Mr. Ahmed Sirleaf, the man recently appointed by the Board of Directors of OLM to serve as Chairman of its Constitution Review Committee, has accepted to execute his duties and responsibilities “with a high degree of professionalism, experience, expertise, a sense of responsibility, and service to our people”.
Last week, the Board of Directors appointed four well-known community fixtures to lead the process of reviewing OLM’s constitution, to meet what it called “ a true non-profit status”.
Those appointed were– Ahmed Sirleaf, Chairman, Jesse Mongrue (Co-Chairman), Wayne Douglas Doe, Secretary, and Kamaty Diahn (Ranking member).
“After careful deliberation and sifting from a pool of professional Liberians in the State of Minnesota and on behalf of the Board of Directors of the Organization of Liberians in Minnesota (OLM), I am honored and pleased to appoint you as Chairman of the Constitution Review Commission (CRC)”, Chairman Zakama said in a letter to Ahmed Sirleaf.
In a reply to Arthur Zakama, Jr., OLM’s Board Chair, Mr. Sirleaf expressed his appreciation for his preferment, adding “we thank the Board of Directors of the OLM, through its Chairman, Mr. Arthur Zakama, for the confidence reposed in us…”
According to a release issued to The Liberian Journal, Chairman Zakama said the mandate of the committee, which is scheduled from August 23, 2008 to September 23, empowers the new team to review and interpret the intent of the “Draft OLM Constitution”, to critically analyze and determine “potential known and unknown risks as regards to the community and its people”, and to liaise with the Board of Directors to issues related to the operations of the TRC, amongst others.
Mr. Sirleaf’s team, according to Chairman Zakama, is also tasked to produce what he described as “ a comprehensive report subsuming recommendation that enhance the overall objective of the Draft Constitution”.
Mr. Ahmed Sirleaf’s appointment, strengthened by quality of the overall review team, is widely seen as a strategic and result-driven addition to the process of restructuring the workings of OLM.
Mr. Sirleaf comes to the new position with a rich combination of talents and skills. He is a Program Associate at Advocate for Human Rights, the entity that successfully guided, sponsored and, in effect, managed the TRC Hearing in the Liberian Diaspora.
Mr. Sirleaf, who holds a Master Degree in International Law, is also an advisor to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, a member of the Board of Directors of Conflict Resolution Minnesota (CRM), and a Special Consultant to the Liberian Women Initiative of Minnesota (LIWIM).
“We believe a strong constitution of any kind is a fervent foundation upon which a vibrant organization strives. I believe in a cohesive community; working together for the common purpose of uplifting its people through the provision of tangible and dependable services that are possible under the guidance of a document that is unambiguous and interpretable—an Institution that thrives regardless of whom occupies any office thereof”, Mr. Sirleaf, a man who provides pro bono consulting services to a number of non-profit organizations in the Twin Cities, said.
When asked to comment on the membership of the review team, Mr. Sirleaf predicted, with his usual sense of humble pride, that his team is the best he could ever ask for. He noted: “I look forward to a good camaraderie working relationships with my co-members on this committee. I know they are all strong and committed leaders, who love their community dearly”.
Meanwhile, Mr. Wayne Douglas Doe and Kamaty have both accept their appointment, promising to live up to the challenges shouldered upon by the Board of Directors.
In an exclusive interview with the Liberian Journal over the weekend, Mr. Doe, who once served as Editor-in-Chief of OLM’s first newsletter and later, Vice-President of the organization, stressed:” It is always an honor for me to serve, especially contributing to the structural change of OLM”.
In separate remark, Mr. Kamaty Diahn, former President of Grand Gedeh Association in Minnesota, revealed that he has accepted his preferment and that he would work to ensure the success of his team.
Many observers believe that the process itself represents an important step forward, a step towards the structural changes many Liberians in Minnesota have longed for. One activist remarked:” We cannot wait to see a new constitution because it is now time to take politics out of OLM and build focus on service, service, and service”.
