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Lookin Inside from Outside

The Liberian Legislature as “Part of Government”

One of the factors responsible for poor governance is the inability of the government to hold together, especially in a given time when broken pieces are being put together. It is always obvious that ‘in union, strong success is sure’, but such, as reflected in the Liberian National Anthem, is not reflected in the day-to-day governance process. That is to say, the government is not united, and if anyone should dispute this, probably he or she might be living in another country. Had we had  a united government of purpose, i.e., moving in a single direction, the Liberian Government would have, by now, achieved more than anticipated by ordinary Liberians, and the eye-brows currently being raced at our governance process would have been very minimum (even though not everyone would have been pleased with the operations of the government).

The 1986 Constitution of Liberia sets aside three separate, but coordinate branches of Government –the Legislature, Executive and Judicial Branches. While there may not be many qualms with the relationship between the Judiciary and Executive on one hand and the Legislature and Judiciary on the other, it important to note the frustrations generated among Liberians as a result of the dwindling relationship between the Executive and Legislative Branches of Government. In other words, there are always problems between the Executive and Legislative Branches, mostly, on issues which only tend to delay progress in government operations.

Listening to the radio and reading the newspapers most often, it takes one by surprise when reference is made to the Executive Branch by the Legislature as “the government”, especially when the President of Liberia institutes or undertakes certain measures. That means, most of our Legislators on Capitol Hill may not even understand what a ‘government’ is whenever they refer to the Executive as the government.

The irony in such situation is that members of the Legislature considering themselves very “influential and powerful” always lure their colleagues into harboring the belief that they ‘too powerful’ as the first of government to subdue the others, especially the Executive- probably because of their low level of  experience and education in governance. So, they will always argue or make decisions, of course capitalizing on the phrase ‘the Liberian people, to ensure the achievement of their personal agenda or interest- a situation that most often making our governance process very rocky and confused.

Interestingly, the only time members of the Legislature become moderate in terms of ‘coordination’ between them and the Executive is there are issues to personally benefit them. A example is the passage of oil bill is currently holding them at the Capitol Building for one week only because of the personal benefit they are to accrue. Here, they are of the strongest conviction that they are on par with the Executive only because of the ‘cash’ benefit- this is how frustrating the actions of those who claim to be representing us at the Legislature are.

But again, they are not to be blamed; and this is because we, Liberian voters, don’t set standards for ourselves to elect people to the Legislature. During the electoral process, most of us Liberians always thrive on the path of sentiments- relations, fame and cash inducement, other than the individual’s ability to deliver based on his or her past experience, achievements and human relations in his or her localities.

Forget about the issue of modernity; the Legislature is for people of vast experience in public service and not hustlers as we currently have. Electing “plank sellers, side-walk sweepers, flunkies, as well as drug dealers, among others to the Legislature only exposes our lack of political education and maturity in decision-making, and that’s we will continue to complain and complain about most of our Lawmakers at the Capitol Building. And until we  chose the right candidates of value and substance and not mere hustlers (despite being Liberians too), we will continue to choose the wrong persons.

As we go to the poll this Saturday, December 20, 2014 to elect fifteen senators, our decision must be based on three key and valuable requirements- the candidates’ public service experience, achievements of the past and human relations with those of us from whom they want votes, and not sentiments that would lead us to our greatest regrets.

We must also be cognizant of the inability of almost all of the incumbent senators seeking re-election to deliver to us for the past nine years. While they are currently using their huge cash to buy our votes, we must also have at the back of our minds that  there’s nothing better they will give back. As much as they did meeting our expectations for the past nine years, we shouldn’t be misled by ‘huge cash influence’ into believing that they would bring “heaven down on earth”- only voters with the highest degree of limitations would choose to vote for candidates of such nature.

Even for those other than the incumbents, our judgment for electing them must also be based on the three requirements mentioned earlier. On the basis of their impact-making achievements (that is, what they done in communities and districts) for the past years, we can capitalized on such values to repose our confidence in them for our own success upon electing them.

Predicated upon these values and political education and maturity, we anticipate a vibrant Liberian Senate that would proper champion our cause as a people and constructive engage the Executive in consonance with the coordination emphasized by the Constitution to move our nation forward, and not a group of individuals who want to pursue personal agenda or interest as we seen over the years.

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