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President Sirleaf’s “Lead, Follow or Get Out of the Way”

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In a recent face book chat, two Liberian comrades residing in the United States took President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf to task, blaming her for the ongoing hardships experienced by ordinary Liberians. They could have been right considering the fact that she’s the head of the government.

But again, they were reminded, in response, about the government being a composition of individuals in whom the president has explicit confidence.  To her, like any other president, such confidence is characterized by sincerity and the ability of public officials to perform their assigned duties in conformity with the acts creating their respective institutions. As a matter of fact, the president may not known these officials

It would have been an acceptable argument had the comrades suggested that the president’s sympathetic attitudes may be attributing to the dismal performances of most of her officials, resulting to whatever hardships they said Liberians were experiencing. Probably,  her failure to act decisively against officials who mortgage the progress of the government could be a reason why the comrades thought  make such assertion.

This could also be a good point owing to unfavorable conditions at most of the ministries and agencies of government, but again, the president, too, is a ‘human being’ whose decisions are often on the basis of what she’s told and advised by her officials, most especially her ‘kitchen cabinet’. The  competing forces which interplay within the corridor of the presidency, like any other African presidency, situate the president in a position wherein decisions made for the nation are to the whims and caprices of her confidants. These may be individuals who shower the president with all of the warmest sentimental platitudes either in her presence or the media as a way of attracting attention/favor from the president when the backyards (ministries and agencies) are overgrown with ‘thick grass and filth  ’ (poor personnel relations, deviations from mandates, as well as administrative mal-practices, among others).

And so when President Sirleaf,  during a ceremony to welcome her from Japan on Wednesday, October 17, 2012, concluded her remarking in a warning her officials to LEAD, FOLLOW or GET OUT OF THE WAY, one  impression was her realization that despite her efforts to ensure a very good working environment/atmosphere at their respective ministries and agencies, things were not actually going right-an expression of her dissatisfaction with most of her officials.

The president was emphatically clear in her reference to her officials including county superintendents, cabinet ministers, as well as Legislators, among others-the driving forces of her administration’s development agenda. Even though the president may have been cognizant of the fact the enhancement of the government’s socio-economic development initiatives required the cooperation of all Liberians, her emphasis was on implementers of administration’s development programs—and she actually meant her ministers, superintendents of counties, among others.

It’s no secret that President Sirleaf may have realized that most of her officials were extensively using the print and electronic media to present to her and the public inflated impressions about their works and achievements, when in fact, most of them did very little in executing her administration’s hundred and fifty-day action plans, otherwise referred to as the hundred and fifty-day deliverables.

Perhaps the president is now ready to call “spade, a spade”, but judging from the past years since her incumbency wherein official pronouncements of such nature were publicly made and not practical, her “LEAD, FOLLOW or GET OUT OF THE WAY” warning to her officials may just be the same old rhetoric as before as she continues to stir the affairs of state. And uUntil she can institute drastic and uncompromising actions against officials pursuing personal agendas ahead of national at the various ministries and agencies of government and at the same time presenting to her and the public false and inflated impressions, it is still the same-old story  and the beat will continue to go on.

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