By: Ibrahim W. Varney
I read with dismay (though not any surprise-package for our government) that Rob Sirleaf, the favorite son of the President has now assumed the role of the Minister of Foreign Affairs and will now be touting the country’s international rallying campaign against the spread of Ebola on his shoulders. Congratulations, ‘Mr. Omnipotent Envoy’!!!!
While the President immaturely and prematurely decided to ground her Minister of Foreign Affairs (or maybe rightly put, the ‘ceremonious Foreign Minister’) and even Health Minister (who couldn’t even attend the recent West African health ministers conference on Ebola in Ghana) at home in the face of a glaring need for him and all other officials whose functions require international lobbying, she has again diverted such task to her son.
The President hastily succumbed to suggestions from bad influences like Mary Broh that there should be no exempt-list on the banning of key public officials, even though posts like the Health Minister, Foreign Minister, Finance Minister and National Investment Chairman at such troubling times are the ones that need to be out there to source foreign assistance in what is clearly a battle that requires all the international assistance Liberia can get.
Rob’s widely circulated media release to various radio stations and newspapers that he is travelling to Europe and the United States to solicit international assistance to fight Ebola has just plugged another nepotism plug into the already heavily criticized nepotistic Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Administration. In my mind, the level at which the President has heightened her determination to completely family-tie her government signals the nearing collapse of her administration (and sadly too, one that would definitely overturn all previous gains made in her first term).
But what this continues to speak to is how attitudes of such coming from the sons of a sitting president show the cracks in the wall of such a regime. See some practical instances:
When Al Saadi Gaddafi, the son of the former Libyan leader changed from being a brief footballer in Italy to being a commander of his father’s Special Forces in 2011, it was the solidifying of his father’s regime collapse. Even three years after his father’s regime ended, he became the first of the Gaddafi sons to be extradited to Libya from Niger few months ago to answer to charges.
The erratic Uday Hussein, and his brother Quray Hussein, both sons of the late Saddam Hussein who were their father’s agents for torturing, maiming and murdering of countless of their compatriots became the first set of victims of the US-led invasion in Iraq.
A flamboyant Karim Wade, former Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade’s son, currently stands trial for corruption and could be made to repay US$238 million after he was arrested a year after his father’s defeat.
At home, when Chuckie Taylor, Jr (former President Charles Taylor’s son) thought to become the Liberian contemporary Adolf Hilter, it took no time in seeing the collapse of his father’s regime. Moreover, everyone knows where he and his father are spending the rest of their lives.
With our current issues, it was just a few days ago that the President’s eldest son, James Sirleaf who took to the airwaves in labeling as ‘buffoons’ those who put his mother into check whenever she plies a wrong path. James’ comments had barely gone down the throats of Liberians when the President decided that her Rob, the other son who has never been far from controversies of such nature, should be the one rallying the international community in sourcing assistance to the country’s fight against the deadly virus that has claimed over 700 precious lives of our compatriots.
While this latest action says it all relative to the President’s inability and unwillingness to combat this virus, it also shows her determination in using Rob as the utility man that will amass the wealth for the Sirleaf dynasty. Not even when the resignations of previous doubling controversial roles as Senior Advisor to her and Chairman of the National Oil Company of Liberia (NOCAL) board had gone down, his mother made him an envoy on the country’s emerging oil sector to the Middle East. While no one knows the status of that role which from all account makes him a presidential appointee, he should be one of those banned from travelling. This he denied, recently saying he is not a government official. Granted, then.
So whether foreign governments, multinational groups and other international partners would want to talk to a private individual citizen is something we are looking to see.
Again, bravo ‘Mr. New Foreign Minister’ (and probably by extension ‘Mr. New Health Minister’) !!!!!!!!!!
About the Author: Ibrahim W. Varney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org