Friday, February 12, 2010

Threshold Legislation Crumbles Again; Prez Sirleaf Slides Second Veto Knife

02/11/2010 - Nat Nyuan Bayjay, nbayjay@frontpageafrica.com ( 231-77-402-73“The actual intent of the President’s veto is not for economic reasons; else, she won’t have created agencies in which individuals get over US$20,000 as monthly salary”, he told FrontPageAfrica.Monrovia - Just when the National Legislature thought it had relieved itself off the burden of the long-debated and controversial population threshold bill, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf’s persistence of what she continues to term as economic reason has led to the bill being vetoed for the second time with another recommendation that Liberia’s threshold be set at 48,000 persons per constituency.

“Now, therefore, by the authority in me vested, under Article 35 of the Constitution of the Republic of Liberia, I hereby veto, for the second time, Engrossed Bill Number 4 entitled: An Act to Set The Threshold To Reapportion constituencies throughout the Republic of Liberia”, wrote President Sirleaf in a letter dated January 9, 2010 and addressed to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Alex Tyler.

The threshold is probably the longest debated legislative issue of the 52nd National Legislature which spent two years in the corridors of the Capitol Building. Following prolonged bickering, it was finally passed immediately upon the resumption of legislative duty in January when the Upper Legislative Wing (the Senate) concurred with the House of Representatives at 40,000 persons per constituency after members of the august body returned from their constituency or agricultural break.

The Senate’s concurrence was preceded by an initial veto by the President in September of 2009 in which she stated that the passage of 40,000 citizens with the proviso that no county becomes a single-seated constituency implying that no county gets less than two representative seats was in violation of Article 80 (d) of the Liberian Constitution. She furthered in her September 17, 2009 letter that the effect of the Act, when enacted, would result into what she called huge financial and budgetary increase in recurrent and capital expenditure costs.

The President’s reliance of a second veto comes from the National Legislature’s refusal to override her first veto that was sent on Capitol Hill before the body retired for its break. She stated that there is no showing to the effect that her veto was overridden or rejected by the Legislature as stipulated in Article 35 of the Liberian Constitution which provides that a veto may be overridden by the re-passage of such bill by a veto to two-thirds of the members of each House in which case it shall become law.

“My Speaker”, the President continued in her letter, “in obedience with Article 35 of the Constitution, I would like to know as to whether the Constitution requirement to override my veto was satisfied”.

‘Passage Means Additional US$5 Million For New Lawmakers’

As stated in her first veto letter in September of last year, the President again stressed the budgetary constraints she said would be faced by the Government if the threshold is passed at 40,000.

“Mr. Speaker, the enactment is very important to me as it is with you and the public. But let me once again take this opportunity to bring to your attention the grave financial implications at the resultant impacts the passage of this Bill, at an approximate equal population of 40,00 citizens, will have on our developmental program”, she wrote.

She reminded the lawmakers that the current budget expenditure of each member of the 52nd National Legislature is US$225,857.70 and that an addition of 23 new members will mean an addition of US$5,973,936 and a one-time capitol cost of US$2,750,000 will amount to US$8,723,936.

‘Second Veto Undermines Electoral Process’

Grand Bassa County Representative Gabriel Buchanan Smith (Liberty Party-LP) in response to the President’s second veto of the threshold bill described her action as a calculated attempt to undermine the electoral process as well as to undermine the country’s struggling democratic process.

“In my mind, having spent 19 days at the Executive Mansion, calculating the electoral process we think it is intended to undermine the electoral process not only, but to undermine our democratic process”, he said.

The Grand Bassa lawmaker stated that President Sirleaf’s second veto is also intended to bring about constitutional crisis as he asked Liberians to retrospect on the root cause of most of Africa’s crises which are most often initiated from failed, ill-prepared and manipulated electoral processes. He said her continual veto makes puts the NEC in a difficult position to be able to deal effective with the pending 2011 elections, given its own time frame and the usual bickering of the National Legislature on the issue.

“In the face of this veto, it is going to be practically impossible for the Election Commission to do its work judging from the time-table that the Commission has and given the time that it is going to spend here again at the National Legislature”, Representative Smith pre-empted.

