Wednesday, March 24 occasioned the official handling over of the new headquarters of the National Elections Commission or NEC to the Liberian Government by the Government of the United States of America.
The US$3.2 million structure bounded by 9th and 10th Streets, as well as Tubman Boulevard in Sinkor, Monrovia, is part of the U.S Government’s $17.5m electoral package for Liberia’s 2011 general and presidential elections.
Among dignitaries gracing that occasion were the President of Liberia, the Chairman and Members of the Elections Commission, as well as a few cabinet ministers and heads of Liberian political parties.
Prominent among the speeches and remarks during the ceremony was that of the Ambassador of the United States of America, Mrs. Linda Thomas-Greenfield.
Interestingly for us, in her address was the issue of the Legislators’ agriculture break, an annual vacation of six months provided for by the constitution of Liberia. The main concern of the U.S. Ambassador was the influx of Senators and Representatives into the United States during the agriculture break, instead of their respective constituencies.
Whether considered an affront or whatsoever, as evidenced by reaction of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Alex Tyler when he said the agriculture break was optional, we warmly welcome the Ambassador’s concern as not only legitimate, but an open fact.
We fervently believe that because these honorable men and women earn more than enough cash monthly, including their “cuts”, they have developed the pleasure of making the U.S. their “farm” just as they always accused the “Congo People” of considering Liberia their farm. We do agree with the U.S Diplomat that most of the Liberian lawmakers are not known by their respective electorates.
Earnestly, while a few periodically visit and interact with their constituents in appreciation of the trusteeship placed in their hands, as well as the dignity restored upon them as “honorable”, most Legislators consider visiting their people as taboo and even if they’ve ever visited their counties, they are seen only in the capitals because of the social activities.
For the Speaker to describe the concern raised by the Ambassador as interference in the domestic politics of Liberia further beats our imagination. To even utter that every lawmaker has the right to choose where he or she wants to spend his or her break, and that it is not in violation any provision of the constitution, is totally shameful.
As he justified that there were Liberians in the Americas who would like to see their lawmakers, we must remind the honorable Speaker “in order” that there are sixty-four constituencies in Liberia and not any in the United States or anywhere else.
What’s more puzzling about these private visits to the U.S by our Legislators are the lies and deceits they deliver to their people through the media, most especially the community radio network. We believe the message Ambassador Greenfield was delivering to these honorable people had to do with what they owe those who elected them.
Now that the U.S. Embassy is overwhelmed by this development and has exposed such to the Liberian people, we think it must institute measures to minimize the influx of Representatives and Senators into the United States. If we were to suggest, one measure could be to restrict their agriculture break to their constituencies or elsewhere, but not the United States for now.
The fact that Ambassador Greenfield has made it public, we consider it very alarming, and that the U.S Government must bow against those who misuse six precious months against the people’s interest.
While we applaud the American Diplomat for this latest move, we do certainly hope that the foregoing action recommended can be considered for implementation beginning this year’s agriculture break which starts in July.