‘Natural Resources Must Benefit All’

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Mr. Kwenah (immediate left in the African gown) with other stakeholders at the ceremony,

-Says new NCL team leader at induction ceremony

The newly inducted management team leader of the Non-governmental organization (NGO) Coalition of Liberia (NCL) has declared that every Liberian is entitled to resources that God has endowed the country with, and all must therefore benefit from the way the resources are being used.

Samuel K. D. Kwenah said stakeholders in the resource sector, specifically the government and concessionaires must ensure that local communities, who are the custodians of these resources, adequately benefit from proceeds of resources that are extracted from their area.

Kwenah spoke at the induction ceremony of NCL’s newly elected management team. The ceremony was held on Thursday, August 23, 2018, in Monrovia.

Those inducted along with him were Dominic Johns, deputy team leader, Amos Kanneh, secretary, and Judeh F. Blamoh, finance officer.

According to Mr. Kwenah, Liberia has a lot of natural resources which, if managed with efficiency and transparency, would transform  the lives of Liberians. “This is possible, but we just have to do our best for all of the people, especially the vulnerable masses, to benefit,” he said.

He said that the formation of NCL was as a result of a survey which showed that the perennial conflicts in the country, including the civil war that erupted over the years, are as a result of disenchantment over poor management of natural resources.

Kwennah is also  program manager for the Extractive Industry and Human Rights program of Save My Future Foundation (SAMFU), a member NGO to the NCL—a conglomeration of local NGOs involved in natural resources advocacy.

The coalition, since its establishment 15 years ago, has been managed by an interim team until this year when the members elected a permanent management team.

It was founded in the wake of the Accra Comprehensive Peace Accord (CPA) in 2003 by three local NGOs. One of its founding members is the Green Advocates International, headed by Cllr. Alfred Brownell.

“While stakeholders at the CPA were all about sharing power and the country’s wealth, NCL was about protecting our natural resources,” Mr. Kwenah said.

“Today marks a major milestone in the history of the NCL since its formation because we are consolidating the vision of our founders. We must all endeavor to ensure the proper management of our resources for all Liberians,” he said.

Kwenah recalled that Liberia has about half of the entire rain forest remaining in West Africa as 45 percent of the country’s 4.3 million hectares is covered by forest underscoring that with a relatively small population, and rich natural resources, proper management can provide income and opportunities for future generations.

According to him, NCL has elevated its strategic plan dialogue on accounts of transparency, accountability and competence as a new management assumes office soon.

It can be recalled that a few months ago, the NCL held a five-day retreat at its resource center in Dwazohn, Margibi County, where a five-year strategic plan was developed to re-engage collaborating actors, a process that is aimed at enhancing the proper use of natural resources.

The retreat focused not only on conflict resolution in the management of natural resources, but also on strengthening a peaceful coexistence among member NGOs within the coalition.

Abraham Guillen, then  representative from the EU delegation who served as the installing officer, said it will be a huge benefit to the country if it is to manage its resources well.

“Liberia is a very rich country, and every Liberian can benefit if the right things are done,” Mr. Guillen said. He was also the Team Leader of Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) Support Unit.

Guillen then urged the team to ensure unity among its members. “You need not to just work as a team but to differentiate the mandates of each member and the coalition. You can achieve a lot more for your country when you work hard,” he said.

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