War Lord In Disguise? Liberia's Speaker Boycotts Crucial Round-Table Meeting

By FrontPage Africa, Liberia

Monrovia - Speaker Alex Tyler of the 52nd National Legislature, Republic of Liberia Friday boycotted a presentation by Mr. Estrada Bernard, III, grandson of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf at a national roundtable draft petroleum law consultation.

Mr. Bernard, a high school student in the state of Alaska, United states of America, was brought to the country by the National Oil Company along with three others to make a presentation at a National event that will determine the fate of Liberians in the country emerging oil sector.

The hall where the consultation was being held witnessed the absence of the speaker while the youngster made his presentation comparing Liberia to the US state of Alaska in terms of resources management and exploitation the benefits it has on the lives of citizens of that country.

FrontPageAfrica has learned that the speaker deliberately boycotted because, according to him, he could not sit under the presentation of a high school kid who has no experience in the oil or gas sector and had nothing to contribute to the future of Liberia and generations to come.

Though NOCAL denied being the sponsor of Mr. Bernard and the three others “experts” from the state of Alaska, an insider told FrontPage that NOCAL refunded the delegation members' plane tickets upon their arrival into the country. Estrada J. Bernard III is currently in his last year at South Anchorage High School, where he is an honour student, varsity athlete, and student leader.

Mr. Bernard began his study of resource management during Anchorage School District Gifted Mentorship with Malcolm Roberts, founder of Malcolm B. Roberts & Associates, a firm with expensive experience working on issues of natural resource management.

Since then, their research has led them to determine ways in which resources around the globe can be managed, and how the idea of The Commons can be applied to societies around the world. Mr. Bernard authored a paper for the Institute of the North (a public policy forum), entitled: “Resource Management in Sub-Saharan Africa: Alaskan Parallels with Liberia.”

Madam Jacqueline Khoury director to the board of NOCAL in response to a question raised by a journalist as to how Bernard a high school student became a choice by the NOCAL board as one of the presenters at a very important National event that will determine the future of the over 3.5 million Liberians and generations unborn said, NOCAL was making use of the clause of the draft NOCAL law that talks about citizen participation.

During his presentation, Bernard stated “my father is from Liberia, I am from the state of Alaska and that is how we do it there” many observers at the roundtable said such comment clearly suggest that young Barnard had no intention of having a tie to Liberia.

But Khoury explained: “Liberia has a citizen participation clause in that law. This clause is very important and we are now drying to develop how this clause gives direct benefits to each and every citizen so we asked the government of Alaska to give us experts."

"In the course of that, I saw young Bernard on the internet. Liberia pays nothing for their expertise; they were all, including the young man, given to us by the state of Alaska to help us with our process.”

Added Khoury: “I am disappointed in you, for that is your focus of your question. This is the most important conversation that we will have for the next 15 to 30 years. "

"Let's focus on how we will achieve the maximum benefit of our new law so we can now fund education, health, social welfare, roads, and transportation and put funds aside for our people, which are the focus of our conversation, thank you.”

Speaker Tyler used the occasion to caution Liberians to remain focused as they deliberate and prepare a final draft of a law that will impact generations to come in the oil sector.

Said Speaker Tyler: “For us setting up a legal framework for the oil sector in Liberia is not an option, so no amount of criticism will deter the legislature because we have a charge to keep and a duty to perform, so we are happy now that we all can embrace a process that started some months back that people thought was dishonest.”

The six-day roundtable draft petroleum law consultation started last Monday with a reported low turnout of expected delegates.