Liberia Under Economy Dictatorship: A review of Sirleaf’s administration

Written on:August 18, 2016
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Liberia's President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

Pres. Sirleaf of the Ruling Unity Party

Having followed Madam Sirleaf’s presidency for almost a decade, it has become apparent that she is an economy dictator. Unlike a noble leader, whose actions are intended to advance national interest by managing resources responsibly in order for nearly all citizens to benefit; an economy dictator cunningly protects cronies and rewards loyal followers. In the case of President Sirleaf, she placed emphasis on building networks of loyalty and enticing proposal to compensate for weakness of democratic enforcement mechanisms.

An economy dictator creates loyalty the same way companies do, by paying efficiency wages or wages in excess of a person’s opportunity cost. The salary disparity and alleged huge payout of individuals critical of the Unity Party (UP) led government is indicative of President Sirleaf’s intention to reward loyal supporters with extra benefits.

The Sirleaf administration has shown gross ineptitude in the initial handling of the Ebola crisis, and corruptions in government; nonetheless, influential political parties, including vocal critics of the government are speaking less on these issues. Such an unusual trend can be attributed to political economy of dictatorship… A strategy of rewarding or paying off individuals for their silence on significant issues.

In his book “The Political Economy of Dictatorship”, the author, Ronald Wintrobe, articulated how dictators stay in power and how political authoritarianism and economic performance interact. According to Wintrobe, loyalty systems allow the dictator’s supporters to enrich themselves at the expense not only of the ruled but perhaps of the ruler as well. Evidently, this has been the doctrine employed by Madam Sirleaf, and she had managed to maintain absolute control over the state of affairs of Liberia with limited resistance from opposition political parties.

Although Liberia might not be experiencing the ruthlessness of prior tyrannical regimes, the idea of aggressive persuasion through monetary inducements, and job offers undermine democratic tenets. The latest revelation that Mr. Ali Sylia cancelled his senator bid due to medical reasons is not only questionable, but it also denotes a pattern of economy dictatorship. It is an open secret that the lack of support from the ruling Unity Party (UP) was the driving force behind Mr. Sylia’s withdrawal from the senate race. More importantly, it is alleged that President Sirleaf’s personal appeal to Mr. Sylia played a crucial role in his decision to abandon his senatorial ambition.

Like Mr. Sylia, there are many individuals who have been entangled into the web of Sirleaf’s economy dictatorship policy. The likes of Mr. Eugene Nagbe, Dr. James Kollie, and Amb. George Weah, who were staunchly opposed to Madam Sirleaf leadership, had been indoctrinated into Sirleaf’s network of enticement through gainful employment. Mr. Nagbe was rewarded with numerous ministerial positions including minister of Youth and Sport for his loyalty; while Dr. Kollie was awarded position as deputy minister for revenue. The head of the largest opposition political party in Liberia, Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) Amb. George Weah, also fell prey to the president’s political policy of economy dictatorship. Mr. Weah was offered a position as “Peace Ambassador”… A position he accepted, making it somewhat impossible for him to criticize her failed administration.

Some folks continue to benefit from President Sirleaf’s loyalty rewards scheme; while there are other individuals like Alomiza Ennos, and Darius Dillon among others have lost favor with Madam Sirleaf. After her re-election, Madam Sirleaf compensated Miss Ennos, a former law maker, with a position as Chairman of the board of Directors for the National Transit Authority (NTA). Honorable Ennos had retained the position for three years before she was subsequently replaced. Mr. Darius Dillon, on the other hand, was afforded the privilege to go with the president on her numerous routine official travels abroad. There was also an allegation that Mr. Dillon was awarded a scholarship but he dismissed the claims.

The approach of using others to foster one’s political agenda when it is expedient, and abandoning them when they are not of importance is morally wrong and inhumane. In the shortest inaugural address recorded in history, President George Washington stated ” government is not reason, it is not eloquence…It is a force! Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master; not for a moment should it be left to irresponsible action.” It is incumbent upon every patriotic Liberian to stand up against the irresponsible actions by President Sirleaf and other elected officials.

At this crucial time in our country’s history, Liberians must demand the Sirleaf led government to create a plan of action that would alleviate hunger and extreme poverty in Liberia. Majority of the citizens of Liberia are currently living in a hopeless state due to high unemployment and the Ebola crisis; while others are living lavishly. Liberians must speak in unison against economy dictatorship and weak leadership. With our hearts united, we can effect the fundamental change required for a prosperous Liberia.

—-Hassan Fadiga, contributing writer

Source: Wintrobe, R. (2002) Dictatorship: Retrieved from

One Comment add one

  1. Dear madam president

    i greet you in the matchless name of d almighty who was and is to come.

    i red your massage ,i have decided to return to d continent AfrIcia, with a different mendate,i was restore when i discover that AM son of LIBERIA FOREIGN MINISTER Joseph manneh,a German citizen and his mother who sent me in
    1998 .it wasn;t reveal until i found generals to turn Australia first people responsibilities over to,my daughter and x mum ketural Davies Ricks and MR CHARLES W Burmskine,to continue with Australia first people,

    i will fail the continent if i refuse to estiblish the link with Australia and Africa,and continue kertural Rev Edward Neepaye and Chall charles W Burmskine work,with jess and indigenous first people,FOR OVER five years
    i will Advise that we as a nation and people,submmit to Australia,

    i got massage from south Afrcia Ghana kenya zimbabwe and few other nations,am very faithful with little things,

    it was the Australia first people i have working for until d continent Africa fell in our hands,now that Hon malcolm Turnbull is in office i Advise we work closly with him to liberate Australia first people,

    jessica mauboy must understand that i have to leave because, any ATTAMP I MADE, i will be overlaping functions.or undermining the prime minister office in canberra,

    least but not the ,last,i was a young man years ago ,but i top into Rev Edward Neepaye office,Elijah Elisah principles,1995 and i carry d nation and continent Africa for 22 years since 1995.

    it is in my Advantage to apply d same principle, with older men and women in the political Areana,and take the political;Barton or mentor. from chall Burmskine Mr oscar j quiah george Boley Mama Ellen johnson and others,elders,

    until then may d good good keep up and give you strength, as you lead. the world most secert nation,

    Thank Rev Christopher Davies