As Bility pushes to tighten grip on LP
By Othello B. Garblah
The drama continues to unfold at the Liberty Party (LP) as the show of power and cash remain at play with officials defying each other.
The new episode unfolds as the party’s suspended political leader Senator Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence remained defiant and responded to her suspension by embattled chairman Musa Bility last week by nullifying the January 2021 convention that brought him (Bility) and others to power.
Chairman Bility had earlier announced the suspension of Karnga-Lawrence and others for defaulting on their dues payment-an action recommended by the LP’s constitution.
But that did not go down well with Sen. Karnga-Lawrence who attempted to flex her political muscles by declaring that the very January 2021 Special National Convention which handled Bility the power to act has been nullified-meaning Bility and his hosts of leaders have all lost their positions.
Her pronouncement was immediately countered by Bility who insists that he remains chairman of the Liberty Party and that Madam Karnga-Lawrence and her likes remain suspended as per the decision of the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) until the 12 month dues owed by them are settled.
Bility is revered as one who splashes the cash at the party and therefore wield sword of power at the party.
In his reaction on Spoon TV, following Sen. Lawrence’s press conference which announced the nullification of the Gbarnga Special National Convention, Bility challenged the embattled LP political leader to give her reliance in the LP constitution that empowers her to nullify or set aside the outcome of a convention.
He further described Sen. Karnga-Lawrence’s action as an act of showmanship, insisting that it has no legal backing and therefore should not be taken with a pinch of salt.
Bility: “When we took a decision to suspend people, we had a reliance where we relied on Article 9. We had the constitutional backing to take the decision. So you should ask Nyonblee what was her reliance to take the decision.”
Article 9 of the LP’s constitution which deals with membership, rights, and privileges particularly sections 5, 6, and 7 reads:
“Section 5: Members in good standing shall be eligible to vote in all local elections in the jurisdiction in which they live and all national elections, and shall accrue all rights and privileges of membership as may from time to time be prescribed by the NEC.
“Section 6: Members in good standing are members whose franchise is not otherwise prescribed by the laws of Liberia, membership dues are fully current and up to date, and other obligations to the party, such as attending meetings regularly are met.
“Section 7: Members who are not in good standing shall not be allowed to hold any office within the party, and if such member holds a position in the party, elected or appointed. He/she shall be suspended from the office by the NEC until he/she shall have resumed the status of member in good standing. If after three (3) months, such member is still delinquent, he/she shall be permanently removed from the office, and may also be expelled from the office”.
Background of the LP conflict
The conflict within the Liberty Party began with a disagreement over the final tone of the party’s constitution which was filed before the National Elections Commission as required by Law as its binding instrument.
The dispute started when Sen. Karnga-Lawrence and other party officials accused Bility and his Secretary General Martin Kolleh of altering the constitution to delegate to themselves more power.
This led to the holding of a crisis meeting at the Farmington Hotel after which it was announced that the officials had buried their hatches.
However, reports emerged later quoting Sen. Karnga-Lawrence that Bility had confessed to altering the constitution, something the embattled chairman said was far from the truth.
He explained that one of the issues the Farmington meeting resolved was an allegation made by Senator Darius Dillon insinuating that the Gbarnga Special National Convention restored the power of the Political leader as head of the party as spelled out in its 2015 constitution. Bility claimed that was disproved at the meeting.
Bility narrated that there were two other motions at play at the said meeting- that was whether the power of the political leader be removed or retained after the election and as to whether the Chairman of the party should act as the chief administrative officer. But he did not provide the outcome.
He further explained that the Farmington meeting led to the constitution of a three-man committee which included Sen. Karnga Lawrence, Debar Allen, and he (Bility) along with 3 resource persons, each of which were recommended by Senator Lawrence, Allen, and himself to proceed to the National Election Commission to ascertain the procedure and content of the submission of the constitution of the party that was adopted at the Gbarnga convention.
Bility opined that during the team’s meeting at NEC, they were informed that there was no alteration to the party’s constitution. However, they were advised by NEC to go and resolve any other outstanding issues that may have existed and report any other that may arise after a said meeting amongst themselves.
Constitution withdrawn from NEC?
