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...Could It Be Nagbe Or Jallah?

Jallah  NagbeThe intricacies behind the scene maneuvering are continuing on Capitol Hill and other quarters as the senate leadership contest takes center-stage. There are reports of intrigues (in part) as the build-up to the senate election gains momentum. At the moment, it's difficult to state exactly the individuals who are contesting for the position of senate pro-tempore.

 

The office of pro-tempore was made vacant following the defeat of Gbezohnga Findley by Liberty Party candidate Jonathan Kaipay during the recent senatorial election in Grand Bassa County. Findley's defeat sent shock waves across the Bassa belt and exposed the fragility of the pro-tempt lethargic political strategy and game plan.

Findley's defeat left his office wide opened as incoming and incumbent senators are now maneuvering to decide who takes over one of the most powerful positions in the country.

Already, erudite lawyer Cllr. Varney Sherman, a man of immense political persuasion and affluence, has bowed out of contention for the position following the issuance of a stay order by the Supreme Court of Liberia. The stay order prevented Cllr. Sherman from participating in last Saturday's certification program at the National Elections Commission (NEC).

The stay order was prompted by a petition filed by Dr. Fodee Kromah, the CDC candidate who ended as runners-up in the Grand Cape Mount contest to Cllr. Sherman. Kromah is requesting recount of the ballots even though he accumulated a skimpy 3,431 votes representing 15.5% while Sherman received 13, 651 votes representing 61.7%.

The irony of Kromah's complaint is that his party, the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) is not aware about the complaint. The party's Secretary General Nathaniel McGill said the CDC has absolutely no knowledge of Kromah's action and that he did not consult the party.

While the court action is pending, there are reports that election for the position of pro-tempt will be delayed until the high court determines the legality and validity of the petition against Cllr. Sherman. It is not clear whether the court would sustain or reject the argument raised by Dr. Kromah.

Our legislative reporter says the senate rule provides that all thirty senators must be seated before election for the position of pro-tempt. He said the pro-tempt shall be elected by a simple majority of the duly seated Senators, and that election of the President Pro-Tempore shall be held and the Secretary of the Senate shall then administer the oath of office and appoint a Special Committee, which shall escort the President Pro-Tempore to his/her seat.”

Chapter 5, Rule 14, Section I of the Senate guidelines states that: “On the first day of the Regular Session following a general and Presidential election, the Secretary of the Senate, or in his/her absence, the Assistant Secretary of the Senate, whose term shall not expire until his/her successor is elected, shall call the Senate to order, conduct devotions, and announce to the senators present that the Senate is without a President Pro-Tempore to serve for a term of six years.”

Meantime, sources on Capitol Hill say President Sirleaf is considering Sinoe County Senator, Cllr. Joseph Nagbe or Armah Jallah of Gbarpolu County as her possible choice for the pro-tempt position. An incumbent Senator who spoke to this paper on condition of anonymity said the President wants to have influence in the senate and that by supporting a strong member of the senate would to a larger extend decide the future of her government.

According to our source, Jallah will not be an appropriate choice for the President since he's from the western region. Already President Sirleaf and House Speaker Alex Tyler are from the western region of Bomi County; therefore, a Jallah candidacy would be opposed by some radical members of the senate.  Senator Nagbe has already expressed his intention for the position. He considered perhaps the most senior senator with immense experience and strong background in the business of law.

There are indications that the President might settle down for Sen. Nagbe, a seasoned lawmaker and who hails from southeastern Liberia. That would be politically expedient and it could provoke a shift for political power in 2017.

Interestingly, Senator Nagbe is also being pursued by another camp that is opposed to President Sirleaf having any influence over the pro-tempt position. Already, senator-elect George Weah has ruled out any possibility of contesting the pro-tempt position. Similarly, incumbent senator-elect, Jewel Howard Taylor, is uninterested in the position.   

But there are reports that another southeasterner, Dr. Peter Coleman, Senator of Grand Kru, is being persuaded by a supposedly George Weah bloc to have him contest. Sources say this strategy is intended to ensure that power in the senate is shifted to either of the southeasterners- Dr. Coleman or Cllr. Joseph Nagbe.