Liberia: ‘State Security Preoccupied with Special Interests’

Senator Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence

— Senator Nyonblee Karnga- Lawrence laments continuous national crises due to inactions on the part of the Legislature

Senator Nyonblee Karnga Lawrence of Grand Bassa County has lamented the 54th Legislature’s failure to act so as to ensure that government agencies, mainly those under the Executive Branch, work for the public good rather than only the appointing power.

“When we come here, we’re whining. It’s unfortunate. We are talking about security. I am even concerned about security. The first role of a government is protection. The second is to make sure there is order. Today, the country is so insecure that you can’t walk in the streets after 7:30 pm,” Sen. Karnga Lawrence said when she made remarks at the fourth session of the Senate.

According to her, Liberia is insecure because national security apparatuses are working more exclusively for individual government officials, concessions companies or private businesses, and people who have money.

“Go to Mittal Steel, they are there, go to Golden Veroleum, EPS, ERU, all of our security agencies are protecting the concession areas and private companies but they are not protecting the citizens, the Grand Bassa Senator noted.  “We have spoken about roads; we have had all of the issues about electricity.” 

“There is not one thing we said here that we have not brought on this floor,” the Senator said. “The only reason why we continue to say it is because we are not taking the actions we should take.”

She acknowledged that the Legislature, particularly the Senate, has the power to change the gloomy state of conditions in the country but has failed to do so. According to her, there are several police officers who are assigned to private companies instead of providing security for the state.

 Senator Karnga-Lawrence added that some time ago, Grand Bassa County, was faced with an emergency but  Police in the county informed her that  she had to call the management of ArcelorMittal to dispatch some police officers to Buchanan “so as to help put the situation under control.”

“You’re asking one concession company to send you security officers. Are you serious?” she asked rhetorically. “Go to the Chinese sand mining company and see the police there in the night manning those people and their belongings. Take a tour of all police stations at the night, you will not find three police officers on duty.”

She pointed out that the first role of any government is to provide security and ensure there is law and order, but the government has failed to implement said national and constitutional responsibility.

According to Senator Karnga-Lawrence, sincere and decisive actions need to be taken by the Legislature, mainly the Senate, in order to restore sanity to the country.

“There are gangs in different communities. Our young students have formed themselves into different groups, different gangs; no discipline. Look what happened to Old Road the other day,” the Senator added. “Teenagers ran people out of Old Road by using cutlasses. Today we were not able to continue because of no security.”

“If we are ready then we will not come here and complain because it’s disappointing for us to come here and be whining when we have the power to change most of these things,” she emphasized.

Regarding development, particularly road construction, the lawmakers said road connectivity has not been decentralized, therefore the farm-to-market roads have become an unachievable goal. She referenced the National Road Fund, where several millions of United States Dollars go, but very little or nothing is done about the deplorable road conditions in the rural parts of the country.

“We talk about roads; we get money in the Road Fund. Money is coming in. We talk about farm to market roads from all these remote counties but all the money is going to different streets in Montserrado County. The roads in Monrovia are more from this person’s house to another person’s house. It is from one person’s apartment to another,” Sen. Karnga Lawrence said as she insinuated, government officials are prioritizing their homes rather than the communities.

She furthered, “Our people are walking ten hours and we cannot bring public works to tell them or to insist that they give us a list of roads that they are doing or should do in rural Liberia.”