Civil Society Group Petitions 55th Legislature on Second Day of Sitting

The Liberian Advocates for Change through Social Justice and Human Rights Inc. (LACTS), a non-profit and non-governmental organization has petitioned the Honorable 55th National Legislature to adhere to the wishes of the governed.
In a petition to the 55th Legislature on the second day of its sitting, LACTS outlined several national agenda it termed as “wishes of the Governed”.
The civil society group outlined better healthcare delivery system, better education system that encompasses the Constitution, and Civic and Voter Education (CVE), productive agricultural sector free from GMOs, better road connectivity (beginning with all major highways in every county), better justice system (equal justice for all in accordance with Article 11(c). of the 1986 Constitution of Liberia), fair concession agreements, and zero tolerance for illicit drug trafficking, production, distribution, and use in Liberia as some of the many wishes of the governed.
Mr. Emmanuel Beyan Tarnue, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of LACTS in a press release said, Article 17 of the Liberia Constitution of 1986, give citizens of Liberia the right to “Assemble and consult upon the common good to instruct their representatives to petition the Government.” In line with this Constitutional mandate, we the people under the guidance, leadership, and direction of the Liberian Advocates for Change Through Social Justice and Human Rights Inc. LACTS, have met, discussed and voted on our national issues. Therefore, we are here to submit and instruct our representatives on the Wishes of the Governed on this 16th day of January, 2024. Furthermore, we the people of Liberia demand our government to fully prioritize and implement our wishes by the end of the tenure, the release courted the LACTS CEO.

PLEASE SEE FULL PRESS RELEASE BELOW:

LIBERIAN ADVOCATES FOR CHANGE THROUGH SOCIAL
JUSTICE AND HUMAN RIGHTS INC. (LACTS).
P. O. Box 44817, Old Iron Gate Community, Gbarnga, Bong County.
website: www.lactshr.com / Email: http:// info@lactshr.com
Contact number: (+231) 886966075/ +1(651) 233-9524

Press Release

January 16, 2024.

PETITION PRESENTING THE WISHES OF THE GOVERNED
TO THE HONORABLE 55TH LEGISLATURE OF THE REPUBLIC OF LIBERIA
IN ITS SECOND SITTING ON CAPITOL HILL, MONROVIA, LIBERIA
ARTICLE 1 OF THE LIBERIAN CONSTITUTION (1986)

