Members of the 54th Liberian Legislature resume official duties today, Monday, 11 January following electoral and annual breaks with the possibility of holding by-election for the Deputy Speaker post.
The position was made vacant as result of the December 08, Special Senatorial election where incumbent deputy speaker, Bong County Representative Prince Moye got elected to the Senate.
The race for deputy speaker is crowded with several names that want to occupy the seat. Complete line-up of lawmakers with interest for the second highest office in the House are: Lofa County District #3 Representative, Clarence Massaquoi; Education Chairman, Rep. Johnson Gwaikolo of Nimba County District #9; Commerce Committee chairman Rep. Samuel Kogar (Nimba County District #5); Rep. Moima Briggs-Mensah of Bong County District #6 and Rep. Richard Koon of Montserrado County District #12, respectively.
Grand Kru County Representative J. Fonati Koffa, is said to be favorite among the contenders.
According to the Legislative Information Services (LIS) headed by McCarthy Weh, House membership statistics (considering some siftings), the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change and the Prince Johnson Movement for Democracy and Reconstruction collaboration has over 26 members, while the opposition Collaborating Political Parties has 23members.
The LIS also indicates that there are 12 Independent lawmakers, 11 members from other parties, with the People’s Unification Party (PUP) having five members Should what LIS is hearing suffices, in terms of Representatives J. Fonati Koffa and Clarence Massaquoi contesting as CDC and CPP lawmakers, respectively, the deciders will obviously come from the huge bloc of independent members as well as those from other parties.
LIS reveals that Rep. Fonati Koffa has an edge over his main contender; Rep. Clarence Massaquoi, who enjoys the endorsement of the CPP.
Rep. Koffa is known to be affable, (human friendly) generous, and financially potent. He is very proactive and love to see things done. He is a ‘goal getter’; thorough and assiduous;
Evidenced by his chairmanship on Judiciary committee in the House, he is a giant on the floor once in Session. Many of his colleagues look up to him for counsel and guidance on variety of issues and subjects.
Information gathered from the corridors of the House of Representatives, says Rep. Koffa has netted 35 lawmakers as strong supporters and dependable voters for the deputy speaker post.
House Speaker Bhofal Chambers, is reportedly but clandestinely supporting CPP’s candidate Rep. Massaquoi for the deputy speaker post, against his (Chambers) CDC’s candidate.
According to information available to this paper, Rep. Fonati Koffa seems to be the center of attraction in the pending Deputy Speaker election slated for Tuesday, January 12.
According to a source, Rep. Koffa and Speaker Chambers have never experienced a cordial relationship, and the both southerners are always in sour relationship without even speaking to each other for couples of months. Chambers fears if Cllr. Koffa is given the chance to serve as deputy speaker, possibility of (him Koffa) dethroning is high.
Koffa had earlier thrown his hat in the race, but was advised by President George Weah to back off for Chambers. Chambers, who struggled to control legislative floor during heated debates in plenary, reportedly senses that the relationship of President Weah and Koffa have developed hugely.
Tuesday’s election is expected to settle the dust over who becomes the next deputy speaker in the lower House.
By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor–Editing by Jonathan Browne