Fmr. Speaker Chambers Breaks Silence -Weighs In On Critical Good Governance Issues

MONROVIA: One of the outstanding political voices on the Liberian political landscape in nearly 20 years after the Liberian civil war is a Maryland educator and intellectual, Dr. Bhofal Chambers, who served two terms in the House of Representatives before he met his political catastrophe in the hands of a fellow Pleebo Soliken brother. Under the rule of former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and the Unity Party, Chambers was the leading opposition voice in whom the Liberian public, particularly those of opposition leaning, had much confidence. He rose to the Speakership of the House of Representatives in the 54th Legislature under the Coalition for Democratic Change government. Since his political fall, Chambers has largely remained mute until yesterday when he spoke to the nation in a well-attended press conference, discussing a horde of national governance strategies. The Analyst reports.

The 8-year former Speaker of the House in the 54th Legislature has re-thrusted himself into the Liberia national discourse with a huge press conference Wednesday, 24 April 2024, speaking his mind on range of issues germane to the growth and development of Liberia.

Chambers presided over the House of Representatives as the Speaker, having entered the National Legislature 12 years earlier before he was withdrawn in 2023 by a decisive vote of the people of Pleebo Soliken District.

The hardcore CDCian, as members and officers of the opposition Coalition for Democratic Change are known, pointed to the earlier mistakes and missteps of the ruling Unity Party and called on the government to do the right things for the betterment of the country.

The former recalled that recently, President Boakai spoke on the copious nature or abundance of Liberia’s resources, maintaining that his administration will use the resources to serve the best interest of the people in the spirit of human equality or egalitarianism.

“If this will be the new trend, the people will surely be happy, and then be lifted out of poverty in no time,” he said, adding, “Indeed, Liberia is well endowed with more than sufficient resources and wealth for the realization of such objective… God has bountifully blessed this land.”

But Dr. Chambers noted that to facilitate the process of achieving proper governance and equitable service delivery, government needs to critically scrutinize some of the areas that have obvious gaps and weaknesses.

“Frankly, some of the excesses–the gaps and weaknesses–may have been intentional or unexplained inadvertence,” he said further. “In the past, we have seen widespread pillaging of the nation’s resources and wealth by hand full or very individuals. Neglect was routine; the state of oligarchy was apparent. Cronies wielded the real power! Power rested in the hands of a few.”

The ex-House Speaker particularly dwelled on a few critical revenue hubs of government, calling for special focus to be given the BEA Mountain, ArcelorMittal, Maritime Commission, amongst others.

According to him, the revenue generated per annum from Mining Company needs to be disclosed; the revenue sharing between BEA Mountain and the Government of Liberia should be transparent; value addition must be prioritized. Environmental or ecological degradation must be prevented. Schools and medical Centers of high quality standards must be constructed.

Dr. Chambers said government officials should have no business dealings with Bea Mountain directly or indirectly.

“Realizing that the price of gold has significantly zoomed or increased, corresponding benefit(s) revenue- wise must come to the State,” he said. “Workers must have their just salaries and benefits.

He also noted that the concession area must be properly protected, to include the workers, and all adjoining communities or towns.

Basic social services for the workers and their dependents must be present at all times, he admonished.

He noted: “According to Dianomi Company, a financial content marketing company, gold price per ounce amounted to $2,401.50 on April 12. 2024. Mathematically, 1 metric ton of gold equals 35,273.962 ounces. If BMMC exports between 5 to 10 metric tons of gold, the amount in United States dollars will be between 423,552,098.715 USD for 5 metric tons and 847,104,199.43 USD far 10 metric tons.

“The fair share of revenue to Liberia government can make positive impact(s) on the State and the lives of the people. This company must be made to pay all of its road fund arrears. Relevant penalties must be immediately settled. BMMC needs a comprehensive audit. Government must get its fair share from this booming mining sector.”

ARCELOR MITTAL (AML)

On the issue of ArcelorMittal, the former House Speaker asserted that under no circumstance should government officials, to include lawmakers, be involved in any form of business dealings, contracts other personal financial interest with AML.

“Government must get its fair share of revenue generated. The concession must be transparent and human-cantered, and should be in line with international best practice,” he said. “There is a need for a thorough audit of AML. AML is yet to address the following in the current concession agreement.”

Dr. Chambers advised that the construction of a concentrators, so as to improve the economic value of the ore and with the erection of a concentrator which can enhance the process of beneficiation.

