Time for Naru to accept change

Editorial, Normal

The National, Tuesday June 16th, 2015

 HAS Morobe Governor Kelly Naru lost his marbles?

Naru has gone overboard with his stiff opposition to the new Lae City Authority (LCA).

He is now accusing LCA chairperson and Lae MP Loujaya Kouza of appointing her cronies to the top jobs in the new municipal authority.

Whilst we agree with Naru that LCA positions should be advertised and applicants selected on merit, his statement that “Lae is being invaded by outsiders under the banner of Lae City Authority” is unbecoming of a national leader.

His attack on Kouza’s choice of Ralph Saulep and Elizabeth Lolo Bradshaw as LCA legal counsel and chief financial officer respectively shows how shallow-minded Naru is.

Saulep, from East Sepik, and Lolo Bradshaw, from Gulf, are professional Papua New Guineans who have every right to live and work in Lae or other parts of the country.

Who is Naru to say they are not welcomed in Lae City and Morobe?

Indeed, the governor should face the Leadership Tribunal for making veiled threats like this next statement: “It simply means they (Saulep and Lolo Bradshaw) are not welcomed and can’t come into Lae and operate. It will be foolish of them to come.”

All right-thinking Morobeans should distance themselves from their governor’s ridiculous tirade, which seemingly proves that Naru refuses to see the bigger picture insofar as 

the development and growth of Lae City is concerned.

Following Parliament’s approval of the LCA legislation, which gave the green light for the establishment of the LCA, Kouza offered the olive branch to Naru to put aside their political differences and work together in the best interests of 

the people of Lae and Morobe.

“I put out the olive branch to Morobe Governor Kelly Naru again and I ask that he find it within himself the truth of the matter, that this entity is solely and purely for the development of the people of Lae and the people of Wampar and Nawaeb who share the border with Lae,” Kouza said in her first media interview as LCA chairperson.

She re-emphasised an earlier statement by Prime Minister Peter O’Neill that Lae was a growing city, which warranted the need for the new municipal authority.

O’Neill had told Parliament that the former Lae City Council had been unable to perform its responsibilities in effectively delivering basic services, hence the need for the new entity.

The prime minister also forecasted a population boom in Lae that would outgrow Port Moresby and warned that “if we do not take action now, we will never be able to manage the challenges that are before us”.

Despite O’Neill’s passionate plea and Kouza’s peace offer, Naru continues to play silly buggers.

Last week, the governor threatened to take the O’Neill Government to court over the passage of the LCA Act, which he claimed was “unconstitutional” under the Organic Law on Provincial and Local Level Governments.

Naru said the new authority was created to usurp the functions of the Lae Urban, Ahi and Wampar local level governments without amendments to the Organic Law, which created third-tier governments.

Moreover, his claim that there was no consultation on the establishment of the LCA is hardly convincing.

As the Prime Minister said during heated debate on the floor of Parliament, all Morobe leaders and stakeholders had been consulted on the issue and politics should not get in the way of progress for the country’s industrial hub. Instead of swallowing his pride and allowing the winds of change to blow over Lae City, 

Naru had gone a step further by making personal attacks on two professionals who have worked tirelessly and thanklessly over the past months to prepare the groundwork for the new entity.

The governor should be mindful that there is no such thing as “Morobe for Morobeans”. Wouldn’t that be against his legal and religious thinking?

In particular, Lae is a modern city that was built from the blood, sweat and tears of our colonial masters and citizens from all over PNG.

Lae does not belong to the people of Morobe only – it belongs to all Papua New Guineans who either choose to live and work there or be involved in its development and growth.