In modern societies, the active participation of opposition parties in any government is doubtlessly one of the pillars of vibrant democracy. If not in cabinet positions as appointed by the executive arm of government, oppositions in most of the countries in world constitutes the Parliament or National Legislature as the first branch of government responsible not only for legislating laws but also ensures that the actions of the government are in the best interest of the voices they represent. In other words, it is meeting the hopes and aspirations of their constituents are masses.
While it is true that the Executive arm of the government drives developmental agenda through the allocation and judicious expenditure of the national budget, the same is also true for the passage into law the national budget by Parliament or National Legislature. It implies that when laws are passed or enacted by Parliament as in the case of national budget, it presumably reflects the interest of the people they represent. By this, it can be argued that parliament whether from oppositions or ruling party as the first branch of the government cannot be aloof the developmental agenda. In other words, it means that the achievements and failures of the government as far as both human and infrastructural developments are concerned are shared by both the Executive and Parliament or National Legislature.
In the case of the Liberian politics, the National Legislature composed of not only the ruling party but significantly the oppositions as well. Beside the passage of laws which also includes the national budget, approval of concessionary agreements signed by the President (Executive arm) all of which in theory drives development are some of the core functions of our National Legislature. These core functions hold them accountable to their individual constituents just as the president is answerable to the general population.
By virtue of their legislative functions doubtlessly sanctioned by the Constitution of Liberia which is similar to other countries, it can be argued that our National Legislature regardless of their political institutions can improve the livelihood of the people they represent. Take for example, in 2015, Senator Oscar Cooper proposed 20% reduction in the benefits of lawmakers so as to tackle pressing issues confronting the Ministries of Health and Education on grounds that the US$ 38 million allotted to the legislature was too much and unfair.
Besides the passage of law and approval of concessionary agreements, our National Legislature as evident by the existence of theCommittee on Good Governance and Government Reform has the responsibility to fight corruption that impedes development.
Given the constitutional mandate of our National Legislature as far as improving the livelihood of the people they represent and also fighting corruption decried by the same people, it sounds ironical for every time hearing partisans from the opposition blocks to criticize the government for failures knowing fully well that their political leaders or senior officials are part of the first branch of government enjoying significant portion of the national cake while their constituents are eating crumbs of the cake . Let’s look at few instances or facts that clearly contradict the criticism of their partisans.
When Senator Oscar Cooper from Margibi County proposed for 20% reduction in the benefits of lawmakers so as to tackle pressing issues faced by the Ministries of Health and Education, how many opposition knowing such move to be proportional to the interest of very people they represent supported Hon. Cooper? Surprisingly, he was threatened by suspension for what some of his colleagues termed as embarrassment. One would have expected such proposal from the opposition who have claimed to be in the interest of the ordinary Liberians. Instead, it came from the ruling party by then.
When the corruption scandal or allegation of US$25,000LACC investigation hit the lower house, what significant role did oppositions play knowing the implication of fighting corruption as part of their core functions?
In 2015, Dr. Bhofal Chambers of Maryland that represents one of the major opposition partiesblamed the 53rd Legislature that he is currently part for the hardship of the ordinary Liberians due to what he described as approval of concession agreements coupled with international assistants that did not impact the society as expected. Despite of this bold and objective assertion, his partisans continued to criticize the government for what they conceptualized as failure or nothing has been done.
When was the last time oppositions walk out of session or lobby to defeat the passage of laws, concessionary agreements not in the interest of the masses they represent or for failure of the executive branch not to increase the salaries of civil servants. How many times have oppositions consolidated their efforts to increase Civil Servants salaries and incentives?
Take for example, the case of Burkina Faso’s interim lawmakers’ unanimous decision to reduce their salary by half (50%) so as to step up the salaries of Civil Servants early part of 2015 following local unions and rights groups complained that $3,000 per month salary was too high for one of the poorest nations on earth. This move did not seek the consent of the interim President or the Executive arm of the government.
The ironies for oppositions partisans of criticizing the government in terms of failure suggest the same failure of their law makers who are part of the first branch of the government. In other words, it is safe to rationalize that in as much as the government has practically done nothing, oppositions lawmakers too have practically done thing to alleviate the sufferings of the ordinary Liberians. The reason is not only because oppositions are part of the first branch of the government. More importantly, in theory, they supposed to be a vital bridge between the institutions that govern and the people they represent. Inversely, this is not the case in practice.
Up to the publication of this article, it is surprising that opposition partisans are noiseless about the absence of opposition leader critical to resilience and robust actions in the interest of the ordinary Liberians. It is surprising that their partisans don’t say anything about the gigantic portion of the national cake enjoyed by their law makers.
It is surprising for opposition partisans toterm as “Bogus”the very concessionary agreements approved by some of their law makers.What a contradiction? Don’t they see it clearly whenever they criticize the very government their law makers are significantly part?
To conclude, partisans from oppositions that always criticized the government are fully aware of the irony or contradiction. They are only taking advantage of the limitations of bulky of the ordinary people most of whom are sympathizers finding it difficult to read between the lines or rationalize issues.