By Atty Philip N. Wesseh (PNW)
If there is any good thing that this country can boast of is the fact that it continues to rank high when it comes to making history. In other words, this country and some of its citizens have made history to an extent that whenever the issue of being the first comes up. Liberia, in most cases is always the first in many world events. For this, it is often said that Liberia or Liberians are always the first. The phrase, “always first “came about during the colonial period when this country was declared the “First Black’ independent country in Africa in the 1800’s. Besides the issue of independence, a Liberian, Angie Brooks Randolph, became the first female president of the United Nations General Assembly.
The issue of first about this country and some of its citizens came to serious limelight and prominence when President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, came to power as the “First Democratically Elected Female President of Africa.” Even during the civil conflict, one of the positive things that kept this country’s name high on the public agenda, was the fact that one of its sons, George Weah, now Amb. George Weah, then an international soccer star, became the first black or African player to win the FIFA’s “World Best” player award, which has now been renamed as the FIFA Ballon d’ Or.
Similarly, just few days ago, Liberia again made history as the first country whose Police Director, as the head of the primary security unit of the country, was prevented, humiliated and disgraced by the Executive Protective Service (EPS) when he attempted to meet his boss, President Sirleaf, who had gone to the country’s Central Prison, for a visit. The EPS, formerly, the Special Security Service (SSS) is the presidential elite force.
This country again this week made history with the passage of the amendment Act for the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL). The unprecedented manner that characterized the passage of the Act Monday morning by the House of Representatives in few minutes, after it was sent there for concurrence from the Liberian Senate which had passed on the amendment, has raised eyebrows in many quarters.
This week, it was reported that the Liberian Senate amended a portion of the Act that created the CBL, barring its executive governor and members of the Board from contesting elective office in this country. Additionally, the amendment said that should they decide to do so after leaving office, they have to wait for three years consecutively after leaving office before contesting for any elective posts.
The proposed amendment which the House of Representatives has concurred with states, “ the Executive Governor of the Central Bank of Liberia and members of the Board of Governors shall be prohibited to contest political office(s) while serving in their respective offices and shall not be qualified to contest any electable office within three years consecutively after the expiration of their tenure and in his/her resignation from the Central Bank of Liberia. ”
Even though the proponents of the act, including my classmate from the law school, Gbarpolu Senator, Armah Jallah, said the amendment is not targeted at the present Governor, Mills Jones. It is generally believed that this is only an attempt by the lawmakers to deny this man who it is perceived has political ambition for the presidency and is using the loan scheme to gain popularity.
Unsurprisingly, the issue formed major headlines in some of the local dailies in the country. For the nation’s oldest daily, the Daily Observer, it carried a front page story, captioned:” CBL Uneasy…As House Concurs with senate to deny CBL Executives from elections,” while the New Democrat carried it as, “Jones Dream Hangs,” and the Women Voices had its headline as, “Legislature Kills Governor Jones Presidential Dream.” The Heritage for its part, carried the banner headline:” Lawmakers Clash ..Over Concurrence Of CBL Amended Act.”
As for this paper because of the speedy or rapidity that characterized Tuesday’s sitting, and its unprecedented nature, gave its story an idiomatic headline, which read: “4G” Concurrence At The Capitol Building.” In that story, the reporter, Alva Wolokollie, among other things dramatized that swift proceeding, as though the members of the lower House were in a situation in which they were being chased by their predators.
As for the The News Newspaper, its headline on the issue was, “Hidden Hands Behind Governor’s Dilemma… At The Legislature, Sources Claim and lastly for the National Chronicle, its banner headline for short was, “Mills Jones “The Obstacle Kicked Out.”
While this amendment is not yet as law, there are reasons for concern because of the selective nature and its unconstitutionality. As I stated in an article yesterday, the act violates the fundamental rights of those who would find themselves in such positions, regarding employment and others, should this become a law.
To reiterate, let me say that on the issue of employment, which has also been cited as one of the violations, the Liberian constitution on “Fundamental Rights, “ in Article 18 says, “All Liberian citizens shall have equal opportunity for work and employment regardless of sex, creed, religion, ethnic background, place of origin or political affiliation, and all shall be entitled to equal pay for equal work.”
Additionally, Article 20(a) states, “No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, security of the person, property, privilege or any other right except as the outcome of a hearing judgment consistent with the provisions laid down in this Constitution and in accordance with due process of law. Justice shall be done without sale, denial or delay; and in all cases not arising in courts not of record, under courts-martial and upon impeachment, the parties shall have the right to trial by jury.”
Although we have been making history which has brought some level of respect and recognition to this country, this time around, I am concerned about this kind of history we are making by passing a law swiftly and in a manner that has the propensity to project this country negatively in the eyes of the public and the international community, regarding the tenets of democracy. I Rest My Case.