The opposition Congress for Democratic Change or CDC, has called on the Unity Party-led government to halt further sale of the country’s natural resources on grounds that the administration has less than 24 months to leave office.
Liberians go to democratic elections in 2017 as President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf ends second six years term in office. CDC national chairman, Nathaniel McGill, at a news conference hosted Thursday at the party’s national headquarters in Monrovia, said since the inception of the government more than 10 years ago, it has given out concessions in mining, forestry, and other sectors of the economy, but these concessions amounting to tens of billions of dollars have not yielded the desired results as unemployment remains alarmingly high at nearly 85 percent.
“We are still wondering as to where are the promised jobs? We have received information that the government is planning sale of additional oil blocks in the Harper Basin. We understand that the government is seeking bidders for the Wologisi Mountains. As the government is nearing the completion of its tenure, we seriously advise the government to refrain from the negotiation of additional concessions which may obligate its successors,” Mr. Mcgill said.
The CDC has also expressed concerns about the new level of debt being incurred by the Liberian government, noting that documents and information available to the party points to an alarming increase in the purchase of Liberia’s natural resources by international investors.
Commenting on the financial crisis at the National Oil Company of Liberia or NOCAL, it said information availablepoints to systematic abuse and pillaging of resources collected by NOCAL over the last ten (10) years. The CDC also alleged conventional estimates put the total Revenues collected by NOCAL over the last ten (10) years at close to US$400 Million.
“The CDC demands a full report and accountability on what the monies collected by NOCAL was used for. How can a country with a broken health and educational system and lacking basic social services lavish such a huge sum? The mismanagement and abuse of resources collected by NOCAL for Liberia raises serious eyebrows for the future of Liberia’s Oil Sector. The CDC will engage the government to request detailed reports to the Liberian people on the hundreds of Millions collected by NOCAL,” McGill said.
Meanwhile, the CDC has recommended the formation of a non-partisan, broad based, committee to conduct comprehensive accounting, financial, management, and system investigation of NOCAL.
McGill pointed out that the intent would be to find out what happened and why, in order to come up with intervening mechanism or recommendations to avert any such condition; whether in NOCAL and or other state-owned enterprises and agencies.
Commenting on the impending 2017 Presidential and Representative Elections, the CDC noted that while it acknowledges the hard work of the National Elections Commission, stakeholders should get involved in engendering critical steps that are essential and indispensable to the conduct of credible elections.
The CDC welcomes efforts of the NEC at moving to a bio-metric voters’ registration system. McGill said bio-metric registration system would help to avoid cheating, saying CDC will not take the 2017 race lightly.
The 2017 national elections constitute an important step in Liberia’s post-war democratic transitional process, which requires the continued support of the international community, including the United Nations, the United States Government, African Union, European Union, Economic Community of West Africa or ECOWAS, and the Mano River Union.
By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor-Edited by Jonathan Browne