“Africa Needs Home-Grown Solutions” -Speaker Chambers Addresses Parliamentary forum

MONROVIA : As a way of advancing solutions to reverse the trend of underdevelopment, the alarming security situation in the ECOWAS sub-region, occasioned by rising military coups, violence, terrorism, among others menaces, House Speaker Dr. Bhofal Chambers has urged fellow lawmakers and leaders in the sub-region to take intentional actions to adopt policies that promote good governance, rule of law and transformational agenda using “home-grown” solutions. The Liberian lawmaker used the occasion to urge his colleagues to see food security as a key factor “which has the connecting power to empower the people, make them nourished and happy, reduce dependency and stabilize the society”.

Speaking to newsmen on Saturday, December 9, 2023 at the Roberts International Airport upon his return to the country after attending the International Roundtable Conference on Parliament in Security Sector Governance and Reform in West Africa African parliament conference in Abuja, Nigeria, Dr. Chambers said the conference discussed the role of the legislature in security sector reform and governance in West Africa, providing the opportunity to engage colleagues on how to combat terrorism and violence and discord, especially in the Sahel region, and enhance the peace architecture of the region. He said the conference was gender balanced as a lot of female lawmakers came from other parts of Africa as well as eminent citizens.

Speaker Chambers who told newsmen that he was excited about the outcome of the conference also said though the discussion was highly on security matters but it was civilian driven because more is expected in a meaningful discussion when civilians lead it, since in time of crises, the civilians are more on the receiving end than the combatants.

“The conference was civilian-driven because civilians discuss more, they are not structured and animated; with civilians they do things exactly around those factors that can be of benefits to them and can be discussed; whereas there in the military, structure is more of “yes sir” “no sir”, “order sir’; but in the civilian-driven architecture you will find more discussions and more contents and there will be ideas considered from all sides.  And there you have the outcomes and they all can be tested because civilians are the reasons for which everything else is designed,” Dr. Chambers stated.

He said the conference stressed the need to build a good partnership between the military and the civilian component in any governance system where the civilians should be the principals and the military are agents, noting that such arrangement must be based on mutual respect.

He lamented the number of coups that have taken place in some countries in the sub-region such as Guinea, Mali, Burkina Faso, among others, which he believed came about due to the failure of the governance system and that of the imperative for sustained security structure to address the needs of the people, adding “these are things we want to stop, discourage them from happening; and that could only happen when we put the interest of the people first.”

Speaker Chambers said food security should be emphasized “so that we all can be saved because in the absence of food there will always be violence,” urging leaders to focus on practical agriculture that will ensure that there is enough food for the people to nourish them because “it is a connecting power.

“When you eat properly, you can think properly, when you eat you can create, you can be innovative, so all countries around us today that have creative people are people that are well fed, with absolutely nothing in it,” he said.

Dr. Chambers further lamented the situation where Africa is being graded at every stage of its development, whether it was improving or declining, stating that the continent has come of age and must not be placed on “grade card”, noting that doing so is almost indirect slavery, because sovereignty must be respected and unmitigated.

“We are all countries of various sizes but we must be respected according to how God’s intent was for every nation on earth,” he said.

Chambers spoke against greed and the tendency to dominate and oppress others, and work towards being each other’s keeper, just as he called on leaders to promote equity, justice and oneness among their citizens.

“All over the world now we must be incisive, we must be intelligent, analytical and  thinking critically because what is on earth here was not produced by us, we should all share what is here so that the world will be a better place. When we make more bread than arms, there will be nowhere where anybody can hurt anybody. We must all think constructively so that this world will be enjoyed by this generation,” he said.

The tough-talking Speaker brought to bear his vast intellectual acumen when he touched on Africa’s place from the global perspective and asserted that the continent is highly being disadvantaged in global parity, and maintained that Africa is found on the wrong side of what goes on in the global economy as “most of what runs the world comes from Africa, all the raw materials and it was a wonder why we are at the place where minerals are extracted, especially gold that was one of the factors for stable currency and we are poor”.

While putting in perspective the importance of gold which is found in abundance in Africa, Chambers said after the second world war, came the Bretton Woods Institutions, such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank to relieve depressed countries, to give financial security and some of the transactions that came about was to give gold backing for the value of the currency.

He said the ascendency of Richard Nixon as President of the United States of America changed the place of gold in the exchange market which many referred to as the “Nixon Shock” in 1971 and based on the agreement between leaders, gold was removed and the US dollar notes was used which was called fiat money, meaning that it had no value but the discussion and agreement amongst leaders makes it possible as a tender for all to use.

“If that was possible, then Africa would be the engine of global growth and I think it is necessary that we ourselves should take the lead to unite and also benefit our citizens. So there must be justice among world nations, there must be justice among leaders, there must be equity among leaders, no lesser country or bigger country.

“There is an urgent need for interdependence among nations and Africa now must be united to the extent that Leopold Senghor talked about Negritude, the philosophy of Africans preserving their culture and value, there must be a reawakening of the consciousness of Africa and its position in the world.

“So if we all are created by God then it is important to know that the causes of our problem are just at our fingertips, “so unity is necessary, fairness is necessary, justice is necessary, so egalitarianism is necessary”, he said.

Asked how optimistic he was that the conference will yield its intended result and not like the other regular conferences that ended up as mere talk shows, the Speaker said he was optimistic that there will be transformation because the legislature and the legislators themselves are the fulcrum of democracy.

The discussions in the legislature should center on the laws that will govern, have the instrument to govern the people and we should ensure that there will be a stable environment where there will be no interference in the other branches of government, but we must be really decisive about what we want to do.

“And I believe that there are highly thinking people, people of quality and I am certain that if we stay the course constructively and objectively the dividend that has been eluding Africa cannot be possible”, he said.

Responding to a question on his legacy as Speaker of the 54th National Legislature especially on the international scene, Chambers said for Liberia “it is what we have and we owe it to the people because we are and what we do is the act of service, which I will call vocation and vocation is what you come to do and pass on to the young generation.”

He said the urge to do more for the people on the home front has also pushed his desire of going it for the greater good of humanity on the international scene, “and that is why we said there is a need to engage other assemblies, my people and friends outside are fond of inviting us”, stating that it is because there are pressing issues back home that must be attended that has preventing him honoring invitations from parliaments in Poland, Ukraine, Israel, Morocco, Guinea Bissau, etc.

He said some of the issues of national concern are how the various concessions in the country benefit the people, placement of teachers on payroll of the government, the general welfare of the citizens, infrastructural development, food security, among others.

Towards the end of the media interaction, Speaker Chambers being an apostle of international peace and development called for the cessation of hostilities in the Gaza region between the Israel and the Hamas militants, stressing what the world needs now is a peaceful world where everyone will live in harmony and forge development for the common good of everyone.

He also used the occasion to extend condolences to the government and people of Nigeria for the tragic loss of about 88 Nigerians who were killed by drone strike due to mistaken identities. He prayed that God will grant the bereaved family the fortitude to bear the loss while wishing the dead perfect rest in peace.

The conference was organized by the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS), a German Political Foundation, in collaboration with the National Institute of Legislative and Democratic Studies.

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