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“Presidential Transition Act”: What is Senator Conmany Wesseh thinking?

Senator Conmany B. Wesseh

Does Liberia really need a “Presidential Transition Act (PTA)? Well, this is the mindset of outgoing Liberian president Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. However, harsh reactions from the Liberian citizenry and international watchers of Liberian nasty political games and manipulations touched the conscience of President Sirleaf, for the first time, to hastily withdraw the proposed ‘act.’ At least, that seems to have buried yet another tactic that would have been at the expense of the Liberian people.

Senator Conmany Wesseh of River Gee County thinks otherwise and is vowing to resubmit the so-called PTA ‘act” not because he believes it is in the interest of the Liberian people, but because he is a long-time ally, family friend and beneficiary of all things Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. The so-called PTA “act” is all about Madam Sirleaf and Senator Wesseh is being  used to ensure it goes through because he derives indirect benefits from Madam Sirleaf by virtue of association.

Senator Wesseh fails to know that President Sirleaf has a political history that is an ‘open book.’ And in it, we know that she does nothing that does not benefit her or her clan, cronies and loyalists. If the ‘act’ was in the interest of the Liberian people or any other person, Madam Sirleaf would not support it. The president has a history of obstructing anything that seek to benefit other people.

Retiring Liberian leader, Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

Senator Wesseh, by now, is regarded as a statesman after transitioning from his time of students’ agitation cum ‘politics.’ He enjoys that respect in every way possible and surely, he deserves it to some extent. But in life, there is a time for one to be true to himself or herself. The resubmission of the so-called PTA and the reasons being provided by the Senator is dark, self-serving, and ugly.

The so-called PTA is not in the interest of Liberia, and certainly, it is not the reason why the people of River Gee County elected Senator Wesseh. For this, I would ask what is Senator Wesseh thinking?

President Sirleaf has been a suspect to many Liberians because she has played games, ‘nasty games’, with the Liberian people. Besides, these games that she frolicked did not just give her wealth and power, they have also caused the death and suffering of thousands of Liberian children, women and others. In addition, she has an unforgiven heart and has continued to plot the demise of anyone who disagrees or opposes her on principles and values. Therefore, she is afraid and scheming to always be a beneficiary of Liberia’s resources and benevolence at the expense of the entire population.

As a leader, when did Madam Sirleaf realize that there was a need for a PTA?  Why didn’t she think about this years ago so that Amos Sawyer, Moses Blah, David Kpormakpor, Gyude Bryant,  and the real first woman head of state (female president) of Liberia, Ruth Sando Perry, would have benefited?  Isn’t this the same individual who shamed and jailed former interim president Gyude Bryant, a situation that led to his (Bryant) death?  Isn’t this the woman who refused to attend even the funeral services of Ruth Sando Perry?

First, no one attacks or wants to attack Dr. Amos Sawyer even though some people strongly disagree with his personal politics so mentioning him as a rationale is vague and irrelevant. Dr. Sawyer is well regarded and admired in Liberia. Besides, all former Liberian leaders have accrued wealth and live comfortably. Therefore, they should afford personal security guards.

Senator Wesseh is the husband of Ms. Medina Wesseh, a closed aide and key beneficiary of Madam Sirleaf presidency in Liberia

Secondly, Senator Wesseh and the rest of the other senators and lawmakers need to focus on the needs of the Liberian people and their constituents rather than worrying about individuals who have the luxury of living in any part of the world, are living in gated mansions and in unbelievable luxury in the country, have means to hiring dozens of bodyguards, and are financially secured.

In defense of the PTA, Senator Wesseh provided some very logical reasoning such as that there are some decisions a leader can take in the general interest of the country that may not favor the few and therefore, if a President is not provided with protection, an evil person can cause danger to the President, as quoted in the Daily Observer newspaper. Adding, that a former President or Vice President deserves respect from the citizens. The fact is, no one argues against this. But here is the illogical dimension of the entire PTA and these are found in the provisions of the “Act” as cited in the Daily Observer.

