The unfolding unprecedented-electoral anomaly in the Grand Bassa County Senatorial By-election calls for all Liberians, regardless of county of origin to take note and solemnly reflect on the precedent about to be set.
All the candidates who have been qualified by the National Elections Commission (NEC) are well qualified and well placed Bassonians who have earned their respective persona in the County and the country. If all were equal, one would say, may the best person, according to the choice of the voters win.
However, all is not equal. While there are no specific prohibitions in our constitution or statutory laws regarding husband and wife serving in the National Legislature during the same term, it would be a devastating blow to the credibility of our growing democracy for a husband and wife to serve in the two houses of the National Legislature at the same time. The propensity for conflict of interest in the legislature is real under those circumstances. In fact this would be nepotism of a higher and different kind.
It pains me to single out one of the four Candidates in the Grand Bassa by-election and object to his or her ascendency, because, as I said, they are all great Bassonians and qualified for the job. However, as an elderly statesman who has no axe to grind with any of the candidates; and who is truly appreciative of the sacrifices of 300 thousand fellow Liberians who gave their lives in the cause of a just, fair, equitable and better Liberia, I still cannot sit quietly while a tragedy in disguise of democracy unfolds in my county and country.
Nyonblee Kangar Lawrence who is vying for the senatorial seat in the by- election is the wife of a current member of the House of Representative, Honourable Adolph Lawrence. He was allegedly one of the owners or shareholders of the Broadway Corporation which hitherto held oil block 13 with no capacity to make that resource productive until the Government of Liberia stepped in and was able to find a capable investor. In the process of transferring ownership of the oil Block from Broadway Corporation to Exxon-Mobil, Honourable Lawrence allegedly made an enormous amount of money which Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence are currently flaunting in Grand Bassa County in the effort to buy the senatorial seat for his wife.
It is with the heaviest of heart and great personal trepidation and consternation that I take this position because Mrs. Nyonblee Karnga Lawrence is a family and one of great rising stars of our county and country. I hope and pray that the sky is the limit to her political growth prosperity in the future. However, what she and her husband are endeavoring to achieve, however democratic because of the one man one vote process of our voting system, is detrimental to a society that is saddled with a seemingly incurable epidemic of corruption.
Liberia has compiled an enviable record of being first in a number of worldwide achievements including the election of the first female elected President in Africa. However, we can do without the Precedence of having a husband and wife team in both houses of our legislature. If this precedent prevails, what would stop a husband and wife from serving on the Supreme Court bench at the same time or running for president and vice president at the same time? Just a food for thought.
My suggestion to Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence is the example of the Clinton family in the United States of America whose democratic practices we emulate. Mrs. Clinton could have theoretically run for the U.S. Senate from a number of states while her husband was President but for fear of public sentiment regarding conflict of interest, she waited until her husband’s elected term of office ended. Hilary Clinton turned out to be one of the greatest United States Senators and a wonderful Secretary of State of her nation in modern times. She has been endeared by the American public to move back to the White House, this time as president and Bill as Firstman.
We the Bassa people have given our daughter, DIAMOND, YUM as she is affectionately called to Mr. Adolph Lawrence, a very rich man from selling the oil resource in Bassa land. We cannot give him our Senatorial seat in the legislature.
Yum, step out of this race and continue your great work in your county and country. If Mr. Adolph Lawrence thinks and wishes you a seat in the National Legislature, he should not run in the 2017 elections so as to provide room for your ascendency. Meanwhile, we will be rooting for you regarding any appointed position that will come up in the near future in Grand Bassa County so as to continue nourishing political horizon.
Honorable Jucontee Thomas Woewiyu
Former Senator Grand Bassa County, and Former President Pro Tempore of the Liberian Senate