When former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf took to the airwaves last Wednesday, she spoke of many things, which in her mind, could be holding Liberia back. But it appears as if the main takeaway from Sirleaf’s radio appearance that is hurting some key members of the ruling Coalition was the statement: “I did not build a house when I was president”.
Speaking on the issue of integrity, Madam Sirleaf said she built her houses in the 1970s when she had good jobs working with the World Bank, the UNDP and Citi Bank Nairobi office. She further intoned that it is because of her integrity that she has won such huge support within the international community.
President Sirleaf’s comments come against the background of mounting reports of President George M. Weah and his key lieutenants building new homes, refurbishing old ones and amassing wealth for themselves in less than a year of the new administration.
Well. the ruling Coalition is not taking Sirleaf’s jab lying down. CDC tough-talking stalwart and Montserrado County District Number 8 Representative M. Acarous Gray has now openly accused President Sirleaf of lying that she did not build any home when she was president.
In a social media posting on November 29, Rep. Gray snidely commented: “I spent millions to improve my houses and built 2 new ones on my farm and a hospital in SA. Even built a new home in Caldwell.”
Gray’s reference to Madam Sirleaf owning a hospital in South Africa has been a long-standing rumor making the rounds in Liberia, but without any documentary trace. Sirleaf herself quashed such talks during her presidency as mere rumors circulated by idle minds.
Countering Gray’s post, Renate Porte, a concerned Liberian, stated emphatically that Madam Sirleaf does not own any hospital in South Africa. “She doesn’t have any hospital in S.A. That hospital is the Ellen Joseph hospital. She and her sons may have properties in some other countries, but that hospital is not hers. It was built in the 1900,” Porte declared.
Other less diplomatic concerned citizens challenged the Weah administration to institute an audit of the former Sirleaf regime instead of throwing jabs.
“Audit her chief. Is it too hard to do so? She keeps challenging you that the records are there,” says Kermii Mitch Gopeya, in reference to Gray’s claims.
As for Jonathan M. Saah, the gloves were literally off. “Do a comprehensive audit of EJS to prove your point if you truly mean business. I bet you to order an audit and post a picture of her hospital in South Africa, fake legislooter!” blasted Saah.
A case of “she did it, so we can do it too”?
Just as Rep. Gray launched his verbal assault on Madam Sirleaf regarding her “integrity”, another hardcore USA-based CDCian opened another front, suggesting that Sirleaf’s sister Jenny Bernard collected 12 years payment from the Government of Liberia for the former president’s housing.
“What is the total of the 12 years payment from the GOL to Jenny Bernard for Ma Ellen housing? #didyoubuildherhouse” commented Toyuwa Harris.
Mr. Harris statement, which sought to disprove Ellen’s comments that she did not build a house during her tenure, also tried to question her sanctimonious stance on integrity. But Liberians were not ready to buy into that playbook.
“I just cannot believe the intellect of some people. It puzzles me to see respected and educated people being used by few individuals. It is clear we have comprehension problems about politics. Some people believe once they were an integral part of a failed administration, they must do everything to justify the failures as successes. It is a good thing to admit and change prospectively in politics. In fact, it is more honorable. How can some of you who are so respected in our communities behave in such a manner? Remember, those of you who refuse to change will go down in history as the reasons why this administration failed Liberia. How can you justify incorrect actions or policies at all costs? If the actions of this administration are justifiable based on the actions from previous administrations… where is the so-called “CHANGE FOR HOPE” and how is it significant?” wondered J. Krischen Wah, Sr.
In his own defense to the tons of negative comments that flooded his thread, Toyuwa quickly retorted: “Ma Ellen said she did not build a house. How much was paid to her sister? I believe it was at least enough to build multiple homes. So my question is a fact check. Now how much was paid to her sister and how much have been budgeted for the mansion?”
The most irking reactionary comment came from Stanford Peabody, capturing the frustration of many Liberians with the attitude of CDCians’ pissing knack of blame-shifting failures of their administration to the past government
“… Ellen got 80 percent approval from your group. The 20 percent is for Aunty Jenny rent payment?” Peabody countered.
A Wake Up Call
As the ruling establishment and its leadership bandy words with Madam Sirleaf over some of her caustic comments about the way the Weah government is running the affairs of state, many pundits believe it is just a matter of time before those ordinary Liberians who risked their lives on the “Change for Hope” mantra see through the ruse and get a rude awakening.
“We saw what happened during the recent by-elections in District 13 where CDC was flogged by someone that they called a drug trafficker; someone they abandoned during the campaign, but are now claiming as one of their own. CDC will wake up in 2020 and 2023 and see that the people’s eyes are wide open,” says Jusufu Kamanda, a Liberian resident in the United Kingdom.