Is NEC Truly Ready for the October Elections?

first_imgThe National Elections Commission has issued its Writ of Elections, mandating all of its Commissioners in the 15 counties to proceed with preparations for the impending October vote.  It is vote that will not replace the entire Legislature but half of the 30 seats in Liberian Senate.But who will participate in this most critical electoral exercise, when hundreds of thousands of Liberians, especially most of our young people who would have been voting for the first time, have been effectively left out of the process?And how were they left out?  The National Elections Commission failed to organize properly the last Voters Registration. NEC made three cardinal mistakes: first, the Commission, in the exercise of the penny wise and pound foolish philosophy, did not advertise the voter registration, so very few people knew about it. For such a critically important process, no stone should have been left unturned to LET THE PUBLIC KNOW what was happening. For what is the point in spending all that money on the people’s thing without first informing the people about it?The Commission’s leaders could have approached some newspapers and radio stations, sat down with them and negotiated minimal advertising costs, and even mobilized the media, print and electronic, to speak and write about the voters registration, its crucial importance to the democratic process, when it would take place, where, in what parts of every city and district, on what dates and at what times. Special segments of such media engagement could have been targeted to the young, the 18 and 20 year-olds who were poised to cast their votes for the first time.Many media institutions would have been only too happy to contribute to this critical national cause, in patriotic response to NEC’S plea for help.  At least the Daily Observer received no such overture from NEC.Secondly, what kind of budget did NEC ask for from government?  The Commission should have carefully crafted a budget for the exercise, taking into consideration ALL the possible costs, and telling the Liberian government it could not execute that exercise without the requisite budgetary allocation.  NEC should NOT have settled for less.This leads to the third element of NEC’s fiasco: its decision to organize rotating voter registration points.  Who ever heard about such a thing?  If you are serious about getting people to register to vote, specifically designated sites should have been established and made known, clearly pointing out the exact address of the site, and the time it opens and closes. That was what was done in 2005.To rotate the voter registration points is to totally confuse the citizen seeking to register because there was no one to tell him or her where the registration team would be, at what time, and where next it would go.No wonder, then, NEC painfully but shamelessly announced last month that it had achieved under one third of the projected registration target. From the projected 400,000 or more, NEC announced that it had registered only 104,000.It was sometime after the announcement of this dismal result that the Daily Observer published its story on the paper by the three Islamic women who said that Saudi Arabia had a plan to Islamize the world, including West Africa, especially Liberia.  The writers, from Saudi Arabia, Iran and Syria, respectively, said of the plan for Liberia that theNational Elections Commission would be “manipulated” to deprive certain people from voting in elections.The question could legitimately be asked, did NEC unwittingly contribute to this sinister scenario by failing to register hundreds of thousands of Liberian youth?  It would be also be appropriate to ask, WHO were those that were registered?There are growing concerns that many foreigners crossing our highly porous borders are already acquiring Liberian identity cards, passports, etc., by which they may be eligible to be registered to vote. This is scary.We make another appeal to the Liberian government and to NEC, despite the paucity of time, to reopen the voters registration to give our young people another opportunity to fulfill their civil duty by registering to vote.  It is their constitutional right which NO ONE should deny them.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

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Calm Returns to Baraake, Maryland