He also spoke of the need for the refurbishing and construction of adequate housing units for all employees and their dependents, the availability of safe drinking water for employees, the protection of the water bodies in and around the mining sites, honest disclosure of the value and volume of the ore extracted and that the Liberian Government take fair share of the investment.

He continued: “All of the many failures, faults, errors, omissions or lapses currently in today’s AML concession agreement with the Liberian government need to be fully aligned or accurately correctly before any thought to enter into any new agreement or extension of this agreement. Liberia and Liberians must receive -maximum benefit(s) from all of their resources and investments including that of AML.”

MARITIME AND LISCR

The former Maryland lawmaker also zoomed in on Liberia’s own Maritime Commission and its accessory, LISCR, quoting George Turner of “Finance Uncovered,” a British investigative Journalist, who in concert with South Africa’s Daily Maverick collaborating with AmaBhungane, came up with an edition on the Liberian Maritime sector.

He said the edition talked about the malpractice associated with the sector, and that the piece of journalistic work published on 26 May 2016 exposed how a privileged few constantly operated or used the Maritime Funds with LISCR in isolation of the Liberian people.

According to him, Turner in his publication claimed that the maritime history has always been a fascinating one of Skulduggery and full with mystery.

He said between 2018 and 2023, he personally was very concerned about the maritime sector and several other sectors that could impactfully help in the development of the Liberian State.

“To my dismay, cooperation in determining or updating my office regarding funds collected by LISCR was lukewarm; there was little enthusiasm on the part of key actors in government to provide relevant data,” he divulged.

“Senior government officials and some LISCR executives were indifferent to the exercise of transparency in the maritime sector, particularly involving LISCR. From the look of things, I want to unequivocally state that the LISCR’s Program is shrouded in obscurity or shrouded in secrecy. Under this administration, it must change. There is so much at stake. Integrity, transparency and accountability must urgently be restored in the sector.”

Chambers revealed that during his visit to the United States in April of 2023, to inquire about LISCR’s performance, the Liberian officials with the program did not show any seriousness.

“LISCR’s executives in the US pretended to be cooperative,” he said. “They all were stonewalling. It was almost like we were deciding on the use of an atomic bomb or the discharge of some nuclear weapons. It was like someone was hiding something. It was like a search for the Holy Grail. Something must be terribly wrong with LISCR’s operations. Companies should not be viewed as de facto head(s) of government as was the past. No more to corporatocracy!”

Good Governance & Legislative Oversight

The former Speaker of the House of Representatives noted that good governance is the methodology nut in place to gauge how public sectors conduct public affairs and secure or manage public resources or wealth, and guarantee the protection of human rights, amongst others.

“To ensure the proper functioning of the House of Representatives, the House must work-through its various committees,” he asserted, adding that except committees lack the stick ability (perseverance), commitment, knowledge and alacrity, all committees should be assigned the tasks relevant or related to their jurisdictions.

He also said there is always a good reason to have an old lawmaker to be at the head of leadership, arguing that it is to prevent any action that could easily obstruct the legislative body’s effectiveness and/or continuum.

“Lawmakers should never operate as monarchs, autocrats, fleecers or economic gangbangers, Chambers said further, reflecting on what he called the first selection to intervene in the BEA Mountain crisis, at which time the Committee on security should have headed the team to the site, and be in charge of investigating the Bea Mountain’s crisis.

He said the current Legislative assignment of investigating the various concessions should be the duty of the Committee on Investment and Concession.

“It should be head the process. Again, the only qualified committee to be assigned to Investment and Concession such task should be the Committee on Investment and Concession coupled with the Committees on Judiciary and Labour.” See page 6 and 7 of this edition for full text of Hon. Chambers’ Press Statement.

3 Comments
  1. German: “Super Artikel! Die Informationen waren wirklich hilfreich und interessant. Es ist immer toll, so gut recherchierte Inhalte zu finden. Weiter so! Ich bin gespannt darauf, in Zukunft mehr von dir zu lesen.”English: “Excellent article! The information was truly helpful and interesting. It’s always great to find such well-researched content. Keep it up! I look forward to reading more from you in the future.”

  2. Momolu says

    Let Chabmbers shut his damn mouth! Didn’t he have all of that idea in his stupid head when head when he was speaher for six years?

  3. Momolu says

    …Speaker

Comments are closed.