Last week the Liberian Senate passed a bill targeted at curtailing the eligibility of the Central Bank Governor to run for political office come 2017.
It is clear that members of the Senate and the House of Representatives, some of whom may have political ambitions of their own, are petrified at the prospect of Dr. J. Mills Jones running for president. What Dr. Jones has done for the Liberian economy in empowering Liberian businesses has made him a rising star. But instead of strategizing to compete and win or lose honorably on substance (issues), the cowardly legislators have chosen to attempt to disqualify him – albeit unconstitutionally – so as not to have to compete with him man to man.
Lawmakers are panicking, and the man has not even declared his intention to run!
They have not only targeted Mills Jones but the entire CBL Board of Governors and its executives. Indeed, great minds think alike. Dr. Jones could not have done half of what he has accomplished without the unwavering support of his Board and executives. The late Theo Bettie comes to mind. As such, the Legislature has covered it bases well – or so it thinks.
Besides the glaring bulls eye at Dr. Jones and the obvious unconstitutionality of the Senate's decision (which legal experts believe will undoubtedly be challenged in the High Court), greater and deeper issues than Mills Jones are at stake: the trajectory of the Liberian economy and the nation as a whole are at stake!
This is where the 'foundational work' often touted by this administration becomes extremely important. With the help of Liberia's international partners, this administration, for all of its weaknesses, has sought to strengthen the institutions that undergird a solid and functioning democracy. Good governance and the rule of law, for example, are two key pillars. This administration has not been perfect, but it has made a good start. This is the foundation upon which the next administration will have to build with the continued support of our partners.
But not if the current Legislature has anything to do with it. The Code of Conduct bill is already no doubt a bitter pill to swallow, a sign of things to come. A Mills Jones administration would only run with this straight to the finish line. They have to put a stop to this.
"Gentlemen, ehn yor know ehn? We know how to twist and turn with the way things are right now. We can't sit here for the people to come make us wear strait jacket. So we got to put stop to this ting here."
"The way Mills Jones doin this ting, it lo leh he wan run for president."
"So, yor leh decide how to handle it."
We are certain that our readers get the idea. Many Legislators are people who only know how to operate in a lawless (or secret) society. Each man for himself; God for all.
There is yet another question to be asked, however. Who else stands to benefit from this decision — that is willing to pay top dollar to block the onward march to development? Foreign businesses perhaps, who will not welcome the competition, let alone the Liberianization of the entire economy. And we are not just talking about Monrovia-based foreign merchants who are crippling the Liberian economy and undermining Liberian businesses; who are bringing in cheaply acquired expired goods and selling them at a premium. These merchants are terribly worried. They know that if an incoming administration continues on the current trajectory, their profit margins are threatened, their days in control numbered.
We also mean multinationals who will not be happy to see the rules enforced, whistle-blower NGOs given face, and environmental best practices applied. Do-nothing NGOs, rubber, logging, mining and oil companies — this is a huge and very wealthy lobby.
We call upon every Liberian to protest in every way other than violence against this bill; to stand up and let their lawmakers know that for their selfish attempt to limit the choices of the electorate, it is THEIR (lawmakers') days that are numbered. Tick, tock!
The law being proposed by the Senate MUST be vigorously and successfully resisted. Every conscientious and patriotic Liberian and the entire Civil Society must get involved in challenging, in the Supreme Court, the Senate's shameful and cowardly act.