By Esther Kellen, Programs Officer, Open Liberia |
Good morning ladies and gentlemen of the press. Thanks for your usual support in our effort to strengthen governance and democracy in Liberia. We’re truly cognizant of your role. This brief press statement is meant to pray the creeping and aspiring devil out of our country’s governance system; a system we’ve invested so much in over the years.
Sometimes last week, our nation woke up to the sad news of a sad decision by the president to alter the autonomy, independence and sanctity of certain positions in our governance system – contrary to international best practices in open and good governance. The president wants to change the way the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA), Liberia Maritime Authority (LAM), Central Bank of Liberia (CBL), and the National Social Security and Welfare Corporation (NACSSCORP), Liberia Telecommunications Authority (LTA), Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC), LEITI, amongst others, have been operating to suit his pleasure.
Despite the sadness of the decision by Mr. Weah, not one of persons we elected as lawmakers has publicly spoken about how the proposal by the president undermines good governance and transparency, particularly so in the absence of an empirical study to prove how ineffective these tenured positions are. This is really sad. This is really an imperial presidency.
Granted that our lawmakers and actors in the executive and judiciary branches of government are not seeing the intent and potential ruining result of the proposed law by the president, Open Liberia wishes to categorically state that the proposal is simply meant to create, patronize and perpetuate a celebrated democratic dictator.
Mr. Weah may have been elected through a democratic process, but his composure in recent times should be a signal that yes indeed a dictator is in the making; and he’s doing so finely while people think he’s not aware of what’s he’s doing. But nope, the president is very much aware of what’s doing: amassing power to a position that is already too powerful.
When we went to the polls in 2005, 2011 and 2017, we didn’t have in our mind that the reason we’re voting Mr. Weah was for him to tamper, in a wrong way, with our governance and democracy. The president’s wanting to amass power unto himself takes our governance from being a democracy to an autocracy – and this is certainly not what we signed up for.
How soon has the president forgotten that he just signed the Decentralization Act into law? How can he be signing a law that devours power to the people but at the same time proposing another law that devours power from the people unto himself? Isn’t this a contradiction and a true definition of political deception by our leader?
How soon has our president forgotten that when he was candidate from 2005 to 2017, his mantra was ‘Power to the People, Yes We can?’ How come it’s turned out to be ‘Power to Me, Mr. President?” How can power be to the people when, based on the way you’ve structured our governance, no one can tell the king that he’s naked?
Open Liberia cannot fathom a Liberia where the president is the judge, the payer and the spectator at the same time. Mr. Weah’s decision to terminate these tenured positions has the ability to undermine the functional independence of these institutions to perform – and this is not what we signed up for when we voted.
Open Liberia will assume until proven otherwise that the decision by the president is only meant to create temporary distraction from other pressing national issues like the L$16bn scandal and his mansion construction as well as ongoing proven malfeasance at the LPRC so as to buy time to gear up to perform his tasks, especially the productive ones.
Ladies and gentlemen of the press, thank you very much for coming. Now, we can take some questions.