The National Elections Commission last Thursday, December 9, requested the appearance of officials of the Liberty Party to ascertain as to whether there were issues within the party that needed to be resolved, according to Musa Bility.
He claimed that said request was turned down by Sen. Karnga-Lawrence who has allegedly insisted that the LP’s constitution before the electoral body has been withdrawn.
Bility insists that had the constitution been withdrawn from NEC, there would be no need for that body to call officials of LP for any discussion in the absence of a constitution.
“These people are not smart. You can’t do public relations on lies. You go out there that according to the Farmington agreement Bility admitted that the constitution was altered, you put yourself in the news and you have a document that does not say so. What has become of you? That is what I have to deal with. With the deception, lies for all these periods and I am happy that I am relieved right now, the Farmington agreement is clear. At the end of the day, the Liberty Party will go to Ganta next week, we will hold the convention and we will make a decision that will be in the interest of the country and party”, he said.
Cause of bad blood between Bility and Sen. Karnga-Lawrence
The long-running dispute within the Liberty Party between Musa Bility and Sen. Karnga-Lawrence has been brought into question with many wondering how come the once close pals have become bitter enemies.
Bility thinks the source of the problem is the party’s current constitution. “The problem is the book you are looking at there (the constitution). She does not want to look at it. She has developed a sense that the party belongs to her. She believes that she can do anything she wants to do without being questioned. I am telling you that does not work that way. There are credible and responsible people in the party, and you can’t make decisions without consulting them. And she refused to pay her dues. She was contacted three times and she sat down supinely without doing anything about that”.
He also explained the issue of due payment saying, he inherited that Article within the party’s constitution. Bility stated that at the time he and the current officials at the party were seeking election in 2020, the election committee of the party emphasized the part of the constitution in Article 9 that made particular reference to due payments for people within leadership.
“We were elected in January 2021 and we said that based on what was already established all officials henceforth, including the Political leader and the Chairman should be current as of the time after the election. So people started paying dues to the party and this was in compliance with the constitution, not me as Chairman of the Party and this is what we are going to continue with. So Nyonblee and others were not suspended by me. Their suspension has a reliance on the constitution,” he explained.
“I pay my dues regularly despite committing myself to some contributions in the party; I paid for the Headquarters of the party and spent more than $200,000.00 on renovation and furnishings, and bought cars for the party. When I came on board, the party branch in Buchanan was left with just a week to be evicted and I went there and paid for it. I have been making my contribution ever since, even when I was nobody at the party. I made similar contributions in 2017 when I was the CEO of the campaign organization. So what is the contribution Nyonblee is talking about? Since I came on board there is nothing absolutely she has financially contributed to the party”, he said.
Bility response to Sen. Dillon
Bility also took a swipe at Sen. Dillon saying, “I think the issue of Dillon is something the Liberian people have come to live with. It is a difficult decision the people are going through. Dillon to me is no longer worth my comment. I find it degrading discussing him. He is not worth my time. He is not in my class. Dillon is one of those that have benefitted from the party but he is not willing to give back to the party. He has not paid a dollar for anything in the party. Ask him to show some evidence of payment to the party such as a receipt or any evidence made to the party”, he said.
Musa Bility also spoke of the process of reunification within the Liberty Party saying, unity can only be achieved with the LP through law and order.
He said adherence to the party’s rules or constitution is the only pathway to unification within the LP. “I do not subscribe to unification that squashes the rule. The constitution is being enforced and as far as I am concerned, Nyonblee Karngar Lawrence remains suspended until she fulfills her obligation to the party.”
He, notwithstanding, hopes that the upcoming Ganta convention, which takes place this week could be a valuable opportunity for peace within the LP.
Bility: “If I show up in Ganta and the Liberty Party does not show up, then Nyonblee’s position is correct. I can tell you that 80% of the officials will be at the convention and we are going to make the party stronger than ever before. By Monday, the activities of the convention will be made public including the list of the official delegates to the convention. These are not going to be new people, the same people that were in Gbarnga for the special national convention.”
However, he maintained that there is still a glimmer of hope that the party would thrash out its issues at the Ganta convention and comes out as a unifying force.https://thenewdawnliberia.com/liberty-party-musa-bility-flexes-muscle/