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Liberia’s Problems

by News Manager

By Hun-Bu Tulay, Cell # +231-777-111-032/886-517-356; Email: ntevoma@gmail.com

Leaders should not exercise powers that are not given them by the Constitution and the statutory Laws of the country, and the people should not allow the leaders to exercise powers that violate the Constitution and statutory laws of the country”
N. Hun-Bu Tulay

Problem #1: Lack of Political Will on the part of political leaders
The quotation above is from the author’s speech delivered at the induction of the officials of the Senior Class at Cuttington University in 2010, when he served as the inducting Officer. For too long in this country, our leaders, past and present, have gotten away with exercising powers that are not given them by the Constitution of the land and violating the statutory laws of the land. Do you know that there are laws in this country that give the power to the Legislature to impeach officials of government, particularly the heads of departments now in the Ministry? Yes, there was such a law. In 1871 President Edward James Roye and Secretary of State (James E. Moore) faced Impeachment Hearings. Do you also know that the Election Boxes were kept by the State Department and later submitted to the Legislature for RATIFICATION like in the United of America? We have not seen any amendment to these laws; hence they are laws on the books of the country. These were violated after the first coup d’état and we as a people and leaders just simply float them today. We have forgotten that such laws even exist.

1986 Election Laws
S 4.12: Reads, “At close of the polls; following the close of the polls the sheriff in presence of representative of parties or candidates appointed under section” 4.9 and 4.10:
a. Cause the tabulated register to be made in triplicate signed by sheriff, clerk, the representative of political parties/or independent candidate(s). The original copy shall be inserted into the ballot box, locked, and sent to the National Elections Commission through the Election Magistrate. A duplicate shall be sent to the Magistrate of election and a third copy shall be kept by the sheriff of the poll.

S 4.12 was violated during the October 15, 1986, elections that saw Samuel K. Doe as President of Liberia.
Article 6 of the Liberian Constitution has been violated by past Presidents especially the post war Presidents. It reads “The Republic shall, because of the vital role assigned to the individual citizen under this constitution for the social, economic, and political well-being of Liberia, provide equal access to educational opportunities and facilities for all citizens to the extent of available resources. Emphasis shall be placed on the mass education of the Liberian people and elimination of illiteracy.” Now our question to you across the country: Was Article 6 of the Constitution fulfilled during the Weah Administration? Of course, the answer is a BIG NO. Just look at Grand Kru County, which is the birth county of many high-ranking officials (President, President Pro Tempore, and Deputy Speaker and many Ministers and Deputy Ministers. The school facilities there remain poor, little or no chairs for students, textbooks and the list goes on. If the situation in Grand Kru County is described thus, what do you think it is like in the other counties? Your guess is as good as ours.

One President that fulfilled this Article was Dr. William Richard Tolbert, Jr. During that administration, students in the leeward Counties had the same educational opportunities as those of the coastal Counties. This was shown in the performance of the students on Public Examinations and University Entrance Examinations. A child from Grand Gedeh, Nimba, or Lofa who enrolled at Ricks Institute, St. Patrick’s, or College of West Africa would do very well or even better than those in Monrovia. This is what we call equal opportunity.

We also saw the violation of Article 73 of the Constitution which reads, “No judicial official shall be summoned, arrested, detained, prosecuted, or tied civilly or criminally by or at the instance of any person or authority on account of judicial opinions rendered or expressed, judicial statements made, and judicial acts done during a trial in open court or in chambers except for treason or other felonies, misdemeanor, or breach of the peace. Statements made and acts done by such officials during a judicial proceeding shall be privileged, and, subject to the above qualification, no such statements made, or act done shall be admissible into evidence against them at any trial or proceeding.” We witnessed the impeachment of a sitting Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the country, and what was interesting was the Chief Justice of the country presided over this violation, which speaks a million words regarding the independence of the judiciary of the country.

Considering the Former Defense Minister and former Chief of Staff briefing note to the President, from that briefing note, it is very clear that the Weah Administration violated Article 33 c, which reads, “to provide for the common defense, to declare war and authorize the executive to conclude peace, to raise and support the Armed Forces of the Republic, and to make appropriations therefore provided that no appropriation of money for that use shall be for longer term of one year, and to make rules for the governance of the Armed Forces of the Republic.” Many of you have read the former Minister’s briefing note; do you think that the Weah Administration or the previous Administration fulfilled this article? We would say a BIG NO, because if the last two administrations (Sirleaf and Weah) had, the spouses of the men in arms would not have protested.

