Senator Cooper Links Legislature to Liberia’s Governance Problems

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Margibi County Senator Oscar Cooper

-Wants President reshuffle cabinet, appoint competent officials

By William Q. Harmon & Leroy Sonpon

A staunch critic of the George Manneh Weah-led government, Senator Oscar Cooper, has said that the National Legislature plays key roles in the declined state of the country and not the Executive alone.

He said for over forty years now the Liberian presidency has been an area of focus for transforming the Liberian governance structure—which has come with little or no success though many heads of state have lost their lives in the process. This is now time, he added, that Liberians focus on the legislature, which is the first branch of government and has oversight responsibilities over the other two branches of government, to change the political status quo and usher in the needed transformation that will move the country forward.

“We, the 103 Lawmakers of this country, are part of the problem, not Weah alone,” he said, furthering, “This is why we are now calling on people with integrity, patriotism, and love for the country to be given legislative power.”

“If we have 16 like-minded and good Senators this country will do better. It will be on the right trajectory and the President won’t have his way as it is happening now. The change that Liberians are yearning for must begin from the Liberian Legislature,” he said.

Known for his boldness on issues most of the time, Senator Cooper was one of the few Senators who did not sign for the printing of the LD$4 billion requested by President Weah. Though he would have favored printing the new banknotes, the Margibi Senator said that his decision not to vote was as a result of the lack of confidence in officials that are in charge of the fiscal and monetary policies of the country.

“We have always focused on the presidency and the problems in the country continue to persist. This has led to the deaths of William R. Tolbert and Samuel K. Doe. This is now time we have a paradigm shift and focus on the Legislature by electing responsible men and women who can change the course of this country.”

Senator Cooper’s comment highlighting the shortcomings of the National Legislature comes after some lawmakers in the House of Representatives had said earlier in a public gathering that the Legislature “Lack integrity.”  It can be recalled that in August 2019, some lawmakers including Rustonlyn Suacoco Dennis of Montserrado District 4 and Roger Domah of Nimba County District 7  amongst others stated during a justice conference organized by civil society groups in Liberia that the Legislature was being placed into the pocket of the Executive that anything that pleases the President is what the majority of lawmakers go after.

He said no one party has really controlled the upper house, though the former ruling party Unity Party went close to doing that.

“No one party has a real majority in the senate. Sadly too, many of the Senators do not back the aspirations, dreams, manifestoes, and ideologies of their parties upon entering the Senate. These are the real issues we want to fight against. People enter with selfish interests and not to serve the state and its people,” Senator Cooper noted.

He added that it does not worth it that people get easily carried away or easily persuaded by favors from the Executive.

The Margibi County Lawmaker added that his time at the Senate was a challenging time because of his critical stance on national issues. He said the incessant ignoring of critical voices on the Senate floor is meant to deny them of making their points or express their thoughts or grievances, which according to him led some of them to join the Council of Patriots—a movement whose founding took place on his famous “Cooper Farm” in Margibi County. “This was an alternative means for some of us to be heard,” he said but added that constant protest is not the best solution in improving good governance and productivity in the government.

In order to correct the prevailing situation in the Senate, Senator Cooper said: “The best way we can do this, which is a long term plan that few of us have embarked upon, is to have critical and likeminded people with integrity elected in the Legislature in the upcoming mid-term senatorial elections.”

This initiative, he noted, will be led by the four collaborating political parties.  “We have started the process already and a steering committee has been formulated. We want to maintain the peace and stability of the country. So this is the path we are now pursuing, which we think will help strengthen our democracy, ensure sustainability and stability, as well as help, nurture our peace,” he added.

Meanwhile, Senator Cooper says in order for the George Weah Administration to be successful in managing the affairs of the country to divert attention from its current state to a better path, the President should institute some stringent actions that will seek the interest of the state rather than individuals.

According to the Margibi County Senator, taking some stringent decisions will curtail the numerous protests that have practically become a daily routine, and will ensure peace and stability of the country.

Senator Cooper said the unfortunate prevailing situations—economic hardship, political instability and the liquidity that has hit the financial sector—are repercussions of some grave mistakes President Weah made from the onset of his administration, especially the appointment of several incompetent officials, who lack competence have kept the government and the country stagnated.

The Senator noted that it is now time that the President rights the wrongs of his administration by firstly carrying out a long overdue reshuffle of his cabinet and appoint competent Liberians who have the face and integrity to do the Liberian people’s work.

“There will be no protest in this country if the requisite people are appointed and they are doing the Liberian people’s work. Why will someone want to protest when your government is working for you?” he asked rhetorically.

