Africa, EU Lag in ATT Implementation

first_imgPresident Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has said that African leaders and their European counterparts are not doing much about implementing the Arms Trade Treaty, (ATT) since its adoption by the United Nations (UN).Speaking at the opening of the 4th Europe-Africa Summit in Brussels, Belgium, President Sirleaf said that though the adoption of the Arms Trade Treaty is a giant achievement, both the EU and Africa are lagging in the robust implementation of the treaty; that, she said, calls for more effective EU-Africa cooperation to achieve the objective of the treaty.The Liberian leader was speaking as one of 54 African and 28 European leaders attending the two-day summit on Arms Trade.According to a dispatch from the Belgium and European Union (EU) Capital, Brussels, during the working session on peace and security, the Liberian leader used the opportunity to call for more robust, honest, and concerted efforts to stop the proliferation of small arms in Africa—a situation that the Arms Trade Treaty will definitely address upon coming into force.The 193-members UN General Assembly overwhelmingly approved the ATT in New York, about a year ago. The treaty aims to regulate the $85 billion arms-industry and to keep weapons out of the hands of human rights abusers and criminals. It also aims to set a standards for all cross-border transfers of conventional weapons ranging from small firearms to tanks and attack helicopters.The Liberian leader emphasized that while conflict resolution efforts are worth commending, both the EU and Africa need to focus more attention on conflict prevention, highlighting the Liberian experience during its years of crisis and the huge negative toll it had on the society.President Sirleaf also spoke about unemployment as a challenge on both continents; urging that youth unemployment be put on the front burner. “Youth unemployment is a threat to peace and security, especially in states that are post-conflict fragile,” she pointed out.She said the sub-region is very grateful for the initiatives of the regional institutions, ECOWAS and the African Union, supported by the European Union and the United Nations to restore constitutional order in several African countries as “conflict in one country is conflict in all; conversely peace in one country engenders peace in all.”Meanwhile when entered into force, the ATT would create binding requirements for states to review cross-border contracts, to ensure that weapons will not be used in human rights abuses, terrorism, violations of humanitarian law, or organized crime.It took a major step forward on its eventual entry into force on Wednesday, April 2, 2014, as 18 countries, including five of the world’s top 10 arms exporters, delivered proof of its ratification to the UN.The treaty will enter into force once 50 countries have presented proof of ratification to the United Nations. With the latest 18 countries, there are now 31 ratifications out of 118 signatories, or 19 short of the number needed for the treaty to take effect.Also speaking at the summit, Mauritanian President, Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, who is the current president of the African Union, (AU) stressed the need for reinforcing the economic and commercial cooperation between the two continents, while calling for more coordination in the security field, notably in the region of the Sahel so to reduce terrorist threat.UN Secretary General Ban Kin Moon, for his part, said that Europe and Africa share proximity and history,” Mr. Ban said, “ideas and ideals, trade and technology,” adding, “You are tied together by the ebb and flow of people.The UN Boss noted that migration presents policy challenges, but also represents an opportunity to enhance human development. Promote decent work and strengthen collaboration.He urged both continents to stay true to universal values and not to succumb to opportunists who seek to divide societies and exploit fears for political gain. “Across the range of challenges, solidarity must be our guide. Let us draw on the collective force of the people of Africa, Europe and the world–and build a life of dignity for all.”The European Council President, Herman Van Rompuy noted that as the theme “Investing in people, prosperity, and peace” suggests, it relates to people’s everyday concerns – safety and security, job prospects, and their future, as families and individuals.“All should be able to live free from fear and all should share the possibility of prospering where they live,” he emphasized, warning that it is now for leaders to signal the strategic direction for the partnership, to set priorities for the future, and to confirm its commitment to delivering them.President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barraso, reiterated that the EU partnership with Africa is a partnership based on mutual respect and a partnership of equals. “Our partnership with Africa, like with any other partner, is constructed as a bridge and not as a barrier to more global cooperation. For us the era of spheres of influence should be over. We need to replace it by wider circles of convergence,” he said.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Dutch Photographer: On the road

