All eyes and ears seem directed at the Capitol Building to know who occupies the lucrative post of President Pro-tempore of the Liberian Senate this Thursday, 15 January as members of the Liberian Legislature return from their annual break to resume work today, Monday, January 12, 2015. This followed the special senatorial election on December 20, 2014, which saw the election of 13 new faces in the Senate.
At least three incumbent senators are seeking the lucrative office of President Pro-tempore namely; Senators Joseph Nagbe of Sinoe, Armah Jallah of Gbarpolu and Oscar Cooper of Margibi Counties.
The NewDawn is examining activities of the three individuals in the race as they shortly go to the poll to seek the votes of the colleagues in the Liberian senate dubbed the “House of Elders.”
Senator Oscar Cooper of the ex-ruling National Patriotic Party of convicted former President Charles Taylor is a businessman, but is little known in Liberian politics prior to the senatorial post. Senator Cooper, who chairs the Senate Committee on Public Works, has never submitted any annual report to plenary.
According to the rules of the senate, every committee shall submit annual report of its workings, but Sen. Cooper had never sat in session for more than 10 days in a year since his ascendency to the upper house.
The Margibi County Lawmaker, for his three years period at the Capitol, has failed to proffer any bill or debate any serious issue as records at the senate is concerned.
Besides, he is not fluent with the rules of the Liberian Senate and has never presided in the chambers of the Senate.
According to his personal file submitted to the Senate, he has never served in public office since his birth. Up to now, he has failed to provide copy of his academic credentials to the media and colleagues, creating suspicion about his academic qualifications.
Gbarpolu County Senator Armah Jallah, came to public life during the regime of former President Taylor when he became the first senator for the county, statutorily created in the Taylor era.
Senator Jallah is the senate chairperson on Internal Affairs, but this committee has never submitted any annual report to plenary for the past two years besides confirmation reports of nominees.
He took over from the late John Whitefield, who served in that capacity for only year prior to his untimely death in 2013.
Sen. Jallah is on record for bringing to senate to public dispute on two separate occasions – , firstly, he lied to his colleagues and President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf that he was in his twin cabin pickup when police arrested and briefly detained him.
The claim was taken seriously by plenary of the senate and Police Director Clarence Christian Massaquoi was summoned and later a vote of no confidence was declared against him placing by senators.
But during a meeting with the senators at a local hotel in Paynesville hosted by President Sirleaf, Senator Jallah later admitted that he was not in the car but his girlfriend, something that made the senate to rescind the vote of no confidence declared against Police Director Massauoi.
Due to his admittance, the President only suspended Col. Massaquoi for one day without pay. Again last year, Senator Jallah reportedly informed President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf that all local officials nominated by her were rejected by the plenary of the senate.
That information left the President with no alternative but withdrew the nominations and asked those affected to act in their various posts. It was later discovered through the former Pro-Tempore Gbehnzohngar Milton Findley and former Senator Isaac Nyenabo that the information provided by Sen. Jallah was untrue.
Senator Jallah, who is the chairman on Internal Affairs and Co-Chairman on Lands, Mines and Natural Resources, despite his protracted stay at the Capitol Building, had never submitted any annual report as required by their rules. He regularly reneges on presiding over the plenary of the Liberian Senate in the absence of the Pro-tempore, chairmen on executive, foreign and judiciary. Sen. Jallah read Economics and is a graduate of the Louis Arthur Grimes School of Law, University of Liberia.
Senator Joseph Nagbe is counselor at law; he’s one of those Liberian lawyers trained by the United States Congress, especially in law drafting. He is a member of the Alliance for Peace and Democracy or APD, and reportedly being supported by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf for the position.
Senator Nagba chairs the committee on Judiciary, a position he has held since 2009, and presided over all 68 concession agreements that were considered by the international community as ‘bad.’
As Chairman on Judiciary, he serves as first legal advisor to the senate and all bills are channeled through his office, but that office apparently failed to do due diligence with the concession agreements as out of the 68, only two are in the interest of the country. Sen. Nagbe started his legislative career as a cadet up to the senatorial post.
Meanwhile, one of the candidates earlier in the race, Maryland County Senator H. Dan Morais, has withdrawn. He placed his withdrawal from the Pro-Tempore election on violations of both Rules of the Senate and Article 47 of the Liberian Constitution.