Liberia has been gripped with the fear of constant protests since the ascendency of the Coalition of Democratic Change government headed by President Weah. “Liberia is headed nowhere with this situation. Our President must do the right thing by reshuffling his cabinet and bringing on board the right people to help him take the country out of such a shameful state,” he added.

He named Samuel Tweah as one of the many excesses of the President that need to go. “We all can see where Tweah has plunged our economy. How he handled the US$25M mop-up exercise and other issues. I’m one person who strongly believes that he cannot take us anywhere out of this mess,” he said.

Senator Cooper added that Liberians need to maintain the peace and stability of the country, and President Weah must take the lead.

The Legislature is the first branch of government that makes law; with the Senate being the only body in the Legislature responsible constitutionally to confirm appointed officials who are subject to confirmation.  Senator Cooper is, therefore, a member of the Senate through whom public officials subject to confirmation have passed through to occupy public posts such as the Ministry of Finance.

He lauded the intervention of the International Community in the standoff between COP and the government that is gradually turning into a political crisis.

“What the international community is doing is the right thing. They no longer want to see a confrontational situation in our country. They have spent a lot and made a lot of sacrifices on this soil and they can no longer allow us to slip back into crisis,” Senator Cooper said.

He dispelled the thoughts of some that the US, AU, ECOWAS, and others are meddling into the sovereignty o the Liberian state. “You can talk about sovereignty when you can feed yourself; when you can handle your own problems, but these are the same people we run to when we have a problem. How can we tell them to stay off our issues? This is not fair. They have a stake and they must be involved,” he concluded.

25 COMMENTS

  1. Thank You Senator Cooper.
    I chatted with you during our debate in Bomi Hills in 2017.

  2. A wise person once said, “You do not give a war torn country, a fragile nation like Liberia to a bunch of stumbling amateurs to govern.” No wonder why Liberia’s political, social, economic, religious, and educational systems have deteriorated to the lowest common denominator.

    While other African countries economies are rapidly developing, Liberia’s economy is in shambles.
    The biggest problem in Liberia is ingrained corruption which has eroded the entire society. Also, Liberia’s high illiteracy rate plays a major factor in voting bad leaders into office. Ordinary Liberians with little education are constantly misled by dishonest politicians to vote for them during election only to be abandoned when these corrupt politicians get into office.

    If majority of Liberians were educated or informed, they would have the ability to critically scrutinize each political candidate (reputation, knowledge, skills, character, ethics, morals, etc.) carefully before casting their votes for a particular candidate.

    Senator Cooper’s self-examination speaks volume about these Lawmakers lackadaisical attitude and complacency in exercising their constitutional duties. The Legislative Branch should serve as check and balance to the executive branch. Failure to do so has led to Liberia’s current precarious state.

    Liberians in general are hospitable people, hardworking, and smart. The problem in Liberia is the systematic failure in leadership (both executive and legislative branch) to provide the right opportunities to empower the Liberian people to determine their own economic future. This lack of empowerment has created a high degree of dependency for jobs for which ever political party is in power.

    Liberians need the right environment to survive: more technical and vocational education for the youths. Better infrastructure (mostly roads, light and water). Institute mandatory 1 or 2 years national service for anyone between the ages of 18 to 25 with pay.

    Strengthen the rule of law with no exception. The city of Monrovia and its environs need proper sanitation: large scale sanitation projects could be employment for the youths. Encourage back to the soil movement towards food self-sufficiency.

    Market Liberia’s investment potential abroad to encourage foreign investments. Tubman’s open day policy of the 60s encouraged many foreign businesses to invest in Liberia. However, this time, the investment profits should be used wisely for national development. Develop a robust tourism industry. Liberia landscape is naturally beautiful but underutilized.

    Yes indeed, Senator Cooper, the Legislative Branch has been too complacent in exercising their fiduciary duties. Don’t let the Executive Branch take you guys for a ride. Be careful, election is right around the corner!!

    As the wise man said, “You do not give a war torn country, a fragile nation like Liberia, to a bunch of stumbling amateurs to govern.”

  3. Ayyyyyyy,
    Weah need to watch out. Impeachment is not far off. They are going to try to impreach him soon. It will start this very yr. He will fight with it but his fight will fail. If you know weah let him know that this is Coming very soon. And CDC will not be able to do anything about it. Just watch. Since in ours days it has happen in America, it will happen in Liberia very soon.
    Tell weah Kae said it on daily observer 01/08/2020.
    God bless Liberia.

  4. Kae,
    Are you a prophet?
    Are you affiliated with the Prophet of a local church in Monrovia who recently said that Weah will be impeached sometime this year? The prophet also stated that a lawmaker will lose his or her life. That’s a scary prophecy!

