How Can We Teach Our Senators a Sense of Responsibility?

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It is a sad commentary on the Legislative Branch of Africa’s oldest republic that for two sessions in a row, members of the Upper House, the Liberian Senate, failed to convene in normal session due to lack of a quorum.

There are 30 Senators in the Senate, with two each representing the nation’s 15 counties in this small country of ours. In the first place, there is no need for 30 Senators. But thanks to the selfishness, shortsightedness and maladministration of two of our regimes, those of Samuel Doe and Charles Taylor, we now have 15 counties, when we could easily have done with 10 or far less.

But why 15 counties, each with two Senators representing them in the Senate, and yet no quorum for two successive sessions? This amounts to a travesty of representation, a total lack of a sense of responsibility on the part of our so-called Senators.

These Senators are behaving like high school students in Liberia who run for offices in their classes and campus-wide organizations, with no intention to serve, only to hold positions and boast to their families and friends that “I am this or that on campus.” But when it comes to holding meetings to honor the requirements of office, they are usually missing in action, leaving only a few persons to do the work. Is there any wonder that we often end up with dictators in Africa?

The same thing happens in our campus organizations at college level. Is there any wonder why Liberia, the oldest, is still one of the most backward countries in Africa?

Let us put the blame right where it belongs—in the home, the school and the religious organizations.

How many mothers and fathers, how many parents make the deliberate effort to teach their children, especially their sons, HARD work and a sense of responsibility? Whom do we see in the streets and neighborhoods carrying water—not the girl children? Yes. And what are the boys doing? Sitting or loafing around playing checkers, while the girls, from age 5, learn to become the beasts of burden in the home, the family and by the same token in the nation.

Here now is this syndrome of laziness and shameless lack of a sense of responsibility at the very national level, in one of the most senior bodies in the nation—the Liberian Senate—failing two days in a row to meet because of no quorum.

Yet they—these shameless Senators—have allotted to themselves immense privileges, power and perks, including expensive vehicles to ride in, gas slips, scratch cards and, of course, extraordinary salaries, while their impoverished constituents live and work in poverty and squalor. When last did we observe our market women laboring in the squalor of the Paynesville Red Light or Douala marketplaces?

We recently quoted one Senator telling a newspaper reporter, “En route to my home county I must pass through the Douala market; so I ride my stained glass window SUV because I don’t want them to see me passing them.” He could have added…“in the comfort and elegance that their taxes have allowed
me.”

Why do we say that the missing Senators lack a sense of responsibility? Simply because they do not care! How much effort would it have taken two Senators from each of the missing counties to arrange with each other to ensure that ONE of them remains in Monrovia, the capital, to attend sessions on Tuesdays and Thursdays? Not much. All they needed to do to exercise their sense of responsibility and pride—pride as the leaders and most senior citizens of their respective counties—to ensure that their counties answer “Present” during the roll call by the Sergeant-at-Arms.

It is as simple as that—the simplicity of pride in oneself and possessing a sense of responsibility derived from the home, the Sunday School and from the Quranic recitations when they were children, and from the time they were in elementary or high school.

Parents, homes, Sunday School teachers, Quoranic instructors and school principals – here is a serious reminder of you own responsibilities to teach discipline, hard work and a sense of responsibility to the young.

The Bible says, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”

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