The President’s Challenge in the Next Thousand Days

first_imgSam Jackson, one of the nation’s leading economic and political thinkers, in his Op-ed piece in yesterday’s Daily Observer, has laid out the stark challenges facing President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf as Liberia approaches its next transition period in 2017.  That is when Liberians are scheduled to go to the polls to elect a new President.In his brilliant piece, Mr. Jackson presented the President with two stark choices: first, “Governing as a lame duck and biding her time would be disastrous with unfathomable social consequences.”  Second, Mr. Jackson postulated (suggested): “The President must govern as though she is running for reelection.  Too much is riding on her leadership and we’ve lost too much time to Ebola and political inertia (inactivity, sluggishness).  She must turn around the negative narrative that her administration has failed.  The President needs one memorable legacy project or two that will silence her critics and make her relevant in the blunt choices for 2017.”Mr. Jackson then gave this warning:  “If the President fails to be fully engaged in development over the next two years and gets distracted by politics as usual, Liberia runs the risk of falling back into conflict.”Every Liberian should read Mr. Jackson’s analytical thesis on the way forward in Liberia.  It requires the gripping and decisive attention of not the President only, but all of us—those close to her; those far from her; those for her and those against her; and even those who characteristically sit on the fence. Each of us is called to reflect soberly on what Jackson is saying and do EVERYTHING in our power to get the President to listen actively and follow his dispassionate and erudite advice.  In doing so, she would not only save her legacy, but far more important, save her country. IT MUST NOT BE SAID THAT AFTER ELLEN, AFRICA’S FIRST ELECTED FEMALE PRESIDENT, LIBERIA SLID BACK INTO CONFLICT.That would be tragic.  It would amount to the squandering of the immense resources God has given us; and to blatant ingratitude in the face of the outpouring of help we have received from the international community.What then, must Ellen do to cause Liberians to say, “She played well her part and left Liberia better than she met it?” Her remaining time is not too short to make a big difference in one of the fundamental problems Mr. Jackson touched on: the abject poverty in which Liberians continue to live, while a tiny minority is prospering.  To deal decisively with this problem, the President must seriously tackle agriculture, the sector in which a majority of Liberians work and subsist.  She must empower our farmers with training, tools, extension services, money and access to markets.  She must find the people who can make this happen with the same passion and boldness with which she garnered support to stamp out Ebola.Secondly, Ellen must rear within herself that same level of passion and “not on my watch” sternness to crush corruption in her government.  This will permit the resources of the country to flow  freely into the areas they are most needed—education, health,  empowering Liberians in business and reaching out to the teeming masses on the streets—men, women and children—helping them to attain hope and a brighter future.Here, the President should engage her Education people, including MVTC and the Booker Washington Institute and find ways to teach these street people trades that will give them marketable skills.The President must undergo serious self examination and STRIVE to use power prudently, so that she will be remembered as a leader who was evenhanded, fair, forthright and just.  Her political base, Unity Party, is currently in disarray, and she must do everything to fix it.  Why disarray?  She is said to have personally intervened to support particular candidates against the popular will.  Also, in the mind of the public, she is perceived to be feuding with the party’s Chairman, Counselor Varney Sherman.  That could sound a death knell to party unity.  How, then, will she be remembered as a partisan who benefitted so richly from this party—two terms as President?If we can get the hydro, paved roads to Harper, Vahun and Cape Mount, mini hydros and running water throughout the country, these, too, would enrich her legacy. Nothing, however, would be able to replace the spiritual foundation of her leadership—Ellen’s soul (character) as a leader.  That, more than anything else, could smooth the transition, and determine how she will be remembered.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

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The Village Girl

first_imgTucked away in Jenay Wenay, a small village on the outskirts of Grand Cape Mount County, is eight year-old Siatta Massaley, another Ebola survivor and orphan. Wearing a look of grief, loneliness and despair on her sad face, Siatta prefers sitting silently in her corner of pain rather then playing as any normal child would.Villagers in Siatta’s town say the child has seen more than her little heart can handle and that she’s not alone in her depression.According to Jenay Wenay’s assistant town chief Moumou S. Massaley, there are over 150 Ebola orphans nestled in the care of various people who are trying to help.“We have many children who either lost a parent or both parents. In fact, many of our relatives from the Massaley family lost their lives to Ebola. All in all, we lost 45 people to Ebola and each left behind their child” he added.Jenneh Massaley, one of the two wives that Siatta’s father traditionally married, says Siatta’s father went to Monrovia after the family was infected with Ebola and has yet to return back to the village.“It was my mate, Siatta’s mother, who had Ebola and passed it on to Siatta, my grandson Fasisu Kaiwe, my husband and myself. Siatta contracted Ebola because she was the one cleaning all of our vomit when we were sick in the house,” Jenneh added.Upon hearing her story being explained to this paper, Siatta placed her sweatshirt hood over her head as if to hide from what she was hearing and from the memories.According to Jenneh, who says she survived Ebola as well, Siatta and her family went through days of hiding, weeks of being in the hospital and now find themselves trying to grasp what happened to them.“Siatta is hurting. We lost Fasisu who was only six years old and Siatta’s mother. The child is seriously traumatized as you can see and I’m appealing for help in bringing her back to life,” Jenneh pleaded.Meanwhile, Siatta, who held back tears, moved about on the porch slowly while pacing back and forth as her stepmother recalled a day in December 2014.“After Siatta’s mother became ill, Siatta did all the cleaning up after her. Then her father fell ill and passed it on to me. My grandson Fasisu was sleeping with Siatta and myself and that’s how he became ill with the virus,” she added,”After Siatta’s mother died and we all became ill, I ran away from our village with the two children and went into Monrovia to seek treatment. Anywhere we went, they refused us and because of that, I had to hide with the kids sometimes in dark places like garages and so on,” she said.According to Jenneh, contact tracers from Cape Mount alerted officials that she had escaped along with two sick children, one being on the verge of death.“We were so sick and unable to get help on our own. Luckily a contact tracer traced us in a garage after residents there told them that we were lying there for two days. We were lucky enough to get help and were taken to the ETU on December 6, 2014 and released on the 20th. Fasisu, my baby, my poor grandson didn’t make it.  He died there two days after we were admitted,” she tearfully said.Meanwhile, Jenay Wenay has seen much devastation since Ebola hit its tightly knit village in the past three months.Presently, Jenay Wenay has no livestock, crops or drinking water in the village. After taking a tour of three of its farms which were once run by many who have since passed from Ebola, empty rice fields now filled with grass and bushes are all that’s left.“Our main market that generates the most money was closed down by the government months ago and should be opening by the time this story is published. We were asked to stop mining gold and other things that involved too much physical contact,” Moumou added.” Because of not being able to get money from the mining and so on, we had to abandon our farms and some of the farm owners died from Ebola,” he said.While Jenay Wenay has been secluded from all activity, the town says there has not been a single case of Ebola since January, which doesn’t hide the fact that there is a lot of infrastructure and rehabilitation needed in its village.And while residents wait for things to fall back into place, Siatta silently sits and waits for what more might happen.“I’m only looking forward to school opening, that’s all,” she shrugged.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

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