President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Monday (Jan 28) delivered the first of six Annual Addresses of her second term, but received sharp reaction when she suggested that her government has fulfilled campaign and inaugural promise of creating 20,000 jobs annually.
Critics said the President was unrealistic in making such announcement when she is personally aware that her administration had failed to create the promised 20,000 jobs during the first year of her second term in office.
"Reports submitted to me [from the Ministry of Labor] suggest that we have met our target commitment on job creation, but overwhelmingly in short-term positions," the President stated to the annoyance of her audience at the capitol and in radio land.
"Let me read that sentence again," the Liberian leader went on to bring to end the extended laughers and grumbling "Reports submitted to me suggest that we have met our target commitment on job creation, but overwhelmingly in short-term positions."
She said "If our objectives for jobs are to be fully achieved, we must move more rapidly on the renovation and expansion of the Monrovia Vocational Training Center and other technical and vocational training centers around the country. We must also resolve those issues that delay housing construction and investment operations which are the main sources of job creation. Additionally, we must improve our job reporting system so that we can get it right."
Moments after her annual address, Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) lawmaker described the president's pronouncement is a "clear rhetoric."
"I see it as a clear rhetoric when she stated that reports submitted to her suggest that the objective of employing the over 20,000 citizens has been reached; that was clear cut political trick."
He this does not augur well because job creation "is not a joking business."
Many Liberians pointed fingers at the Ministry of Labour for failing to provide jobs and filing false information with the President. Gray said the President should have told the Ministry that it failed to meet the target rather than playing politics and tricks.
The Public had been at the heels of the Ministry even weeks before the President delivered her address Monday, with officials claiming that the 20,000 job target was met and that they were compiling the statistics for public consumption.
The ministry's communication specialist Charles Wilson said segment of the public, especially politicians, critics and fault finders were politicizing the issue, and misconstruing the president's statement.
He promised that the information would be published in a week. "That particular portion of the president's statement was completely misconstrued," Wilson said on Fabric Radio Tuesday morning amidst public bombardment of the report.
Wilson said the Bureau of Research and Statistics has been robustly involved in the collection of data on employment and many sources were utilized. "I can't tell you the exact time now, but the report will be released by next week..."
However many people in the public said Wilson was on window-dressing, struggling to paint an image that does not exist, and demanded that the Ministry releases the statistics of the 20,000 job created.
"How can they say 20,000 jobs were created when most of the population thrives on vulnerable employment," wondered Gabriel P. Kollie of Bardnersville Estate.
"When Auditor General Robert Kilby was downsizing nearly 50 employees of the General Auditing Commission, the government forgot to realize that it had promised to provide 20,000 jobs and that President Sirleaf would come to the national legislature to report to the Liberian people," Evelyn Tokpah told a local radio talks show.
Many Liberians have reacted angrily that the President and her officials did nothing positive to create the much sung 20,000 jobs in the first year of her second term and she now needs to put her house in order to give an appreciated report next January.
"This is a big failure on the part of the president; a big campaign promise has flunked," Emmanuel Washington stated at the Carey Street (between Johnson and Lynch) Hatai Center Tuesday, while following the debate on Real TV. "The government may have done well in other areas, but job creation is a very big failure," he emphasized, adding, "That's why the president said 'reports suggest'; she didn't say we have created 20,000 jobs."