For the international community, it might seem a myth when they first got the whispers, tweets, and text messages from friends that the one of the world’s most influential leaders and powerful woman leaders and their darling, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of the tiny West African nation of Liberia was coming under protest at the United Nations headquarters in New York during the 68th session of the United Nations General Assembly. But for those in the hall when President Sirleaf took the podium to address the General Assembly, realized that in fact what they heard about a protest against President Sirleaf on the grounds of the United Nations was not a myth but reality when the television screens in the hall began feeding the protest alongside President Sirleaf ‘s speech. The Liberian government tried spinning the effect of the protest by downplaying the protesters by the number of persons protesting though by all measure, the amount of protesters there far overwhelmed the three -to- four persons protests President Sirleaf herself participated in 1970s and 1980s and history annual is filled with the consequences of those three- to -four persons protests, the direct rippling effect which sailed the President her into the Executive Mansion today.
President Sirleaf’s international image, the only asset to her authority to governing, suffered a significant dent by the United Nations protest and disparagingly, to the disgust of the President and anger to her supporters, her image suffered more bruises as she met another protest welcoming her back home from the United Nations General Assembly. Both protests were calling for her unconditional resignation. The one million dollars puzzle which ponders the mind and perhaps her international friends who treat her to a rock star stardom, paling every and any award on earth to her on the frenzy of ‘Africa’s first female President’, is ‘how did she loose it, can she salvage the damage and regain confidence to govern until 2017?
For her loyal supporters and those in government, from thin air, they say within a twinkling of an eye that the “oldma will be there until 2017” while supporters of the protest insist too that “Ellen Must resign”. With both sides on the fringes of their stances, it becomes a very difficult puzzle for the ordinary mind to find answer to.
But how did President Sirlead get here that her citizens are calling for her unconditional resignation in the face of the world far away from Liberia that treats her as this immaculate angel?. Are her citizens just plain crazy to call for her resignation? Or is there a vast disconnect between the international community that feels on the’ frenzy of a first African woman President’ and Liberians who face and live daily the consequences of President’s Sirleaf’s policies and find it unproductive to their human development?
It may come as a shock to the international community that Liberians could be protesting for the unconditional resignation of President Sirleaf, but for Liberians, it comes as no surprise because Liberians knew President Sirleaf before 2005 when she was elected President, appearing on the word stage as ‘Africa’s first female President’. For Liberians, they do not see President Sirleaf as this immaculate angel the world treats her to but the “Ellen, the Iron lady”, who beneath the layer of “Africa’s first female President frenzy”, lies another layer, the layer of the true Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf who contradicts the immaculate angel the world treats her to and Liberians but they don’t or chose not to know.
Every Liberian knows and is a victim, one way of the other, of the handy work of President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. Any time she showed up in Liberia during the President Doe regime, it was some sort of mayhem, ranging from the infamous 1985 coup which she master-minded that would lead to Liberians deaths and she would flee the country into exile she had carried to the country. The scars of President Sirleaf’s mayhem enterprise over two decades before becoming President are fresh on the minds of Liberians and her election was a national accident as the result of peace brokers brokering peace for Liberia at any cost to the extend of rewarding warlords and their political leaders such as President Sirleaf by compromising the soul of the country, the constitution by suppressing article 76 under which President Sirleaf and others committed treason against the Republic by funding the war and leading the political arm of the NPFL, the arm group which invaded the country on Christmas Day, 1989 at the detriment of the future of the Liberian nation and on the backs of the blood of the 250, 000 Liberians who were sent to their untimely deaths at the hands of the war.
President Sirleaf knows her skeletons and demons from the Liberian civil war and her tumultuous past during the 1980s and her accidental election election of 2005 only happened because Liberians gambled on her against a football player who was just rushed and dust off from the soccer pitch and told to lead a youthful political experiment, “Congress for Democratic Change”, CDC party which has since turned out a disaster to lead a broken nation. President Sirleaf would not had been elected had she gone with another candidate other than warlord candidates and a footballer.
President Sirleaf knew this very well that her election was a second chance for redemption, that the Liberian people gambled on her for the of future of their country but she betrayed that trust. On the contrary, President Sirleaf would embark on a journey to international stardom adventure, putting her entire energy into it to claim glory-a self-aggrandized journey and putting little into her work by not spending more time developing programs to leap a broken nation from the dungeon. President Sirleaf spent more time abroad claiming every award on this planet and not much time to attend to the nation’s business, leaving governance to freshman public officials who don’t have a trail of running a section or department in government.
The President took for granted the gamble Liberians took to elect her over a footballer- as they say in Liberia, “hard times makes monkey eat pepper”. That gamble unfortunately was not reciprocated in kind by the President by appreciating Liberians that she would prove herself worthy of the trust and gamble taken.
