With the month of July being Liberia’s independence anniversary month, diaspora Liberians would have nothing to make them happy other than the passage of the dual citizenship bill that has lingered in the Legislature for years now.
The All-Liberian Conference on Dual Citizenship (ALCOD) is urging the Legislature to give them an Independence Day gift by passing into law this draft Dual Citizenship bill, copies of which have been handed to all 173 members of the Legislature.
In the draft bill, ALCOD’s cause for dual citizenship is for natural-born Liberians, who are citizens of other countries, not to lose their citizenship in Liberia because of their status in other countries.
These Liberians are proposing an “Act to Amend Part III, Chapter 20, Section 20.1; Chapter 21, Sections 21.30, 21.31, 21.51 and 21.52; and Chapter 22, Sections 22.1, 22.2 & 22.4. of the Aliens and Nationality Law of the Liberian Codes of Law Revised, Vol. II.”
Emmanuel S. Wettee, Chairman of ALCOD, said Liberians should do away with politics and look at the economic benefits that come along with dual citizenship.
ALCOD is a conglomeration of diasporic Liberian organizations that includes the Union of Liberian Associations in the Americas (ULAA), European Federation of Liberian Associations (EFLA), Liberian Advocacy for Change (LAC), Federation of Liberia Communities in Australia (FLCA), United Liberian Association of Ghana (ULAG), Liberian Association of Canada (LAC), and Conference of Liberian Organizations in Southwestern United States of America (CLOSUSA).
According to Wettee, ALCOD’s records show that there are at least 500,000 Liberians in the diaspora; and when all these people decide to come home and take up citizenship, the government is going to generate needed revenue from the process.
“Assuming that this bill passes and the Liberian Government charges every Liberian in the diaspora who would want to come back and obtain their citizenship US$200; if 1000 persons apply within a month, it will amount to US$200,000, and when this is multiplied by 12 months, it will amount to US$2.4 million. This amount can fill a significant gap in the national revenue,” he said.
The ALCOD Chairman argued that other countries are doing the same. “It’s being done by Ghana, Nigeria and other countries. Our government can generate this amount of money from time to time. The economic benefits that will come to Liberia are going to be enormous.”
He contended further that additional funding would also be paid for Covid-19 testing at the Roberts International Airport (RIA) when more and more people start to come home to get their citizenship.
“The government can use this money to cater to medical facilities that are now challenged. In addition to this, these diasporic Liberians who are going to be coming home will build their homes and businesses. All those who are going to be hired to build those homes will be Liberians and they are going to benefit from salaries,” he further stated.
According to him, some Liberians in the diaspora are skeptical about investing in Liberia. “If the law is passed and Liberians begin to feel more attached to their country, we can organize a Liberian Diaspora Economic Conference in which Liberian entrepreneurs in the diaspora will be encouraged to come back home to invest.”
“They are going to know that their investments will be protected as they are going to be recognized as citizens,” he argued.
The ALCOD Chairman argued that even now, as Liberia battles the pandemic, diaspora Liberians are helping massively, adding, “We are sending money, oxygen tanks, etc.”
Mr. Wettee disclosed that a two-person delegation from ALCOD, headed by Ms. Eliza B. Flahn, met with Deputy Speaker Jonathan Fonati Koffa and re-submitted their draft Dual Citizenship bill to him. It is their hope that lawmakers in the House of Representatives will see reason to pass the bill and that the Senate will concur to make it a law.