first_imgCross section of beneficiaries patiently await payment Female beneficiary receiving her check SIFCA and MOPP Executives being received Meditation and prayer Array of guests seated at program Traditional welcome with kola and pepper presented to MOPP CRC executives Alassane Doumbia (2nd from right) with MOPP Executivecenter_img Traditional welcome with kola and pepper presented to MOPP CRC executivesCalm has now returned to Barrake, Maryland County, with the settlement of financial claims from aggrieved farmers in the Baraake (LIBSUCO) area. Protest action by aggrieved locals over compensation for resettlement had brought operations at the Cavalla Rubber Company(CRC) and the Maryland Oil Palm Plantation(MOPP) to a near halt.But the chairman of the SIFCA Group of Companies and owner of the Cavalla Rubber Corporation (CRC) and the Maryland Oil Palm Plantation (MOPP) Allassane Doumbia last weekend  brought smiles to the faces of aggrieved locals of the Baraake area, when he visited in person to observe  the payment of monies to farmers whose structures were demolished in order to make way for the plantation.The payment exercise on Friday had earlier been preceded by the payment of compensation for crops amounting to a little over US$3 million, according to CRC-MOPP General Manager John Barkemeni. The Ministry of Internal Affairs, represented by its  Deputy Minister for Research and Development Planning Mr. Olayee Collins which had been closely involved in negotiations aimed at resolving the situation was also in attendance at the program.In remarks Minister Collins thanked the citizens for remaining law-abiding even though they were aggrieved. He said the last few weeks had indeed been difficult, but thanks to the hard work of General Manager John Barkemeni and thanks also to the resolve of the SIFCA Group of Companies and CRC, MOPP under the leadership of Alasssane Doumbia, the impasse was finally broken and the matter is now resolved.Thanking the people for their patience and understanding, Minister Collins pledged the commitment of the Government of Liberia to work with locals and the CRC-MOPP, to create a conducive environment for everyone’s benefit. He also thanked the people of Baraake for their patience and for agreeing to work with the company.Also making remarks at ceremonies marking the beginning of the payment process, the Executive Chairman of the Board of the SIFCA Group of companies and owner of the Cavalla Rubber Corporation and the Maryland Oil Palm Plantation Mr. Alassane Doumbia said, he decided to take the challenge to invest in Maryland County. He said his company believes in investing in people they work with, noting that success can only be assured if concern for the well-being of the people is taken into account.“We arrived here just 5 to 6 years ago to take over farmlands that had been abandoned and were lying dormant and took a bet that what other people left behind, we can revive. My father, myself and many members of our team were warmly received by the people of Pleebo-Sodoken District and the Government of Liberia.  And because of that hospitality, warm friendship and your willingness to work with us, we decided to take the challenge and invest in Maryland. This was back in 2008-2009. We knew from the beginning that things will not be easy; but we also knew that if we hold hands and work hard together, you and us, not just the company, but all of us, can make this to work”.He urged people to look at the bigger picture wherein prosperity can be assured for all. Mr. Doumbia said his company’s desire to create prosperity for all cannot be achieved if people are in confusion. This, according to him, was the primary reason behind his company’s decision to pay compensation to farmers rather than having to wait for the government to do so.“For us, the big picture is to make prosperity available to everyone. We are a private company, we work to make profit; but we know that the only way we can get profit is when people work with us and that they gain something and feel part of the company. I invite all of you to feel part of MOPP CRC.”He said the protest action has now come to an end with the decision to pay compensation for demolished structures belonging to people in the former LIBSUCO plantation area. It can be recalled that locals had been protesting against what they said was the destruction of their crops and structures without compensation, owing to their relocation from land proposed for the oil palm plantation.The tense standoff that ensued was diffused by the management of the Maryland Oil Plantation (MOPP) when it decided to provide just compensation for the land to help enable resettlement of the affected farmers. “There have been some issues in the past few months, issues that could have escalated into a major crisis. I want to thank everyone in Pleebo and Maryland, the youth and their leaders, the elders and traditional chiefs, the women and everyone for making sure that whatever problems that are out there, we can resolve them in peace through dialogue,” Mr. Doumbia stressed.Explaining further he said, “I was hoping to be present last time when the Minister of Internal Affairs Honorable Varney Sirleaf came here. But I was away on a mission. We heard all the issues that you raised with him and we have listened and will continue to listen. We want to thank you for being patient but now we must move on. IF CRC- MOPP are successful, you will benefit. Your children will go to good schools, the sick people will get medication, you will have enough money to take care of yourself and your family. That is what we all want and that is what we are making possible.“We want to create prosperity, but this will not and cannot happen if we cannot operate in an atmosphere of peace, security and partnership with the community. When people threaten other people and create tension, no one benefits. So, I am here today to ask you to embrace these two companies as your own. I am sure someone you know works for CRC and MOPP and you want that person to continue to make money and support their family,” Doumbia said. Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs Olayee Collins making remarks MOPP Executive presenting check to beneficiary Final Settlement by SIFCA and MOPP to Farmers of Baraake, Maryland County1 of 9 The Liberia Sugar Corporation (LIBSUCO) concession area was once the site of a prosperous sugarcane plantation and a sugar plant which produced sugar for the local market. However during the civil war, the  the sugar plant was vandalized and the sugarcane plantation went into disuse as locals harvested the cane and began planting crops. Under the terms of the concession agreement with SIFCA, the Government of Liberia assumed responsibility to compensate local farmers for the use of the land and the loss of their structures.But the Government of Liberia, owing to difficult economic constraints, found itself unable to compensate locals. This led to a spate of protest actions which affected the day-to-day operations of the company. The CRC-MOPP, which prides itself on the creation of shared prosperity for the company and local people, decided to underwrite the cost until at which time later the Government of Liberia would reimburse the company.And this approach proved effective as the MOPP has to date paid a little over US$3 million to local farmers for their crops, according to CRC-MOPP General manager Mr. John Barkemeni. But as if this was not enough, locals embarked on a series of protest actions in demand of compensation for their structures, which were earmarked for destruction to make way for the plantation.In an interview with the vice chairman of the Maryland County Civil Society Organization Norris Boketa, he outlined that locals had engaged in protest actions because they were not sure that they would have been compensated at all; secondly, because they did not know how much they would receive for their structures. According to him, the Liberia Revenue Authority(LRA) was invited to conduct an assessment of all structures in order to provide a basis for payment.According to Boketa, there were noticeable errors which were detected in the assessment report by the LRA. He said locals in some cases were submitting more than one photo for the same structure but were making additional claims based on the photos submitted. Based on this, the MOPP requested a resurvey in 2016 as well as a reassessment by the LRA real estate tax division. The result of the resurvey and reassessment met the approval of all affected persons. Based on the results, the management of MOPP undertook to pay compensation to all affected individuals, Boketa observed.He said this was the first time ever that civil society organizations had been invited to observe the negotiations and payment process as a way of ensuring transparency.Meanwhile Mr. Doumbia has said a total of 154 beneficiaries were identified following the resurvey. 74 beneficiaries from the LIBSUCO area were identified while 46 individuals were identified as owners of new structures. 34 beneficiaries from the Cavalla Rubber Company whose properties were allegedly undervalued but later reassessed and revalued were identified for payment. Altogether, according to Mr. Doumbia, a total of US$133,287.21 is to be paid to 174 beneficiaries.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

