The nearly two-hour Annual Message President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf gave at the Capitol Building on Monday, January 28th, could be described as a masterpiece of accounts of the government’s performance in 2012.
However, the exclusion of fallen Grand Bassa Junior Senator, John Francis Whitfield, among other deceased statesmen who President Sirleaf named for remembrance, seems to be developing into a sidebar of her State of the Nation Address which highlighted progress report of the government for 2012.
Liberians who have bones to pick with the President appear disappointed that the Chief Executive has not done justice to the late junior senator whose family, relatives, tribal people and political institution (National Patriotic Party) members seemingly expected that his name would have been mentioned among 19 deceased statesmen named during her deliberation.
Nevertheless, apparently as justification that the President did not do any wrong, Information Minister Lewis brown during a Sky FM Talk Show (50-50) held yesterday in Monrovia, said President Sirleaf was reading her State of the Nation Address remembering those that died in 20 12.
Against this backdrop, it seems implied that, as one pundit assumed, “Ellen is to remember Whitfield in 2014 when she gives her State of the Nation Address by then”.
It is not clear if critics and associates of the late Senator of Grand Bassa County would feel contended with the justification coming from those backing President Sirleaf on her exclusion of the deceased for remembrance among others named simply because he did not die in 2012 to be mentioned in the State of the Nation Address.
Moreover, weighing the debate on a political scale, one observer asked, “ if Senator Whitfield were from the ruling Unity Party wouldn’t President Sirleaf make a specific recognition regarding his demise during the occasion, even by mentioning the name in passing?”
The late Whitfield was the Secretary-General of the former ruling National Patriotic Party (NPP) that derived from the disbanded National Patriotic Front of Liberia, which former President Charles Taylor led during Liberia’s long running civil war.
It can be recalled that during the first regime of President Sirleaf, the government by then linked the fallen Senator to illegal arm possession and was detained but later released following the intervention of his legal counsel through the court system.
Prior to his death, during the resumption of legislative work at the Capitol Building when lawmakers returned from their annual break, the deceased advocated very strongly for Mr. Taylor’s benefit he (Taylor) has written the 53rd National Legislature to request the Liberian Government to give as a former President of the Republic of Liberia.
Part of the fallen senator’s campaign has been to take the government to court if it fails to provide the former President’s benefit as requested. This campaign seems to have been continued by Bomi County Senator Sando Johnson who disclosed Tuesday to his fellow senators at the Capitol Building that the government has now been dragged to court on the issue of Mr. Taylor’s benefit.