Liberia: VP Jewel Howard - Taylor Speech Commencing the 5th Regular Session of the Senate

Delivered on January 10, 2022

The Honorable President Pro Tempore of the Liberian Senate, Senator Albert T. Chie;

Distinguished Members of the Senate Leadership; and other Distinguished Members of the Liberian Senate;

The Secretary, Chamber Officials, Directors and Staff of the Liberian Senate;
Our International Partners and Friends of Liberia;
Esteemed Members of the 4Th Estate;
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen:

I count it a special privilege today, to be seated once more in this sacred Chamber; of the Honorable Liberian Senate; to begin deliberations for this 5Th Regular Session.

It is a rare privilege because the Almighty God has granted us another opportunity to serve our Nation, its people, and those who reside within our borders.



Whenever I am seated on this Dias, I am humbled as I remember from whence I have come; from a little girl born in Lofa County of Humble parentage. My parents raised us in a Zinc House in Congo Town; but it was a zinc house where the LOVE of God, Nation and Family, CHARITY, MORAL VALUES, and EXCELLENCE was our covering; and so I do not take this assignment lightly, but endeavor to perform it with the Honor and reverence it deserves.

This assignment we perform, as crafted by the Founding Fathers of our Democracy; makes the assignees GATEKEEPERS. Gate Keepers under a Democratic System of Governance are those who keep the democratic tenets alive and do all they can to protect the State and its People. This role requires a committed and unified team; who are committed to doing all within their powers to keep the system working properly and provide the necessary checks and balances which help Nations to be United, Developed, and remain an equitable environment for ALL; without fear or favor to no man, except to Fear God and rule by his judicial precepts. This is the assignment each of you has chosen, and your performance will be judged by it.

Honorable Pro Tempore, Honorable Senate Leaders, Distinguished Senators; as we begin this 5th Session; I am convinced that a reminder of the Roles and Responsibilities of the Members of this Upper House are more important at this juncture than ever before.

Firstly, because the Life Blood, Growth, Development, Unity, and Happiness of the people we serve rest on the decisions made in this sacred Chamber.

Secondly, because the gross effect of decisions taken here will remain the collective responsibility of each of you.

And Last but not least, because, in a year, eligible voters will go to the polls to elect Presidential and Legislative Candidates for a new term of service; and the effect of the decisions made in these Chambers will determine the outcome of those elections at ALL LEVELS. By your Actions or Inactions – YOU WILL BE COLLECTIVELY HELD RESPONSIBLE AS MEMBERS OF THE FIRST BRANCH OF GOVERNMENT.


Honorable President Pro Tempore, Distinguished Leaders and Members of the Liberian Senate; as we commence our duties, permit me to solemnly bring to our remembrance, the demise of three distinguished persons who served this Honorable Senate:

• Former Senator of Montserrado County, Hon. James K. Chelly;
• Mr. Hector Frank, former Comptroller of the Honorable Liberian Senate;
• Mr. Theo Weeks, former Deputy Director of Maintenance of the Honorable Liberian Senate.

I extend my deepest sympathy to the Liberian Senate Family and to their individual Families. It is my prayer that the Almighty God will console their Families and the Families of all those who are bereaved across our beloved Nation.

MR. PRESIDENT PRO TEMPORE, Distinguished Senators; Ladies and Gentlemen;

I am constrained to bring to your kind attention the following issues for your consideration:

  1. 2022 National Budget - I implore your good offices to take a deeper look at the budget proposal sent for your concurrence. Keeping in mind that this is our Government’s last pre-electoral budget, which should take into consideration its direct effect on youth unemployment, accelerated digital platforms for our educational systems, increasing agricultural access, support, financing, and provision of Agro-processing facilities to Farmers;

Provision of financial support to all County Capital Cities and County Educational Systems; financing for supplies, drugs, and equipment for all County Hospitals with necessary diagnostic equipment; ensuring the inclusion on the payroll of all-volunteer Teachers, local Government personnel, and Health Care Workers; providing support for the improvement and revitalization of other key sectors such as Tourism and Economic empowerment to strengthen vulnerable groups.

