By Varney K. Sirleaf
The Liberia Petroleum Watch (LIP-WATCH) has taken serious issue with the National Oil Company of Liberia (NOCAL) for failing to invite civil society organizations to the recent Oil and Gas Round Table organized by the National Legislature.
According to the statement released last week by Mr. Adolphus B. Kawah, Executive Director of LIP-WATCH, his organization frowns on the deliberate refusal of the organizers to invite civil society groupings as it should have been in the spirit of transparency and inclusiveness.
The group also disagreed with Madam Laymah Gbowee and others who raised issues condemning the invitation of Mr. Estrada Jefferson Bernard,III on grounds that he is 17 years old and lacks the expertise to present a paper on a sensitive national issue.
“Firstly, we want to register our disagreement with Madam Laymah Gbowee and others who have written several political papers in the name of advocacy, condemning the invitation of Mr. Estrada Jefferson Bernard, lll on grounds that he is 17 years of age; your grand nephew, that he lacks the expertise to present to such a National Oil & Gas Round Table. For us, the mere fact that a young man of Liberian heritage could have been projected at the National Oil & Gas round table to share his reading of the Alaskan model of citizens’ participation with the intention of replicating same in our laws is a step in the upward direction, as it speaks strongly to the spirit of inclusiveness particularly of young people in these national conversations,” the statement read.
The statement further stated that it is very offensive for Madam Gbowee who is a peace laureate to engage in the business of chastising a young man for participating and sharing with stakeholders his youthful experience of the Alaska common solutions as a way of helping to shape the laws of Liberia for a better future.
“Has it become a crime being a young man and given a space to dialogue with national actors? What LIP-WATCH anticipates is the broadening of this intention of youth participation and involvement in these national conversations by creating more avenues where young people can be opportuned like young Estrada Bernard, III to participate in extracurricular programs in resource management, leadership, advocacy et al so that more young people can come to these national discussions with appreciable knowledge to share with other stakeholders moving forward”, the statement further quoted.
The statement also disclosed that LIP WATCH has launched its Natural Resource Dialogue in High Schools and Universities, intended to educate and train young secondary students with basic knowledge on citizens’ participation and responsibilities to the sector as well as basic resource management skills to actively engage the sector.
Moreover, in commemoration of the organization’s second (2nd) anniversary, there will be a week-long awareness and sensitization through Inter-High School Quizzing and Debate Tournament from 4 to 11 April 2014 focusing on the natural resource sector with emphasis on the Oil & Gas industry.
The organization anticipates that students participating from various high schools will develop an inclination of the workings and prospects of the Oil & Gas industry, and the benefits to the livelihood of the vast majority of the Liberian people.
“We solicit the support of all well meaning Liberians towards this worthy venture as we are of the conviction that increasing the knowledge of our students/young people about the sector and its benefits will allow them consciously participate in future discourses surrounding the sector, as was done by young Bernard, III in the most recent Oil & Gas round table,” the statement concluded.
Lip-Watch is a local non for profit organization focused on building awareness with the Liberian people on the petroleum sector, reaching out and engendering dialogues on how to maximize the prospects of the sector; suggesting and agreeing, as well as taking initiatives aimed at managing expectations through the provision of adequate information on the processes and operations of the sector.