President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
As a Christian, I hate or reject no one, but here is why I oppose President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s ruling Unity Party’s government in Liberia.
We can all agree that leading a nation is not easy. Granted. We can all also agree that Liberia is not a very rich nation. We also know that our country has had a very rough past, or turbulent history. We know and can all agree that our country needed to rebuild and put in place various infrastructures that were destroyed by and during the civil conflict.
However, what some of us refused to accept and/or agree to is the fact that our country – I mean the entire Liberia – cannot afford to have a CT scan, nonetheless a fitting laboratory, diagnostic and dialysis center in the past 12 years. What we object to are misrule and theft of public funds.
What kind of leadership has this woman (President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf) provided for the past 12 years? How does she feel about the disgrace, and above all, embarrassment and shame she causes our nation and people day in and out?
A CT scan costs less than US$200,000 dollars and no hospital in Liberia has one. But our president makes budgetary appropriations for individual offices in the millions. The President’s overseas and local travels and Per Diem alone are in the millions, so too are some of her high- level officials.
This morning, I cried in my private office in my Delaware home in the US and my civically conscious daughters, 11 and 9, heard me and so they jumped out of their rooms from the second floor to find out why I did, or whether my daily trip to the Baltimore – D.C. areas for business was aborted. My brilliant youngest daughter asked me, “What happened daddy?” I had nothing to offer other than say, “It is President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s Liberia again making news for the wrong reasons. No CT scan in a country where ministers and lawmakers earn US$12,000 a month, and where officials and their on-the-side cohorts embezzled millions.”
Right there my youngest daughter said, “Oh my God, is she really a woman, a mother or a human being?” Imagine a 9-year old girl asking this question. The implication of my daughter’s inquiry is, it is expected, above all else, for a woman, a mother nonetheless a human being to have some compassion. Forget about the leadership, governance and politics of leading a nation. As a female president, the first woman democratically elected president in Africa for that matter, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf should have prioritized women and children’s health. After all, she is a woman and a mother. Yet, she and her officials sit in comfort and thousands of Liberian women and kids lack basic preventive health care services.
Why should Liberian kids die or suffer because our country has no simple medical equipment like CT scan? Does this president feel the pains of the mothers who children died or suffered because irresponsible leadership, governance failure and undressed corruption robbed them of meaningful and life-saving treatments?
My kids care about Liberia because they know that I care about my country a lot. Even though they are tired hearing me talk about a country they have never seen and/or might not even visit if they choose to; nevertheless, they sometimes asked why I do care this much when I am living in a country (USA) that offers me a lot––a country that gave me graduate education not because I came from wealth, but because all I did was to find a public library, a computer and applied for student loan, which is something I continuously advocate for in Liberia so all students desirous of college education can have the chance to have it.
Like many Liberians, I too know that nowhere is like home and the biggest pride anyone can feel or get is knowing that his or her country men and women are doing better. I love Liberia more than any place on earth. This is why I do what I do despite the associated risks. Or else, I am blessed to be where I am and do what I do. All of us cannot be a nation and people of dead conscience, as the late Archbishop Michael K. Francis would say. Furthermore, it is important to note that no one learns patriotism in school; instead, it is simply just being a human being.
So, one may wonder why I cried today and why I am writing all this. Well, this morning, Ms. Donna Brazile, former acting chairperson of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and former campaign manager for former US Vice President Al Gore’s presidential campaign who is also a professor at Georgetown University tweeted a GoFundMe photo to me that says, “Liberia needs a CT Scan.”
Liberians are dying every day from minor complications because our country lacks basic medical equipment, simple drugs and materials. Besides, people laughed at us every day in international circles, and for some of us that engaged international activities, we go in and come out with shame and guilt––a shame or guilt imposed on us by the political and economic thieves in our government, the officials our rural, illiterate and ordinary people adorn and obey because of the artificially imposed poverty they live under and with.
The unfortunate news is, our leaders and officials of government can own fat bank accounts in the Middle East and Asia, and big hotels through surrogate Lebanese business people; private commercial banks and insurance companies as well casinos and multi-millions homes in Liberia and abroad, but our nation that they snip from cannot have simple things like a well-equipped medical laboratory, diagnostic and dialysis center, or a simple public ambulance system.
No one takes wealth with them when he or she dies. Presidents Tubman, Tolbert, Doe and their officials as well as other rulers in Africa, including the notoriously wealthy Mobutu Sese Sekou, of Zaire did not take a dime with them as they either merit in heaven or rot in hell, depending on their earthly deeds.
