willis Knuckles scandal in which she was deeply involved, the president sent her to the Buchanan Renewable Oil Company as the government representative. Also, she is on several lucrative boards and is the Chair of the Hiring and vetting Committee for jobs in the country. She reportedly rakes in around 28, 000 monthly as salary. She and her husband are now said to be worth more than 3 million dollars in cash assets alone…….They are amongst the newest Liberian millionaires.
- Beyan Kessely: God son to Ellen. She stood as godmother for him in church at his christening. Beyan is the Maritime Affairs head Commissioner. His salary is $32,000 monthly excluding benefits which include: foreign travel at least 4 time yearly, security, generator, telephone scratch cards, and entertainment etc. Beyan’s mother, Mrs. Linnie Kessely who was Director General of the Civil Service Agency under Tolbert. She is one of Ellen’s best friends. Her son had her working at Maritime about 3 ½ years ago but following public outcry; she is now working with Ellen at the Ministry of State for Presidential Affairs.
- Maureen Shaw: is sister of Emmanuel Shaw and distant cousin to Ellen from her mother’s side of the family. She is a seamstress by occupation but since Ellen became president, Maureen is now one of the powerful women in Liberia. She sews all of Ellen’s clothes; is on several public corporation boards, and is a member of the Hiring and recruitment committee of Liberia. She has no educational or political or governance resume.
- Etweda Cooper: Cousin-in-law to Ellen. Etweda is now Superintendent of Grand Bassa County. She has no educational credentials not even high school diploma; is a close friend of Medina Wesseh.
- Julia Pinky Duncan: Former Superintendent of Grand Bassa County, now Minister of Gender is cousin-in-law to Ellen. She is very close to A. B. Johnson – the Liberian way. It is alleged that she and AB’s wife almost got into a fight. AB is a close first cousin of Ellen and former Minister of Internal Affairs.
- Granddaughter: Ellen has one of her granddaughters in the United States now serving as government representative to the maritime office in New York.
- Allen Brown Sr.: A close long time childhood associate of Ellen. Allen Brown was one of Ellen’s and the NPFL point persons in the Ivory Coast and a founding member of the NPFL. Ellen’s son Jes Sirleaf (James) divorced his wife sometime in 2007 and is now married to Allen Brown Sr.’s daughter. James Sirleaf is on several boards of financial institutions in Liberia and also financial advisor to his mother.
- Adama Sirleaf: is Ellen’s youngest son, he is a medical doctor. She gave him the authority to raise funds on behalf of GOL to revamp the health sector. He has an official letterhead of the president’s office and uses it to raise funds. He exclusively brings volunteer doctors from overseas to Liberia. Anyone who wants to undertake similar project will have to seek endorsement from him. He reports to his aunt, Jeannie Bernard who is the oversight person for the JFK hospital and Chair of the board. She is a nurse by profession but is considered the de facto Prime Minister of Liberia.
- Olubanke King–Akerele: former Foreign Minister is foster cousin to Ellen. Ellen’s grandfather was reared by President C.D.B. King, grandfather of Olubanke King. Ellen’s father was reared by President Hilary R. W. Johnson. That is how her father was handpicked as Representative of Bomi Territory back in the day representing Bomi Hills (now Bomi County).
- Boakai Sirleaf: Assistant Minister of Agricultural is nephew-in-law to Ellen. His uncle was Doc. Sirleaf, Ellen’s ex-deceased husband.
- Momolu Sirleaf: of the Liberia Sports Association, is currently Director of Grants at the Ministry of Health. He is nephew-in-law to Ellen. Doc. Sirleaf was his uncle.
- Hester Baker-Pearson: Publisher, Liberia Travel and Life Magazine. She has the contract to produce the travel magazine on Liberia. Her mother is a Johnson (Ellen’s foster cousin). Hester is the great, great granddaughter of Elijah Johnson one of the founders of Liberia. Elijah Johnson was the brother of President Hilary R. W. Johnson, Ellen’s foster great grandfather. Hester is the great, great grandniece of President Hilary Johnson.
- Cllr. Yvette Chesson Wureh: CEO of the Angie Brooks Randolph Center located on Fendel high way. It is multi-million dollars a year facility and funded heavily by the GOL and the international community. Yvette is foster cousin to Ellen. Yvette’s mother is a Johnson. Yvette is the great, great granddaughter of Elijah Johnson brother of President Hilary Johnson (Ellen’s foster great grandfather).
Ellen’s mother was reared by the Dunbars. This information can be found in her book: This Child Will Be Great. Any Dunbar in Government is a foster relative of Ellen.
Liberian people, as the saying goes; “you cannot have your cake and eat it too.” NEPOTISM is NEPOTISM! It cannot be said any other way! NEPOTISM is “favoritism shown to [‘nephews’], other relatives and friends such as giving them positions because of their RELATIONSHIP. It is a practice among those with power or influence of favoring relatives or friends, especially by giving them jobs.”
In this regard, Maryland County’s Representative Bhofai Chambers was right when he accused the President of practicing nepotism. Nepotism undermines the President’s policy of National Unity and Inclusion. Like we say in Liberia, “that’s the true fact!”