Senator Jewel Howard Taylor’s Grassroots Amnesia
CDC Vice Standard Bearer must stop breaking with the downtrodden masses her party relies on for support
SENATOR JEWEL HOWARD TAYLOR(NPP, Bong), the Vice Standard Bearer of the opposition Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) raised eyebrows earlier in the year, while speaking in the US city of Philadelphia, when she lamented that the current salaries of US$10,000.00 Senators earn was simply not enough and should in fact be increased to commiserate the fabulous salaries cabinet Ministers in Liberia receive.
THE SENATOR’S LOGIC WAS THIS: That because lawmakers cater to their constituents who come to their offices daily for assistance and in some cases, pay tuition, underwrite burial cost and make other expenditure for their constituents, it was necessary for lawmakers to be compensated well to carry out their extracurricular activities.
THE SENATOR LATER APOLOGIZED and claimed that her statement was taken out of context.
ONLY A FEW MONTHS LATER, when given the chance to stand up for something, the former first lady to former President Charles Taylor, broke ranks once again with her party’s self-proclaimed principles by voting in favor of a 14-year tax break for businessman George Abi Jaoudi’s Farmington Hotel.
THERE IS AN OLD Liberian saying that a child will know how well the Christmas will be by the activities on the eve. If this is the imprint Senator Taylor is showing she is made of, Senator George Manneh Weah and the CDC must do all it can to nip it in the butt before more embarrassment befalls them.
SENATOR TAYLOR is one of several lawmakers benefiting from luxury Nissan jeeps from Mr. Abi Jaoudi and so their attempts to overwhelmingly vote in favor of a 30-year tax break to a Lebanese businessman, commanding immense influence and power within the corridors of the Liberian government, when local businesses are struggling to get by is sending shivers in the country.
IT ALSO CAME as a surprise even for the standard bearer of the party, Senator Weah who along with Senator Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence(Liberty Party, Grand Bassa); Senator Jonathan Kaipay(Liberty Party, Grand Bassa) and Senator Geraldine Doe-Sheriff(UP, Montserrado County) voted against the tax incentive bill for the Farmington Hotel.
THE BILL WAS passed by the House of Representatives granting 30 years tax incentive to the Farmington Hotels Resorts, Inc.
THE JOINT COMMITTEE ON INVESTMENT and Concessions and Judiciary of the House recommended to its plenary the ratification of an Investment Incentive Agreement between the Republic of Liberia and the Farmington Hotels Resorts, Inc. The agreement was ratified and sent to the Senate for concurrence.
DURING ITS TUESDAY session, Senator George Weah voted in favour of a Motion from Senator Lawrence for the agreement to be thoroughly investigated while his vice standard bearer voted against the motion and supported the one from Senator George Tengbeh (UP-Lofa County) calling for the agreement to be open for discussion and subsequently passed.
CONTRARY TO EXPECTATIONS by many witnessing the session, the agreement did not meet the concurrence of the Senate as Senator George Tengbeh of Lofa County Motion received a favorable support for copy of the agreement to be distributed to senators and open discussion.
SENATOR TAYLOR’S decision to break away from the position of her standard bearer is a clear breach of everything Mr. Weah and his party has been trumpeting since it came to the political play in 2005.
SECTION TWO of the party’s platform under Social Justice and Equality, states: The belief that all persons are equal under the law and that the law must forever remain blind to a people’s socio-economic standing, educational attainment or family status remains an incontestable definition of social justice. This definition takes on new birth in the emergence of the CDC and in the conception and implementation of its policies, programs and actions.
WE RECOGNIZE THE NAGGING SOCIO-ECONOMIC INEQUITIES AND CLEAVAGES that characterize the Liberian society and derive philosophical inspiration in proposing to bridge those cleavages and bring the majority of our people closer to the promise of equality, fairness and justice.
ALL LIBERIANS HAVE THE INALIENABLE RIGHT TO BENEFIT equally from the natural resources afforded by the bounty of Liberian nature and environment and from opportunities provided by society and government. We must consciously confront in ourselves, our organizations, and society at large, and government barriers such as ethnicity and class oppression, nepotism, and partisanship, which act to deny fair treatment and equal justice under the law.
THE PARTY WHICH PRIDES itself on Grassroots democracy says it believes that democracy functions best when it is able to enhance the lives, actions and participation of peoples at grassroots levels. “Building consensus for governance at such levels, gauging the level of participation of local peoples and evolving community-based democratic frameworks that localize access to resources and information are vital components of grassroots democracy. Strengthening such local democratic efforts is a legacy the Congress for Democratic Change hopes to implant in Liberia’s political culture. The CDC is guided by the belief that expanding the reach and impact of governance to those straddling the lowest levels of society results in a more informed citizenry and generates a greater commitment to country.”
SENATOR TAYLOR MUST HAVE also not read the party’s platform which spells out its goals for the future. “We inherit a world which we must pass on to others who will come after us and believe that the actions of governments and organizations must be motivated by long-term goals. We must seek to protect valuable natural resources, safely disposing of all “waste” we create, while developing a sustainable economy that will outlast our existence. We must counterbalance the drive for short-term gains and repudiate a narrow focus on today by assuring that economic development, new technologies, and fiscal policies are responsible to future generations who will inherit the results of our actions.”
WE WONDER WHICH PART of Senator Taylor’s position this week when she voted in favor of a 30-year tax break for Farmington, that she forgot to take note that Mr. Abi Jaoudi fired 40 of his employees immediately after the recent ECOWAS conference held at his hotel, diminishing the very promise made to the government and on which the tax break is being pushed, which is to create jobs for Liberians.
POLITICAL PARTIES often form coalitions and mergers in hopes of solidifying their bases and hopefully convince the masses that they mean well.
WE REGRET TO CONCLUDE here that based on her recent activities, Senator Taylor is either playing a deaf ear to the CDC’s principles or has simply decided that her tenure in the Senate is all about Jewel and nobody else.
IT IS CLEAR FROM THE overwhelming votes this week that Mr. Abi Jaoudi has nearly every member of the national legislature in his pocket.
THE CDC MUST begin to take stock of its vice standard bearer’s actions before it leads them down a spiral slope and anger its grassroots base.
A LAWMAKER cannot profess to be representing the grassroots while doing everything to the contrary. Senator Weah’s position is commendable but we encourage him to go a step further by putting his vice standard bearer in check before she brings more shame and embarrassment to the grassroots’ image and persona the party has led the nation and the world to believe since the inception of the CDC.