There’s no time to turn our back on Liberia.
Even though news out of there is discouraging, Liberia cannot survive without Liberians saving Liberia from the Ebola virus, and that inefficient government.
We love Liberia but we cannot say the same thing about the current government. So far, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is the most unpopular president or individual in Liberia today.
That is because when bad and ineffective government of this kind is allowed to hang around after making such monumental blunder in the name of governing, the people often find themselves in a vicious cycle of poverty and eventual death.
Seriously, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf does not have any stamina and credibility left to govern Liberia right now.
For Madame Sirleaf, saving face and frustration is driving governance.
She lost all the goodwill that embraced her when she arrived on the political scene eight years ago, as the newly elected (female) president of a war-torn country.
The Doe and Taylor fatigue and the unmistakable rhetorical sound bites, which once propelled her to leap from being a political gadfly to the presidency and international stature, has since diminished.
Gone also is the “do no wrong” impression Liberians and some activists once had of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s image-consciousness, which led her to hire international image and public relations consultants to build her as this infallible, iron-fisted ‘heroine’ who is destined to rebuild Liberia into a prosperous, respected and civilized society.
Liberians heard and read those lies and fussed about them, and only hope that Ellen Johnson Sirleaf will be uncovered one day. She has since been uncovered as not up to the challenge of the job.
With no organized, committed and respected opposition in the Diaspora and in Liberia with a resounding message and the credibility to challenge Madame Sirleaf, (some of us did our best to expose this government in opinion writing and in public speeches), most Liberians just give up, until now.
The Ebola virus, as terrible as it is in terms of the human death toll and how much it has destroyed the Liberian people and the economy, has done what the Liberian opposition couldn’t do to Madame Sirleaf.
The Ebola virus exposed Ellen Johnson Sirleaf for the fraud she is, and the incompetence she has shown from day one.
The Executive Mansion and the president’s surrogates are good at the blame game; always blaming the Liberian people for not heeding her early warning that the Ebola virus was on the Liberian soil.
According to them, Liberians saw Sirleaf’s Ebola warning as a way to beg for international aid.
The Ebola virus is a public health and national security threat to the republic and the people of Liberia. Those threats shouldn’t play second fiddle to the public’s distrust of the Liberian government.
Madame Sirleaf is duty-bound to listen to the Liberian people, and should have put a laser-like focus on the Ebola threat by closing the borders immediately, declaring state of emergency (while respecting individual liberty), and should have deployed every available public health doctors and health workers, to combat the menacing virus.
If Liberians are to be quarantined, those individuals cannot and shouldn’t be treated like slaves and prisoners in their own community and country. At least, provide them with food. Don’t let them go hungry.
If the state of emergency disallows them to travel from one end of the city to the other to purchase food supplies, or to visit loved ones, the Liberian government should have put in place a food (rice) distribution and supply plan to feed those people who are comprised of young children, women, the elderly and disabled.
Because the Ebola virus, according to experts can be spread by touching a sick person, or by handling bodily fluids of an infected person, a crematorium should have being built immediately by the Liberian government to respectfully cremate the dead.
The slum and overpopulated community of West Point shouldn’t have been selected as an Ebola holding center.
And when residents of the community took to the streets to protest their poor treatment by the Liberian government, the Liberian Army led by President Sirleaf and defense minister Brownie Samukie, opened fire and killed teenager Shakie Kamara.
Where is justice in the unprovoked killing of this young man by the state? Knowing how the Liberian government operates in that broken, corrupt and micromanaged judicial system, the young man will never get justice
Watch my written words, nothing will come out of this tragedy. Justice will be delayed and denied. Or, a slap on the killer’s wrist will replace real justice.
In fact, had Liberia been a genuine democracy, Defense Minister Brownie Samukai would be fired and prosecuted; and President Sirleaf would be impeached or asked to resign for the senseless killing of this young man.
However, there is a lesson to be learned from this Ebola tragedy.
Disaster preparedness, emergency management and emergency health should be the priority of the Sirleaf administration, and future administrations. Funding and training our own specialty doctors and health workers must also be a priority, after Ebola.
US President Barack Obama announced in Atlanta on Tuesday that his administration is sending 3,000 troops and medical personnel to the region, to fight the Ebola virus. Mr. Obama also announced the establishment of a regional command and control center to be in Monrovia, and the building of 17 treatment centers with 100 beds each to contain or eradicate the virus.
The Liberian people and others in the region certainly appreciate the assistance from the US and other countries during this very critical period.
As one of the oldest independent countries in Africa, we have to learn to do for ourselves. Our leaders cannot continue to beg, beg and beg for assistance when they (historically) neglected their people and the healthcare system that is now under a global microscope.
These same leaders including Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, their relatives, friends and cronies are known to travel to foreign countries and foreign hospitals for their healthcare needs, when Liberian hospitals and clinics are neglected, and Liberian patients are left to perish.
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and her predecessors failed Liberia and the Liberian people.
The Sirleaf administration and future administrations cannot afford to lead from behind and without a vision. Liberian presidents cannot lead by begging and playing catch-up, either.
We need bold, caring and visionary leaders.