Critics of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf have maintained their opposition to the appointment of her son, Robert Sirleaf, to the Board of Directors of the National Oil Company of Liberia as Chairman, Pro-bono.
Many critics say as Pro-bono chair of the NOCAL Board, Mr. Sirleaf may not possibly be held liable in case of any improprieties surrounding how the entity is being run under the supervision of the Board.
“ Mr. Sirleaf should be the real person accountable for what may go wrong as head of the Board, rather than one with a title that leaves an escape route for prosecution in the event of wrongful financial judgments that are likely to undercut revenue generation in the emerging energy sector,” a pundit who monitored President Sirleaf in Monrovia Monday, when she spoke to the nation in a radio talk show- Conversation With the President” noted.
The President used the medium to address the concern of critics about the appointment of Mr. Sirleaf at the Board of NOCAL, which many claim is a major conflict of interest characterized by nepotism against the anticipation of good governance.
But bluntly, President Sirleaf nailed the issue on the head by saying that “ my son is qualified”. She said Robert has decades of experience in the private sector and had worked with track record and people respect him for that.
According to her, she cannot deny him the opportunity to serve in the position because he is her son especially when he is qualified to work in the area.
“If he is as qualified as his Mom claims, let him be duly appointed to the board without the pro-bono factor. I think now is the time for NOCAL and other public corporations to fall under the supervision of the National Legislature – although they too, have their own problems,” one critic said.
President Sirleaf has also expressed explicit confidence and trust in the current administration of NOCAL, emphasizing that those in leadership there have embarked on demonstrating a posture of transparency and accountability to create public trust over how negotiations regarding oil contracts are being handled.
She was quick to note that often time, she has told people that it will take years before oil production takes place in Liberia, indicating that what is taking place at present in the country is exploration to determine whether oil of commercial quantity can be found in Liberia’s Basin. “ We are not drilling oil yet,” she clarified.
However, political commentators say the presence of Mr. Sirleaf on the Board of NOCAL undermines the company’s independence to perform freely in the national interest of the country and its people.
There are mounting fears that Mr. Sirleaf would use his position to amass wealth onto himself for a future ambition for the Liberian presidency, something those who believe in his ideology have termed as falsehood and hatred.