first_imgPaul Julien (1901-2001) was an anthropologist from the Netherlands who traveled through Liberia in 1932. Andrea Stultiens (1974) is a photographer and researcher from the Netherlands. As part of her PhD-research she tries to connect the past that was documented by Paul Julien to the past as remembered in Liberia and the way it is connected to the present. Julien’s photographs are part of the collection of the Netherlands Fotomuseum in Rotterdam.From July 19th till August 19th 2014, Julien’s photographs and the film he made will be on display at the National Museum. Leading up to this, some of the stories are shared in History and Us columns written collaboratively by Kenneth Best and Andrea Stultiens. Comments are most welcome on week Paul Julien finally sets off from Monrovia towards the goal of his travels in the interior. He wrote that ‘Most of my time in Monrovia was, in line with the nature of my business in Liberia, spent on the preparations for the trip. And within those preparations the porter-issue was of great importance. Finding reliable, strong men, who would be able and willing to deal with the hardship of a journey through the hinterland during the rainy season, was a first priority to make this expedition into a success.’Initially Julien hires Bassa porters. But when they hear about the route and destination of the journey, they all refused to go because, ‘the Manoh – whether justified or not, I will leave that open for now – are said to still practice cannibalism up to now.’ On board of the ship that brought him to Africa a German co-traveler warned Julien that he should not go to Manoh-land because of the same cannibalism. The Irish missionaries, who Julien holds in high esteem, on the other hand, say that the practice has been abolished fifteen years ago and laughed claims of cannibalism away. Julien adds that ‘All those stories by Europeans don’t mean a thing. Nobody here ever went to the interior. They are all traders on the coast. The negroes bring the products to the coast themselves and the traders are not familiar with the situation in the interior. They are afraid of it and have big stories. But so far I haven’t talked to one of them who traveled more than 15 km upcountry.’With the help of the missionaries porters belonging to the Manoh and Geh people are then engaged. Julien seems to be unaware of the porter system that, as I understood, at the time was an involuntary service. He pays the people who carry his stuff and that is that for him. They should obey, and he makes them do that with an authoritative voice.The group, led by cook Moses, was sent on its way, with the majority of the heavy luggage that included salt and tobacco that was to be used as payment, food and all the research equipment needed.There was only one main road then in the country that, as Julien tells us, ended in Kakata. He does not walk this first part of the journey, but arrives three days after the departure of his porters in a truck. Beyond Kakata efforts are made to continue the road that should cut through the country in north-eastern direction, but there are no bridges which makes it impossible to pass through during rainy season.Julien stays in Kakata for a few nights, hosted by Mr Bare, an   American who ran a Protestant mission school there.Julien walks with his porters, as he considers a hammock, to be more of a burden than  giving pleasure, considering the road conditions. The only time we see a hammock appear in his photographs is when he visits Mr Reider, another missionary whom he meets in ‘Kpelleland’. Next week we will see Prof. Logemoh, who was at the time also on a mission in Kpelleland, but one very different from Julien’s, and, of course, more closely connected to the geopolitical situation Liberia was in.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

New Election Date: Dec. 20

first_img“The decision to reschedule the election from December 16 to December 20, 2014, is intended to compensate for time lost as a result of the Stay Order imposed on the election and campaign activities by the Supreme Court,” the electoral body said.Providing their reliance on said decision, NEC maintained that the new date is in “consonance with Joint Resolution #002 recently adopted by the Legislation.”Joint Resolution #002 mandated the Commission to hold consultation with stakeholders aimed at deciding a new date since October 14 due to onslaught of the Ebola virus in Liberia.The 53rd National Legislature’s Joint Resolution instructed the Commission to decide a new date of polling no later than December 20, 2014.While political rallies were ongoing, few political parties inclusive of Movement for Progressive Change (MPC) Alliance for Peace and Democracy (APD) and National Democratic Coalition (NDC) filed a lawsuit, forcing the High Court to place a Stay Order on the process.Indeed the Supreme Court lifted the Injunction on 13 December, but failed to set a new date. Though clothed with the responsibility to conduct elections but not to set polling date for legislative and Presidential elections as provided for under the Constitution, the Commission announced December 20, 2014 as voting day, and at the same time, urged political parties and candidates to assist in informing the electorate about the new date for the election as they proceed with their respective political campaigns.The Commission called for parties and candidates involved with the election to restrict their political activities within the framework of the law and measures agreed to at a recent Inter Party Consultative Committee Meeting held on December 3, 2014.According to NEC, several issues were decided, including but not limited to, “no street Parades, campaigns will only be conducted in districts/communities; and gatherings will not exceed 250 persons.However, political commentators termed the restrictions as “mere bluff” stressing that NEC does not have the capacity to monitor these processes, let alone prosecute violators.Political Campaigns for Saturday’s poll will officially end at 6:00 PM on Friday, December 19, 2014.According to the 1986 Constitution, the electoral body should have conducted election for the first category of senators elected in 2005 after the coming into force of the Constitution as provided by under Articles 46 and 83 respectively.However, with the controversies associated with the poll including who has the authority to change election date and the lawsuit filed against the process, not forgetting the presence of the Ebola virus in the country; credibility remains a major challenge for Liberia’s young democracy.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window) National Elections Commission (NEC) has again somersaulted on its mandate to conduct polling for the 2014 Special Senatorial Election.The new date set for the election is now Saturday, December 20, 2014 and not December 16, as was previously announced, NEC indicated yesterday in Monrovia.According to a press statement signed by the Commission’s Communications Director Joey Kennedy, NEC took the hard decision in collaboration with political parties and independent candidates at an urgently arranged meeting at the Commission’s headquarters in Sinkor, Monrovia.last_img read more