He also asserted that the President’s consistent veto has nothing to do with economic reasons as it only an actual intent to not have a proper representation of people he referred to as commoners .

“The actual intent of the President’s veto is not for economic reasons; else, she won’t have created agencies in which individuals get over US$20,000 as monthly salary”, he told FrontPageAfrica.

There have been pressures from both the civil society and international partners for the passage of the bill while the National Elections Commission (NEC) has been tying the holding of the 2011 elections to the passage of the bill which its chairman, James Fromoyan, continues to say is very crucial to the elections on which the United States Government has already promised to spend US$17 million on.

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Drawing the line in Liberia

Crimes sponsored, committed, or masterminded by handful of individuals cannot be blamed upon an entire nationality. In this case, Liberians! The need for post-war justice is a step toward lasting peace, stability and prosperity for Liberia. Liberia needs a war crimes tribunal or some credible legal forum that is capable of dealing with atrocities perpetrated against defenseless men, women and children during the country's brutal war. Without justice, peace shall remain elusive and investment in Liberia will not produce the intended results. - Bernard Gbayee Goah



Men with unhealthy characters should not champion any noble cause

They pretend to advocate the cause of the people when their deeds in the dark mirror nothing else but EVIL!!
When evil and corrupt men try to champion a cause that is so noble … such cause, how noble it may be, becomes meaningless in the eyes of the people - Bernard Gbayee Goah.

If Liberia must move forward ...

If Liberia must move forward in order to claim its place as a civilized nation amongst world community of nations, come 2017 elections, Liberians must critically review the events of the past with honesty and objectivity. They must make a new commitment to seek lasting solutions. The track records of those who are presenting themselves as candidates for the position of "President of the Republic of Liberia" must be well examined. Liberians must be fair to themselves because results from the 2011 elections will determine the future of Liberia’s unborn generations to come - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia's greatest problem!

While it is true that an individual may be held responsible for corruption and mismanagement of funds in government, the lack of proper system to work with may as well impede the process of ethical, managerial, and financial accountability - Bernard Gbayee Goah

What do I think should be done?

The situation in Liberia is Compound Complex and cannot be fixed unless the entire system of government is reinvented.
Liberia needs a workable but uncompromising system that will make the country an asylum free from abuse, and other forms of corruption.
Any attempt to institute the system mentioned above in the absence of rule of law is meaningless, and more detrimental to Liberia as a whole - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia's Natural Resources
Besides land water and few other resources, most of Liberia’s dependable natural resources are not infinite, they are finite and therefore can be depleted.
Liberia’s gold, diamond, and other natural resources will not always be an available source of revenue generation for its people and its government. The need to invent a system in government that focuses on an alternative income generation method cannot be over emphasized at this point - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia needs a proper system
If Liberians refuse to erect a proper system in place that promotes the minimization of corruption and mismanagement of public funds by government institutions, and individuals, there will come a time when the value of the entire country will be seen as a large valueless land suited on the west coast of Africa with some polluted bodies of waters and nothing else. To have no system in place in any country is to have no respect for rule of law. To have no respect for rule of law is to believe in lawlessness. And where there is lawlessness, there is always corruption - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Solving problems in the absence of war talks

As political instability continues to increase in Africa, it has become abundantly clear that military intervention as a primary remedy to peace is not a durable solution. Such intervention only increases insecurity and massive economic hardship. An existing example which could be a valuable lesson for Liberia is Great Britain, and the US war on terror for the purpose of global security. The use of arms whether in peace keeping, occupation, or invasion as a primary means of solving problem has yield only little results. Military intervention by any country as the only solution to problem solving will result into massive military spending, economic hardship, more fear, and animosity as well as increase insecurity. The alternative is learning how to solve problems in the absence of war talks. The objective of such alternative must be to provide real sustainable human security which cannot be achieved through military arm intervention, or aggression. In order to achieve results that will make the peaceful coexistence of all mankind possible, there must be a common ground for the stories of all sides to be heard. I believe there are always three sides to every story: Their side of the story, Our side of the story, and The truthBernard Gbayee Goah

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