President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf’s annual message to the people of Liberia will be delivered next Monday, January 26, 2015 before an extraordinary Joint Session of the 53rd Liberian Legislature.
Article 58 of the 19986 Constitution of Liberia says “the President shall, on the fourth working Monday in January of each year, present the administration’s Legislative program for the ensuing session, and shall once a year report to the Legislature on the state of the Republic. In presenting the economic condition of the Republic, the report shall cover expenditure as well as income.”
But ahead of this Constitutionally demanding national duty, threats to thwart the event, are being issued by some members of the House of representatives led by Representatives Edwin Snowe and Henry Fahbulleh of Montserrado County and Emmanuel Nuquay of Margibi County.
These disgruntled Lawmakers, who have publicly exhibited the highest degree of disrespect and disorderliness not befitting of intellectualized contemporary Legislators, have threatened to prevent President Sirleaf’s annual State of the Nation Address, if embattled House Speaker J. Alex Tyler remains in office on the day of the solemn occasion.
The group, through Nimba County Representative Samuel Coakar, vowed that unless another person presides on that day.
Their threats came against the backdrop of the end of their years of “honeymoon” with House Speaker Alex Tyler, whose decision to replace Representatives Snowe, Nuquay and Fahnbulleh as Chairs of the lucrative Rules, Order and Administration. Ways, Means, Finance and Budget, and Foreign Relations Committees of that august body, led to last week’s uproar in Capitol Hill. They are linked to alleged financial malpractices against the interest of other members of the House, as well as the general staff.
But the rebellious Lawmakers attributed their actions against the Speaker to an “ illegal financial transaction with the National Oil Company of Liberia or NOCAL” which exposes the entire House of Representatives to public disrepute. They maintain that he must step aside as Presiding Officer until he clears up with the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission or LACC, which is probing the US$25,000.00 deal to which he’s linked, while majority members of the House, in support of Tyler, resist that their disgruntled colleagues were going beyond bound in contravention of their rules and order.
However unruly and irresponsibly they conduct themselves on Capitol Hill, they issue of the President’s State of the Nation Address must not be considered ‘light or less’ as their minds lead them. It is a Constitutional Provision that must anyhow be met by the President of Liberia.
It is sheer madness for Representative Snowe and his likes, in pursuit of the selfish interest, to even issue such public threats against our national interest (the Annual message).
The rules of the House of Representatives, in our minds, are the best route in seeking redress to whatever qualms they may harbor against the Speaker who, until last week, they consider a ‘demi-god’. Let them play to the rules of the game of Legislative politics and not under the guise of ensuring accountability and transparency because their hands are also filled with financial dirt.
It would be the saddest and most regrettable mistake in their political lives should they even continue to harbor the belief that an attempt could be made to thwart the President’s Annual message only because they want Speaker Tyler not preside.