USAID/FED Dedicates Cold Storage Facility

first_imgThe United States Agency for International Development/Food and Enterprise Development (USAID/FED) on Monday, October 27, dedicated a modern cold storage facility at Rosna Services Incorporated – a Liberian owned company that caters to ArcelorMittal Liberia. The storage, said one official, will help preserve the produce of local farmers engaged in vegetable farming. The 20 foot cold storage facility will store all vegetable products that the farmers intend to sell to Rosna Services Incorporated. It is meant to encourage the farmers to increase their production because the storage will by preserving their produce, create the market for them.“Through the support of USAID/FED, Rosna is able to own this low cost tech cold chain system,” said USAID Deputy Chief of Party, Boima Bafaia.He said with the installed facility, Rosna Services Incorporated will now store fresh vegetables sourced from local farmers, and thus have fewer post harvest losses they used to sustain due to the lack of a cold storage facility.Local farmers that were involved in vegetable production have often complained of the lack of access to markets to sell their products. Because of that, most farmers preferred cultivating cash crops such as rubber, cocoa, coffee and kola.Bill Quinbiah, lead farmer in Yekepa where the cold storage is located, praised the USAID/FED for the facility and their support to farmers in the county.He called on his fellow farmers to stay focused and produce more vegetables. He also asked the USAID/FED to provide high value vegetable seeds to boost farmers’ productions.USAID/FED has been assisting local farmers since 2012, providing materials as well as building their skills to enhance their productivity.USAID/FED is opening most of the feeder roads in Nimba County to enable farmers to reach the markets with their goods.Meanwhile, the proprietor of Rosna Services Inc., Ms Hannah M. Blackett, praised the American government for the assistance to the people of Liberia through the provision of numerous kinds of support to farmers.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

