By Julius T. Jaesen, II
The former Public Relations Officer of the National Oil Company of Liberia, Mr. Ambulah Mamey and journalist Matthew Nyanplu have blasted the government of president Weah for amending under the cover of darkness, the Petroleum Law of 2016 that takes away the 5% citizen fund intended to benefit every Liberian citizen and replaces it with Liberian businesses. The 2016 Petroleum Law in Part VIII, section 36.1 states clearly that, “In addition to the State participation provided in section 35 of this act, the State shall have the right to acquire a five percent (5%) in the rights and interests of a contractor under a petroleum agreement for the benefit of a citizen fund which shall be established and managed in accordance with the following provisions of this section 36.
But criminally embarrassing, the citizen fund was nicodemusly deleted in 2019 and replaced with Liberian businesses. What this means is that, the 5% equity that will be generated from oil proceeds tagged as citizen fund to be managed by International Trust Company to ensure that all Liberian children and sundry benefit from their natural resources than just a handful of political elites and business merchants has been taken away and placed in the hands of seven businesses connected to the ruling political elites in the government of president George Manneh Weah.
Liberia, Africa’s oldest independent republic, is endowed with resources in abundance – ranging from gold, diamond, iron ores, rubbers, timbers, oil and gas, etc. that worth trillions of dollars but yet its people sadly are blighted with extreme poverty and unbearable hardship. But what remains unanswered question on the minds of political pundits is, why is it that Liberia has such vast potential wealth but its citizens remain poor? We have lived to see our nation’s mineral resources and revenues benefitting local and foreign elites rather than the general population. Politicians in whom our people have surrendered their collective power and authority in have since independence in 1847 served only their narrow and egotistic interests and the interests of imperialist elements than the Liberian people to whom, for whom and from whom, constitutional power is derived. And such actions and greed on the part of our national leaders has stunted development in this African republic. It is no wonder while after 173 years of existence as a sovereign republic, Liberia shamefully and pitifully remains the poorest, least developed and unattractive nation in the world.
Since independence, had Liberian leaders managed properly in a transparent and accountable way order than business as usual, the resources of this land could have generated substantial social, economic and political benefits for Liberia and its poor citizenry. Time in and time out, our people continue to stand in long queues to cast their votes for Representatives, Senators and Presidents but they are yet to receive the dividends of their votes. Even after the end of our civil war which was caused by the very same issues of uneven distribution of our nation’s wealth, corruption, sectionalism, nepotism, injustices among many other things, our post-war leaders still appear clueless and heartless when it comes to lifting our people from the ashes of extreme poverty through transparently managing the natural resources of the country. Truly, this is an irony several political pundits tied to pervasive corruption, dysfunctional democratic institutions and justice systems, greedy multinational corporations, shady local and international elites, incompetent and ineffective local bureaucrats and the vestiges of colonialism – or the advent of new type of colonialism.
But George Weah whom the people for over 12 years struggled to bring to power with a looming hope that he will be a breakaway from those greedy and unconscious politicians who only serve their personal interests and the interests of their imperialist allies order than the people from whom their power to act derived. But speaking on a local talkshow Friday, September 12, 2020, Mr. Ambulah Mamey and journalist Matthew Nyanplu blasted the government of footballing president Geoge Weah for criminally taking away the 5% equity or citizen fund in the 2016 Petroleum Law and giving it to their business friends. According to the criminal version amended under the cover of darkness in 2019, section 36 states, “In addition to local contents provisions in the Exploration and Production Act, each Petroleum Agreement shall contain a provision of at least five percent (5%) total equity stake for companies owned by natural persons of Liberian Citizenship. Such interest may be limited to equity interest and may not be carried interest. But speaking today, Mr. Mamey clearly intimated that section 36 has deleted the 5% citizen fund and replaced it with 5 percent for Liberian businesses. He and his colleague, Matthew Nyanplu are calling on the government of Goerge Weah to expeditiously restore the 5 percent equity stolen from the ordinary Liberian people. They have further vowed to challenge in court this wicked act on the part of Albert Chie and few political elites connected to footballing president George Weah.
“I’m not reacting to this law because I read it. Those two clauses in the law, citizen fund and Liberian businesses where topical issues during the consultations; you have two groups of Liberians sitting around the table who argued for this identical issue of the 5 percent should be for Liberian business while others argued that the 5 percent should not go toward Liberian businesses. If it goes to Liberian businesses there is absolutely no assurance that the ordinary Liberians will benefit. And they cited examples how that have happened before. Albert Chie was a consultant to NOCAL at the time and was never a lawmaker. Albert Chie was a proponent of including the 5 percent for businesses and not ordinary Liberians. But to come back and see it has been removed in the law I knew that it was Albert Chie who inserted it in the law,” Mr. Mamey asserts.
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