MONROVIA: A strong proposal has been made for Liberians to embrace a radical departure from the way they see the national legislature where it has deviated from its core responsibility of lawmaking, oversight responsibilities and representation and has constituted itself as a competitor to the executive branch of government in undertaking and implementing projects, a situation that derailed national development in the country.
The assertion was made yesterday, Thursday, June 29, 2023 by Mr. J. Tiah Nagbe, a Senatorial Aspirant for Maryland County in the ensuing October 10, 2023 general election when he addressed a gathering at the popular Center for the Exchange of Intellectual Opinion(CEIO) which was carried live on the OK FM radio station as a national reach out initiative to explain his manifesto on what he intends to present at the national legislature if he is elected as part of the solution to promote socio-economic and national development.
Mr. Nagbe said the engagement was part of the series of others he will be embarking upon to speak to a cross section of Liberians at various forums under the broad theme, “Mapping Out the Path to Our Shared Prosperity” and will seek to hold national conversation with citizens as a way of raising awareness on the need for a legislature that will deliver for the people using the reason it was created and not how others have created it to be.
“As a people, we need to know what our national journey will at times encounter major challenges as well as some fantastic opportunities. We should remember that challenges don’t disappear by themselves, we have to work to overcome them; and opportunities don’t harness themselves, we have to work to take advantage of them. One way to overcome challenges or take advantage of national opportunities is to come together, as we are doing here today, and have honest and intelligent discussions about our country. This is why I am a strong believer in continuous consultations and dialogue among national actors.
“One area of our national journey that I feel requires a dialogue is the legislative branch of our government, which I believe has a major problem right now. And because I intend to join the body soon, if God will be gracious to me too, I have decided to start my lecture series by drawing attention to this branch of our government. It is my opinion that our legislature has driven off the track which our founders intended for it, a situation that requires us to help reposition this august body to enable it to ably fulfill its true role within the Liberian state”, Nagbe said.
Nagbe who recently resigned his portfolio as Executive Director of the National Identification Registry (NIR) to contest for Senate seat said culture of lawmakers undertaking projects such as building roads, paying fees for students, burying the dead, paying dowries or purchasing rice and other commodities for citizens in exchange for votes has been counterproductive has not worked for both the politicians and the citizens and must not continue.
“You will know that some lawmakers have been undertaking such projects in the past with the hope of winning the elections. They still got defeated and whatever interventions they made to be elected did not also help the people. There is still poverty and hardship, meaning that all quick fix projects have not worked.
“We have to reprogram what we need to get from our legislators if we are serious about developing the country. Let the lawmakers advocate for more money to be allocated in the national budget for roads, good healthcare, job creation and infrastructure and not taking money from the budget to support personal projects that are not sustainable.
“I say the legislature competes with line ministries and agencies of the government because the funds they appropriate to themselves for these services are funds that should have gone to those ministries and agencies. For example, if you look at our national budget from 2018 to 2022, you will observe that the budget for the Liberian legislature increased from USD32m to USD64m, representing a doubling or 100 percent increase. I think that the legislators sincerely believe that if they can secure a lot of money and use that money to directly provide service, they will win the hearts of the citizens and get re-elected. But this has not been the case”, Nagbe said.
He maintained that citizens can have the kind of the legislature that works by asking critical questions against promises from aspirants which are not achievable while the political parties can also play a meaningful role to have the right lawmakers by conducting primaries where the people themselves can elect the candidates of their choices that can better represent them.