A Reformed TWP Under Construction

first_imgMr. Richard Tolbert, the nephew of slain President William R. Tolbert wants to see a reformed True Whig Party (TWP) that will attract every Liberian who was never part of the party’s agenda during its over one hundred years’ rule until the ascendency of the last two standard bearers.President Tolbert , who was the last standard bearer of erstwhile grand old TWP, and inarguably its brightest leader, thought to radicalize the party upon his ascendency by bringing about reforms into the governing system, but had not realized his dreams when he was killed in the April 12, 1980 coup d’état. His reform initiatives were prompted by years of oppression of a majority of the population and lack of inclusiveness on the part of the ruling hegemony. Many said that he had the mind of a refined visionary, but was a victim of circumstances that had degenerated prior to his ascendency. The speaker at yesterday’s intercessory service held at the historic Zion Praise Baptist Church in Bentol City, the home of the Tolberts, in observance of the 35th National Convention of the TWP, Mr. Tolbert stressed the need to reform the TWP, adding that a reform could begin even with the name of the party. “This is my personal thought. I’m not on the executive committee. Certainly one can sit on the old mat to plait a new one.”The TWP is expected to elect its new corps of officers today in Bentol, the birthplace of President Tolbert, to steer the affairs of the party for the next four years. Delegates from the 15 counties are already converging in the city. Mr. Tolbert said the party should incorporate the aspiration of all Liberians, and not build on sectionalism, ethnicity or tribalism, “vices that invoked the level of insecurity that the country experienced over the years.”The long rule of the TWP came to an abrupt end on April 12, 1980, with the brutal assassination of President Tolbert by 17 enlisted men of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) who formed the People’s Redemption Council (PRC) that was led by Master/Sergeant Samuel K. Doe. Thirteen senior officials of the government and party were also executed on orders of the PRC. The TWP was founded in 1869 and subsequently took state power, but its first standard bearer, Edwin James Roye, was reportedly assassinated by then members of the Republican Party.Dr. Tolbert noted that in spite of the unfortunate 1980 coup that took away the lives of his father and uncles as well as many other people, the party did a lot of good. He said “The party was not perfect; let me make this very clear. They made their mistakes, a lot of mistakes, most of all by not incorporating all of the citizens into the body politic as well as social and economic participation of all Liberians. We should have done more to unite all Liberians under the banner of the TWP.”He indicated that it was actually the mission of the last standard bearer, William R. Tolbert to bring about radical reforms and to build the country. “It was his goal and aim to reform the TWP and radicalize it to impact all Liberians.”During the Party’s last convention that was held in Buchanan, Grand Bassa County, President Tolbert intended to bring young Liberians on board. He wanted to make an indigenous man, Jackson F. Doe, his vice standard bearer. “The party was actually going in the right direction, but it was halted by the abrupt coup.”Mr. Tolbert indicated that his uncle’s dreams can still be fulfilled, but this depended on the composition of the corps of officers that will be elected during today’s national convention.“For me it is a duty, a matter of pride and honor to be associated with the party again. I’m not a member of any party yet, but I’m proud to be associated with this party. It is a party that has great history,” said Mr. Tolbert. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

