-to protect petroleum law
The Coalition for the Restoration of Liberians 5% Equity Interest in Petroleum Contracts, says it is left with no option but to pursue legal action against the Government of Liberia to ensure every citizen benefit from the country’s oil resources- especially through the Citizens Fund modality that was requested during the 2014 nationwide oil law consultation, and subsequently enshrined in the 2014 Petroleum Law of the country.
CORLE will petition the Supreme Court to halt the ongoing oil bid process, declare unconstitutional section 36 of the secret 2019 amendment and restore Liberians 5% equity right- via the Citizens Fund modality- before the signing of oil concession scheduled to begin a week from now.
Addressing a news conference on Monday, May 24, the organizing Secretary General Matthew Nyanpolu, said, “For us, the debate over the 5% Equity Right is simple: It is choice between protecting the birth right of over 3.5 Million Liberians and future Liberian generations Vs. protecting the happiness of less than 10 business owners, their families, and allies in the government.”
According to him, as they highlight this point, they have maintained that the secret amendment by President George Weah and members of the 54th Liberian Legislature is a betrayal of the trust of Liberians, and a blatant violation of the sacred oath of office to which they swore to uphold, protect, and defend.
“The Constitution of Liberia requires, in Article 7, that the Republic shall ensure that the country’s natural resources are managed in a way that ensures maximum feasible participation of all Liberian citizens.
The secret amendment of the petroleum law- specifically section 36 that strips Liberians of this right- is not only a violation of the very constitution these officials swore an oath to defend, but a calculated ploy by a government which prides on the mantra of pro-poor, to concentrate oil wealth in the hands of few Liberians, make the rich Liberians richer and poor Liberians poorer,” Mr. Nyanpolu told the conference.
The group said they are not opposing to Liberian businesses taking and benefiting from equity participation in any concession, including oil concession.
“What we are opposed to is taking the right of Liberians to an equity participation-whose dividend/profit was required to be deposited into a ‘Citizens Fund’ for the benefit of every Liberian- and setting aside said 5% for only Liberians with oil & gas related businesses .President Weah and members of the 54th Legislature are aware that only a negligible fraction of the Liberian population- particularly those connected to them- has the resources to register an oil company,” he added.
He stated that their action to therefore set ownership of an oil company as the requirement to benefit from the 5% equity is a well calculated conspiracy to further empower themselves and their allies and keep the over 3 million other Liberians and their unborn generations continuously depending on them for “good will”.
The civil group maintained that as the real value of people’s income have been stolen away, the opposite has happened: wages have stagnated and, in some cases, have even been sliced downward, making life further difficult for ordinary Liberians.
While other governments, such as Ghana, for example, are taking actions to mitigate the economic difficulties on their people, the Government of Liberia is making life more difficult for her citizens by acting to keep Liberians very poor and taking away what belongs to all Liberians and giving it to a few businesses, that in effect, represent the interests of government officials. By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor