Many Liberians were on Monday, October 8, 3023, shocked by news of the abrupt resignation of Peace and Women’s Rights activist and Nobel Prize Winner Laymah Gbowee as Chairman of the Peace and Reconciliation Commission. She was appointed immediately upon her return from Accra, Ghana where she had gone to officially celebrate her world achievement after receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, Norway just before the 2011 general and presidential elections.
It was least expected that Ms. Gbowee, who shared last year’s prize with President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and Tawakul Karman of Yemen, would have ever dreamed of abandoning her position as Chairman of the Peace and Reconciliation Commission in the manner and form she did.
Speaking during the launch and promotion of the French edition of her book; “Mighty Be Our Powers” recently in Paris, France, Laymah attributed her decision to three major reasons-corruptions, nepotism and lack of political will on the part of President Sirleaf and her administration of promote national reconciliation.
According to her, President Sirleaf has done little to tackle corruption, wondering as to ‘what has really changed in Liberia’. She noted that the gap between the rich and poor in Liberia continues to grow, emphasizing:”you are either rich or dirt poor and there’s no middle class”.
She criticized her one-time friend and god-mother for not doing enough to ease poverty, noting “in her first term she developed infrastructure; but what good is infrastructure if people don’t have enough to eat?”
On the issue of nepotism, the 2011 Nobel laureate accused the President of appointing her relatives, including her sons to lucrative positions in her administration. For example, she named Charles, Robert and Fumbah Sirleaf as some of those in position such as Deputy Governor of the Central Bank, Senior Advisor and Chairman of the Board of the national Oil Company of Liberia, as well as Director of the National security Agency.
Laymah also frowned at Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf for failing to promote the spirit of national reconciliation, stressing that much progress is yet to be made by President Sirleaf and her administration in promoting, among others. In view of the foregoing, Laymah Gbowee claimed that she stood guilty to continue in the government and saw her resignation as the best way out.
“I feel I have been a disappointment to myself and Liberia; not speaking is as bad as being part of the system. Some may say I am a coward, but the opportunity to speak out has come here,” Laymah noted.
In as much as I welcome the resignation Madam Laymah Gbowee from the government, I’m wondering since when did she get to understand all of the factors she claimed attributed to her decision? Why didn’t Laymah speak out on these matters, knowing fully well that they were all issues publicly spoken about even prior to her Nobel Peace Prize achievement last year?
Where was Ms. Gbowee when former Labor Minister Tiawon Gongloe, former TRC Chairman Jerome Verdier, Cllr. Dempster Brown, as well as Mother Mary Brownell spoke continuously spoke on these situations that she couldn’t add her voice at the time?
Earnestly speaking, Ms. Laymah Gbowee should have even rejected the US$300,00 reportedly given her to launch the national reconciliation initiative this year since she was very much abreast of these negative vices now hampering Liberia’s growth and development.
Sincerely, there are more to Laymah Gbowee’s resignation as Chairman of the Peace and Reconciliation Commission other than all that she outlined as factors responsible for her recent outburst.
The Nobel Peace Laureate of Liberia must be a true representation of an ideal Liberian womanhood to say the actual factors/circumstances resulting to such surprised decision, and not to rely merely on available issues that my seven-year old son is very much aware of.
I am moved to say that in Liberia nowadays, when things are not going someone’s personal way, he or she take to the public to lambast the president with all of the negative adjectives and adverbs, but when drawn closer to the ruling establishment, like a few we now see around Monrovia, they say the nicest things. And this has to stop if we as a people must make progress as a country.
In the case of Ms. Laymah Gbowee, until she can provide the people of Liberia with the actual situation and instances, most of us will continue to harbor the belief that she is a coward, and that her utterances in a white man’s land are not only belated, but unjustifiable and non-impact-making.