By J. Jaye Larblah
There is an old adage in Liberia that says “when two elephants fight, the grass suffers”. The grass in Liberia has suffered too much and for too long. It suffers when the two elephants are friendly, and it suffers when the two elephants get sour at each other. We take God to beg Elephant One and Elephant Two to not do this fighting.
Liberia has some of the best laws in the world which, if only they were implemented as envisaged by the framers, would make our country a near heaven. The laws of Liberia are enshrined in the wonderful work our forefathers and predecessors did through the structuring and restructuring of a very vibrant constitution.
One outside of and strange to Liberia who reads the wonderful passages of the Liberian Constitution would see with the eye of understanding a land of peaceful coexistence, a place where nobody is above the law, a country with well-coordinated and collaborating system of governance. But in reality, Liberia is a place of high-level indiscipline. The very people who coin the law trample upon it with impunity, but yet force subordinates to abide by it.
There have been times when concerned Liberians have been left confused as to whether the separation of power enshrined in the Constitution is still binding. Perhaps it could be the periods when marriage between the two elephants is so groovy, but we see from time to time members of the Legislature usurping the functions of the Executive and nothing happens. So, it certainly is not the first of its kind for the Legislature to by-pass the head of the Executive and deal directly with a subordinate appointed by the latter on accountability issue. The ligament between the two branches of government has long been constructively removed.
The issue of overlapping of function can be more vividly portrayed in the Local Government sector. In the various counties, county superintendents who are appointed by the Executive and are the vice-gerents of the President, have been and are still being stripped of their executive powers and authorities by their lawmakers.
Whereas the Executive should be the implementing arm of Government, lawmakers take away such functions from their superintendents under the guise of being or having oversight responsibility. They scoop over county development funds and go as far as deciding which contractor does which work. All these have been made known to the President over and again with little or nothing being done about it.
So, why now? Is it because it is Minister Werner? The Minister of Education was invited to the Legislature [whether with or without the least courtesy to the Presidency] and he subjected himself to the gavel of the honorable body. What was the position of the President, or what has been that position whenever the Presidency is sidelined by the Legislature in interacting with any appointee of the Executive? I would think this is one of those “as usual” things which have been allowed to exist and has thus set a precedence that may not be easily kicked against without stirring sour grape.
On several occasions it has been reported that some legislators bluntly refuse to abide by the law, rules and regulations, or to respect law enforcement officers. When they arrive at a guard post or gate they demand special treatment or they take the law into their own hands.
We all saw what happened to Mary Broh in this Monrovia, where she served as Mayor of the Nation’s capital city, and was the first point of contact for any dignitary. Absolutely no sober minded person should ever condone the abuse of other people’s rights and dignity, no matter the source of such abuse. But under a system of law and order, you cannot use one illegal method to correct another.
Irrespective of whatever one thinks Madam Mary Broh is, in dealing with her regarding any action of hers as a government official, caution should have been exercised, especially by members of the first branch of government who have responsibility to ensure the smooth running of the system. Instead, jungle laws were applied to heal the wounds of another jungle law. The question that came to my mind at the time was, who is better, the concerned Legislators or Madam Mary Broh? For me I graded Madam Broh above those legislators on ground of knowledge of governance and weight of responsibility.
The appeal to the Legislative and Executive branches of our government is for the two to continue with the spirit of understanding that has brought you thus far. Any in-house fighting on the part of this government will distract attention from key national needs and have a more severe adverse effect on us, the common people.
This government is structured [by re-election] for a total period of 144 months. We are now in the 115th month, remaining just 29 more months to give us their backs. Let it not be said that the remaining coppers in our national coffers were used to fight impeachment proceedings. Let what is left in the coffers be used to improve the health sectors and pay encouraging compensations to our health workers who are taking risks in the fight against Ebola.
Please don’t fight, for we the grass under your feet will not only suffer but will die because there is no light for us to see the way to escape. Please don’t fight because the dust from under your feet will be so much that it will suffocate us when we already have no safe drinking water to soak our throats for free passage of air. Please don’t fight because our mal-nourished children who are struggling to get educated will be again kept out of school while yours use everybody’s money to travel abroad for better education. PLEASE DON’T FIGHT!