    Kae, the idea of Weah being impeached does not mean he will be booted out of office. Also, it’s a prophecy that has been made. Let’s wait to see whether the gentleman’s prophecy came to him from the Palace of the Almighty God!

    The demons are satan’s angels. Satan’s angels (meaning the demons) inspire some clergymen to make prophecies. However, satan’s prophecies do not come to pass. Anytime we as humans do something that’s stupid, nefarious or inappropriate, we were inspired by the demons. That’s why it is good to kneel down and pray every day for guidance.

    Let’s pray for peace in the motherland.

  5. Fellow Liberian, let’s not be blindsided. The so called current “incompetent” Liberian Government Officials appointed by President Weah WERE CONFIRMED BY THE LIBERIAN SENATE. The Liberian Senate were elected by THE LIBERIAN PEOPLE. So where lies the problem???? “If you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and make a change”(Michael Jackson). Members of the current CDC government became relevant during the leadership of EJS and we voted them without taking into consideration meaningful manifesto presented by the CDC. We voted popularity. Currently, Henry Costa has gained prominence because of his charisma and ability to relate to the masses. I’m sure were he to run for Senator come October, he will win. AB Dillon won in Montserrado County. However, we didn’t question his qualification or his background. WE LIBERIANS ARE OUR OWN PROBLEM! I’ve NEVER EVER seen a group of people that work harder to SELF DESTRUCT THAN LIBERIANS, We need to focus on long term plans:
    1. Liberians need to vote out the current members of the Legislature who are running for re-election this year
    2. Liberians need to focus on revamping the educational sector. Institute up to date curricula (that aligns with modern education) for schools including Ethics and Norms in Society in Elementary schools. Create incentives and benefits for teachers in order to attract quality, do a quarterly inspections of schools and shut down schools who don’t meet the standard of performance, privatize the University of Liberia, and invest in research.
    3. Invest in the agricultural sector. The regions of Lofa, Bong and Nimba Counties can become the rice production hub. The regions of Grand Bassa, Rivercess, Grand Kru, and Maryland can become the fisheries hub. Grand Gedeh, Rivergee and Nimba counties can become the cassava hub. Bong and Margibi can become sugar cane and corn hub. If we can have an absolute advantage in producing sugar cane and corn in the sub region, we could potentially invite investors to invest in the production of ethanol……
    The tourism sector should be revamp. We have a Deputy Minister in Eugene Fahgon at MICAT who has essentially become a Facebook Minister wearing military fatigues representing the GOL instead of doing his job.
    Liberians have potentials but no vision. We need to look at long term plans and keep our focus on the country instead of individuals. Liberia is BIGGER AND WILL ALWAYS BE BIGGER THAN CDC, COP, ICOP, ANC, NDPL, UP, UPP,NPP, and the hundreds of others that I’ve no interest in naming in a country of 4 million people.

  6. Brother Aaron Cole,
    You are mightily speaking my language! I blame the lawmakers of Liberia almost weekly. They earn $15-16,000.00 per month. The lawmakers of Liberia are engaged in signing concessions. They’re part of the problem. But more importantly, they are very, very corrupt. The country is broke! But Costa and company are not bothered by such foolishness. Only for themselves.

    Talking about popularity contest, again you’re spot on! There are some who tell us that Alexander Cummings will “do this. He will do that”. Guess what? It’s the same old movie! Put Cummings in there or someone else and the Liberian people will be baked like a frozen turkey. I mean it!

  7. Sr. Engineer and His Royal Dignity, Honorable Pete Curran:
    Darn man, you’ve got lots of titles! Could you pass on one of titles to some of us? And stop poking fun at my comment.

    On a serious note, we’ve watched the movie before. Aaron Cole said something that I agree with 100%. It’s about Henry Costa. Costa is very popular. If he runs for an elective position, he’ll win. Watch my smoke. He will run sooner or later.

    It’s a shame. But that’s typical Liberian politics.

  8. Thank you so much senator Cooper for the bipartisan statement. I hop president Weah will follow your advice and make necessary changes that will help the government move forward. There are so many incompent people placed at the height of the government

  9. Daily Observer,

    “SENATOR COOPER LINKS LEGISLATURE To LIBERIA’S GOVERNANCE PROBLEMS”???

    Does it make sense?

    Are you suggesting that the National Legislature of Liberia is not part of the Liberian Government?
    When did Senator Cooper realized this?

    Liberia that real Monkey see Monkey do.

    Henry Costa condemned the entire Legislature, referring to them as “useless”.

    Now come Yekeh Kolubah, Dillon and Cooper
    Following suit.
    Who is next???
    You guys are really SICK.

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