Despite a strongly-worded motion for reconsideration by Maryland Senator H. Dan Morais, the Liberian Senate plenary at its 66th day sitting last Thursday, confirmed Mr. Amara Konneh as the first Minister of the merged Ministry of Finance & Ministry of Planning and Economic Affairs into Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP).
The Senate also confirmed all Assistant and Deputy Ministers, Deputy Commissioner of LRA, all of whom were nominated together with Minister Konneh by President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. Also in the confirmed group were the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA), Cllr. Robert C. Tubman, Mr. Charles R. Bright, and Mrs. Aletha Brown Cooper as members.
The confirmation of the nominees followed a marathon of proceedings that started from committee rooms to the Senate executive session, and made a final entry into the Chambers of the Senate plenary where it ended.
Prior to the Senate vote, the Secretary of the Senate read a communication from Maryland Senator H. Dan Morais, who believed that he had successfully filed a motion for reconsideration over the confirmations of officials of the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning, and the LRA Deputy Commissioner and members of that Authority’s Board.
In his communication, Senator Morais clarified that “Our motion for reconsideration is not for the rejection of names submitted for confirmation consideration at this time. Instead, I am fledging issues of procedure, where the committee’s report which I understand is concluded and written be submitted, adopted by plenary and respect for each other.”
He continued: “The overriding reason detached to this submission of my motion is growing out of the fact that the failure and or success of the current leadership of the Liberian Senate to administer of the 53rd Legislature must be the collective responsibility of those of us they elected. As such, an imperial leadership cannot be the order of business. We have been reminded by our colleagues that some of us have come to this Senate with tall administrative pedigree, and that more is expected of us than what is been currently witnessed. This Senate cannot continue to bask in the fact that it is master of its own rules.”
Some Senators, including Maryland County Senator John Ballout and Mobutu Vlah Nyenpan, protested that since the issue at bar evolved during executive session. Any further decision must continue in that session and not in public session; otherwise, he warned, it would undermine the meaning of executive session which dictates that anything discussed therein, remains there.
Senator Nyenpan further contended that the issue before the open plenary was a reaction to an action that was taken in executive.
But Pro Tempore Findley refused to give in on his stance that the matter needed to be disposed of in open session, and once again saved the day when he referred his colleagues to several rules of the Senate that supported his ruling.
Arguing that there was no motion for reconsideration from Senator H. Dan Morais before that body, Pro Tempore Findley requested the Secretary of the Senate J. Nanborlor F. Singbeh to inform the Senate whether such was the case.
The Secretary of the Senate quoting rules regarding the process from which a Senator files a motion for reconciliation; states that after a motion is announced by a Senator, it must be restated by the Pro Tempore, and thereafter same communicated to the secretary.
“According to our records, the secretariat cannot take motion for reconsideration from the floor, but from the presiding officer, and in this case, the presiding officer (Pro Tempore Gbehzohngar Findley) asked us to take notice of a motion filed by Bong County Senator Henry W. Yallah.”
In view of that clarification that was consistent with the Senate rules, Senator Findley then ruled that there was no motion for reconsideration before that body.
It was at this juncture that Lofa County Senior Senator Sumo Kupee proffered a motion for the lifting of secrecy on the confirmation hearings earlier discussed in executive to be continued in open plenary, which was seconded and adopted.
Meanwhile, Senator Nyenpan has paid a moving homage to the Senate decision. “The beauty of parliamentary democracy, I believe, has been practiced, but I continue to say that each of us here must always have an opportunity to express descent when you are not satisfied. Yes, the majority may be on one side, and the minority on the other side, but the right of the minority has to be protected. The Senate has spoken, and that remains the verdict of the Senate; we are sacred, but in the process let us learn respect to our colleagues, I submit.”