CSO Seeks to Reform Nat’l Legislature -To Trigger Fundamental Changes

By: Stephen Fellajuah 

MONROVIA – A civil society group, Grass Alternative Movement (GAM), through its flagship program, the Change Makers Network Project, said it is exploring ways to bring reform in the working of the national legislature as a way of triggering fundamental changes in the governance of the country, where lawmakers will place the country above any other person or interest for the betterment of the country.

Addressing a major press conference earlier this week in Monrovia, Oliver Yarbah, head of Secretariat of The Change Makers, said unlike the Executive branch of government enforces the laws, the Legislature makes the laws and has oversight responsibilities over government functionaries, adding that GAM strongly believes that an approach to changing Liberia is to focus on transforming the Legislature with the House of Representatives being a starting point.

“This is so because the Legislature, which is the first branch of government, has historically undercuts Constitutional powers”, GAM stated

Speaking further, Yarbah said that if the majority members of the legislature who practice a culture of bad governance, and hurting Liberia and Liberians as they see in the measure of the high maternal mortality rates, malnutrition, lack of farm to market roads, poor health care system, the national security threats pose by vulnerable youths and overall lower standard of living, are replaced with good people who are servant leaders with integrity, nationalism and who care deeply about the future and national interest of the country above their personal interests, then Liberia will develop and lift people out of poverty.

“If we must change the country, we must change the corrupt minds in the national legislature. Therefore, our focus is directed towards the caliber of men and women vying for the legislative seats across the 73 political districts in the impending general and presidential elections. We must choose candidates who have the history of integrity and good leadership and who care deeply about the betterment above their self-interests.

“To this end, the Change Makers Network will endeavour to bring together a group of committed, visionary and patriotic Liberians who have expressed desire to contest and have demonstrated through practical actions, to have the needed democratic credentials that fit our standard of governance. This is irrespective of one’s political party, religious background, tribal backgrounds, and gender”, he stated.

According to him, being cognizant of the fact that it is almost impossible for any individual to successfully inspire the needed change in the national legislature as decisions are made by majority, the Chance Makers Network hopes to bring a group of like- minded aspirants together with a single goal of transforming Liberia.

To achieve this goal, we have designed a set of evaluation criteria by which we are actively vetting respective aspirants. We are contacting those who have passed our evaluation criteria and will be announcing them to the public very soon, he added.

He mentioned that the rationale is to build a block of like-minded legislators accounting for simple majority of the total membership of the national legislature, who hold themselves accountable to the highest level of integrity and transparency and to inspire change through legislative processes by enacting good laws, enchanting rigidity in their oversight over the other branches of government, review contracts and ensure benefits for Liberians, and ensure that the national budget meets the developmental needs of the Liberian people, ect. 

He furthered that to legalize the process, the recruited aspirants will sign a binding agreement that focuses on the elements of good governance and punishment for violation, emphasizing that the binding agreement will be available in the public domain.

“The Grassroots Alternative Movement holds the strongest conviction that having bloc of legislators that will commit to upholding the rule in every way possible, will not only issue a sobriety check to the Executive and stop it from compounding the country’s problems that have approached a watershed dimension, but will complement the change agenda that actualizes the real Liberian dream.

“This must not be viewed as a task dedicated to a privileged few, but a revolution that requires the collective involvement of all Liberians irrespective of tribe, religion, tradition, education or economic status. It must concern the motor bike and keh-keh riders, taxi and bus drivers, yana -boys, market women who struggle to make ends meet among others’ ‘, he said.

GAM is a social justice, political and advocacy organization committed to building a just society in Liberia with the tenets of fair play, equality and justice.

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