‘Getting to Best’: Ellen Chairs Education Roundtable

first_imgPresident Ellen Johnson Sirleaf on Friday chaired an Education Roundtable Meeting held on the theme, “Getting to Best.” The meeting was in further consultations with stakeholders on how to improve the country’s education sector.The meeting with education stakeholders, according to Executive Mansion release, was held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ C. Cecil Dennis Auditorium where the President was joined by Education Minister George Werner and the leadership of the Education Ministry, Cabinet Ministers, International Partners, educational authorities of private and public institutions, advocacy education organizations, and student advocacy institutions, among others.During the meeting, President Sirleaf warned that reforming the education sector to “best” is going to be a long road, and not a quick fix. “Whatever we do is going to take years,” she warned, nothing, “Our challenge is to start the process, get the elements of that process right taking into account the recommendations advanced by the participants.” She urged Liberians in the education sector to continue with consultations at different levels – students, teachers, parents-teachers association, among others and further discuss and address some of the many challenges affecting the sector including the ills in schools and how they can be overcome. President Sirleaf then thanked all those who attended the meeting for their insightful participation especially the international partners, who have been there with the MOE authorities providing support and pieces of advice. “I just want to see this spirit continue,” she said, emphasizing that the responsibility of building the country rests on Liberians primarily; but is thankful for the partnership that the country has that has enabled it to go beyond its own resources and capabilities.Earlier, George Werner made a presentation on the topic, “Getting to Best,” and outlined nine priority projects which, he said will lay the foundation for quality learning for children in Liberia over the next two years. He named National Roll-out of the Early Grade Reading Assessment (EGRA); Qualified Teachers with the Skills to Improve Learning Outcomes; Supported and Motivated Teachers will Improve Learning Outcomes; and School Infrastructure Meets the Needs of Children.“Others priority projects are schools and for teachers to have the resources to improve learning; improving enrolment and retention; lay the foundation for children’s education with early childhood education; young people to have the necessary skills to secure Jobs through Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET); Girls’ Learning Outcomes Improve; and the MOE, and schools are accountable for children’s learning. Minister Werner emphasized that statistics on education in Liberia show that 42 percent of primary school age children are not in school; more than 20 percent of young people aged 15-24 are illiterate; while one-third of young people are not employed, educated or trained.He reiterated that the education system is referred to as a “mess” “because there are not enough safe and quality schools, core literacy and numeracy skills are not taught, over a third of our teachers are not qualified and young children are not prepared for school and start late.”Continuing, he said girls are less likely to enroll, stay in school and graduate, secondary-level education is under resourced, centralized system is unaccountable to schools and students, and young people cannot access market-driven and relevant TVET. “We must act now to stop another generation losing out on an education,” he warned, adding that immediate change is necessary to get to best.Participants proposed a number of suggestions to enhance the MOE in getting to the best. They suggested that ownership and the role of communities are key; the need to strengthen the role of civil society; the need for decentralization, safe school environment, and improved partnership.They also proposed the need for teaching nutrition to students and parents; health of students, as well as guidance and counseling.Other proposals advanced by the participants were the need to curtailing violence (sexual and gender-based); improve resources for education; take concrete actions to address education issues; improve response time in addressing teacher replacement and placing teachers on payroll; ensure accountability and spend resources efficiently; rebrand TVET, focus on after-school programs; establish a national inspectorate board, ensure parental education, build play grounds at all schools, reform the school curriculum; among others.Meanwhile, as part of the commemoration of Liberia’s 168th Flag Day anniversary, President Sirleaf has launched the National Curriculum on Citizenship Education.During the commemoration of the 168th Flag Day anniversary at the Centennial Memorial Pavilion under the theme, “The Flag, Our Identity,” yesterday President Sirleaf stressed that the Curriculum on Citizenship Education is an indispensable tool for enhancing citizens’ education. The Curriculum on Citizenship Education appreciates, but substantially departs from previous initiatives, which have focused on helping students understand the branches of government with emphasis typically focused on the president. This initiative provides the framework for a broader learning experience in the art of citizenship beginning with an understanding of our identities, families, environments and the communities within, which we live, and the organization and functioning of government. It also helps students understand and appreciate the complex patterns of interaction, rights, obligations and duties of citizenship. Organized with incremental levels of complexities, the content will be taught from Grades 1 through Grade 12.As this is the completion of the first phase, President Sirleaf thanked the Governance Commission and the Ministries of Education, and Finance and Development Planning for working together towards its completion and called on them to do what they can to secure the required resources to begin the textbook writing project so that in a year’s time, the teaching of citizen’s education can be strengthened as they commence introducing the new textbooks in all schools.“I hope that by the time of the 2017-2018 school year, Citizenship Education would form an integral part of the curriculum of every school in our country,” she indicated. Touching on the choice of celebrating our ‘Community’, President Sirleaf reflected on the ability of our communities that took ownership and led the process as Liberia battled the Ebola virus disease (EVD). “The ability of our communities to take ownership and lead the process as we battled an unknown enemy—truly manifests an engrained sense of identity, patriotism and commitment to service,” she said, adding, “It is a nationalistic service to people and country that replaces tears with hope and a restored self-esteem population.”She stressed that as a people, we have something to celebrate owing to our unique identity, which must be divorced of politics and pettiness. “It is that identity that positions us to recognize that ‘war-war’ can be replaced by ‘joy-joy’,” she furthered.President Sirleaf indicated that it is our solemn appreciation that “one nation indivisible with liberty and justice for all” is not only a manifestation but an inherent embodiment of our identity. That is all the reason why the Flag serves as a constant reminder of a recognition and testimony of who we are as a people and as a nation.Prior to the indoor program, 20 high schools in and around Monrovia participated in the usual drill ceremony. This was a major highlight of the day’s activities that included President Sirleaf, who is Commander-in-Chief (C-I-C) of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL), and the Ministers of Education and Defense that received the Eyes-right salute from students.This year’s 1st place winner and Best Eyes-Right was G. W. Gibson High School; 2nd place and Best Drilled, Cathedral High School; and 3rd place and Best Dressed, St. Theresa’s Convent. They each received a presidential award of US$600, US$400 and US$200, respectively. Each school also got US$150 and a medal for their participation. The Muslim Congress High School was selected as the Most Discipline School.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Moving Up in Ganta: A Proprietress’ Journey From Side-walk Soup Stand to Modern Restaurant

