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The Excessive Power of Our Lawmakers

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Just recently, the issue of the power of the Liberian Presidency and Liberian Legislature was place at the core of our discussion. The nature of the discussion was the claims by the Liberian legislature that the President of Liberia (Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf) was too powerful. Our disagreement was that even if the President was powerful, such power was drawn from the Constitution of Liberia, unlike the Legislators who chose to restore power onto themselves hiding behind the issue of “law-making” as one of their functions.

It is no doubt that in our history, it is only this %3rd Legislature of Liberia, most especially the House of Representatives is exercising excessive power, so much so that they are even meddling in the affairs of the Executive Branch of Government, capitalizing on the issue of “law-making” as a function.

It beats the imagination of any well-meaning Liberian to know that Representatives and Senators were over-shadowing the “what and how” of the social development funds provided by companies operating in some of our counties.

Even though a very few counties, including Nimba (probably because a special committee other than Legislators may be handling the fiscal cash), may be immensely benefitting from the use of this money, it is absolutely wrong for these legislators to give themselves purchasing power without due regards to the various Project Management Committees of the Counties.

One clear example is the issue of the earth-moving machines last Sunday presented to the people of Bong County. Even though documents available to some citizens of the county suggest that the equipment bought by the MDMC are used machines, the Bong County Legislative Caucus, through its Chairman George Sylvester Muulbah continues to claim that the machines are “brand new”. And again, the MDMC cannot be held responsible for the purchase of such used caterpillars because the amount given it by the Caucus was used to buy those refurbished yellow machines from South Africa.

The issue of the stalled construction of the Goveh Community College is another classic example. No ration person will believe that about eighty-percent of the money for the project has already been paid to the Chinese Contractors, while the project is still at sixty percent without any sign of being completed by September of this year. Investigations are suggesting that of the eighty-percent of the total cost of the project, some members of the Bong Legislative Caucus intercepted thirty-percent as “kick-backs” from the Chinese Contractors, who are currently very disgruntle.

At the moment, funds set aside for financial aid to students of Bong County at various universities in Liberia under the guise of “the Suacoco scholarship program” are under economic hostage by Representatives of the various electoral districts of the county. These are just a few instances of how powerful our Legislators have made themselves very power, far more than what the Constitution of Liberia gives.

Quite honestly, Legislators must only play a monitoring role in how the social development funds are expended, other than being directly involved in expending the money.

Right now in Bong County, for example, the people have received no report no reports on the expenditure of the County’s Social Development Fund up to date since its inception. While this is so, the county administration is yet to speak to this matter, despite numerous calls by citizens and civil society organizations to do so-only because of the threats and other influences of their lawmakers.

When all of these are happening, how can these same Legislators accuse of President of Liberia of exercising too much power? With all of the powers given her by the Liberian Constitution, she is moderate and cooperative with the lawmakers, even though they continue to capitalize on such coordination on the side of the President to exercise excessive power in the counties, especially over the social development fund provided by companies operating in their respective regions.

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