The Honorable Speaker and members of the House of Representatives;
The Honorable Presiding Officer, Pro-Temperate and members of the Senate.
Through the advocacy of the Liberian Advocates for Change through Social Justice and Human Rights Inc. (LACTS), we, the people of the Republic of Liberia present warm greetings and submit our “Wishes” to the government following Article 1 of the Constitution of the Republic of Liberia.
The framers of the Liberian Constitution emphasized this idea that all our people, regardless of their history, traditions, beliefs, or ethnic backgrounds, form a unified political entity. With the aim of living harmoniously and; embracing fraternal love; and tolerance, they solemnly established and declared the Constitution as the governing document of the Republic of Liberia.
But the question is, what is the constitution of the Republic of Liberia, as well as its practical effect on both the people and the government?
Article 2, subsection 1, defines this Constitution as the supreme and fundamental law of Liberia and its provisions having binding force and effect on all authorities and persons throughout the Republic.
In other words, The Constitution is the most powerful law of Liberia. As a result of this, no law in this Republic shall be in contradiction of the constitution. Furthermore, no one in this country is above the laws of this nation irrespective of status. Even the government must uphold the principles and provisions of the constitution at all times.
Today, I stand before you as a messenger, delivering the heartfelt wishes of the governed to the government, echoing the principles and provisions embedded in the Constitution of Liberia.
According to Article 1 of the Constitution, “All power is inherent in the people. All free governments are instituted by their authority and for their benefits and they have the right to alter and reform the same when their safety and happiness so require. In order to ensure democratic government which responds to the Wishes of the Governed, the people shall have the right at such period and in such manner as provided for under this Constitution, to cause their public servants to leave office.”
To better understand the principles and provisions embedded in Article 1, it is crucial to reference our Constitution including Article 1 to establish indisputable facts that distinguish our position as a people from the position of our government. Moreover, establishing this basic constitutional understanding will promote effective dialogue between us and our government as well as enhance our collective responsibility for the betterment of our society.
FACTS TO CONSIDER:
⦁ In 2023, we the people of Liberia instituted this free government by our authority for our benefits, safety and happiness. Therefore, this government is required to respond to our wishes at all times, to safeguard democracy.
⦁ We the people of Liberia are employers of our government.
⦁ As employers, we the people have the power and right to decide/determine the content of our wishes meaning the national agenda which our public servants must prioritize and adequately implement during the tenure.
⦁ We the people of Liberia have the power to remove this government or elected members of this government at anytime when they fail to respond to our wishes.
⦁ As highlighted in Article 17, we, the people of the Republic of Liberia, have the power and right to instruct our government, explaining our wishes and how we want our country to be governed.
⦁ As highlighted in Article 6, we, the people of the Republic of Liberia, have the constitutional power, right, and responsibility to ensure the social, economic, and political well-being of our country.
Based on these facts, we can comfortably capture the true intent of the framers of the Liberian Constitution in one sentence; the end of all democratically elected governments of the Republic of Liberia is to fulfill the “Wishes of the Governed.” It is to this end with a strong sentiment and conviction that, we the citizens of Liberia cast our hopes upon this foundation of a democratic society, aspiring to witness a nation that truly embodies the constitutional values we hold dear.
The Constitution calls us to build a nation where the collective aspirations of its people are not just acknowledged but actively pursued. Therefore, going forward. We the citizens of Liberia shall exercise and enforce our constitutional power, rights, and responsibilities fully and effectively to ensure the social, economic, and political well-being of our country at all times. Hence, we express our wishes today, remembering that the power entrusted to this government is a sacred responsibility. Therefore, following the principles and provisions of the constitution, we are confident that our Wishes shall become the chief cornerstone of our national agenda.
In Article 17, the citizens of Liberia have the right to “Assemble and consult upon the common good to instruct their representatives to petition the Government.” In line with this Constitutional mandate, we the people under the guidance, leadership, and direction of the Liberian Advocates for Change Through Social Justice and Human Rights Inc. LACTS, have met, discussed and voted on our national issues. Therefore, we are here to submit and instruct our representatives on the Wishes of the Governed on this 16th day of January, 2024. Furthermore, we the people of Liberia demand our government to fully prioritize and implement our wishes by the end of the tenure.
Now comes our heartfelt Wishes or national agenda which shall include but are not limited to,
“Wishes of the Governed” No:
⦁ A Better Healthcare Delivery System
First and foremost, we submit our fervent wish for a healthcare system that leaves no one behind. Our desire is for accessible, affordable, and high-quality healthcare that safeguards the well-being of every citizen. The Constitution, in its commitment to the pursuit of happiness, implores us to prioritize the health of our people, recognizing it as an essential human right and a foundation for a thriving society.