According to the Daily Observer, “Under Part III of the Presidential Transition Act (PTA), the President and Vice President-Elect, and former Presidents and Vice Presidents have specific services and facilities stipulated: The “President and Vice President-Elect shall be provided logistics in connection with preparations for the assumption of official duties as President and Vice President, which include suitable office space properly equipped and furnished, payment of travel expenses and subsistence allowances, including rental of governmental or hired motor vehicles, communication services found necessary by the President and Vice President-Elect, and daily briefings by all the relevant government personnel and agencies on the state of the nation’s economy and national security.” This is normal and has always been the case. So why have a law for that?

Section two of Part III also calls for provision of office space for the former President and Vice President, two vehicles for the former President, one for the former Vice President, and adequate security protection for both. The President is entitled to five officers of the Executive Protection Service (EPS) and three for the Vice president, annual budgetary allotment to upkeep the former President and Vice President, one-third of annual budgetary appropriation for legal dependents and spouses of former Presidents and Vice Presidents, among others” – Daily Observer citation of the PTA. Really? Can Liberia afford this waste? Is this what worries a senator who comes from a region and represent a people with no jobs, no access to preventive health care etc?

What worries some of us and what should concern anyone regarding this so-called PTA is the fact we have a nation where an estimated 98 percent of the population is poor. Besides, Liberia is not even considered a developing country, it is rather regarded as a failed state, one that is depreciating in natural resources, stalled in human potential development, and retroactive in innovation.

All unbiased international’s reports revealed that an average Liberian family lives on less than $1 United States dollar a day. All other social and economic variables regarding the country are discouraging, at best, sad. And yet a sitting senator is not realizing financial cost associated with the provisions of PTA? Can Liberia afford providing such luxury to people who are already wealthy?

Senator Wesseh ought to know the role and function of a senator, mainly the Liberian senate which is modeled on that of the West.

Senators, accordingly, belong to the legislative branch, which is part of the government that makes laws. A senator’s job is to represent the people living in his or her region. Part of this job is to write and vote on new laws called “bills” that benefit and protect the citizens. The citizens of each county in Liberia elect two Senators to serve 6 years terms. The Senate as has many duties and responsibilities. Some of these include writing and passing laws, approving many presidential appointments, and ratifying treaties with other countries.

The question is, while is Senator Wesseh not concerned about passing bills that would create jobs for young Liberians, prevent young girls from being raped and women from being abused? Why isn’t the Senator concern about passing bills that will hold accountable those engaged in the theft of public funds, a tendency that continues to deprive the Liberian people the right to basic social services and economic prosperity? Why isn’t Senator interested in passing bills that will reduce the burden of unnecessary high tariff and taxes on Liberian businesses, petit traders and market women as well as others who frequently lose their exported goods at the Freeport of Monrovia?

https://youtu.be/JTftpuHLMXM

Why isn’t the Senator interested in passing bills that would prevent nepotism and the abuse of power against Liberian workers? Why isn’t the Senator interested in passing bills that would curtail or reduce the exorbitant salaries of government officials so that the extra funds are used to help Liberian villages have access to safe drinking water and preventive health care; so that schools have access to Libraries and trained teachers?

Liberian politicians need a change of behavior and a development of renewed patriotism. It is time that behaviors and actions that ruined the country come to end. Senator Wesseh may have good intentions in terms seeking protection for would-be former Liberian leaders; however, it is hypocritical to see millions of Liberians living in harsh conditions because of the failure and greed of Liberian leaders and yet the Senator is more concerned about enriching them even as poverty looms throughout the country. Liberian lawmakers, including Senator Wesseh, must focus on helping their people because that is why they are elected. It is absolutely shameful for the Senator to suggest resubmission of an “act” that was conceived by President Sirleaf because of her self-interest.

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Blama G. Konuwah

Blama G. Konuwah resides in Vancouver, Canada. He is a public issues analyst and senior contributor to Globe Afrique.
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