Ordinarily, Liberia’s President, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, 73, would not be the subject of a blog article of mine. But after reading her feature article attempting to justify President Goodluck Jonathan’s inclusion in TIME magazine’s 100 most influential people rankings for 2012 on April 18, I cannot help but seek to clarify some of the disingenuous facts in it.

Johnson-Sirleaf embarrassingly said Jonathan “possesses the qualities needed at this moment of great challenges.” She added that “In two short years, President Jonathan has shown… the dexterity to find the remedies to [Nigeria’s] many complexities.” As if that was not enough, Sirleaf outrageously claimed that “[Nigeria] has grown out of its past of corruption, mismanagement and brutality…”

Any honest and objective observer of the Nigerian political scenario would disagree with Sirleaf’s obviously flawed postulations above. Time without number, Jonathan has demonstrated that he sorely lacks the qualities of a good leader, not to talk about the kind of leader Nigeria needs. Jonathan has been very insensitive to the plight of Nigerians. To cite examples as proof of that would take a full article. Also, it is such a big deception for Sirleaf to profess that Nigeria has grown out of corruption and mismanagement. Indeed, less than 24 hours after her article was made public, the House of Representatives panel on the management of the fuel subsidy funds revealed large-scale fraud of more than ₦1 trillion between 2009 and December 2011. Recently, Nigeria has been awash with news of huge pension funds stolen by senior state officials as well as accusations and counter-accusations of bribery in almost every sector or agency probe as for instance in that which involved Arunma Oteh, the Director of the Securities and Exchange Commission. Indeed, the jumbo salaries of legislators and the ₦1bn 2012 feeding allowance of the presidency themselves comprise a form of official corruption by greed!

It is worth noting that Johnson-Sirleaf has often been enmeshed in controversy. In 2010, Sirleaf announced that she was going to run for a second term, backtracking on an earlier commitment she made in 2005, before she became president. Also, Liberia’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission which she created in 2006, included her in a list of fifty persons that it wanted barred from holding public office, for her role in Liberia’s first civil war.

Recently, in what has become her nepotic trait, Johnson-Sirleaf made one of her sons, Charles Sirleaf, the Deputy Governor of Liberia’s Central Bank and another, Robert Sirleaf, the board chair of Liberia’s national oil company (NOCOL). Robert is concurrently serving as a senior advisor to his mother. It should be recalled that Sirleaf’s brother, Ambulai Johnson, served as Liberia’s Interior Minister in her first term.

Ostensibly, it would not be out of place to think that Sirleaf’s article on Jonathan is akin to the sweet-talk that is characteristic of a typical African sycophant especially when there are lucrative deals at stake as indeed, they are, in the case between Nigeria and Liberia, with the latter receiving over 30,000 barrels of oil per day from the former. With her son chairing NOCOL’s board, the script is made even more inviting.

For some like me who passionately support women’s foray into politics, especially in Africa, Sirleaf has become a huge disappointment. Thankfully, a second African female president has just emerged in Malawi’s Joyce Banda.

Banda has officially stated that she doesn’t want to be addressed as “Madam President” but rather, simply as “Mrs Joyce Banda.” It remains to be seen, though, if that symbolic but inconsequential gesture will translate into Banda not abusing the privileges of her high office, and concentrating on doing the right things to prove that women can make a positive difference – a thing that is fast eluding Liberia’s Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf!

Follow me on Twitter @Raymond_Eyo


Posted April 20, 2012 by Raymond Eyo in Foreign Affairs

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  1. Africa i hear they say unite, in shameful and unrealistic unfolding still unite. lets be our brothers keeper, in the raining days or dry season lets make ourselves strong allies. when i heard the reported hype of our dear President in TIME magazine, i could not help but laugh. to later realize such barbaric accolade came from madam sir leaf further aggravated my supposed elated moment. i am sure sooner or later, our president will return the favor. its the new African order, the emergence of a united Africa; In whatever condition, lets portray the African image positively-a global strategic step, a highly defective and deceitful info to the world from our sister nation.
    And as for the newest female president in the neighborhood, lets wish her the very best but also tell her the best is the aftermath of a well calculated intention to do what is right and just. If she wills it, she can win it.

    • Interesting perspective there, my brother. You wrote as a true African patriot that you are. I concur. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. In particular, I like where you said of President Banda: “…The best is the aftermath of a well calculated intention to do what is right and just. If she wills it, she can win it.”

  2. Well said Raymond.Ellen Johnson is a huge disappointment. I am not surprised though. All our African leaders are bunch of greedy, corrupt, and power hungry men, oh and I forgot to mention, they are also clueless. Africa unite and purge yourself of this evil

    • Thanks, Opemipo. Lol! “All our African leaders are greedy, corrupt… MEN”? I thought we just saw a woman who looks like them? Hahaha… Just saying, my dear. On a serious note, you’re right – Africa needs real purging!

