ANALYSIS—No doubt Liberia’s president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has accomplished a lot in her life––president of Liberia, ‘Nobel Laureate,’ powerful and wealthy woman, and of course, Africa’s first female president, but accomplishments are not the same as achievements. Her book, This Child Will Be Great narrates all that Madam Sirleaf had long wanted to accomplish from childhood and she did all she could to accomplish what she wanted in life–––principally being president of Liberia, an accomplishment that brings tremendous wealth and unruly power.
According to Webster dictionary, an achievement is a goal that has been reached. An accomplishment, on the other hand, is a job or project that has been completed, something one has completed successfully. Madam Sirleaf became Africa’s first ‘democratically elected’ president and head of state of Liberia. While accomplishment is an admirable and credible thing, Madam Sirleaf’s accomplishments practically leave pains and wounds in the hearts of many people, dead and alive, just so she comes up glorious, and surely, she has.
But these are not the reasons for concern today––and by the way, they are or should be in the past, especially considering that Madam Sirleaf herself is becoming a person of the past even though she fights to stay relevant.
The cause for an urgent concern today is that President Sirleaf is inadvertently becoming a force for renewed insecurity not just for Liberia and the West African sub-region, but for the entire Africa and the world. She is sketchily sowing a dangerous atmosphere of political instability in Liberia by her unceasing and unwarranted interference into the country’s electoral process in an unprecedented manner. This callous conduct puts Liberia, West Africa, and the world at risk.
Liberia, Sierra Leone, and the Ivory Coast experienced protracted years of brutal civil conflicts that left over a million people dead and millions more internally and externally unsettled, either as refugees throughout Africa and around the world or as Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in their respective war-torn nations. The conflicts in these countries also impacted the entire West Africa sub-region politically, socially, and economically.
In addition, the international community and some western nations were affected as well in terms of appropriating funds for peacekeeping operations and humanitarian relief efforts to benefit the populations and war victims of Liberia, Sierra Leone, and the Ivory Coast. The United States also became primary affected nation because international terrorist groups like Osama bin Laden’s Al Qaeda sect allegedly traded in blood diamonds from Sierra Leone and possibly Liberia to maximize their assets and resources, some of which may have been used to carry out the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and other places in the United States.
A potential political instability will not, in any way, be just a Liberia’s problem. It will surely be a West Africa’s, Africa’s and indeed global problem for several reasons, including the following:
- There are more than half a million ex-combatants who took active parts in the civil conflicts in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and the Ivory Coast. Many, if not all, of these people, were not de-traumatized and fully demobilized. Moreover, many of them lacked employable skills and are unemployed, especially in Liberia and Sierra Leone where youth unemployment rates are more than 60 percent in both nations (World Bank, UNDP and IMF estimates).
- The West African sub-region is vulnerable to dangerous extremist groups and terrorists’ activities. Boko Haram is posing a serious and deadly threat in the Niger region while Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb or AQIM, an Islamist militant organization (of al-Qaeda) which aims to overthrow democratic African governments and institute some Islamic states are raging hell in northern Mali and surrounding territories.
- Both Liberia and Sierra Leone have huge deposits and easily transferable natural resource commodities––diamonds and gold––that are of vital interest to international terrorist groups to fund their operations and asset portfolio.
- There are extreme poverty and hardship among the people of the sub-region. Most young people are idled, jobless, struggling, frustrated and exceptionally angry at their governments and societies for the conditions of their lives.
What these glaring and indeed fearful narratives above present is a clear picture of an awfully volatile, insecure and risky sub-region that needs no further political uncertainty in any form, shape, and manner. It is also a sub-region that conclusively needs the full attention of the international community.
Therefore, President Sirleaf’s problematic zealousness in Liberia’s presidential election is counter-productive and full of hidden self-regarding agendas and real questions such as: What does President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf really want? What are her motives for interfering in the presidential election?
Our concern would be considered objective because we know that all the major candidates (Vice President Joseph Nyumah Boakai, Senator George Manneh Weah, Counsellor Charles Walker Brumskine, Mr. Alexander B. Cummings, Jr., Dr. Joseph Mills Jones, and Ms. MacDella Cooper) that participated in the October 10, 2017’s presidential election are credible and good-intentioned individuals, and we respect them. Any of them could have won and do have the potential to easily win the presidential poll without the backing and support of an exceedingly unpopular incumbent president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
So, why is President Sirleaf forcing her way into the process? Why is she giving the appearance that she is supporting one candidate one day and another the next day? Why is she acting as if she is aiding any candidate or party when in her goal and objectives things are suspicious, at best? Unless there is something that Liberians and the world do not know, but from all indications, it seems the Liberian leader has a deep-seated hidden agenda that is only good for her interest and not that of Liberia, West Africa, and the world.
The actions of President Sirleaf are felt by no one more than Liberians––Liberian children, women, youth and the elderly. Therefore, when paid agents in Western countries (no matter what their current and past statuses are) lavish unfounded and deceitful praises on her, we are baffled, and struggling Liberians are distraught. If all was roses under President Sirleaf’s decade-long rule, Liberians would have loved her (after all they are not ungrateful, and most indigent Liberians would not have sought for Taylor’s return, not mentioning maintaining their loyalty to him). Apart from Taylor’s quest for unconditional power, survival was much better under his rule. This is a fact. Under Sirleaf, life in Liberia is more than living in hell in economic terms.
Unlike these Sirleaf-funded Western praise-singers, it should be young Liberian girls who, instead of going to school, are forced to prostitute just to feed their unemployed parents and malnourished sibling, that should sing all the kumbaya for Africa’s and Liberia’s first woman president. True be told, no young woman in Liberia loves President Sirleaf except those who are children of her small band cronies and corrupt officials.
Therefore, people who are not feeling the pains and struggles of the Liberian people, but instead go around penning false narratives about how wonderful and angelic their powerful Liberian financial benefactor Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is are committing an egregious immorality. If these paid praise-singers with access to international medium to channel their concern for Liberia could take a minute and write or speak about the plight of struggling and poor Liberian women, malnourished kids, abused and raped girls, and the thousands of unemployed youth, perhaps one would have understood their truest interest in the country and its people.
On the contrary, all they write and speak about is not about the country’s interest and its people but about Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s insatiable ego and someone whose life they construed to be far better than the rest of the 4.5 million people that make up the population.
Lastly, the current political stalemate in Liberia should draw the fullest concern, response, and intervention of the international community, and perhaps, Liberia’s greatest ally, the United States for the reasons stated above. It is important to note that President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf knows what and how to cause political instability.
For instance, political instability occurs when elections are not free and fair. Several nations have suffered from political instability because of unfair elections that are characterized by the rigging of votes and intimidations during elections. An electoral process that is not free and fair is one of the major causes of political instability in several countries across the globe, especially Africa.
Moreover, creating an atmosphere of instability is nothing new or foreign to President Sirleaf. She has done it before and is fully capable of doing it again, even if it means through a new and different medium. Therefore, she should not be taken for granted. The world must act in the Liberian political mess before it is too late.