The Constitution of Liberia is one of the best in the world because it touches all aspects of modern democratic principles and there are so many other good laws on our books, but our political leaders have failed and continue to fail in the full enforcement of the articles of the constitution and statutory laws. As soon as this country’s leadership musters the political will to enforce these articles and clauses of the constitution and the basic laws, the country will become HEAVEN on Earth.

Problem#2 Youth- uneducated and undisciplined: Many years ago, one of the country’s presidents William R. Tolbert Jr. referred to the youths as the Precious Jewels of the country; because the youths are the backbone of any nation. They are the future leaders, entrepreneurs, and the employees, who will drive the economic and the infrastructure development of the country. The role of the youths in economic development is very crucial in any nation. Hence for any nation to have a successful democracy will largely depend on the caliber of its youthful population. If they are uneducated and undisciplined it will be difficult to have a successful democracy because the uneducated and undisciplined youths are not wise to make informed decisions, they follow public opinions. They would be unable to read and understand the content of what they read and EVIL MEN will explain everything to them in a way they want to and a terrorist or homophobic or nationalist or a tribalist would be born and eventually a nation is destroyed. We are seeing this all-around Africa and many other continents today. We saw this in the 1980s, 1990s and we are seeing it now. A nation that has uneducated and undisciplined youths is a nation that has high illiteracy rate and poverty because the youths are stuck in vulnerable and informal employment (Pempem and kehkeh drivers). The youths are frustrated that is the reason they are turning to drugs. This is where the country is today, its youthful population is addicted to drugs. This has resulted in the increased crime rate in the country. This is driving potential investors away. The government must find an urgent solution to this problem. The government needs to build three rehabilitation centers in Montserrado County and one in each of the other counties. These centers should contain medical facilities and vocational schools.

Problem #3 Sycophancy
The best way to describe sycophancy is to tell you a story. One day during the political season, a friend and I were invited by one of the presidential candidates to attend a meeting organized by some of their supporters. We arrived in time and met others there, and we had 45 minutes to discuss issues before the start of the meeting. During the discussion, this friend of mine asked a hypothetical question, “Why do ministers and friends of our leaders lie to them?” In this group, we had some PhDs, Master, and BSc and 90% of those who answered said “Because they want to keep their jobs.” This philosophy caused President Weah to fail. Our leaders can guard themselves against flattery by making the men and women around them understand that telling the TRUTH will not OFFEND THEM.

In 1968, when Henry Boima Fahnbulleh and the three Superintendents of Bong, Lofa, and Nimba Counties were charged for Treason, citizens from the four counties condemned these former patriotic Liberians before the case even went to trial. Hence it was some of these people that initially condemned the accusers that were selected as jurists. This violates the status of the country. Anyway, you have read the outcome of the trials, we say trials because Henry Boima Fahnbulleh was tried separately and the three superintendents jointly. The same happened when Assistant Minister of Coast Guard (Prince Brown) and Major Stephen Jaito Koffa and Colonel Saydee were charged for treason. Major Stephen Jaito Koffa was the father of the current Speaker of the Legislature.

The people around the president do not have to be sycophants. Be real to the president, it is this sycophancy that caused the killing of some of the country’s best BRAINS in 1980. And this caused the death of Samuel K. Doe. Democracy cannot flourish on sycophancy. We call on the new designated Minister of Justice to be like Louise Arthur Grimes and James A. A. Pierre, both of whom were Attorney General’s/Ministers of Justice of the country at different times. The Attorney General/ Minister of Justice who is the chief Legal Adviser to the president and you have to be candid with the president and other heads of ministries and agencies as was Louise Arthur Grimes or James A. A. Pierre were. We have read their opinions when they served in that position, hence we know what we are wrong about. Today the Law School at the University of Liberia and the Judicial Institute are named in their honor.

We saw president Weah abusing the appointing power of the president and we are witnessing that power being abused by President Boakai. We have written interminably on the subject over the past few weeks, but this abuse continues unabatedly. Even our good friend in the Senate (Senator Francis S. Dopoh, ll) spoke recently during an interview at a local radio station. He especially mentioned the appointing of the Commissioners at the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA). According to him, Commissioners are appointed by the Board of the LRA.