The critical need for fully Fund the National Elections Commission so it is able to perform all its electoral activities in a timely manner; provide funds for a long-delayed census process; provide adequate funding for Security Sector improvement and operations; provide funding for improvement in the Judiciary; funding for the completion of the long awaiting coastal corridor to the South East and adequate funds for the proper pension of Civil Servants who have served and should not be put on a waiting list for their just benefits.

It is my prayer, that the relevant committees will make the necessary adjustments in consideration of the progress made by our Government, with the expansion of our national envelope by considering programs that directly impact the growth and development of our people.

  1. Pending delayed Legislations still with Committees - During the past year in review, there was a serious backlog of bills in Committee Rooms; which stalled the work of the Liberian Senate; some of which are the Nation Youth Policy Act, the Amendments to the Drug Law, the enactment of the National Center for the Coordination of Response Mechanism; the enactment of the law establishing the National Food Assistance Agency; and critical draft amendments to the National Elections Commission Regulations amongst other key Legislations;
  2. The need to begin a new conversation around a new proposal for Constitutional Amendments, which is a compelling necessity, considering the need for a new Democratic paradigm for Liberia. Which if completed and passed into law, will be a true Legacy for our Nation, credited to the Members of the 54th Legislature. As custodians of the people’s power, our focus must always be about them… with our eyes set on making history by continuously working to make Liberia a better place for future generations.
  3. There is also a critical need for this Senate to look at ways of enabling our governance systems to ensure desired results. A case in point is the issue of Whether or not the results of the WAEC/WASSCE exams can prevent a student who has completed and passed their requirements for the 12th grade from being processed. Since in fact, a failure in WAEC/WASSCE does not allow said individual to repeat the 12th grade.

The current wave of penalties to Institutions that have held closing programs for those students who have completed their requirements for the 12th grade is a dilemma, for both the Student and Institutions of learning. There is a need to provide an urgent discourse for a solution to this dilemma.

Because in other Western jurisdictions for example; the SAT is given to see your preparedness for College; a failure does not require one to repeat the 12th grade, but requires a re-sit and pass; in order to go to University. The students who have completed the 12th grade are then offered additional study opportunities to re-sit the SAT’s Exam to continue on to University or Skills Training. This issue if not resolved leaves our young people in a quagmire, which is your responsibility to solve. Especially in these challenging times where young people need all the support to obtain the necessary help to fulfill their dreams.

Honorable Pro Tempore, Distinguished Senators, these are just a few of my concerns as we commence work; and it is my prayer that each of the Honorable Senators will engender a renewed sense of responsibility and dedicate their time and efforts to resolving these and many other National issues which will enable better Governance of our Democratic Space.

Mr. President Pro-Tempore, Distinguished Senators, Ladies, and Gentlemen;

This House of Elders has, both a constitutional and moral responsibility to ensure the proper functioning of the checks and balances within our governance system; and to ensure the full actualization of all activities executed by the Executive and Judiciary Branches of Government; so that our work positively affects the livelihood and well-being of our people, especially those marginalized and disadvantaged.

Let us then begin the race that is set before the US, bearing in mind that our Nation and People demand our ultimate sacrifice and commitment to making Liberia BETTER. As we each endeavor to ensure that our personal and or political persuasions, no matter how intrinsic, should never be placed above Duty and our love for Mama Liberia.

In closing, it would be remiss of me, were I not to mention or ignore the enormous contributions our Nation has made over the years; through the efforts of Our Government; led by His Excellency President George M. Weah; Our international partners and friends of Liberia, civil society organizations, non-governmental organizations, religious institutions, the youth, the media, the people of Liberia and all other stakeholders who continue to work to protect our fledgling democracy and contribute to our Nation’s growth and development.

Permit me to add my voice to the many commendations being made by saying - I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

As we struggle to BUILD A BETTER LIBERIA; may we never forget that the most important ingredient for Nation-building is PEACE. We are all aware that is an expensive commodity, whose fruits, though SWEET - should not be taken for granted. It is therefore prayerfully my request to the Almighty God; that in his mercy he will continue to show us the path of true reconciliation and unity; in the interest of the people of Liberia; whom we have been asked to represent.

It is now, therefore, a most pleasing duty, as President and Presiding Officer of the Liberian Senate, to welcome each Distinguished Senator of the 15 Political Subdivision of Liberia; back into this sacred Chamber.

I wish each of you a Happy New Year and a successful 5th Session.

May God bless us and save the State.

I thank you.