The Sirleaf administration’s boldest attempt yet in challenging the nation’s Constitution was to vigorously push through the Legislature the so-called Code of Conduct, which denies Liberian-born citizens with absolutely no criminal record the right to contest national elections.
And when patriotic and law-abiding citizens did boldly what they had to do—challenging the Code of Conduct in the Supreme Court of Liberia—again the High Court declared the Code of Conduct “constitutional,” which it is not. Go and read the opinion of a former Chief Justice of Liberia, Frances Johnson Allison, published in the April 3, 2017 edition of the Daily Observer newspaper. You will see that nothing in the Constitution backs this infamous non-law, the so-called Code of Conduct.
Many Liberians fear that if this administration insists on implementing this infamous “law,” it could result to chaos and confusion, which could disrupt the coming elections.
Now this administration has done it again.
President Sirleaf suddenly last week issued Executive Order No. 84, transferring the Bureau of Fisheries from the Ministry of Agriculture, where it has consistently been since the administration of President W.V.S. Tubman. That is nearly a half century ago.
The President did this against the better judgment of some saner and more experienced people in her own administration. The question is, why now? Who is behind it? And for what motive? Why such a fundamental shift in a longstanding policy in the 11th hour of this administration?
Even more sadly and shockingly, Executive Order No. 84 has also reduced Liberia’s nautical miles from six to three, surrendering the nation’s precious fish stocks to powerful foreign fishing companies with larger boats. This will not only put Liberian fishermen out of business, but deprive Liberian children and youth of their fundamental source of protein—fish— needed to keep them alive. Remember, we are talking about over 60% of our population, yea the future of our country.
As the administration is in its final days in office, what now is its perception of the legacy it wishes to leave? How does Executive Order No. 84, which deprives Liberians and youth of protein, throws our fishermen out of business and surrenders our precious fish resources to foreigners—how do all of these impact this administration’s legacy?
The administration has already given away huge chunks of land to Malaysian oil palm growers. Now it wants to give away our water, too—the “broad Atlantic’s golden strand,” which President Edwin Barclay acknowledged as a portion of our great, God-given heritage? Remember how he challenged us to “defend the sacred heritage”?
The critical and alarming question we pose is: what have Liberian children done to Ellen that she wants to leave them denied of protein?
We wish, at this juncture, to make two appeals: first, to the new Agriculture Minister, Madam Seklau Wiles, to use her Animal Husbandry expertise and help promote and expand fishponds throughout the country, to include even lobster growing. She should engage Madam Estelle Liberty in Gbarnga in this great initiative.
Secondly, we call on the Liberia National Bar Association (LNBA) and other members of Civil Society to go to court and plead for the reverse of Executive Order 84 and restore Fisheries to Agriculture, as it has no place at Maritime.
The Bar Association is now thankfully revived, but we hear little of the national causes it has undertaken to move Liberia forward in good governance. Here is an opportunity to come forth and do something good and tangible for the country.