A Montserrado County representative aspirant, Fubbi Henries, says the Affirmative Action Bill that seeks to allot 21 legislative seats to women, youths and people with disabilities contravenes the Constitution of Liberia and does not seek to represent the interests of a vast majority of Liberians.
He argues that the Constitution provides equal opportunity for all without discriminating against any sector of the Liberian society, thereby opening the corridor for all Liberians to vie for any position in the public or private sector.
Chapter II Article 8 of the Liberian Constitution states: “The Republic shall direct its policy towards ensuring for all citizens, without discrimination, opportunities for employment and livelihood under just and humane conditions, and towards promoting safety, health and welfare facilities in employment.”
Article 18 also says, “All Liberian citizens shall have equal opportunity for work and employment regardless of sex, creed, religion, ethnic background, place of origin or political affiliation, and all shall be entitled to equal pay for equal work.”
Addressing a news conference recently in Paynesville, Mr. Henries said the decision to allot seats to the groups concerned should be made through a national referendum.
He said any decision to allot seats as called for by the Affirmative Action Bill will affect Liberians because at the end, they will pay about US$3 million in taxes.
He noted that in order to help the people the Affirmative Action Bill which is earmarked positions in the government should instead invest funds into job skills and other training programs that will develop and prepare the physically challenged, youth and women for the job market in the private sector.
He maintained that positions created by the Bill will only benefit 21 persons among the millions of people in the country.
According to the representative aspirant, about US$100,000 is needed annually to fight breast cancer, HIV/AIDS and other diseases, and creating additional legislative positions will counteract these viable concerns.
Mr. Henries further indicated that the crafter of the Bill, Senator Jewel Howard Taylor, has a record of not supporting female candidates.
According to him, Senator Taylor did not support President Sirleaf in 2005 and 2011, which he said is “paradoxical” to her advocacy for allotment of seats to women.
Instead of giving attention to the Affirmative Action Bill, Henries recommended that lawmakers pass the Pension Bill to create improvements in the labor sector.
He urged President Sirleaf and the House of Representatives to critically assess the Bill and put the right things in perspective, noting that a Bill must benefit the country and its people and not a privileged few.
About two months ago the Senate passed an Affirmative Action Bill championed by Bong County Senator Jewel Howard Taylor.
The Bill, among others, seeks to set aside 21 legislative seats for women, youths and people with disabilities in addition to the existing 73 seats.
Of the 21 seats, 15 are set aside for women and three for youths, with one to be occupied by a woman, and another three for the physically challenged, one of whom should be occupied by a woman.