The Chairman of the Draft Constitution Committee, Mr. John Jenkins Bartee, has, however, questioned the authority of the Board of Directors to set up a “Constitution Review Committee”, stressing “this is the exclusive reserve of the Executive Committee headed by Mr. Kerper Dwanyen”.
It can be recalled that Mr. Bartee’s committee, the “Draft Committee”, recently completed its task, preparing the ground for the review process.
In a call to The Liberian Journal, Mr. Bartee encouraged members of the community to reject the process because, according to him, it lacks legitimacy, accusing the board of exercising power it does not have.
“The Boardshould wait for the approval of the constitution before exercising powers reserved in the new constitution”, he added.
“In any case, I would like to use this opportunity to thank President Kerper Dwanyen for giving me the opportunity to serve my community and people in Minnesota”, John Bartee, a widely-respected national political analyst further emphasized.
“I am speaking in my capacity as a private citizen, so I want my remarks to be understood in that context”.
The Liberian Journal also published an “Open Letter” regarding the appointment, the text of which follows:
OLM Board Must Revoke its Appointment (An Open Letter)
(Aug 26, 2008) By: Alasca Y. Wisner
I am deeply alarmed about the recent action taken by the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the OLM to appoint a Constitutional review commission outside the board’s membership as was published by an online news magazine.
The mandate of the constitutional review committee reads as follow:
• To liaise with the Board of Directors on issues related to the operations of the CRC
• To review, comprehend and interpret the intent of the Draft Constitution
• To critically analyze and determine the following:
o Potential impact in the short and long-terms
o Potential known and unknown risks as regards to the community and its people
• To be prepared at all times to comprehensively interpret the Draft Constitution to members of the Board if questions arise
• To produce a comprehensive report subsuming recommendations that enhance the overall objective of the Draft Constitution
From the above listed mandate, it appears that the committee is not only an adhoc but rather a standing committee. Indeed, the decision by these new breed of law makers in the Liberian Community in Minnesota is not only counter productive, myopic and reprehensible, but it also exposes them as political neophytes during this eye-opening era of Liberians.
The Board of Directors of the Organization of Liberian in Minnesota is the legislative arm of the governing body of the OLM. And, as such, it does not run in parallel to the executive branch which is headed by the OLM president.
The legislatures review, make, and repeal laws and summon committees appointed by the executive for hearings. In this case, the duty of the Board of Directors of the OLM is to review the work of the constitution committee, seek clarity from the committee or make recommendation to be acted upon by the Executives Committee.
The appointing power of the Board of Director is limited. What do I mean? The Board of Directors, like the legislative arm of government, appoints committee only in-house. By this, I mean members of the board divide themselves into committee for the purpose of reducing their volumes of work by placing members on committees according to their areas of know-how.
This issue must not be overlooked; the president of the OLM needs to put friendship aside and revoke the appointment, so it does not expose him also of being a political Nincompoop, which I think he is not.
The time is early and the electorates are watching; if this is an oversight it must be corrected now; the power was invested in the president by the people through their vote to, among other things, appoint all standing and adhoc committees in the organization. Therefore any attempt to appoint a committee by any other body while the Executive Committee of the OLM is still functional is a complete usurpation of function by the three members board of the OLM board (Henry Kesselly, Richard Parker & Arthur Zakama) instead of five active members.
While I do not want to see the board’s action as power greed, but rather ignorance, it is my candid plead for the Chairman of the Board of the OLM to unconditionally rescind the appointment of the constitutional review committee and make recommendation to the president for an appointment of a Constitutional Revision Committee.
Alascal Y. Wisner
An Independent Free Thinker
Silver Spring Maryland
And Stake holder with in the OLM
Liberian Journal Editor’s Note: Alasca Y. Wisner can be reached at 763-439-1809 and at firstname.lastname@example.org. The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of The Liberian Journal or its staff.