–Senate committees work on bill for single presidential holiday
Debate as to whether Liberians should set aside a day to be commemorated as “Presidents’ Day” or not, nearly broke into confusion recently when those that were celebrating the 120th birth anniversary of former President William V. S. Tubman expressed support for a bill before the Senate, calling for a single national holiday to commemorate the birthdays of all current and former Liberian presidents.
November 29th each year is celebrated as a national holiday for the birth anniversary of the 18th President of Liberia, which in recent years has become one of the most anticipated national holidays among almost a dozen holidays. March 15 is also celebrated each year as a national holiday commemorating the birth of Liberia’s first President, Joseph Jenkins Robert.
Most of those this newspaper interviewed recently, welcomed the idea to celebrate the birth anniversaries of all Presidents, but they said that such should be observed as a public or working day, and not as national holidays.
“For the sake of national unity, reconciliation and appreciation of what little contributions each present and former presidents have made to this country, we need to honor them holistically; so one birthday can serve all instead of separately,” citizens, most of them beach-going youth, told our reporter.
Some of the citizens’ calls come in the wake of reported “frantic” consultations for the passage of a bill seeking to repeal a legislation declaring national holidays and the birthdays of Presidents Joseph Jenkins Roberts (March 15) and William V. S. Tubman (November 29).
A highly placed source informed the Daily Observer that those involved in the consultations are requesting that instead of separate birthdays for the two former leaders, there should be a “single national holiday” for all present and former presidents to be called “Presidents Day” and, because of the importance attached to the birthday of both presidents, their birthdays can be observed as a public or working holiday.
The bill, which is currently before the Senate, was first introduced by former Bong County Senator (now Vice President) Jewel Howard-Taylor during the 53rd Legislature, but has been re-submitted by River Cess County Senator Francis Saturday Paye.
On the possible passage of the Act before the Legislators’ annual break, Sen. Paye clarified that although lobbying is ongoing, the likelihood of the Senate’s action may not be possible before the break.
It can be recalled that the 42nd Legislature, at its 3rd sitting, declared March 15 of each year a national holiday in commemoration of the birthday of Joseph Jenkins Robert, the first president of Liberia. During that sitting, an Act was also passed declaring November 29 as a national holiday for the birth anniversary of the 18th president of Liberia, the late William V. S. Tubman.
In his letter to the Senate plenary in August 2018, Sen. Paye recognized the contributions of past and present presidents to the development of the country.
Requesting the repeal of the two national holidays, Paye is asking for the third Friday in November each year to be declared as National Holiday to be observed throughout the country as Presidents’ Day in recognition of sacrifices and services rendered by all who served, and are serving as President of the country.
A motion was proffered by Grand Bassa County Senator Jonathan Kaipay, requesting plenary to accept the letter and send same to the committees on Judiciary and Internal Affairs, chaired by Senators H. Varney Sherman and J. Gbleh-bo Brown, for detail deliberation.