President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf says she doesn't really like big crowds, after supporters under the guise of "Liberians for the Protection of Peace and Democracy" (LPPD) made lousy mass publicity here, chartering several busses, printing T-Shirts and transporting several hundreds of supporters, employees of ministries and agencies to welcome her at the Roberts International Airport (RIA) in Margibi County.
"As all of you know, I don't really like big crowds; and so I tried to persuade the organizers from this because I wanted to come home quietly, prepare myself for the work ahead. But they decided that they wanted to gather some Liberians to come up not only to welcome me, but to show their dedication and commitment to unity, reconciliation and to development," she said.
On the President's arrival from a long trip to New York during which she addressed the 68th Session of the UN General Assembly, and to Puerto Rico and Canada respectively, the Liberian leader was awaited at the RIA by supporters and those calling for her resignation, citing usual grounds of nepotism, corruption and failure of some of her officials to declare their assets.
Heavy security presence was felt from Congo Town through the route to the Airport, with unusual security protocol observed during screening. But despite the presence of the two opposing sides at the RIA for or against the president's leadership, there was no incident observed upon her arrival and subsequent departure for Monrovia.
During interview with lead campaigner of the "Ellen Step Down" group, Mr. Vandala Patrick claimed that while Liberians suffer abject poverty, discriminatory job provisions were being done here, alleging that Jones, Roberts, Johnsons and Thompsons were presiding over the oil here, depicting the Congo and native politics.
However, extractive specialists say oil has not been found in Liberia, but that oil exploration is ongoing by concession companies.
"Madam President knows that the noisy minority is powerful and she was once from this struggle. The police asked our bus drivers to disembark and they arrested five executives," he claimed.
Those carrying placards along with Patrick, calling on the President resign, could not reach 20 supporters as they blamed state security of arresting five of their executives and impounding their buses which led to the low turnout.
However, President Sirleaf did not give credence to the presence of the protesters, as she basically addressed her supporters, announcing to them that at the end of rainy season, "We need to all prepare to join hands together to have a big push for development in the dry season."
She said government development agenda is huge, but calls for unity in carrying on the task of development this dry season. She addressed the crowd at the Samuel Kaynon Doe Sports Complex yesterday, after she earlier made a brief comment to supporters at RIA that was not captured by most media institutions due to protocol faults.
At the SKD stadium, the President said though she underwent surgery while in the U.S., she however chose to come home despite doctors' advice for her to stay and recuperates (to recover from illness or exertion) for weeks.
Madam Sirleaf said she only slept at the hospital for one night after the surgery three days ago. "I said my wound will heal at home because my people will be there for me, and so I decided to come and get myself ready for work," she said.
But the Liberian leader warned, "That doesn't mean that because of this, I am any way impeded in doing what I got to do."
She said the decision she got to make to move the country forward, be it political, developmental or social, will be made, urging supporters to prepare themselves to carry Liberia forward.