Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Mr. John S. Morlu II: You disappointed Thousands of Liberians.

The Editor,

In a decisive move that was intended to reassert the President’s authority, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf on March 25, 2011 issued a press statement on the expiration of the employment contract of Auditor-General John S. Morlu II. In this statement, the President made the wise decision not to re-nominate Mr. Morlu for the post of Auditor-General of the Republic of Liberia.
John S. Morlu made his controversial comments in an email to the President published on Tuesday, March 22, 2011 in the Inquirer Newspaper. Language such as, “I have always informed you to stop the “dogs” from attacking me as I am probably the most capable p that can put a dose of reality to them. Call of the “dogs.” Again, I am returning at 1PM, Thursday. For all I care, they can have the darn Job,” is inappropriate when addressing the President.
After his nomination by the President and conformation by the Senate, Mr. Morlu immediately became the hope for thousands of Liberians. He was seen as the right man to aid the Liberian people in the fight against corruption. As the President said in her press statement, “corruption is not a new problem in Liberia. It is almost as old as the country itself. Therefore, the fight against it has got to be the responsibility of all Liberians, and it will take time, sacrifices and patience from all of us.” Taking into account our recurring history of corruption, our international partners and many Liberians were sanguine that Morlue would have used his position to breathe new life into the nation’s anti-corruption battle.  Many Liberians including myself believed Mr. Morlu was the strongman in the battle against corruption and that he was gradually heading in the right direction. We expected that he would have presented his argument in a professional and cogent manner, not like someone who is frantic and juvenile. His email to the President showed lack of respect for the office and an unacceptable lack of professionalism on his part. His email to the President also raises questions about his judgment and tactfulness.
After the publication of Mr. Morlu’s email to the President, many Liberians were asking how much the President should tolerate, and encourage criticism that crosses the line as being grossly disrespectful to her office?  We may argue with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s appointments or policies, but we should be able to agree that she deserves respect as a leader. To do less is to continually erode the dignity of the presidency itself.  We have to be respectful of the office of the presidency. I absolutely respect President Johnson Sirleaf’s decision; she made the right decision for the country.
As someone who has being a strong supporter in the battle against corruption,  I must admit former Auditor-General John S. Morlu II has done our nation a great service and some of the  points he raised in the email are of concern; however, his style, approach, and delivery leaves much to be desired. I am certain the President’s decision not to re-nominate Mr. Morlu for the post of Auditor-General of the Republic of Liberia caused her considerable regret, but she had no choice.
It pains me to say in as much as I was strong supporter of Mr. Morlu, his email to the President clearly shows that he didn’t have the temperament to be in that position. As a person viewed by many as the face of the nation’s battle against corruption, Mr. Morlu should have understood that even in attacking corruption, it must be done with grace.
As the former president of the Liberian community of Northern California, I know from experience how difficult it is at time to effectively deal with some of our brothers and sisters. I understand that there are times when you as their leader must defend yourself and team from certain situations. However, a leader should never lose his temper even in the most difficult situations. That’s one of the attributes of an effective leader. It’s well established that a leader who cannot control himself/herself, particularly under pressure, can never control others. Leadership calls for respect, of others and of self. Followers will not respect a leader who does not exhibit a pleasant personality.
Regardless of one’s educational achievements, disposition, ethics, judgment and character are extremely important in public service. For someone who carried the hopes and aspirations of so many of his generation, he disappointed many people. As one of my friends said, “The Liberian people were hoping that Mr. Morlu would have created some mechanism by focusing on improving systems, standardizing processes and procedures, recommending alternative uses for government funding, illustrating lost opportunities impacts, creating a corruption index and rating system, doing systematic audit results, follow-up, and corrective action reporting, instituted a special investigations unit, etc.  This way his influence and legacy would have been way more than just exposing the 3 times more corrupt, budget process, and doing 42 audits that are sitting on the president's shelf gathering dust.”
 There is an appropriate way to express your displeasure that is professional and shows respect for the office of the presidency. I believe the decision by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in this matter was proper for maintaining the president's authority and credibility both domestically and internationally. Liberia is best served by not having someone of his temperament. There needs to be a level of tack and maturity in public office.
Thank for your service to the Liberian people and we wish you well my brother.
About the author:
 Rufus S. Berry II, a resident of the San Francisco Bay Area (Northern California), and the author of many articles including: Preemptive Health Measures will save Thousands of Liberian Lives: Ban Smoking in Public Places. “Liberia's Long History of Corruption, Facilitated by Citizens that Turn a Blind Eye on the Government”, “Five Liberian Ministers’ Visit to Diaspora: Explanation or Personal Boondoggle”, " and We Demand Justice for Assaulted Police Officer Lexington Beh,
By: Rufus S. Berry II
He can be reached at (510) 393-1825 or