⦁ A Better Education System that encompasses the Constitution, and Civic and Voter Education (CVE)
Education stands tall among our aspirations. We wish for an educational system that nurtures the minds of our youth, equipping them with the knowledge and skills necessary to contribute meaningfully to our nation. Let education be the key that unlocks the full potential of every individual, regardless of his or her gender, background, social class or religion, fostering a future generation prepared to face the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.
⦁ A Productive Agricultural Sector free from GMOs
In agriculture, we yearn for policies and initiatives that empower our farmers, ensuring food security and sustainable practices. Let our fertile lands be cultivated with care, and may the bounty they provide be shared equitably among our people.
⦁ A Better Road Connectivity (beginning with all major highways in every county)
Road connectivity is not merely a physical network but a bridge that binds our communities. We wish for a robust infrastructure that connects every corner of Liberia, fostering unity and economic growth. As we traverse these roads, may they lead us toward progress and prosperity.
⦁ A Better Justice System (equal justice for all in accordance with Article 11(c). )
Our dreams extend to the halls of justice. We submit our wish for a legal system that is independent of the executive power, impartial, fair, transparent, and accessible to all. Let justice be a beacon guiding our society, ensuring that the rights of every citizen are protected and upheld.
⦁ Fair Concession Agreements,
Over the years, flawed concession agreements, particularly in the natural resource sector, have undermined our economic development and exacerbated social inequalities. We know the economy as the backbone of a society. Based on this fact, we demand our government revisit all active concession agreements. Renegotiate or cancel unfair agreements in consultation with the Liberian people regarding new terms and conditions of all agreements.
⦁ Zero tolerance for illicit drug trafficking, production, distribution, and use in Liberia
The bedrock for the perpetuation of a better future for any society depends on its youth and their empowerment. The legal framework concerning drug enforcement in Liberia has been regarded as weak and ineffective. We cannot ignore this drug-addiction pandemic and witness the future of our country being decimated right before our very eyes. Therefore, the government shall target drug producers, traffickers, and distributors through robust drug law enforcement agencies. Moreover, the government shall establish rehabilitation centers equipped with effective programs such as counseling, mental health treatments, as well as reintegration support.
The next submission shall be the Wishes of the Governed for local government. Local governments’ issues are unique to individual districts. Therefore, LACTS is working around the clock in an effort to engage the entire 73 districts before submission. However, to speed up this process, LACTS is in imperative need of urgent logistical support in this regard.
In the meantime, as part of our advocacy, LACTS shall request the Ministries of Education, Health, Justice, Agriculture, Public Works, NEC, and others to catalog all that is needed to facilitate the effective performance of their duties so as to satisfy the will of the people.
The information presented will be submitted to the government for the necessary budgetary allocation in line with the wishes and aspirations of the Liberian people who have instituted this administration after the October 10, 2023 election for their good and well- being.
We the people of the Republic of Liberia do hereby demand our government to fully fund all our institutions relevant to the implementation of our wishes. We shall follow up with the government for progress reports every 18 months regarding the progress in the implementation of our wishes. Our objective shall be to promote accountability, transparency, good governance, and the timely implementation of our wishes, as well as to encourage popular participation in the decision making process of our government.
Historical facts describing government’s relations to the people of Liberia, relevant to the Constitution, and governance of the nation, are grossly disappointing. The intent of adapting our Constitution as the governing document of Liberia was to serve as a political GPS that should guide us in the direction of good governance and a thriving society.
Unfortunately, since becoming an independent and sovereign nation-state in 1847, successive governments of Liberia have not lived up to the expectations of the Constitution in serving the welfare of the citizens. This is sorely because; the citizens are being depraved of their inherent right to knowledge of the principles and provisions in their constitution. As a result of this, the government has consistently and successfully failed to uphold the Constitution in ways which would improve the livelihood of the citizenry. They have failed to adequately implement the social contract they have entered with us, the people.
For instance, Article 7 of the constitution mandates the government to “manage the national economy and the natural resources of Liberia in such manner as shall ensure the maximum feasible participation of Liberian citizens under conditions of equality as to advance the general welfare of the Liberian people and the Economic development of Liberia”. Regrettably, the general welfare of the Liberian people, the Economic development of Liberia, and the equal distribution of the country’s resources are yet to be attained after 176 years.
