OPENING THE 5TH SITTING of the national legislature this week, the Speaker of the House of Representative, Mr. Alex J. Tyler (UP, District #1, Bomi County) assured that lawmakers would no longer compromise their mandate in the discharge of their duties.
AS REASSURING as the Speaker’s intentions were, they came ten years late.
TEN YEARS AFTER the body became notorious for its now infamous “Cold Water” label; ten years after members of both the lower and upper house sat idly by and allow one corrupt official after the next to sail through their corridors with a 4-G-like speed confirmation hearings; and ten years after a government- sanctioned audit uncovered that almost all the concessions awarded by the government since 2009 were not in compliant with the law.
SPEAKER ALEX TYLER who has made it clear his intentions to contest the 2017 presidential elections is keen for the people of Liberia to take his sudden baptism as the trumpeter of accountability and transparency seriously.
WHY DID SPEAKER TYLER wait so long to come to his senses? Why did it take ten years from Speaker Tyler to realize the lawmakers elected by and for the people should never allow themselves to be compromised?
THE TRUTH of the matter is that Liberia has lost millions of dollars that could have gone toward aiding the improvement of towns and villages across the country; that could have gone toward alleviating pain and suffering of thousand of Liberians lingering at the bottom of the economic ladder and thousands more unable to find adequate healthcare.
MANY ARE FORCED to die from curable diseases while those who can afford it, leave these shores for medical checkup overseas.
SPEAKER TYLER and his peers sat idly by while, according to auditor, only two out of 68 resource contracts worth $8bn (£5.1bn) were conducted properly. Concessions granted in agriculture, forestry, mining and oil – including a lucrative deal with oil company Chevron – were either wholly or partially flawed under the watch of this August body.
YET, SPEAKER TYLER WANTS all Liberians and the international community to believe that while this August Body is committed to cooperate and collaborate with the Executive and Judiciary branches of the Liberian government, lawmakers will in no way compromise their functions as enshrined in the Liberian Constitution, which is regarded as the organic law of the country.
THE THREE (3) CARDINAL functions of a lawmaker are: oversight, representation and lawmaking. Speaker Tyler was speaking on Monday, January 11, 2016 at a program marking the official return of lawmakers to the Capitol Building in Monrovia.
IN SPEAKER TYLER’S OWN words, the 5th Sitting of the Legislature will mainly be focused on the passage of legislations that would bring development to the Liberian people.
IT IS SAD that Liberians did not get a fair shake from Speaker Tyler and his peers during the last ten years when logging concessions granted for public land resulted in $US107 million in taxes being owed to the Liberian government between 2008 and 2011, according to Global Witness.
WITH TWO YEARS remaining, Speaker Tyler and this body is now underscoring the need for developmental initiatives to be supported in the National Budget to help bring some level of impact and relief to the citizens. “The House is opened for business. We were elected by the people of Liberia and we will continue to work in the agenda that is the best for our people,” the Speaker said at the opening this week.
IT IS SAD that the Liberia’s House of Representatives is finally open for business after ten years of dormancy during which those languishing at the bottom of the economic ladder endured neglect by those they elected and left to fend for themselves while their elected officials enrich and improve their own lives.
SPEAKER TYLER owes it to himself to answer questions about his own office, how he disburses money in his budget, how his party has managed to purchase 22 pickup trucks for the upcoming general elections and where he received money to unveil a hotel worth, in his own words more than a million dollars.
THE SPEAKER, SIMPLY PUT, must sanction an audit of his own office, explain his unexplained wealth and tell the Liberian people where he is getting money from to launch his presidential bid when the financials he declared in 2005 does not add up to the sudden wealth he has now acquired.