first_imgThe business community in Ganta, Nimba county will long be remembered and highly respected for their willingness to comply with the municipal mandate to “dress back” their business structures and also renovate them to accommodate the road infrastructure and other developments going on in their city. As part of the mandate, the Ganta City Council required that all businesses located on the main street of Ganta convert their structures to flat-tops or multi-storey structures, thereby giving the city a new look, from the ground up – literally. It was a painstaking endeavor but, one by one, bit by bit, the resilient proprietors have made the vision their own, and are expanding their businesses as a result. Justina’s Bar & Restaurant, one of the biggest restaurants in Ganta owned by a Liberian entrepreneur, is poised to expand like the proprietress herself never before imagined. “I’ll be taking the building to a two-storey level, where the first floor will be a bar for wedding receptions and the second floor will be a hotel,” proprietress Justina Dahn Yormie told the Daily Observer in an exclusive interview. “I started this business by selling meat pepper soup and rice on the sidewalk,” she said. “Gradually, the business grew, until I am able to reach this far.”The demolition exercises in Ganta affected her restaurant, as it did many of her fellow proprietors. The cost of renovation, especially building a flat-top roof, can be a very expensive endeavor. Like her neighbors, Justina now needs financial assistance to reach her target, as the demolition exercise set her back financially. But see what she has done with the restaurant: completely tiled floor, with a glass façade on the front and modern furniture, a decent upgrade from the regular plastic tables and chairs that used to be there. The restaurant is spacious enough to accomodate 180 persons and has 20 employees that run on three shifts. The restaurant is a 24-hour operation in a border-connected city that hardly sleeps. The building had a regulation look after demolition exercises compelled structures in the surrounding area to be transformed to flat tops or one storey buildings.The restaurant part of the building was among other business centers that were demolished during the construction of the Gbarnga – Ganta – Guinea border road, which was dedicated in March this year. Madam Yormie further told the Daily Observer that, despite the demolition, her business center is still moving strong and she hopes to continue modernizing it. She said the only way for a business to be successful is for the owners to be very serious and focused on goods and services. “Once you are able to manage small money,” she said, “you will also be able to manage bigger amounts.” Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Legislature’s Library Reopens

first_imgThe refurbished Senate and House library at Capital Hill.Members of the Liberian Senate and the House of Representatives as of yesterday began using the newly refurbished joint library section of the Legislative Information Service (LIS) after a three-year closure of the facility owing to a fire disaster.The re-opening of the library section coincides with the celebration of LIS’ 6th anniversary.The bicameral department is charged with the responsibility of providing research and information services to members of the House and Senate to enhance their capacity in making informed decisions and for better public policy formulation.Activities marking the anniversary began yesterday April 26 and will end on the 28th.The theme for this year’s anniversary is, “New Legislative Beginning: A More Effective 54th Legislature,” highlighting the effectiveness and growth of the first branch of government.According to LIS Director B. McCarthy Weh, the events will put a spotlight on the need for a more effective, functional and efficient 21st century compliant Legislature. The occasion will also mark the official resumption of services of the Library to members of the House and Senate, their staff, and the general public.The opening ceremony yesterday was held in the rotunda of the Capitol building, where the President Pro Tempore of the Senate, Armah Z. Jallah, gave a statement, and Dr. Amos C. Sawyer, will delivered the keynote address.Also, there will be a launch of the Parliamentary/Legislative Democracy Outreach Program, dubbed “Taking the Legislature to the People.”On the second day  today, Thursday April 27, there will be a roundtable session focusing on a project, writing Liberia’s legislative history, to be led by Dr. Joseph Saye Guanu and Rev. Emmanuel Bowier.  Today’s event will climax with training sessions to be facilitated by Atty. Larmii Kpargo of the Liberia Media Center (LMC) and McAnthony Keah/Thomas Du of the National Democratic Institute (NDI).Tomorrow, the last day of the anniversary celebrations, Vice President Joseph N. Boakai will give a statement at the closing ceremony and thereafter the first phase of ‘Taking the Legislature to the People’ will be held in Kakata, Margibi County.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Ombudsman Will Not Handle Election Matters

first_imgNominated chairman of the Ombudsman, Chris MassaquoiBy J. Burgess Carter The Ad Hoc Committee constituted to work on the proposed Act creating the office of the Ombudsman to oversee the Code of Conduct, on Tuesday presented its work to the Senate plenary.The committee was set up by the leadership of the Senate after lawmakers received a letter from President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf nominating members to the office of the Ombudsman for their confirmation.In their debate on several provisions of the Act, the Senators were unanimous in agreeing that issues dealing with electoral matters under Sections 5.1 and 5.2 should not be directly under the supervision of the Ombudsman, but should instead be the responsibility of the National Elections Commission (NEC) and provisions in the Constitution be made accordingly.The Senators were however divided on the question of the age of a member of the Ombudsman, with some suggesting 35 and above, while others suggested 40. Required among other things are experience, high IQ, and maturity.Plenary also debated the question of qualifications, with some agreeing that the executive director should be someone with a law degree, while other members must be persons with a legal background.On the requirement that those seeking electoral posts should resign two years prior to the elections, plenary suggested that such requirement should be handled by the NEC, and not the Ombudsman. With regards to tenure, two three-year terms as proposed in the act was agreed on.Senator J. Milton Teahjay suggested that the Ombudsman’s office should by law have financial autonomy to help reduce the pressure of financial coercion on members.Following their deliberations, the Senators voted that all necessary input from individual Senators must be included for a possible passage of the Act today, Thursday, June 1.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Selfishness, Lack of Integrity, Tearing Liberia Apart

