The inauguration of 12 Senators yesterday in the Chambers of the Liberian Senate was colorful and filled with good cheer, but for 200 support staffers of ousted lawmakers, it was a mournful event that formally marked their dismissal.
These now jobless staffers of the 10 defeated Senators in last month’s Special Senatorial Elections and three (3) other Senators, who failed to contest, having quitted electorate politics are anxiously vying for positions with the incoming lawmakers.
The defeated Senators whose staffers are hoping to be reemployed are Sen. Lahai G. Lansanah (Bomi); Sen. J.S.B. Theodore Momo, Jr. (Gbapolu); Sen. Gbehzohngar M. Findley (Grand Bassa) and Sen. Abel Massaley (Grand Cape Mount). Others are Sen. Sumo G. Kupee (Lofa); Sen. Clarice Jah (Margibi); Sen. John a. Ballout (Maryland); Sen. Joyce Musu Sumo-Freeman (Montserrado); Sen. J. Jonathan Banney (Rivercess) and Sen. Mobutu V. Nyenpan (Sinoe).
Also in the hunt for work are the staffs of three Senators who did not contest the Special Senatorial Election namely Senator Cletus Wotorson (Grand Kru); Sen. Frederick Cherue (River Gee) and Sen. Isaac Nyenabo (Grand Gedeh).
Each Senator is entitled to 15 staffers while the heads of the eight (8) Statutory Committees are statutorily entitled to a staff of 16. The same goes for the House of Representatives. The Speaker and the President Pro Tempore get at least 20 staffers each.
Scores of saddened staffers were seen lingering in their to-be vacated offices looking depressed. Some later moved into the courtyards and Rotunda of the Capitol Building in the frame of mind to do anything to be reemployed.
“Most of us are here not really to help our (former) bosses to pack up; we are here to beg for inclusion,” Mr. Jasper Togbah said.
“With the number of family I have, I can even work as a yard girl,” declared Madam Klubo Kerkulah. “I cannot bear it without a job.”
The former Chief of Office Staff of out-going Grand Kru County Senator Cletus Wotorson, Mr. Jenkins Pelenah said he was blessed to be reemployed with Senator Dr. Peter Coleman.
“We welcome the 12 Senators happily, but it’s painful to see over 200 of the support staffers in the hunt for reemployment,” Mr. Pelenah said. “And presumably, each of the more than 200 staffers, have at least five persons to feed, so it means about 1,000 persons have been added to the scourge of poverty.”
“I feel very depressed,” Mr. Joe Saah sobbed. “It was a very depressing evening. I thought I would be included. What will become of us?” he wondered sadly.
An expatriate who begged anonymity, said the dismissal of a huge number of people in the society has adverse effects. She stressed that unemployment and poverty are the two major challenges that are facing the world economy at present.
Madam Roberts said unemployment leads to financial crisis, as well as underemployment which lie at the core of poverty.
However, staffers of Senator Chief Jewel Howard Taylor (Bong) and Senator Prince Y. Johnson (Nimba) were in high spirits and comforted by the reelection of their bosses.
It is believed that 95% of the employees of the new Senators will also be newcomers.