From what we have observed and continue to witness, the 54th Legislature is the greatest threat to Liberia’s nascent democracy and has become a complete disappointment to the nation. It’s the first branch of government within the Liberian jurisdiction that is statutorily charged to enact laws, advocate or represent the socioeconomic aspiration of the citizenry by ensuring a credible, accountable and transparent governing system. The Liberian Legislature also has the charge by law to provide effective, efficient and thorough oversight of the Executive Branch—among other significant and quintessential constitutional responsibilities bequeathed to the Legislature. Article #34 of the Liberian Constitution succinctly spells out the powers and responsibilities of the legislature.
Unfortunately, however, the 54th Legislature has utterly betrayed the confidence of the Liberian people. It is dysfunctional, derelict, spineless and inherently corrupt. Its occupiers, the lawmakers who were elected to advocate for and adequately represent the aspiration of the people and ensure that the national resources are appropriately apportioned to improve the socio-economic livelihood of the people and foster national development and prosperity, have markedly neglected the people and shamefully hell-bent on personal aggrandizement—thereby conniving and colluding with the disreputable Executive Branch to defraud the nation and its sprawling poor.
These lawmakers insatiable taste to amass material wealth and bask in opulence has led to the blatant desecration of the hallowed chambers of the legislature—denigrating it to a place of dishonor where bribery and other stinging malfeasance are reportedly circulated nationwide as a seated commonplace. Such is the current state of the 54th Legislature and it is despicable and disconcerting, to say the least. The time is now to radically call out these dishonorable phonies and rally the people against them at the ballot box. The bulk of them do not possess the integrity, nobility and national conscience to behold the trust and confidence of the people. They must be kicked out the soonest in order to return sanity and honorability to the honorable institution once more.
Henceforth, the point must be tersely made that without an independent, effective, efficient and responsible legislature, good governance is impossible, and this is exactly the devastating conundrum Liberia is sadly immersed into. Rather than being an independent Branch and exudes itself in line with its sacred constitutional powers and duties thereto assigned, the Legislature plays to the whims and caprices of the Executive branch thereby defaulting on its exigent responsibility to compel the executive to account for its stewardship.
Under George Weah’s neocracy, plutocracy and kleptocracy things have gotten even worse. The Legislature cowardly bows to and bootlicks the Executive thus giving crooked George Weah unhindered freeway or carte blanche to conduct the affairs of the country the way he feels and likes. What manner of debauchery a nation can be subjected to? Except for a tiny few, I can say without an ounce of stupor that about 98% of lawmakers currently at the legislature is ineffective, unpatriotic, weak and mostly concerned about lining their pockets and purses in the name of securing a garish lifestyle while the majority of people who elected them are wallowing in extreme poverty and dying from starvation by the day.
So, if the mental cognition of people occupying the Capitol Building is to make crooked deals with a chronically corrupt executive, what becomes of such legislature? You may ponder over this for a moment, but ultimately the legislature is a big mess thus enforcing the argument that about 98% of them needs to be kicked out in the impending 2020 Senatorial midterm elections and 2023 general elections in order to make way for ennobled sons and daughters of our homeland who would do what is right and just to give our people quality, credible and appropriate representation at the level of the legislature.
This legislature has approved all the wrongful and criminal actions of the Executive. Road contracts costing millions of United States dollars have been granted to Lebanese companies in flagrant violation of procurement laws right before the eyes of this legislature. US$25 million meant to mop up excess liquidity of Liberian dollars from the market stolen right under the nose of this legislature.US$10m county development fund from China Union swindled right under the watch of this legislature. L$16 billion case languishes in limbo and the culprits are set to walk away scot-free. George Weah has been accused by his Party Chairman Mulbal Morlu of expropriating the presidency—generating millions in the name of the country and diverting same to his personal use. This legislature remains deafeningly mute.
Transparency institutions in the country like the GAC, IAA, LACC and PPCC have purposefully been made dysfunctional yet this Legislature remains mute about that. Weah goes on the rampage violating the laws of the country and members of this legislature are seen hailing him instead of slamming him. It was this very barren, scoundrel and disreputable 54th Legislature that Weah used to unlawfully oust a sitting Associate Justice, Kabineh Janeh merely on account of political differences. How dissonant, counterproductive and absurd can they be?
The latest disdain of this legislature is the passage of a recast budget under the cover of darkness in clear violation of the national budget law. We reliably gathered that the House of Representatives has passed the budget and forwarded the same to the Senate for concurrence. George Weah, this writer has gathered that the submitted controversial recast budget landed on Sunday evening, May 17th 2020 and on Monday morning, May 18th 2020 the recast budget was passed by the Lower House with the greatest degree of speed and secrecy. What a shame! Liberia is doomed. No public hearing was conducted on the recast budget. The public was not notified as the law demands. No previous budget performance report was produced and submitted along with the questionable recast budget, as the law demands.
Previous Finance Ministers were subjected to these regiments in line with the laws, why the current Finance Minister and his team are being permitted to bypass the law? Is Liberia the fiefdom of Weah and his apologists? The recast which has since been passed by this shameless Legislature is reported to be impregnated with nefarious allocations or appropriations to suit Weah and his henchmen financial interest, as has always been since the shocking ascent of George Weah to the Liberian presidency.
Currently, Weah has extended his State of Emergency(SOE) on the country and placed a 6:am to 6:pm curfew on the struggling Liberian people without the approval or consent of the Legislature —in flagrant violation of Article #88 of the Liberian Constitution. The legislature again is watching in silence and timidity as Weah violates the law in his usual hawkish style. All of these violations are obtaining simply because the lawmakers have compromised their powers and rights for the love of “Brown Envelope”, hence, they have not the grit to muster the temerity to call George Weah to order. So, Weah has become an ‘Emperor’ conducting the affairs of Liberia like a “Weah’ Dynasty”. This is inconceivable and unacceptable!
No doubt, the current 54th Legislature is the greatest threat to Liberia’s fledgling democracy and the need to have at least 98% percent of these dysfunctional, compromised and spineless booted out during the impending election cannot be overemphasized. The 54th Legislature is rotten and stinky and required a strong disinfectant in order to fully sanitize it and return that august body to the hollowness on which it was established.
Writes Robert Moncio Kpadeh
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