Mr. Robert Sirleaf, the son of President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has denied ever requesting to be appointed to a position in Brussels.
In a letter addressed to the Press Union of Liberia and the Daily Observer newspaper’s publisher Mr. Kenneth Best, dated July 5, Mr. Sirleaf frowned at a recently editorial published in the Daily Observer under the caption “Robert Sirleaf Again” and an earlier story on the same subject.
“Both pieces are misleading, short on the facts, and lacks the balance which is essential for the practice of good journalism,” Mr. Sirleaf wrote. “Your July 3 editorial tries to give the public the wholly false impression that I am being appointed in 2016. Had anyone on the editorial staff of the Daily Observer bothered to look at the earlier Daily Observer article on the same subject, dated June 29, it would have been clear that the entire discussion related to a letter written over four years ago. Indeed, your June 29 article includes a copy of the 2012 letter that is the source of the discussion. This inconsistency suggests that the Daily Observer and its reputation are being trapped by lowering standards in favor of the politics of slander which, sadly, is omnipresent in the public space,” said Mr. Sirleaf. See full Page below
July 5, 2016
Press Union of Liberia
The editorial recently published in the Daily Observer under the caption “Robert Sirleaf Again” and your earlier story on the same subject. Both pieces are misleading, short on the facts, and lacks the balance which is essential for the practice of good journalism.
Your July 3 editorial tries to give the public the wholly false impression that I am being appointed in 2016. Had anyone on the editorial staff of the Daily Observer bothered to look at the earlier Daily Observer article on the same subject, dated June 29, it would have been clear that the entire discussion related to a letter written over four years ago. Indeed, your June 29 article includes a copy of the 2012 letter that is the source of the discussion. This inconsistency suggests that the Daily Observer and its reputation are being trapped by lowering standards in favor of the politics of slander which, sadly, is omnipresent in the public space.
If your reporter had taken the time to contact me before rushing to print, he or she would have learned the following:
1. The June 29 publication of the Daily Observer is the first time I have seen or heard of the letter appointing me to a position in Brussels.
2. I have never requested to be appointed to any position in Brussels.
3. I have never presented myself as a Counselor on Commercial Affairs affiliated with any Embassy of the Republic of Liberia, whether in Brussels or anywhere else in the world, either in person or by use of a business card or business stationery identifying me as a Counselor on Commercial Affairs for the Republic of Liberia.
4. I have travelled to Brussels proper, including transits, only once in the past 6 years.
5. I have neither received nor accrued any benefit as a result of the appointment contained in the 2012 letter.
6. I know of no investment made either in Liberia or on behalf of the Republic of Liberia which involves me acting as a Counselor for Commercial Affairs for the Republic of Liberia.
7. If the position requires confirmation, I have not attended nor been called to attend any confirmation proceeding.
I will be more than happy to provide/confirm these statements to the House, and provide any additional information it may need concerning this matter.
Additionally, the Observer seems beholden to the narrative that NOCAL was “bankrupt” under my chairmanship. Of course there is no factual basis for this conclusion. Indeed, in spite of the number of times this claim has been repeated, there is yet to be any respectable journalistic effort to thoroughly investigate and adequately inform the public about the facts and circumstances surrounding NOCAL including the period of my chairmanship. Actually, during my stint as Chairman of the Board of NOCAL, the company remained in strong financial position, something any audit will confirm.
As you are aware, NOCAL is a public entity? Its financial reports are open to the public. A responsible newspaper/journalist would make an effort to acquire and analyze the records to determine the actual financial standing of NOCAL over the periods in question. But if the real problem is the lack of capacity to interpret the financials, there are many including private firms who might be willing to do this as a public service. Not only will the Daily Observer find intelligibility, but also better accurately position to inform the public; which should be a civic responsibility from a news organization.
Indeed, the Liberian public is consistently fed the produce of outright indolent journalism which seems to suggest that the longer a newspaper says or prints the same opinion or story, it will somehow become fact. Surely, the Daily Observer can do better than this, and should.
Suffice to say, during my tenure, of which I am proud, I responded to all 5 legislative probes (2012-2015). At least 3 audits (2 local and 1 international) were completed. All of the records are available. To date, no one has pointed to a specific wrongdoing except the usual broad political strokes which are unsupported by evidence and the available records.
Again, working with many others, I am very proud of what we achieved at NOCAL. Liberia, a petroleum frontier country; we successfully negotiated and contracted oil exploration contracts with Chevron and Exxon Mobil, the biggest in the world not only in terms of exploration and production but also in respect of commitment to high standards of transparency and accountability. We presented the country a new draft petroleum law which, according to many experienced international opinions, is fair both to Liberia and to the investors.
By the way, neither Chevron nor Exxon has “left the country.” Exxon is due to drill in the 4th Quarter of 2016 or the 1st Quarter of 2017. Again, NOCAL can give you these facts, if the interest is to report and inform the public truthfully.
And so for the record, at no time during my chairmanship of the Board of Directors of NOCAL did I misappropriate, misapply, misdirect or direct NOCAL funds to personal use. I received no compensation from NOCAL for my service as a member of or as the Chairperson of its Board of Directors, other than reimbursement of out-of-pocket travel expenses. I always have been very open and cooperative with the GAC and the LACC on all of the above. It might also interest the
Observer to know that it was I who engaged the representative of Global Witness, Mr. Jonathan Gant, with an invite to come to Liberia as we responded and opened lines of communication with them. NOCAL had never done that before my chairmanship. My intention was to improve transparency and accountability in the management of NOCAL at home, working with local integrity institutions, as well as abroad through organizations such as Global Witness.
I continue to be focused on meaningfully and positively changing lives in our country. I am especially proud of some of the unmatched differences we have made in the lives of many young people, in some cases affording them a new lease on life – a renewed sense of hope in the future. I am also proud of some of the impacts my office has made and is determined to make especially in economically challenged communities.
I trust that you understand my disappointment in the publication and the accompanying editorial which did not afford me the common decency and expected minimum professional journalistic necessity of a comment/response prior to publication.
I wish you well.