Members of the Liberian Senate are battling each other as the election for the Pro Tempore post draws closer. Recent reports emanating from the corridors of the Capitol Building suggest that there are four senators eyeing such post-ArmahJallah of Gbarpolu County, Senator Joseph Nagbe of Sinoe County, Senator Oscar Cooper of Margibi and Senator H. Dan Morais of Maryland County.
Already, Senators Jewel Howard Taylor of Bong County and George Mannah Weah of the Congress for Democratic Change or CDC have back off from the race, with Senator Taylor attributing her withdrawal to the huge number of aspirants for the Pro Temp position.
Senator Weah of Montserrado County said at the National Elections Commission or NEC headquarters during his certification ceremony that he had no intention to contest because he’s new to legislative politics.
Senator Joseph Nagbe of the Alliance for Peace and Democracy or APD may be the favorite among the contenders, owing to the support reportedly given him by many senators from the south-eastern region of the country, as well as President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
In 2011, the ruling Unity Party did not field a candidate against Sen. Nagbe because of his protracted loyalty to the President.
Besides, many of the senators are arguing that the Western side of the country produced the president, vice president, speaker and some key ministers, including foreign, finance and justice, and that it was time for the southeast to produce the President Pro Tempore of the Liberian Senate.
Contrary to the foregoing, others hold the views that the southeastern region has also produced several leaders of the three branches of government, including Presidents, as well as Speakers, among others, and such argument being advanced by senators advancing south eastern politics were thriving on a dangerous path. They further argued that Sen. Nagbe will make no difference from outgoing President Pro Temp Milton Findley, who was solely under the control of the president.
But Sen. Nagbe, on his close political relationship with the President, once told the media that the three branches of government will not be opposition to each other- a statement many considered allignment with the presidency.
ArmahJallah of the National Patriotic Party or NPP may be finding it little difficult in realizing his dream of becoming the next Pro Temp, probably, because critics supporting Sen. Nagbe, believe many top officials of the Unity Party Government are from his region, and to strike a balance, the southeast must be given a chance.
Though Sen. Jallah is strongly being backed by Montserrado County Senator Geraldine Doe-Sherif, Sando Johnson and a few others, the veteran lawmaker is considered as ally of former President Charles G. Taylor- an argument many rational politicians considered very lazy.
Western-southeastern politics now being introduced by a hand full of senators may likely not be to the detriment of both sides in Capitol hill. Such regional politics may not play well, especially for senators in such political advocacy because the issue of the Central region of Liberia may also interplay, and if regional politics should be at the core of the ongoing Legislative politics, Margibi County Senator Oscar Cooper is the only chance among the aspirants because of the argument that the Central Regional of Liberia has not had such opportunity, even though a few of his colleagues of the 53rd Legislature harbor the belief that he’s too self-centered.
H. Dan Morais, believed to be the current political godfather of Maryland County, is invoking the ascendency clause, arguing that Article 47 of the Liberian Constitution provides that election is held once every six year for the president pro-tempore of the Liberian Senate. “The Senate shall elect once every years a president pro-tempore who shall preside in the absence of the president of the Senate, and such other officers as shall ensure the proper functioning of the senate. The President Pro Tempore and other officers so elected may be removed from office for cause by resolution of two-third majority”.
Sen. Morais further argued that holding elections at any time other than the prescribed time for the unexpired tenure of the President Pro Tempore of the Liberian Senate contravenes the constitution, which calls for election once every six years.
“Furthermore, there is a need to draw a dichotomy between the tenure of the Sen. Gbehnzohngar Findley as senator of Grand Bassa County and the tenure of the Pro Tempore of the Liberian Senate: as senator of Bassa, Sen. Findley was elected for a tenure of nine years to serve his people- a tenure he has successfully served and is expected to expire by January 12, 2015. On the other hand as Pro Temp of the Liberian Senate, he was elected by 30 dully seated senators, for a tenure of six years to serve the Liberian Senate in the aforesaid capacity. Therefore, what has expired is the nine years tenure given to Sen. Findley by the people of Bassa; nevertheless, what has not expired is the six year tenure from January 2012-January 2018 given him by his colleagues through an election.
Meanwhile, Senators are expected to cast their cast votes come Tuesday, January 13, 2015.
By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor