Following months of disagreement between members of the Liberian Senate over a 20 percent reduction in salaries among themselves in the interest of the ordinary citizens, the man, who advanced the recommendation, Margibi County Senator Oscar A. Cooper, has taken the lead, committing 20 percent of his monthly salary to the educational and health sectors of his county.
He was challenged by his colleagues to jump-start the process to demonstrate seriousness. Senator Cooper turned over a black bus that worth US$45,000 to the C. H. Rennie Hospital in Kakata, Margibi County on Wednesday, September 30, 2015, saying that the gesture marks part of his monthly reduction of 20%.
He had noted in recent months that senators were taking huge salary so there was a need to commit 20 percent of their monthly income to their respective counties, but most of his colleagues seriously differed with him with some of them personally attacking him on grounds that he is a coward and does not mean what he says.
According to his opponents, Senator Cooper was only seeking public relevance through the media under the pretense of advocating for the masses. They also claimed that he has brought the Liberian Senate to public ridicule, and vowed to thwart his efforts.
But speaking to reporters at the C. H. Rennie Hospital in Kakata, Margibi County on September 30, the Senator said though the bus had been provided by the government for constituency operations, it has depreciated so he was donating it to the hospital. He said the bus is just the beginning of giving back 20 percent of his salary to the people, adding that he will keep all records and all figures of what he is giving back for the press to have as a sign transparency.
When asked how he will react if he is suspended by his colleagues for the advocacy, senator Cooper said he trusts his colleagues will abide by the constitution and the Senate Standing rules, adding that they have not told him about suspension. It remains to be seen whether his colleagues will follow suit by giving 20 percent of their monthly salaries back to their constituencies.
By Ramsey N. Singbeh, Jr. in Margibi – Edited by Jonathan Browne