So, what does this woman, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, and her officials want? Why have they treated Liberia and Liberians in such a manner? The president wants her Lebanese business partners to have a 30-year tax credit from the Liberian government approve for a luxury hotel where only those who stole the country’s wealth can afford to go, sleep and dine while the rest of the country, say a population of 4.5 million people, not only starve due to unemployment, but also die from common illnesses as a result of the lack of an equipment as common as CT scan.
Instead of building a so-called Farmington Hotel, maybe the president should have asked her ghost “investors” to build a modern laboratory, diagnostics and dialysis center.
As the late Archbishop Michael K. Francis [a man whose courage, virtues, support and mentoring inspired and molded my character for truth, honesty and justice] of the Archdiocese of Monrovia once told me during lunch at his residence in Mamba Point before my pastoral assignment to St. Edward’s Parish in Logan Town when I began my pastoral year from the Catholic seminary, “No one takes wealth with them when they face God. So, uncontrollable greed is unnecessary and this is why gluttony is a sin,” he said. Mine you, the late Archbishop said “uncontrollable greed.” It means as humans we can all be greedy, but what we have in Liberia and under President Sirleaf’s administration is “uncontrollable.” This is the real problem.
Our country, with the passivity of our president, has nurtured uncontrollable greed and propelled unpatriotic individuals with undesirable wants to be in various functionaries of government. We will hope that our leaders will have the moral courage to apologize to Liberia and Liberians now, or one day.
It is not that some of us want to criticize our president or our government or country. By the way, I love our president and do pray for her more than the thieves in her administration that she fattened with millions in asset and cash. We also wish no arm for President Sirleaf, but we are different from some of the people around her because some of us are taught to stand for fairness, justice and equality. More than that, it is not only the right thing to do, it is common human decency.
This is why we have to speak up and speak out even when they plan or want to eliminate or shut us down. We will speak out because it is the right thing to do as Liberians and as people of faith and virtues. Jesus said, “No greater good or sacrifice than to lay down your life for your fellow human beings.”
What is happening in Liberia is immoral, unjust and evil. The money the president allowed to be misused from the country by her disciples at the Ministry of Finance through the quasi Private Sector Development Initiative (PSDI) loan program and from various other government agencies could have been put to better use by buying CT scans so that Liberian children’s lives can be saved.
May God bless our country, our president and lead her to see the light so that people abroad, mainly in Western countries, will not have to do GoFundMe to have a CT scan in a country where millions of dollars are stolen and shipped abroad every day.
You did it. So many of you saved Sampson’s life. His skull was filled with tumors – not just disfigurement – but the tumors had destroyed his left eye and were soon to grow to destroy his right eye and blind him totally. With the help of so many just contributing a few dollars on a prior go fund me campaign, we all brought him to the USA and he had surgery at Mayo Clinic and now is back in his home nation of Liberia, handsome and most importantly, his life and vision saved. It was one of the most enriching projects – not just because we saved his life – but because so many of us worked together to do it.
The generosity of so many to help Sampson was breathtaking which now brings me to this and you won’t believe this: Liberia does not have a CT scan which, had they had a CT scan years ago (like you do in your community hospital just down the street), the docs would have diagnosed Sampson’s problem early and prevented so much hardship and so many surgeries.
There are American doctors in Liberia but without that basic diagnostic tool (CT scan) those doctors have ‘one armed tied behind their backs’ and thousands suffer and problems like Sampson’s spiral out of control. They just need a CT scan.
When we brought Sampson back to Liberia in May after his surgeries in the USA, I visited Samaritans Purse newly built hospital in Monrovia. I said, “If I raise the money for a CT scan, would that make a difference?” The American doctor said I had no idea what a CT scan would do for Liberia! I then spoke to Reverend Franklin Graham. We agreed – I would raise the money for the CT scan ($275k) and he would pay for the electrical work, training, building, staffing etc. to make it operable to save lives. Reverend Graham’s cost is $300k so I got the much better deal. 🙂
So now I turn to you….will you help? It will change and save lives and won’t take much individually because together we can do so much. I will start. I will give first. I am not just one of those who ask others to give and I don’t give. I just gave $10,000 to show you my extreme dedication to this important project. I am not certainly not asking you to give $10,000 (I have a job and can do that amount and should give that to show you my passion for this project) — but I am asking you for $10. If enough people give $10 — or more — we will do this.
This is a chance for all of us to once again work together for an incredible project. Think about it — we only need 26,500 people (my FB page has more than 1.2 million) to give $10.00 and we change the nation of Liberia. And yes, of course, if you want to give more, have at it! Please also tell your friends about this project.