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‘I’m as sharp as ever!’ Liverpool striker Ings raring to goafter injury comeback

first_img Danny Ings is raring to go after his injury comeback Liverpool striker Danny Ings believes he is in the best shape of his career as he prepares to re-launch his Liverpool career following an eight-month injury lay-off.The 24-year-old had just scored three goals in five matches, including one in the Merseyside derby at Everton, to earn his first England cap when his season was cut agonisingly short by a knee injury.He suffered ligament damage in his first training session under new manager Jurgen Klopp in October, and had surgery on the problem shortly after.But Ings worked hard throughout his rehabilitation and surprised many to make a quicker-than-expected return to play in Liverpool’s final league match of the season at West Brom.And, after just nine appearances since joining on a free transfer from Burnley last summer, Ings is keen to make up for lost time.“In the pre-season games so far this summer, I feel I’ve looked as sharp as I’ve ever looked in the last couple [of matches],” Ings, who has scored twice in pre-season, wrote in a blog from the club’s tour of the United States.“I am a lot more confident now and have taken a couple of whacks on my knee, which is also good for me.“I feel like I am back to myself now, enjoying my football. I feel I’ve put the dark days behind me now.“There will be loads of hard work to do while we’re on tour and when we’re getting on that plane back to Liverpool next month I want to be in the best shape possible after it all.“I feel with the heat out here, the amount of sessions and the work that will be on for us there is every ingredient to help me do that.“I also want to be tactically more aware of what the manager wants from me because with the year out, I didn’t have as much time to work with him whereas other players have.“For me this tour is all about learning as much as I can, getting as fit as I can and trying to prove myself every day.” 1last_img read more

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