Looking back at the 12 years rule of President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf’s leadership, depending on which side of the political hegemony one belong to here, no one in his or her right mind can out rightly dismiss her achievements.
The election of Mrs. Sirleaf in 2005 as African’s first female president restored hope to a nation torn apart by 14 years of brutal civil conflict and set the pace for the peace and democracy, we today enjoy manifested by the historic transition of power from one elected government to another in 73 years.
Were there opportunities missed during her 12 years of administration? Yes. But were there significant gains made in respect to the restoration of hope, basic social services, roads infrastructure, health care delivery, education and putting Liberia back on the map among the comity of nations? Yes.
It is against this backdrop that the New Dawn begins a long running series covering the 12 years of Mrs. Sirleaf’s regime particularly focusing on her achievements. This series will attempt to showcase graphic photographs of what was and what is now, just before the former president handed over power to current President George M. Weah, the former soccer legend.
And so, amid high expectations for a better Liberian and good governance, Mrs. Sirleaf took the Presidential oath on January 16, 2006, as Liberia and Africa’s first elected Head of State, and vowed to take the war-ravaged nation to greater heights.
The famous waive
The inaugural ceremony was graced by several world leaders including now former United States First Lady Laura Bush and US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
(L-R) former US Secretary of State Rice & US Former First Lady Bush
Also in attendance were former President of Ghanaian President John A. Kuffour, former South African President Thabo Mbeki, former Nigerian President Olusegon Obasanjo among others.
And of course, current President Weah, despite suffering a disputed defeat was also at the inaugural ceremony putting aside his personal ambition for the sake of the country to safe guard the birth of Liberia’s democracy, a dividend which he now reaps.
Mrs. Sirleaf first major achievement: Electricity
For more than 14 years, Monrovia, the Liberian capital and the rest of the country had been in total darkness.
As part of her campaign promises in 2005, then candidate Sirleaf promised to restore electricity within six month of her new administration.
The promise was soon developed in to a slogan upon taking office: “Small light today, big light tomorrow.
And so, on the wet afternoon of Wednesday July 26, 2006, Liberia’s 159th Independence Day, electric lights once again shone on Tubman Boulevard.
Thus fulfilling in spirit, if not to the letter, a campaign promise to bring electricity back to Monrovia by Independence Day, Mrs. Sirleaf turned on an emergency power system to carry electricity to hospitals and streetlights in some parts of the city.
Nine years later, Liberia’s Hydro power was restored beyond its pre-war capacity. Today, the new government of President George Weah has inherited a refurbished hydro, as issues of distribution to private homes remains key.
Before 2006 After
Compiled by Othello B. Garblah