first_img– Advertisement – When we assess the problem confronting Liberia’s progress among the other poor countries of the world, not much will be attributed to lack of technical capacity or resources. Instead, all will be blamed on selfishness and lack of integrity. This tendency has led many, both in and out of the public sector, to become corrupt.The unfolding financial saga at the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP), for instance, is described by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf as a “conflict of interest” because people in the public sector were giving themselves loans using money that was meant for the private sector. This act points to the theory of Solipsism (the belief that the self is all that you need to exist) that is at work in every sphere of the Liberian society. It is an open secret that almost everywhere you go, in both private and public sectors, you must pay bribes to people if you want your problem solved. In recent times it was reported in the Daily Observer that two Customs Officers of the Liberia Revenue Authority were caught on video receiving a US$500 bribe to compromise a process at the Freeport of Monrovia.Nowadays, patients have to get to hospitals very early to secure numbers for L$50 or more to receive treatment. At some banks where people of diverse backgrounds go to transact, tellers tend to favor those who give them bribes, leaving a huge number of people standing in queue all day long.In the June 14, 2017 edition of the Daily Observer, we see an event that unfolded at the Senate on Tuesday where only four Senators were in session. One can come to the realization from this situation that lawmakers do not feel accountable to their employers, the citizens who voted them into office, but consider themselves lords and demigods. Tuesday and Thursday are the days set aside, by their own rules, for regular session at the Legislature. But where were they on Tuesday when session was suspended?In Liberia, it is commonplace for workers not to show up for work while friends in the system falsely log in their names to conceal their absence. Recommendations from friends and families have enabled many to occupy positions for which they are grossly unqualified, and the same people are grossly underperforming and stunting the growth and development of the employing entities.Not only that, some organizations, too, have hazardous policies under which an employee’s or contractor’s labor is exploited. Interestingly, they can pay employees at their own discretion, or when they feel like it, without compassion or regard for the Labor Laws of Liberia. Even those who consider themselves victims must at times take responsibility for their plight. It is often said: “If you want to hide anything from Liberians, put it in a book.” For example, in our law books, there are rules that govern the conduct of elected public officials. When those rules are violated, the law has procedures through which the government and public may seek redress up to and including removal from office.This information is in our law books, but we have to be willing to read them! Our primary defense against corruption and lack of integrity is knowledge. Without knowledge we have no power; without power, we will be trampled upon every single day.This emphasis on integrity in our recent editorials stems from the fact that lack of this moral value is causing much harm to the society. It is not only stunting the economic growth of the country, but also telling the rest of the world that we are not a serious people.In the June 14 edition of this paper, Madam Victoria Cooper-Enchia, the Chief of Party of Digital Liberia E-Government Project, speaking at the Fifth Consultative Meeting of United Women in Liberia, urged Liberian women to build INTEGRITY, which she said is as important as building roads, hospitals, schools, churches, mosques and businesses. She said the process must be something intentional and not imposed. This reminds us that our insensitivity to integrity and preference for selfishness, dishonesty, indiscipline and insincerity has come to the attention of others. It can be recalled that at the Liberia Development Conference earlier this year, a Dutch national operating an NGO in Liberia said that there was no societal ethics in Liberia, and people were behaving as they please.We are therefore urging Liberians from all walks of life to begin the change we want by building integrity, and realize the negative consequences selfishness and dishonesty have on our country. Fronting for foreign businesspeople, profiteering, evading taxes, overt discrimination and sexual harassment in the workplace, among others, all constitute activities that reflect lack of integrity in society. As we will shortly be going to elections, we must pray for leaders who will instill discipline in the society to change our selfish, insincere and dishonest attitude towards Mama Liberia.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more