We would like to share with you sections in the Revenue Act published September 21, 2013, on appointments. Part IV: Commissioner General and two Deputy Commissioner Generals (Deputy Commissioner General for Administration Affairs (DCGAA and Deputy Commissioner General for Technical Affairs (DCGTA). These three are appointed by the president with the consent of the Liberian Senate. Read section 19 of the act.

Section 22 appointment of other staff

  1. The Board after a competitive process and recommendation of the Commissioner General shall appoint the commissioners of the authority in accordance with the procedures defined by the Authority’s HRMP. There are five commissioners in this category (Commissioner of Custom (CC), Commissioner of Domestic Tax (CDT), and Commissioner for Legal (CL), Commissioner for Internal Audit (CIA), and Commissioner for General Services (CGS).
  2. The Commissioner General shall appoint other management below the level of commissioners, technical and general staff.
    If President Boakai really appointed Assistant Commissioner, then Senator Dopoh is correct. This was another misstep of the President.

We would zero on other missteps of the President.

  1. When it comes to Autonomous Agencies that have established Boards, you first appoint the Board Members followed by the heads of the institutions, not the other way around. Contrary, the heads are being appointed before the board, this is not best practice universally because the heads report to the boards. It is the boards that receive the heads and introduce them to the staff of the institutions.
  2. The functions of the Board of Directions of Autonomous Agencies: The formulation of policies and directions of the management of the agencies/corporations shall be vested in the Board of Directors which are composed of statutory members as may be described in the act and members from the private sectors. The Acts establishing some of these Agencies give the Board of Directors to either appoint directly or vet names and submit a list to the President from which heads and deputies are appointed by the President. Some of these appointments are subject to confirmation by the Senate. We see individuals appointed by the President without confirmation as required functioning as heads. Two cases in point are the National Port Authority and the Liberia Water and Sewer Corporation. In the case of National Port Authority, the amended act of the Public Authorities Law to create the National Port Authority (NPA), Chapter 6, reference section 56-Executive Officer reads “Board shall select the Executive officer/Managing Director who shall be the highest executive of the NPA on such terms and conditions as the board may think fit.” If there is an amendment to this act, we were unable to find it.

In the case of the LWSC, the amended act approved December 28, 2017, and published January 2, 2018, Section 88.7 Managing Director reads: “1. Appointment. The Managing Director shall be appointed by the President, with the consent of the Liberian Senate, based on recommendations from the Board of Directors. The Managing Director shall receive such salary as shall be established by the Board and approved by the President.

Section 88.8 Deputy Managing Directors. Appointment. All Deputy Managing Directors shall be appointed by the President with consent of the Liberian Senate, upon recommendations of the Board of Directors. The Deputy Managing shall receive such salary as shall be established by the Board. Read the amended acts. This makes us wonder, what those around the President are doing. Are they not reading these acts and advising the president before these appointments are made? It is equally unfortunate, and it beats our imagination that we have such competent men and women around the President and these missteps are happening and the various subcommittees of the Senate are not picking up these missteps. What is the purpose of these hearings, if they cannot pick up simple things? The members of the various subcommittees know very little about the institutions they are chairing or member of. This lackadaisical attitude of theirs and lack of knowledge about these institutions is destroying our democracy. One reason for the confirmation is to checkmate the presidency.

  1. Problem #3 Egocentricity
    Our political leaders’ egocentric attitude is causing serious problems for the country. We can say that this attitude is responsible for the lack of development for over the 176 years of our existence. Just look at the National Budget for the past six years from 2015/2016 to 2021/2022. The lion share of the allotment is allocated to the Legislature and the Executive. The National Budget gives worth to the political actors, who have the constitutional mandate to distribute the wealth and resources of the country. Very little is allocated for education, health, road, water, sanitation, agriculture, security, electricity and other basic necessities of everyday survival of the population. Any country that spends more than 30% of its national budget to pay recurrent costs cannot solve the basic needs of its population.

We call on the legislative and the executive to introduce a program/project-based budget. Project based budgets are easy to monitor and follow weekly or monthly. It would be a good idea to allocate US$100.00 million for the ARREST Agenda for this budget year and in future, allocate US$50.00 million plus any excess of US$700.00 million to finance the ARREST Agenda. If we really want development, this is the way to go. Today, everyone goes to Rwanda and praises the development in that country. It is developed because the political leaders are sacrificing and making allocations for the government’s agenda. They are not taking home monthly US$7,500.00 or riding US$45,000.00 or US$75,000.00 or getting 500 gallons of fuel per month, which is equivalent to US$2,500.00. For a country to develop, the politicians must make sacrifices. It is a shame that our political leaders are the highest paid officials in West Africa if not in Africa and yet our country is among the least developed. How can we explain this to our children?

