“We Were Forced to Sign Sime Darby Deal”
Bomi County Senior Senator Lahai Lassana has disclosed some hidden hands allegedly forced members of the Senate to speedily pass the concession agreement between the Government of Liberia and the Management of Sime Darby Plantation without thorough scrutiny.
Senator Lassana observed in session Tuesday before the full plenary of the Liberian Senate that the passage of the agreement without thorough checks and balances is today affecting the people of both Bomi and Grand Cape Mount counties negatively.
Senator Lassana, a former paymaster of the defunct elite presidential guard, Anti-Terrorist Unit (ATU) of war crimes convict Charles Taylor, made the comments during debate on a communication from Grand Kru County Senior Senator Cletus Wotorson, co-signed by all senior senators going for mid-term election in 2014.
The communication alleged that most of the agreements that were signed during the first term of President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf with concessionaires failed to adhere to the terms of reference as enshrined in those documents, especially on employment and scholarship.
“Every academic year, all universities around here put up graduates in their thousands but those companies have failed to employ them or even give scholarships for further advancement in their areas of specialty”, he noted.
Lassana narrated that some senators, who hail from Bomi, Grand Cape Mount and Gbarpolu counties had critical concerns at the time to have raised during the revision and committee work periods but key influential individuals within the corridor of government coerced them to vote for passage under the pretense of job opportunities and capacity building for young people, but noted the management of those companies have grown over night and they seem to not care for the locals, who are the legitimate owners of the land.
The communication said that the senate should fast track the process of reviewing every contract signed by the government during its first term in order to ensure that those strategic areas that were highlighted for the sole interest of creating jobs and scholarships for young Liberians are adhered to. The communication indicated that many concessionaires offered scholarships at will and do not care about what’s on the book.
Analysts view the senators’ latest stance as they prepare for mid-election as a political ploy to win votes from the electorate, while cornering the concessionaires involved financing their campaign trails in 2014.