Senator Karnga Lawrence responds to critics
Grand Bassa County Senator Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence has responded vehemently to her critics she claims have been posting distorting information about her absence in the county during President George Weah’s tour, stressing that “There are better uses for my time than to lend it to deception of our people.”
“Not so surprisingly, my absence awakened the government’s propaganda machinery. A few screaming headlines included Sen. Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence Ran Away From The President; Sen. Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence Rejects Development in Grand Bassa County,” the Grand Bassa County Senator said.
In addition to other schedules Senator Karnga-Lawrence claims are confronting her that she has to meet, she argued that the branches of the Liberian government are three co-equals; for they are meant to coordinate but be kept separate. “No Senator ought to therefore bend the structure of our government or act to lend support to the erroneous impression that legislators work at the will and pleasure of a president.”
“County tours by a president are organized and executed by the Executive domain and its agencies. Legislators ought not to invite themselves into such executive function unless invited. When the “county tour” descends into political maneuvers for reelection, it naturally invites political divisions and differences rather than a focus on the developmental needs of our people. Some of us are more interested in the unity and actual development of the country and improvements in the lives of our people to be caught involved in dividing them or deceiving them,” she argues further.
Senator Karnga-Lawrence went further to say, “Let me be clear: Following a president on county tours or to the airport, especially uninvited, is not amongst my priorities as Senator, nor should it be for any legislator. Such undertakings are usually done on invitations or to enhance coordination. Where the impression is to denigrate the First Branch of the government, like all legislators, I have a sworn duty to act in ways to preserve and uphold the integrity of the Liberian Legislature, and to pass on, in time and in keeping with the wishes of our people, as honorable a Legislature as I came to walk its hallowed halls – if not more, than certainly not less.”
The Grand Bassa Senator and political leader of the Liberty Party said in respect of her leadership role in the county, if she were officially invited by the President’s office through the Ministry of State or the Ministry of Internal Affairs, she would have attended the official program to receive the President into the county. She said such invitation was never extended; which made her to feel excluded because a letter was sent to specifically inform the Chairperson of the Legislative Caucus of Grand Bassa County about the tour and not all the legislators. “There is a big difference between information and invitation,” she said.
Senator Karnga-Lawrence recalled: “In 2017, I received an official invitation from the Office of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf which was followed by a phone call to accompany her on a Thank You Tour to mark the closure of her tenure. I was specifically requested to attend and participate in the President’s inspection of legislative projects in Grand Bassa. During another visit by President Sirleaf to Bassa, I was not invited, but already in the county, I invited her to commission the brand new 700 hospital beds and 3,000 boxes of medical supplies that I had brought to Liberia for the use of the county. President Sirleaf accepted, and I was grateful that she did so.”
Furthering her argument and debunking critics, the Senator said during the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Administration, President Sirleaf did not refer to any of the Legislative Projects or the beds and medical supplies presented to the hospital as Sirleaf Project and should not therefore be said of President George Weah.
She said while President Weah was Senator, the Legislature placed money in the national budget every year for counties and constituencies across the country and his (Weah) benefited.
“However, since becoming President, despite the continuation of the budgetary allocations, not a penny has been released to LACE, the government-run implementer of the projects. All national undertakings and projects in the country including international efforts have come to be unwittingly named “Weah Projects,” she said.
“This is not just wrong but politically deceptive. I am strongly opposed to it, and refuse to lend my presence to such deception of our people, certainly not while they have entrusted me to be their representative to the government,” she added.
Senator Karnga-Lawrence said that in order for the President to excuse his failures and shortcomings on these “county tours,”he characteristically condemns legislators while they sit there.
“He says directly or implies, as he sees fit, that legislators are stalling development because they are not appropriating funds for their counties. Some of my colleagues even lend themselves to applauding,” she noted.
She stressed that the entire Budget of the Liberian Government is a recurrent one in which all monies for government operations and to undertake national development projects are squashed except cosmetic projects with little or no impacts on the lives of the people.
“Hospitals and school budgets are not spared from being slashed to nothing. Rather than the massive trick and deception on these tours, look closely at our schools, hospitals and clinics. Many are non-functional or barely functioning,” Senator Karnga-Lawrence noted.
“After three years, did Mr. President get to visit and see the hospital the people he “loves” come to when they are sick? Did he get to visit any clinic in any district in and out of Bassa? Did Mr. President see the volunteer teachers who have been on my personal payroll because the Government is not paying them? I have better things to do with my time than to join in the deception of our people!” said Karnga-Lawrence.
According to the Grand Bassa Senator, a person can “Fool some of the people some of the time, but cannot fool all of the people all of the time.”
In a recently held legislative function, she said, “Lately, the opposition block in the Senate insisted that we would not vote to pass the Supplementary Budget if the counties that are to benefit from the street lights and school benches were not specifically named for accountability and transparency purposes. That was finally done, and the streetlights in Bassa are from this decision and appropriation by the Senate, from the national treasury.”
She said instead of the Government buttressing their efforts to increase the 50 streetlights that her office installed in Grand Bassa County, it has “smartly” decided to place the streetlights directly in the same space as hers, to light what is already lit rather than extend to other dark spaces.