Liberia Electricity Corporation (LEC)
Over the past four (4) weeks, the LEC has been in the news, and we would like to add our voice to the debate. First you need to know that the Liberia Electricity Corporation (LEC) was created after the Public Utility Act was amended in 1973. We are not aware of any amendment to the 1973 act creating the LEC. In the 1973 act of the LEC, there is a Chairman of the Board and the Executive Officer. Section 85.4 reads “Board of Directors functions-formulation of policies and direction of management of the corporation shall be vested in a Board of Directors consisting of a Chairman, minister of finance, planning and economic development, justice and five members from the private sector. The Chairman of the Board shall be responsible for the overall direction of the corporation. Members of the Board except for the Chairman, may receive a salary to be established by the board and subject to the approval of the president.”

Section 88.5 Executive officer reads “The operational responsibilities for the implementation of the programs and policies of the corporation shall be conducted by a Managing Director, who shall be appointed by the president with the advice and consent of the senate. The Managing Director shall receive salary as shall be established by the board, subject to approval of the president. It has been alleged that some individuals at the LEC have contracts, but these contracts cannot supersede the act creating the LEC. Secondly, salaries of the Managing Director need to be approved by the president. The act says the chairman shall not receive salary. In the case of the Managing Director, it is mandatory that they get a salary but the Chairman. And it is unlawful to serve as Chairman and Managing Director or Executive Officer at the same time under this act. The positions of Chairman and Executive Officer/Managing Director at the LEC are not TENURE POSITIONS.

It is alleged that the LEC waived US4.0 million owed by her partner LIBENERGY. It is a fact that LIBENERGY entered a contractual agreement with the LEC to manage and sell energy in the southeastern counties (Grand Gedeh, River Gee, and Maryland). This energy comes from CL Energy of La Cote D’Ivoire as per the Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) between the Government of Liberia and Liberia Electricity Corporation (LEC) on one hand and the CL Energy on the other. This is not free energy CL Energy is supplying to Liberia. After selling energy over a period of ten months (March 2023-December 2023) the ARREARS OWED by LIBENERGY to LEC is alleged to be US$4.00. It is alleged that LEC management WAIVED the US$4.00 million LIBENERGY owed the LEC, while it is alleged that the government and LEC owed CL Energy US$17.00 million for energy already used in Liberia. In addition, it is also alleged the LEC Management reviewed the contract agreement which was signed in March 2023 between the LEC and LIBENERGY and was renewed for additional fifteen (15) years. The question is what was the basis for the renewal and extension after failing to pay the US$4.00 million of energy already owed? This energy coming from the CL ENERGY is not free. And CL ENERGY has not and will not waive the amount to LEC if the Government of Liberia owed CL ENERGY. Considering the present operations of the LEC, it is necessary to review the current management team and if necessary, make some changes as well as appoint a new Board of Directors.

The government of Liberia should institute an Audit of the LEC and her partner (LIBENERGY) immediately.

Mr. Rudolph Merab-Illegal Logger?
A story appeared in the Daily Observer on February 2, 2024, written by James Harding Giahye, caption “Joseph Boakai nominates Rudolph Merab, an Illegal Logger and a critic of regulation and conservation effort to head the Forest Development Authority (FDA).” But was the Merab Brothers who had a company(ies) operating in Western Liberia illegal? Let us look at the period the writer mentioned in the story from 1991-2000. During this period, the country was governed by two different governments at different times. The National Patriotic Reconstruction Assembly Government of Liberia during this period governed 90% of the territory of the country including Western Liberia (Gbapolu, Bomi and Grand Cape Mount Counties) the operational areas of the company owned by the Merab Brothers. As you are aware, there is no port for shipping logs in Western Liberia. The Merab Brothers registered their company both with NPRAGL and the Interim Government of National Unity of Liberia, which has a port facility. The company pays taxes to both governments. Do you, the readers, call these illegal operations? We must be careful when we write. Get all the facts and do your analysis before writing.

We leave you with these words, the power of the pen and education without wisdom is dangerous and what we need in our age is wisdom, even more than knowledge. Given the power of the pen and education conferred by science can give a new degree of wellbeing to all mankind, but without wisdom, they can bring only destruction.

WATCH OUT FOR PART TWO

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