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Role of Liberian Lawmakers in Financial Matters of Counties

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Many-a-time when the President of Liberia acts or makes major decisions, she is branded by some Liberians, most especially members of the Legislature as being too powerful. Yes, of course, she is because the Constitution of Liberia gives her all of the executive powers needed to keep the nation going. Interestingly, the same people who brand the President as being too powerful are the same legislators who are even more powerful. They may be so much so powerful that many times the President of Liberia makes compromises with them so as to keep the country and government together and functioning.

For example, Chapter V, Articles 34 and 38 of the Constitution are very indicative of how powerful these people are, so much so that they must give the go-ahead’ before even the President acts in major national instances. So then, why must the Legislators create the impression that the President is too powerful? Among their three basic functions, our Senators and Representatives hide behind the function of ‘making laws’ to accomplish personal aggrandizement either for political or economic reasons-something  characterizing the activities of this 53rd Liberian Legislature.

I do absolutely concur with the Chairman of the Montserrado Legislative Caucus, Representative Edward Forh’s recent pronouncement that they (Legislators) do make laws for themselves and would permit no one to violate such laws. Can you imagine, in making those laws or rules to guide the activities at the Capitol, “oversight power” , especially those that  empower them to have absolute control over the financial resources of the counties are emphasized and continuously re-emphasized.

Take for example, because the county’s social development fund, paid as royalty to the counties by concession companies is so huge, they take absolute control with the Chairmen of the various Caucuses serving prime signatories. As a r3esult, monies are used for projects yet to be completed despite the expiration of the project period or those yet to be seen, as evidenced by the disagreements in Gbarpolu, Bomi, Nimba, Montserrado and Bong Counties just to name a few.

Take for example, the Goveh Community College in Gbarnga, Bong County should have been completed since two years ago, but is still lingering below roof level with no account of what’s really happening. It is only happening because the power given our lawmakers to make laws is too broad far more than what they claim the President has. Just years into their six and nine year-term, their constituents have become so disappointed with them so much so that they have completely run into credibility problem.

This is why members of the Constitution Review Commission must be very steadfast in their review of most of the provisions of the Constitution of Liberia so that the numerous ambiguities and excessive powers given the Liberian Legislature are reduced, alongside their various tenures. While every Liberian citizen may have the right to elected positions, including Senator and Representative, it is also in the supreme interest of the growth and development of our nation that our laws are very challenging son that “just no Tom, Dick or Harry” will just jump from the blue sky to occupy such positions as we have today in that august body that should be very honorable.

The Legislature must be made up of very experienced and credible individuals who must always exercise wisdom (like Senator Cletus Wotorson and a few others) in any judgment regarding the interest of the nation and not self-interest as we have on Capitol Hill at the moment-where several members of the House of Representatives were seen riding and driving brand-new “NOCAL-Patrol” just before their so-called Agriculture break last year.

The Constitution Reform Commission must also consider the issue of age-reviewing the 30 and 25 years set aside for senators and Representatives. Legislators of 30 and 25 years more than 25 years ago in Liberia are far incomparable with those of today, judging from what we experience today at the Capitol Building. That place must be occupied by people of wisdom-that’s why it is referred to as House of Elders, and not mere noise-makers and fortune hunters.

To be continued.

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