Thirteen dedicated Senators who claim to belong to a ‘Majority Bloc’ yesterday voted to beat their nearest rival by two votes (13-11) to elect Gbarpolu County Senator Armah Zulu Jallah as the next President Pro Tempore of the Senate for the ensuing three years.
Pro Tempore Jallah who until his election and subsequent induction yesterday chaired the Senate Committee on Internal Affairs, Governance and Reconciliation accumulated 13 of 27 votes cast, beating his closest rival, Sinoe County Senator Joseph N. Nagbe, who collected 11 votes, and Margibi County Senator Oscar Cooper, only three votes.
The induction ceremony of Jallah was immediately performed by the Secretary of the Senate, J. Nanborlor F. Singbeh, with instruction from Senate President Joseph Boakai, who urged the defeated Senators to now join hands and do what they were elected to accomplish by their respective counties.
The election which took place in the Chambers of the Senate was presided over by Senate President, VP Boakai, and assisted by Secretary of the Senate Singbeh.
Senator Jallah is the fourth Pro Tempore to be elected during the 2nd and 3rd Legislature of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s administration. Grand Gedeh County former Senator, Isaac Nyenaboe was the first and was ousted in 2006. Replacing him was Grand Kru County Senator Cletus Segbe Wotorson, who presided over the Senate up to the 2011 Presidential and General Elections.
Because of ill health, Senator Wotorson was not around to contest the 2012 Pro Tempore position, but rather put his weight behind Grand Bassa County former Senator Gbehzohngar Findley, whose defeat in last December’s Special Senatorial Elections created the vacancy that has now been occupied by Jallah.
In their pre-election comments, the three Senators were unanimous in admitting to the failure of the Senate in many important areas both within the Capitol Building, and the nation as a whole.
The Senators also promised to pay special attention to the information technology arm of the Legislature, the Legislative Information Service (LIS), which is yet to resume its normal function after it was gutted by fire a few years ago.
The Legislative Budget Office (LBO) and the welfare of staffers, with respect to insurance policy were among other tasks the contenders promised to tackle if elected.
In their brief conceding statements, Senators Nagbe and Cooper thanked their colleague for his victory and promised to help him fulfill his agenda and other areas they think will need that august body’s intervention.
Meanwhile, Senators Varney Sherman of Grand Cape Mount County and Morris Saytumah of Bomi County did not take part in yesterday’s activities because they have not been inducted.
The two were on Tuesday cleared of separate injunctions filed against them by the Supreme Court after last December’s Special Elections.
According to the current election guidelines, elections for all vacancies that may be created for chairpersons in the Leadership Committee shall be held within a week following the induction of the President Pro Tempore, which is likely to be next Thursday.
Among the leadership posts that will be vied for next Thursday is the one already vacated by Pro Tempore Jallah, the Committee on Internal Affairs, Governance & Reconciliation.
The Secretariat of the Senate was assisted in yesterday’s election by the National Elections Commission (NEC), through two of its staffers who were made available as well as the ballot box used to cast the votes.
A good number of the members from the House of Representatives including Representatives Edwin Snowe and Acarius Gray witnessed the election proceedings yesterday at the Capitol Hill.