Article 32 A of the 1986 Constitution of Liberia requires the Legislature to assemble in regular session on the second working Monday in January once a year. In consonance with the foregoing Constitutional provision, Liberian Legislators, on Monday, January 12, returned to the Capitol, following their annual break. The return of the Legislators also coincided with the seating of new Senators elected on December 20, 2014, who will now join their old colleagues to resume normal activities of the Legislature, including law-making, representation and oversight.
The official return of members of the Liberian Legislature to the Capitol on Monday, January 12, 2015, was as usual, was extraordinary colourful, with all of the pomp and pageantry benefitting men and women representing the “interest of the nation’s people”.
What many well-meaning Liberians captured from Monday official indoor ceremony at the Capitol, was the remarks of the President of the Liberian Senate, Vice President Joseph N. Boakai.
“Serve the people and not yourselves,” was the central theme of Vice President Boakai’s message to old and new members of the Liberian Senate. The message may have against the backdrop of the unpatriotic and redundant attitudes of most Senators following their election by their constituents. While some looked down upon the people who elected them with the highest degree of deceit and exploitation, others were very boisterous and abusive in their interactions with the very people who they practically beg, using all of the ‘cash’ for their election.
Perhaps, not being very cognizant of this, the Vice President chose to remind them that the inability of almost all of the old Senators to achieve re-election in the December 20, 2014 election was indicative of their responsibility to always put the people first and not themselves.
“In my message to you at our entry into the 3rd session in 2014, I, somewhat prophetically, hinted the probability of an outcome that was not so pleasant to many ears in this chamber. On that January 14 morning, I brandished a possibility of a scenario in which the Senate could end up ushering in a dominance of new face to take up most of the 15 open seats,” said Vice President Boakai, noting that the sacred trust in each of the Senators must be upheld. “Let us remind ourselves, as I have always reminded you, that this is the upper House- this is the House of Elders. Actions and utterances from here should accordingly be as elevated as they are virtuous.”
But how many of the Senators may have again listened, evident by similar reminder he echoed in early January of 2014.
Not that the two re-elected Senators- Prince Y. Johnson of Nimba County and Jewel Howard-Taylor of Bong County were better off than the rest who were booted out- not at all; they’re failures. For Senator Johnson, his re-election by majority of the people was mainly on the basis of security (well known to all of us who follow history), while the return of Senator Taylor (who’s just trying to purchase a house in Gbarnga, Bong County after serving as Senator for Nine years) was the direct result of huge cash influence over belly-driven young people and others, especially in Gbarnga, before and during election day.
These two returning Senators could not point to anything tangible as achievements to warrant their re-election. But again, the justification (security) of PYJ’s re-election by the people of Nimba may be acceptable.
And so, the caution by the Liberian Vice President for Senators to serve the Liberian people and not themselves, as they resume work on Capitol Hill may sound good in the ears of our brothers and sisters for now, but impracticable until their last year in office. If they did not learn yester-years, when will they ever learn?
It is no secret that people who should be at the Legislature in the interest of their people as evident by their works and good human in the counties relations were not voted by the so-called majority who decided people who thrive on the path of rhetoric, cash influence and lies, even though a very few incoming Senators may be up to the task. But let’s wait and see.