Bar Association Next President Must Prioritize HQ, Gongloe says

The President of the Liberia National Bar Association Counselor Tiawan Saye Gongloe.

The President of the Liberia National Bar Association, Counselor Tiawan Gongloe, on Wednesday, September 23 told members of his executive committee that any candidate that does not campaign about the issue of the organization’s headquarters under construction should be rejected during the election.

Members of the Liberian National Bar Association (LNBA), the umbrella organization of lawyers in the country, are expected to go to the polls this November in Nimba County to choose who will lead the bar for the next two years.

Cllr. Gongloe was elected November 31, 2018 in the port city of Buchanan, Grand Bassa County, replacing Cllr. Moses Paegar, who had served at the helm of the LNBA for two terms.

It is not clear whether Cllr. Gongloe, whose first term expires this November will contest again.  His name has surfaced in the public of late as a potential aspirant for the Liberian presidency in 2023. However, he has not publicly endorsed the petition by some citizens who see the potential in him to contest the nation’s highest seat.

Established on February 4, 1907, by an act of the Legislature, the Liberia National Bar Association (LNBA) is yet to have its own headquarters. It was under the presidency of Cllr. Paegar that the bar was able to acquire a parcel of land along the RIA Highway, on which the Peagar Administration managed to construct the foundation. The Gongloe Administration elevated the four-story building.

Gongloe, on a tour of the facility, said the headquarters project is a top priority for the bar and asked qualified voters to know each candidate’s stance on it.

“We are going to vigorously campaign against any candidates that will not make the headquarters project his or her primary focus. That person is not fit to lead the LNBA,” Gongloe told the cheering executive members. “Government is continuity and so we expected the Weah administration to place the money in the national budget. But it is yet to be seen.”

Counsellors Jallah Barbu and Swahilo Sesay are some of the names that are expected to contest the presidency, though not verified on ground that the guidelines for registration are yet to be released.  For that, many candidates are tight-lipped to avoid disqualification.

With the Government dragging its heels, despite the commitment by then-President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to set aside US$150,000 in the national budget as support towards the construction work, Cllr. Gongloe said: “The candidates have to tell you how they would raise money to complete the project.” He said though President Sirleaf gave them the assurance while she was President, he expected the administration of George Weah to fulfill Madame Sirleaf’s promise since the government is continuity.

As Gongloe may not contest in the pending Bar election, it is now the responsibility of the next President of the LNBA to pressurize the Weah Administration to make sure the money is released. Cllr. Gongloe said LNBA’s members should be eager to know how candidates plan to continue from where they will have stopped. “While there is a great deal of emphasis on the headquarters project, candidates need to explain to them how they would tackle the building,” he concluded.