By Jerromie S. Walters
As the leadership of the Liberian Senate and the Senate staffers reached a logical agreement to end the recent protestation by the legislative staff, staffers of the House of Representativescommenced a go-slow action, and threatened to disrupt the House of Representatives Speaker and Deputy Speakership elections that are scheduled for Monday, January 14, 2024.
The angry staff of the House of Representatives Tuesday, January 9, 2024,
erected roadblocks at major entrances to the House of Representatives, in demand of their just benefits, as the legislature adjoined the 54th legislature.
The House of Representatives staffers kickstarted their action immediately after the Senate staff were assured by Grand Bassa County Senator Nyonblee Karnga Lawrence, that a month of the two months of their (staff) special sitting fee will be made available between Tuesday to Friday, January 12, 2024.
Following the House of Representatives staff action, intervention was made by House Speaker, Bhofal Chambers, Nimba County District #9 Representative Johnson Gwaikolo, along with other lawmakers. He (Gwekolo) assured the staff that efforts are being asserted by the legislature to ensure that the fund is made available, as they too have not been paid for the special sitting.
But earlier, Bong County District #3 Representative Marvin Cole termed the staffers’ quest as an unnecessary action, because they (Lawmakers) too have not been paid for the special sitting.
“I don’t think it is necessary because we have not also been paid.” Representative Cole believes that the staff were acting out of ignorance or their action was prompted by some other reason (S).
Gwaikolo: “Instruction has been given for the allotment. Progress is being made.” He tells the aggrieved staff and admonished them to be civil in their action.
Staffers of the Liberian Senate protested over the last four days for their two months special sitting fee and other intrinsic benefits.
The Senate staff recent protest was triggered by news from the House of Representatives that the House Speaker, Bhofal Chambers, has promised to pay the staff of the House of Representatives two months’ benefits for their extra sitting.
Senator Morris Saytumah of Bomi County and chair of the Senate Ways, Means, and Finance Committee, in response to the protest, earlier informed the staffers that payment for the extra sitting was still in process and couldn’t commit to a specific date.
During the protest, the staffers set up a roadblock, preventing senators from accessing the Senate wing of the Capitol building. Charles Brown, spokesman and head of the Senate staffers, stated, “We are protesting for our benefits for the extra sitting because we are not sure that lawmakers will commit to paying us after the expiration of their sitting on the 10th of January. So until that is done, there will be no legislative activities, including confirmation.”
As a consequence of the staffers’ actions, the Senate committees on Judiciary and Ways, Means, Finance, and Development Planning could not proceed with confirmation proceedings for two of President Weah’s nominees.
Justice Minister Frank Musa-Dean, nominee for the position of justice on the bench of the Honorable Supreme Court, was expected to appear before the Judiciary committee to give reasons why he’s best suited for the position. Similarly, Mr. Zamora Wolokollie, nominated by outgoing President George Weah, was expected to face the 15-member Ways, Means, Finance, and Development Planning Committee chaired by Senator Morris Saytumah.