  3. The message you are passing through is real, some of this guys who sit under the canopy of presidency are turning it into family affair. How can a woman who calls herself a democratic elected president go in to her linage and bring into the governing body of a nation two of her sons and her brother. This is absurd, is she trying to build a monarchy? she is not different from the others. Now she want to justify the corruption practices in the Jonathan Goodluck administration.Giving them key positions is suspicious. With Banda “no comment”.

    • Intelligent and sound analysis there, Brother Ivo. I always enjoy your objective perspectives on these issues. Thanks for adding your voice. Indeed, Johnson-Sirleaf is so disappointing. Like you said, “She is not different from the others.”

  4. Well said Raymond. Madam Sirleaf has consistently shown she can match her male counterparts on the continent in corrupt practices, nepotism, sit-tightism, double speaks and a host of other malaise currently plaguing the African Leadership space. Looking at Liberia since her advent, she hasn’t done much to advance the cause of womanhood, when you now add her to her sister Diezani Allison Madueke, the current Nigeria oil minister, you can easily see a trend that the women wants to proof that whatever evil the men can do, they can do better. My prayer is that Mrs. Banda prove that women can do it positively better. As for GEJ no amount of foreign image laundering can cleanse him of his ineptitude & cluelessness. Only a sincere commitment to fighting corruption will show he knows what he is doing because as of this moment, GEJ is a total disaster

  5. Not surprised at Sirleaf, I am always wary when women market their femininity as a qualification and expect to be taken seriously.

    It is nowadays becoming another African trait.

    My reasoning is that being female, you already are accorded some respect and having to state the obvious is just tacky and to my mind an attempt to divert attention from a lack of REAL qualification.

    Haven said that, I truly would like to know what brand of toilet cleaner she is smoking (its great for getting high real quick!).

    The other thing that bothers me about the ‘praise-singing’ is why TIME found no one worthy in a nation of over 150million and had to go find this ‘recommendation’ down the road. Tu funi!

    We Africans must learn to be objective with criticism and accept it of our endeavours and for government, its an invaluable tool for assessment, except of cos, you are GEJ, then, it becomes fiary tales of imaginary ‘accomplishments’

    Truth can not be stifled though, no matter how hard we try to bind it. If GEJ is so awesome, may his type be visited upon Sirleaf’s nation and may she benefit therefrom! Awaiting her Amen…….

    • Wow! Great contribution there, Imagervet. Thanks. I agree with you that femininity shouldn’t be the variable women flaunt in order to get into, especially, elective office. Merit and competence should always be the benchmark. You concluded your point by saying: “Truth can not be stifled though, no matter how hard we try to bind it.” Spot-on!

  6. Your article only remind every Nigerian and Africans that our rulers are not leaders with the aim of landing us in the promise land. We are lagging behind when most of the world are living in the future already we are still dreaming in our sleep. Mrs johnson only show us and the rest of the world that like minds think alike, you can’t blame her because both of them are in the same ship and thanks to mrs joyce who is showing to everyone that atleast we still have few patriotic people in Africa. God bless Africa and the rest of the world. And may He clear the debris of rulers left in Our land. Africa welcome to the future.

    • Indeed, Adewale! Amen to your prayer asking GOD to clear the debris of bad leaders we have in Africa!
      I pray Mrs Banda stays the course…
      Thanks for sharing your insight.

  7. HMMM… for all the allegation against president jonathan only the 1 billion naira feeding allowance i can’t seem to find reasons for…

    Iyegbu Leo Ayodele
  8. It fulfils the saying that a prophet is without honour among his brothers.

    Iyegbu Leo Ayodele
  9. The term Presidential leadership in Africa needs delivrance Ray

  10. Raymond, I quite agree with you that some of Sirleaf-Johnson’s remarks about Jonathan administration are baseless and incorrect. However, without trying to defend neither Jonathan for his excesses nor Sirleaf-Johnson for her unfounded postulation, I wish to remind everyone that “a prophet is not honoured in his hometown.”

    Recently one of our very own, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala (NOI) was nominated by South Africa (even though not a friend of Nigeria) and two other African countries to head the world bank. Despite the fact that NOI faced many criticisms and condemnation at home for supporting Subsidy removal, she was accepted not only by African leaders but also by third-world/developing countries which prompted Ocampo (a Columbia national) to step down for her. She was acclaimed to be the most credible/suitable candidate for the seat. Most Nigerians didn’t see it that way.

    Time magazine is not a Nigerian based magazine and I doubt if they were bribed to do what they did. If Time magazine were to be a Nigerian magazine I know a lot of people would have had what to say. The magazine didn’t say GEJ is the best leader or a good President, but named him among the “most influential people.” I don’t know the yardstick which they used to select GEJ but I think they have their reasons which we may not see probably because of our familiarity and closeness to GEJ.

    Moreover, being the President of a country with the highest number of black people (and eve one of the most influential country in African) alone is enough to land him on that list.

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