Liberia needs the “Iron Lady”, not “Ma Ellen” to Run Government!


The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia
August 13, 2007


The Iron Lady
People who have being following the political life of Mrs. Johnson-Sirleaf concluded that, if elected she would have not only penned her name into the annals of history as Africa’s first female president, but also as one of the best leaders the African continent has ever had. So they overwhelmingly voted for her. She has been in action as president of Liberia for a little over a year and a half! From our observations, it seems that she is leading the war ravaged West African nation by playing more the role of “Ma Ellen” rather than “Iron Lady”, the leader needed to turn Liberia around.

A couple of weeks ago, the Executive Mansion Press Secretary, Mr. Cyrus Badio issued a press release on a land dispute between two people about a lot on Mamba Point, the most expensive real estate area in Liberia. According to the release, Mr. Joseph Cornomia from Bong County had purchased a piece of land from former President Moses Blah. A woman comes from America and lays claim on the same land. The case goes to the Ministry of Justice. The Minister of State of Economic & Legal Affairs, Mr. Morris Saytumah writes a letter to the Ministry of Justice “by directives of the President” asking that the issue be carried in favor of the lady from America. In his press release, Mr. Badio says that the President has never given directives to the Minister to write such a letter and says she knows nothing about the issue and does not even know the lady involved.

The breach of confidence, the over-use of office prerogatives and the criminal use of the presidential office were more than clear, because they were brought forth by the President herself. Mr. Saytumah should not only be dismissed, but he should be behind bars!

The crime was clear and was reported by no other entity but the Press Secretary of the President. Liberians waited to see what actions would be taken against the Minister of State that many in Monrovia now call “Prime Minister.” Weeks after the matter, he not only enjoys the privileges of that post, but seems to have gained in stature. It is like he can do no wrong.

How many of such letters has Mr. Saytumah written? What did he get from writing such letters? Mr. Saytumah seems well prepared for his presidential campaign, with all the I-OWE-YOUs – he might have planted throughout the country.

On several occasions, similar letters have been written “by directive of the President” when it later turned out that the president knew nothing about the contents of the letters. What we have seen are just denials after denials – as if to say that those who wrote the “by directive of the president” letters were the president. No one knows how many of those “by directive of the president” letters have been written. A leader would take action, but a mother’s action would usually be fixated at just a reprimand. So, as a mother, she reframes from taking actions against those people.

The president fired people from the National Port Authority and Lands, Mines & Energy – but no action in the form of prosecution has been administered to any of those dismissed. Consequently, people even, at times, buy Mr. Bryant’s claim that his corruption case is a witch-hunt.

She says corruption is systemic, but who is to be blamed? She hired those people who are now perpetuating corruption in her government. A mother will complain about her child’s behavior without taking any action, while a leader will take the requisite actions. At this point, Liberia needs the Iron Lady the people elected to take care of business, not the “Ma Ellen” who lets everything go. When it comes to corruption, the “Iron Lady” is a decisive leader and that is what Liberia needs.

For about a year now, the president has been talking about a major cabinet reshuffle. When will it happen? Why talk about it when you are not determined to take the necessary steps? Liberia will turn the page when she becomes brave enough, like the Iron Lady, and steps out of the shadows of her cronies, profiteers, nostalgic advisors who want to take Liberia back to the past and her small group of “untouchables.”

The Ministry of Finance is still as corrupt and inefficient, if not more, as it was three years ago. Not a single policy reform has been carried out. Every agency of government collects taxes and put them in accounts known only to them. At RIA, travelers pay US$25 that goes into the coffers of the Civil Aviation who receives money from the government. The Ministry of Information taxes foreign journalists and issues its own receipts. The Ministry of Commerce issues handwritten receipts to businesses. The Ministry of Agriculture issues its own receipt and it is an open secret that the rank and file at the ministry request for bribe before they can approve the applications of entities trying to invest in agriculture – as in the case of Cavalla Rubber Corporation in Maryland County. So, where is the Ministry of Finance? Is it headed by a bill collector for the IMF and the World Bank?

Ma Ellen has overtaken the Iron Lady. It is our belief that Liberia now needs the Iron Lady more than it needs Ma Ellen. Ma Ellen will take Liberia back to Godfather Tubman, and soon, there could be another Tolbert, and another Doe and another Taylor.

We need to break the cycle.

© 2007 by The Perspective

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