In the minds of thousands of Liberians across the nation, members of the 53rd Liberian Legislature may only be representing their “personal interests” other than their primary purpose. When the general expectation among the population was that the Liberian Senate would have exhibited themselves truly as members of the “House of Wisdom”, their hope was completely dashed.
Despite the uncompromising general and continuous public opposition and calls for rejection, the Liberian Senate on Thursday, May 30, 2013, concurred with the House of Representatives on the passage of the so-called Political Parties’ Sustenance Bill. It seeks to annually provide US$1m and duty free privileges to political parties reaching the threshold of 10% in the 2011 General and Presidential Elections.
Last Thursday’s decision by the Liberian Senate was taken (through vote) amid stiff resistance from a few Senators, including Sumo Coupee of Lofa, Oscar Cooper of Margibi and Alphonso Gaye of Grand Gedeh Counties; but most of the Senators, especially those opting for next year’s mid-term senatorial election, Jewel Howard-Taylor of ‘Bong’, Abel Massalay of Grand Cape Nount, Isaac Nyenabo of Grand Gedeh and Mabutu Nyenpan of Sinoe Counties counter-resisted with all of their political might, leading that body to vote-taking-something which resulted to the concurrence.
The House of Representatives, on August 21, 2012, had earlier and hastily introduced and passed the controversial Bill, which they say, would “sustain democracy through public funding of political parties, coalitions and alliances despite resistance and a motion for reconsideration by Lofa County representative Eugene Fallah Kpakar. But representatives who saw the Bill as being in their personal interest by virtue of their affiliation with the benefitting political parties, overwhelmingly prevailed through vote-taking.
Thursday’s decision by the Liberian Senate now means that the political party reaching the highest bench-mark or percentage will annually receive the amount of US$1,125,000.00, while the lowest would receive US$360,000.00 on the basis of the lowest percentage as national budgetary support from the Government of Liberia.
However, the current Senators and Representatives deliberately rejected the issue of independent candidates’ funding as highlighted in the bill because of their argument that any public support for individuals would seriously undermine the intent of the legislation. Unfortunately, the will of the few Senators and Representatives who truly believe in the people they represent, were suppressed by greed and selfishness in the entire process from the House to the Senate.
This is clearly indicative of the general belief among the population in Liberia now that current Senators and Representatives are no longer obligated to those who elected them, but their personal interest- a belief that makes the majority of the Liberian people to consider the 53rd Liberian Legislature as the worst ever in the history of the ‘Capitol Building’, even though there are a few good Senators and Representatives.
The fact that Legislators would deliberately reject the issue of better salary structure and other benefits for Liberian civil servants, as well as intentionally delay or refuse to pass the Decent Work Bill, which is also in the interest of the very people they claim to represent, and would choose to pass the so-called Political Parties’ Sustenance Bill, only suggests to the majority and other well-meaning Liberians Senators and Representatives are in the Legislature for themselves.
And this is where the voting population of Liberia needs to read between the lines come 2014 and 2017, when these very Senators and Representatives would once more be before them pretending again to be at their service when elected. It is only because of the personal benefits to be accrued that Senators and Representatives chose to pass such Bill, which will only make political parties overly dependent on “free” government money, as if they are responsible political institutions.
It is no secret that Senators and Representatives, who wholeheartedly or overwhelmingly supported and defended the Bill to the end, that such a decision to provide money to political parties as if they are not capable enough to sustain themselves was absolutely wrong, but the personal benefits as Liberians have now known for a year and half since the inception of the 53rd Legislature, no doubt may have propelled such decision.
Again, LET THEIR WILL BE DONE