By Ethel A. Tweh
Montserrado County Senator Abraham Darius Dillon has termed as disastrous, disorganized, and completely messy, the manner and form President Joseph Nyumah Boakai’s inaugural ceremony was planned.
President Boakai embarrassingly suffered heat exhaustion while delivering his inaugural speech on Monday, 22 January 2024 before local and international guests at the Capitol, causing him to abruptly discontinue reading his speech.
Boakai and his Vice President Jeremiah Koung were sworn in following their election victory in November 2023 that ended former Liberian international soccer icon Amb. George Manneh Weah’s six-year rule.
Mr. Dillon’s early concern comes ahead of President Boakai’s return to the 55th Legislature to deliver his first State of the Nation Address on Monday, 29 January 2024.
Addressing the Senate’s third day sitting on Tuesday, 23 January 2024, Mr. Dillon stressed that the planning of the event was out of order, coupled with a messy protocol.
The chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs complained that the discouraging feedback from the program does not demonstrate that Liberia is more than 170 years old.
He said the way things were handled made it appear as if it was the country’s first time going to such an event.
“The protocol yesterday, nobody has to be told. How can you invite foreign guests then you are shouting at your own government officials to get up from their seats to allow the foreign diplomats to sit down?” Senator Dillon pondered.
According to him, the protocol dictated that everyone coming to the inauguration must have been invited but sadly, there was an influx of people even without invitation, thus justifying the messy planning of the program.
He further named the lack of adequate seats for foreign guests, legislators, special invitees, and other government officials to sit during the event.
He also spoke about the poor sound system where those sitting on the platform could not hear the President, Vice President, and Chief Justice while administering the oath of office, among others.
On the other hand, Senator Dillon blamed members of the Legislature for failing to take full charge of their responsibility.
According to him, the inaugural ceremony and the delivery of the State of the Nation Address (SONA) by the President are squarely legislative functions.
He added, “The Legislature by formality, the Speaker of the House of Representatives invites guests, but the list of the guests is determined by the Ministry of Foreign.”
Senator Dillon then pressed on members of the Liberian Senate to ensure that the Legislature takes charge of the protocol leading to the pending event relative to the State of the Nation Address.
“We need to ensure that the Capitol Building looks like a Capitol Building on the annual message day and let the place be freed from all that cheering of party links as was seen on the inauguration,” the lawmaker added.
He wants members of the 55th Legislature, inclusive of the Liberian Senate and the House of Representatives, to work collaboratively to prevent a repeat of such a mess.
Our legislative reporter says following the individual inputs of other senators on the matter, the President Pro-Tempore of the Liberian Senate, Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence announced a four-member committee to handle the planning of the SONA.
Those named by the Grand Bassa County Senator include the Chair on the Committee on Foreign Affairs Abraham Darius Dillon and the Chair on Executive James Biney of Maryland.
Others are the Chair on Rules, Order and Administration, Gbleh-bo Brown of Maryland, and Chair on Ways, Means and Finance and Budget, Prince Kermue Moye of Bong County.
The ad-hoc committee, according to the Pro-Temp, is to work with the House of Representatives to effectively work on all modalities leading to the successful planning and execution of the annual address by the President.