28 November 2018

Liberia: 'I Did Not Build a House When I Was President of Liberia' - Ex-Pres. Sirleaf

Monrovia — Former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf says the only house she built while she was President is the one on her farm in Bomi County.

Madam Sirleaf, during an interview on OK FM in Monrovia on Wednesday said, all the houses she owns were built in the 70s when she had lucrative jobs that came with pension benefits except for her Citi Bank post in Nairobi, Kenya where she got fired for leaving job to venture politics in Liberia.

"I built my houses in the '70s... I've had good jobs, I've worked with the World Bank, I've also worked with the Citi Bank, Nairobi office; I was the head of the Africa Bureau of UNDP and all of those jobs had good money, all of those jobs had pension," she said.

The former Liberian leader said the integrity that her built prior to becoming President and during her presidency has earned her much respect and support within the international community.

"I didn't build any house when I was President," she intimated, noting that her lifestyle helped her control how she used money.

"I had my children when I was young, they're all grown and successful, I don't have to use my money on them

She boasted of publishing her asset declaration forms in requirement with the law and transparency.

Madam Sirleaf's revelation comes at a time when Liberia's new President, George Manneh Weah, is facing criticisms for simultaneously erecting and rehabilitating his private properties shortly after he was inaugurated into office in the wake of a hard economy.

Shortly after becoming President, Weah demolished his 9th Street, Sinkor property which remained unattended to several years including during the time he was Senator of Montserrado County. A new structure sprung up soon after. While that was ongoing, he began rehabilitating his Jamaica Resort property in Thinkers Village, Paynesville and at the same time commenced the construction of what many believe is his dream house along the RIA Highway.

These constructions raised suspicions and the call for the President to declare his assets and make the forms public. When Pres. Weah declared his assets in July this year - seven months after the statutory period - the General Auditing Commission and the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission has since refused to make the forms public, despite several FOI requests.

EJS' Take on The Economy

Madam admitted to leaving the country's economy at the bottom line, blaming Ebola and slump in the prices of Liberia's major export commodities on the world market. She, however, said it was gradually recovering in her final days.

"When we left, the economy was in strain... Our economy was doing great in the first term. In the second we did have a decline because of commodity prices and more importantly because of Ebola, but it was trying to recover. Where it is now, I really don't know," she said.

The former President said she is willing to work with the current administration if she is called upon to help resuscitate the economy.

Madam Sirleaf: "The economy is not a quick fix. It's not a button that you push and the light comes on. An economy is the collective action of all people, not only government officials, but individuals who will do their part for productivity, for production and creativity; people who will make sure that they demonstrate certain kind of integrity so that the resources of their country are used properly. I'm not saying that it's been that way before, I'm not holding beef for anybody, I'm just saying that if we want a strong economy, all of us must be prepared to contribute to it."

She said the biggest issues in Liberia are the mindset and attitude. "We're always looking for something that is conspiratorial, we're always looking for the motive... We need to get the mindset right. If we don't have the attitude of positivism, if we don't have the attitude of collaboration, if you don't have the attitude of comprises, then you're forever in the mindset that is not going to promote you, in fact, you'll do danger to yourself," she said.

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