President George Manneh Weah’s recent proposal that property ownership rights should be given to people of other races has created serious worry among Senators on Capitol Hill.
Following Mr. Weah’s delivery of the State of the Nation in which the proposal was contained on Monday, 29 January, the chambers of the Liberian Senate came under tense argument between senators on Tuesday, 30 January, with the lawmakers seen divided on whether or not is safe to grant property ownership rights to all races here.
Some Senators agreed with the president but others strongly have opposing views that the decision could deny Liberians the opportunity to own land here in the near future.
Grand Kru County Senator Dr. Peter Coleman argues that the decision is timely and it could help to safe lives especially children who died before their fifth birthday in the leeward counties.
“What sense it makes to own land for century and you cannot develop it. Children under five years died before celebrating their fifth birthday all because the land is available but there is no development, especially health facilitates,” he says.
Dr. Coleman, who hails from the same county as President Weah, adds that Liberia should grow from the stage of denying people who can afford to bring development in the country the right to own property in the name of protecting land for generation unborn.
But he was angrily debunked by Bomi County Senator Cllr. Morris Saytumah who says the decision is wrong and unfriendly to Liberians, especially the young ones who are striving to bring changes and progress to the land.
He states that there are countries globally that do not give land rights to other nationals, and yet those countries are developed and well structured.
“This is not in the interest of our country. There are countries around the world that develop without giving rights to other nationals. This will be resisted and kicked out by the Liberian people when it appears for national referendum,” he says.
But Sen. Matthew Jay of River Gee County supports Sen. Coleman’s argument, claiming that the country must develop at all cost and one of the ways possible is to allow people who can afford to participate in the land’s ownership arrangement.
Grand Bassa County Senator Jonathan Kaipee disagrees with the proposition, saying there are many ways Liberia can be developed and not only by giving out the ancestors’ land to aliens and none Liberians.
The argument among lawmakers on Capitol Hill comes after President Weah’s first Annual Message in which he noted since the founding of Liberia in 1847, more than 170 years ago, there have been certain restrictions on citizenship and property ownership that in his view have become serious impediments to the development and progress of this country.
Mr. Weah says these restrictions include the limitation of citizenship only to black people, the limitation of property ownership exclusively to citizens, and the non-allowance of dual citizenship.
“In fact, we have everything to gain. If we look in our region amongst the other member states of ECOWAS, especially our neighbors in La Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana, it will soon be observed that permitting people of other races to become citizens has not marginalized their indigenes,” he said on Monday.
By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor–Edited by Winston W. Parley