The lead facilitator of the House Reconciliation Retreat, Presidential Hopeful Augustine K. Ngafuan, has admonished members of the House of Representatives, that an “Honorable Lawmaker” does not try to adjust his or her conscience to justify or fit his or her wrong conscience.
“Instead, a man or woman of honor adjusts his or her action in order to be true to his or her conscience,” Mr. Ngafuan said. “Do not only do good because others are doing good; do good because it is right to do good. And if a good number of you do good, the image of the honorable House of Representatives will truly be honorable!”
The Victor for Change Political Party Standard Bearer said lawmakers should not only think about the next election, but also think about the next generation as substantiated with the laws they make and other legislative functions, which include representation and oversight.
He made the remarks yesterday in Ganta, Nimba County during a two-day House Reconciliation Retreat of members of the House of Representatives at the Jackie’s Guest House Auditorium.
Speaking on the topic, ‘Institutional Image Building,’ Mr. Ngafuan said,
“When the most convenient thing to do is to sit down on Liberia, Men and Women of Honor Stand Up for Liberia; and when others are treating Liberia like an orphan who does not have parents, be that parent for Liberia; when others are treating Liberia like a mother who does not have child, be that child for Liberia. When others are treating Liberia like a street urchin who does not have a friend, be that friend for Liberia,” Ngafuan challenged.
The former Finance and Foreign Affairs Minister told the lawmakers that in order for the ‘House of Representatives’ to have a new and better image, they should act as a separate and independent branch of government, and should coordinate and collaborate with the other branches of the government.
He said the House of Representatives or the Legislature at large, should not appear like an obstructionist branch and cannot afford to appear like a spineless branch.
“Do not say no to the Executive when you know yes is in the best interest of the country. Do not say yes to the Executive, when you know no is in the best interest of the country,” Mr. Ngafuan said. “Think for and stand up for Liberia, not just for yourself or your constituency.”
Some of the practical steps aimed at building a positive image, according to Mr. Ngafuan “include building capacity for research; strengthening the Legislative Budget Office (LBO); improving the public participation in the crafting of legislation and public access to information and strengthening the Press Bureau of the House to make it to execute its functions.”
Making the formal opening remarks, House Speaker J. Emmanuel Nuquay said the leadership is committed to reconcile its colleagues and re-brand the image of the Legislature.
The Speaker mentioned four pillars he believed are cardinal to ensure that the House of Representatives enhance a national agenda.
He named the four pillars as “reconciliation, image construction, coordination as well as capacity building.” He admonished his colleagues to see the retreat as a new beginning and platform on which they can resolve their differences and work together for the common good of the nation.
The House Deputy Speaker, Hans Barchue appealed to his colleagues to remain united and focus on issues that will promote the image of the legislature. He maintained that until the House unites itself into a common front to forge ahead with reconciliation, the process of actualizing the purpose for which it was elected would remain elusive.
He told the lawmakers to sort out their differences with focus on the scrupulous implementation of the national development agenda.
The Chairman of the House Committee on Peace, Religion and Reconciliation, Rep. Ricks Toweh, (Nimba County District # 6) challenged his colleagues to surmount what he called the hurdles of hate and selfishness for the common good of Liberia.
He warned that posterity will harshly judge the august body if the national development agenda remains unattended to as the result of personal interests.
He maintained that in as much as the Legislature is composed of diversity, the general interest of the state remains paramount and as such must supersede individual interests.
The Nimba County lawmaker stated that disagreement is part of Legislative Politics on the biggest platform of national debate and as such must be encouraged as the building block to sustain the young democracy and not a ground to breed hatred and misconception among lawmakers.
According to Atty. Toweh, the Legislature is the microcosm of the nation and if divided through personal and ideological differences such indifference affects the larger society and retards progress. He cautioned his colleagues to evoke the strength of success through the bond of unity as provided for in the national anthem.
On behalf of the Nimba Legislative Caucus, Hon. Richard M. Tingbeh described the action of the House in recent past, as an attempt to arrest what he considered as a checkpoint against issues detrimental to the economic life of the Liberian people.
Ganta District Representative Jeremiah Koung and Nimba Superintendent Fone Zuagele also made separate remarks.
According to him, the decision by the House to host the retreat in Nimba County is not a mistake because the people of Nimba are peace loving and see this intervention as a new day in the Legislature.
Fifty nine (59) lawmakers attended the retreat while 14 did not, including former Speaker Alex Tyler, Moses Kollie, Dr. Bhopal Chambers, James Boney, and others.