President Sirleaf, who Liberians expected much from got overly overwhelmed when the entire world took to her as Africa’s first female President and brought the world laterally to her doorsteps. She raked every award one can think of and continues to rake more even including the ones for janitors. This international acclaim has become President Sirleaf’s demon that is coming back to hunt her, refreshing the saying that “be careful of what you wish for”. The Liberian leader got overwhelmed so much so that she saw herself invincible and is now captive to her own aggrandizement, she would care less about the concerns of ordinary Liberians say about her policies and how they are hindering their well-being. Pragmatically, the President governs the country and its people with arrogance, dismissive attitude, divide and rule and a care free style where her public official roam amok dipping into public coffer as as if it were their private casino. These same vices triggered down to her public officials- they are all arrogant, dismissive, and purport a divide and rule tactics.
It is mind burgling that a government coming directly from the cessation of 14 year civil, that that government would be insensitive to the fragility of the climate and environment in it is as well as the circumstances through which it came into being in the first place and ignore the expectation of a war-wary population that is so eager to lift itself from the shackles it is forced live with.
There is no excuse whatsoever for the Sirleaf government failure to restore safe drinking water and electricity after eight years, especially considering the unlimited support from the international community to her government and her asset as ‘Africa’s first female President’ to influence whatever she wants done. Inculcating the government with 17 members of the Sirleaf clan at the dismay of the people and developing loyal Sirleaf clan errands and doorkeepers, some becoming loose canons doing whatever that pleases them and go with impunity including the plundering of the national coffers create an atmosphere and environment that indeed what those officials say in private that the “oldma old, the oldma not in control” prove the President lacks the gravitas to govern.
Liberians have cried out so long for a very long time about the state of affairs in the country but the President played deaf ear, an attitude so pervasive, Liberians now call the her after the football player “Facao”- a player who when he scores a goal, places his fingers in his ears and swings his head, singling, he is not listening to anybody just to annoy the opposing team and amuse himself to his goal scored. In essence, Liberians say President Sirleaf doesn’t listen and doesn’t care about how they feel about her policies. How is the President and her officials sleep when they sole 40% of the land belonging to the country to foreign companies to plunder and signing 66 illegal contracts which pawned the country resources and corruption a ‘new normal’?
With these sort of troubling issues underpinning the country, nature will take its course at some point and the people will push back when their backs are pushed to the wall.When nature begin to take its course after you ignored what naturally you should have done, you can not defy gravity. If a Liberian has a problem with you, it is not that Liberian who is the problem but you- you must check yourself. Liberians are people who are not hard to satisfy, they just need the bare minimum, they don’t demand that much from their leaders but the basics and unfortunately public officials are so hyper corrupt they will usually take everything not leaving anything in the public coffers for their people.
After eight years in power and being darling of the international community, Liberians who were hopeful the election when President Sirleaf came to power,have now lost hope. No job, though some dust bin bureau of the government announced that the country’s unemployment rate is 3%, an employment data which could only be derived using “delusional economics” practiced by aliens and the country’s Information Minister and Press Secretary to the President proudly promote this alien economic data in town hall meetings with Liberians in the Diaspora, of all places. Twenty-five thousand student failed university placement test are embarrassing happenings. Prostitution on the rise owing to hard shape and the caveat for landing a job as a young man is to be sodomized and ladies to compromise their dignity to either her male or female would-be boss to get the job. Gay and lesbianism are on the rise, practices that were highly heard of even during the war and the dictatorship of Charles Taylor who is considered a despot.
Liberia is not progressing but de-progressing and with troubling and strange new moral degeneration of the moral fabric of the society and Liberians did not settle for that when they elected President Sirleaf.
The ball is in the President’s court to salvage her own doings and it is only she alone who knows what to do. She can choose to ignore what is unfolding and characterize it as her famous response to decent, the ‘noisy minority’ and be dismissive as usual or open a dialogue. It may be tough because the protesters may not trust the President in a dialogue because she is fond of reneging on her promises when makes them but what is obtaining in Liberia must be given keen focus and the attention it deserves. I would admonish the President not to listen to ‘seekers of daily bread’ as they have done to previous Presidents not to negotiate but use brute to quell the protesters- these people are still around today while Presidents Tolbert and Doe are long gone and Charles Taylor yesterday arrived in Great Britain to serve 50 years in prison, only to return to Liberia as a cargo when he leaves this earth, in fulfillment of his last wish made before leaving the country “by God’s willing, I’ll be back”.
What is obtaining must be a wake up call for the President to take radical steps in running the people’s business and drastically reduce the international travel to focus on the nation’s business. The President has claimed all the awards known to man, it’s time she focuses at home and the people’s business, leave the other janitorial awards not yet wrapped up to the janitors. Beneath all these awards Madam President, your people are starving and dying from malaria and other curable diseases. Enough of the flowery speeches (“sweet talks”) to the international community that are unparalleled to the realities your people are living through and no hope in sight after eight years in power.