As soon as the 52nd Legislature took office on January 16, 2006 they smelled money before they even thought—perhaps never did—about why they were there: to protect, uphold and defend the Constitution and to serve the needs of its impoverished constituencies throughout the country.
No, they all went after power and money and started paying themselves fat salaries and benefits, and buying themselves expensive SUVs and establishing fabulous estates. They soon forgot where they came from and started anointing themselves as THE most privileged Liberians.
Yes, they asked for and received complete control of their budgets and financial autonomy. Yet, this is what happened a few months and years later: their bathrooms stopped working, their lights were cut off due to their failure to efficiently manage the power system, and so many other things shut down in the building. Nor have they ever even thought of or bothered about repairing the elevators in the building. They hardly seem concerned that the Legislative Information Service (LIS) does not work effectively.
Neither did any of the Senators show embarrassment about the tattered county flags that were flying from the first and only building of the first branch of government for months until an ordinary citizen took notice of the disgraceful spectacle and immediately bought a set of flags to hoist on the staffs of the first and most important building in government.
Now Bong County Senator Jewel Howard Taylor, who has been in the Legislature since 2006, and is therefore one of the longest serving Senators, is calling again for “financial autonomy” for the first branch of government. And who are those designated as the prime signatories to the autonomous accounts?
Yes, the Speaker of the House and the President Pro-Tempore of the Senate! For who else would DARE sign any voucher or check without the concurrence of these two Legislative BOSSES? Nobody, unless he or she no longer wants the job.
But we are talking about one building. What about their legislative oversight? Why should anyone have to pay legislators to have any bill passed, or a treaty ratified, or worse yet, a concession agreement approved, especially where there is a moneyed company involved—a prime opportunity for extortion?
One Liberian citizen, when she heard about Senator Jewel Howard Taylor’s call for financial autonomy in the Legislature, remarked, “Who has time for these people who, though in the high positions of power as national legislators, yet have nothing to do but to stand in the high chamber and abuse one another’s mother. Please excuse me, but I have absolutely no respect for these people, who insist on acting like hooligans in high places.”
Well, that is what the Legislators, not we or anyone else, have done to themselves. Can you imagine the Legislature of a whole country, the oldest republic in Africa, losing the respect of their people? The United States Senate, which is so highly respected, has sent from its ranks 16 Senators to the White
House as Presidents of the United States? Three of them—Presidents Warren G. Harding, John F. Kennedy and Barrack Obama, moved directly from the Senate into the White House.
Just for the sake of historical reflection, other Senators who became President were James Monroe, John Quincy Adams, Andrew Jackson, Martin Van Buren, William Henry Harrison, John Tyler, Franklin Pierce, James Buchanan, Andrew Johnson, Benjamin Harrison, Harry S. Truman, Lyndon Baines Johnson, and Richard M. Nixon.
Is the US Senate a respectable office? You bet it is, otherwise the American people would not have chosen from its ranks so many of their leaders. Remember, too, that one of them is poised to become the first woman American President— former Senator and Secretary of State Hilary Rodham Clinton.
The members of our House of Representatives should also remember that the US Congress, too, has sent many of its members to the White House. One of them is John F. Kennedy, the man who inspired America to land the first man on the moon!
Yes, we are talking of men and women of character, intellect, stature and vision—not hooligans who smoke marijuana, worse yet opium, abuse one another and their mothers and even resort to near fistfights during sessions.
Does this matter to you “Honorable” Representatives and Senators? Or are you so consummately and selfishly concerned with and involved in your own personal agenda, and to hell with the country?
We strongly suggest that the members of the Legislature seriously consider the terrible state of Liberia’s economy right now and get their act together to do the people’s business wisely with integrity and urgency.