Over these years, despite the provisions in Article 10 that mandate the government to ensure the teaching of the principles and provisions of the constitution in all institutions of learning in Liberia, successive governments of Liberia have knowingly and deliberately denied the Liberian people the inalienable right to knowledge.
Recently in August of 2021, we, the people, through the advocacy of LACTS, petitioned the Supreme Court of Liberia to interpret the provisions in Article 1 and give it meaning. To date, the Supreme Court is deliberately and perpetually depriving us of our inherent right to the understanding of our constitution.
We the people are being subjected to underdevelopment, backwardness, abject poverty and bad governance just to name a few consequences. Instead of progressing, our country is malnourished or stunted. Instead of partnership between the power addressees and power addressors, it is apparent that there is subjects and master’s relationship. Had we not been depraved of our right to knowledge as mandated by our constitution, neglect and government’s abuse of power would be avoided.
For instance, the governments between 1847 and the first coup d’état in 1871, had no obligation and responsibility to undertake public projects such as education (schools), healthcare, agriculture, roads or public buildings, which would have benefited us the people, raised our standard of living and given us happiness. Instead, these important national programs were left at the behest of religious institutions and philanthropists. As a consequence, and to date, public investments in education, agriculture, health, and infrastructure have been woefully low or dismal. Going forward, we the people of the Republic of Liberia shall no longer stomach our government’s neglect of their constitutional responsibilities.
It is clear to us that the activities of our yesterday’s governments dating back to 1847 to now, regarding the neglect of their constitutional responsibilities, have determined the structure of our today Liberia. Over the years, we have lived in our own country under conditions similar to second-class citizens or slaves. This must end with us. Our objective here today, is to reverse this unfortunate state of development and position our country on course starting with this current administration.
It is to this end that Liberian Advocates for Change Through Social Justice and Human Rights was petitioned by the Liberian people to assist in the process. Since then, LACTS has worked closely with the people of Liberia in reaching a consensus on their wishes that shall be submitted to their government today.
In response to the request from the citizenry, on May 16, 2022, LACTS notified all political parties highlighting that the Wishes of the Governed would be published two months prior to the October 10th, 2023 election and shall be submitted to the government today. This communication was published on Front-page Africa, Daily Observer, etc.
In keeping with our commitment, on August 1st, 2023 the will of the people was published in the various newspapers as well as on Today Liberia TV, YouTube, ELBC, Spoon TV as well as other channels, and was followed by a press release at the Capitol Building located on Capitol Hill in Monrovia.
On November 21st, 2023, LACTS wrote an open letter to the newly elected government reminding them of this citizens action which was scheduled to be submitted to their government on this day. This letter was also published on Front-page Africa, Daily Observer, D-15 Radio in Montserrado County, Kwatekah Radio in Bong County, and other media.
On December 6, 2023 LACTS wrote a communiqué to the Legislature through the speaker’s office highlighting our presence here today.
As you embark upon these new responsibilities, and prepare to take up the challenges of your high office, LACTS look forward to working with you in fostering the timely implementation of the will of the Liberian people. Together, let us work towards a Liberia that stands as a testament to the ideals woven into the fabric of our constitutional tapestry.
LACTS is a non-profit and non-governmental organization that was established in Liberia in 2020 and has a 501(c)(3) designation in the United States of America.
Our mission is to provide a quality civic/voter’s education to the citizens of Liberia in accordance with the 1986 Constitution. Furthermore, we work to foster the efforts of the Liberian people to become effective in the exercise of their constitutional rights and responsibilities for the enjoyment of their country’s social, economic, and political well-being.
Our vision is to empower the citizens of Liberia to shape a democratic government that responds to their wishes as enshrined in the Constitution.
The importance of prioritizing our core issues and the impact they have on our society shall not go unnoticed. The Wishes of the Governed is hereby signed, and submitted to the Legislature on this 16th day of January 2024.
We believe strongly that incorporating these voices in our national agenda is crucial for a well-informed and inclusive governance process as highlighted in Article 5(a).
We trust that you will give due attention to the contents of this submission as we work together to build a more responsive and representative government as provided for in Article 17 of our Constitution.
A Carbon copy of this submission shall be shared with both the Executive and Judiciary Branches of the government as well as with our international partners. This document will also be published on behalf of the Liberian people through the advocacy of LACTS.
Thank you for your understanding and commitment to fostering a democratic and participatory governance system. May our shared aspirations illuminate the path to a brighter future for Liberia.
The office of Mr. Emmanuel Beyan Tarnue, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of the Liberian Advocates for Change Through Social Justice and Human Rights Inc. (LACTS).

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