By Atty Philip N. Wesseh (PNW)
As I said few days ago that since this month (AUGUST) is my birth month, most of the issues I would be discussing or raising would be historical. That is to reflect or retrospect on the past to provide an understanding of the past. And so today, I would be reflecting on some of the activities and accomplishments of former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf who led this country for 12 unbroken years.
I would be doing so in the wake of claims by some individuals, including some officials that she is responsible for today’s woes and that she did not do ‘”ANYTHING” during her two-six year tenures.
For my nearly 40 years of practice in mainstream journalism, I have found myself in a position that I can comment on some of the activities of our former leaders. For the late President William V.S. Tubman and the late William Tolbert, I only got to know their activities through the work of the news media, as I was only a student at the New Kru Town Elementary School and the D. Twe High School, where I started the conventional practice of journalism.
But for the late Samuel K. Doe, Charles G. Taylor and Madam Sirleaf, I was in mainstream journalism and therefore covered major activities, for which I am au courant with their activities.
Specifically, during the regime of the late Doe, who metamorphosed from a military general to a civilian President, I was assigned at the Executive Mansion from the DAILY OBSERVER Newspaper. For former President Taylor and Sirleaf, I was not really an assigned reporter, but as editor; I did follow their activities and so I can vouch for them certain aspects. Besides, unlike today, the intermittent and periodic interactions with the media provided opportunity to know some of their activities.
The issue of former President Sirleaf ‘not doing anything’ during her regime is not something of today. Even during her administration, some individuals and groups repeatedly said this, something she was aware of. As a result many times when she went to dedicate a project, she would sarcastically or mockingly say, “This is one of the no nothing project.”
Frankly, whenever I hear this claim of NOTHING” or blaming of the former President about the country’s woes, my blood simmers in me, to say it figuratively. For me this is only a disservice to this former President, considering where she took this country from after many years of conflict and transitional governments.
By the time she ascended to state power, Liberia’s image was not good internationally. She worked and improved it. Today, no one can call Liberia a “ROGUE STATE.” Additionally, she worked with international partners and others, thereby leading to reduction or cancellation of debts burden something that paved the way for more international support.
On the domestic front, her administration saw the coming of anti-graft institutions and others, including the Freedom of Information Act to strengthen the governance system.
This ‘IRON LADY,” as she was affectionately called, touched every aspects of national life, including road construction, the expansion of educational institutions such as the Fendell Campus of the University of Liberia, with the help of China, as well as the Monrovia Vocational Training Center (MVTC) in Gardnersville. Some of the major roads constructed during her time are the Caldwell Road, Monrovia-Ganta, Monrovia-Buchanan, as well as community roads, some of which are being continued by this present administration. Don’t ask me about Tappata Referral Hospital in Nimba County and the ongoing road construction on the Somalia Drive.
Besides, some of the projects she initiated that have been dedicated by this government include the Ministerial Complex, RIA New Terminal and the Capitol Building New Annexes.
Noticeably, the increment and prompt payment of civil servants’ salaries and the increment in national budget from less than US$100m to more than US$500m by the end of her 12 years; are two major accomplishments and achievements of Madam Sirleaf. And so for people to continue to say that the former President did nothing during her 12 years’ tenure, is unfair. Despite our differences, it is good to call a spade a spade.
Let me not be misconstrued as suggesting that all was well during her administration and that there were no missteps or problems.
But all in all, what really got to me recently was when an official of government blamed the past administration. This infuriated me because I cannot imagine how the former administration would be blamed about this, as if it is the one that is designing government’s economic policies.
Instead of people in government trying to blame past administration, it is about time to do everything possible to provide the BREAD and BUTTER” for the people’s tables. This is the crux of the people’s anger and protest. As such, this should be the concern of the economic planners of the state.
Lest we forget that the result of the just-ended by-elections clearly indicates the need to turn the wheel for the betterment of all. I agree with the CDC Chairman Mulbah Morlu that it is time to “swallow bitter pills’ to improve the situation in the country.
Another thing to take note of is that since the ascendency of Madam Sirleaf, as the first democratically elected female President in Africa, this has brought many women to the highest office of their countries because of the Liberia example and the exemplary works of Madam Sirleaf.
Lastly, let me say that it is unfair to say that former President Sirleaf, who we the Kru people would refer to as “SARWEE” for modern liberal, did nothing during her 12 years. Only someone who lives in a state of hallucination can subscribe to this fallacy.
To her, I say Madam Sirleaf well done that good and faithful servant, as you would also be remembered for increasing women participation in the governance system and also promoting gender issues.
I Rest My Case