Senators of the 4th Session of the 53rd Legislature will go to the polls today to elect chairpersons of the committees on Judiciary, Claims, Petitions, and Human Rights; and that of Defense, Intelligence, and Security & Veteran Affairs.
Two new Senators, Cllr Varney Gboto Nabie Sherman (Grand Cape Mount) and Cllr. Steven H. Jorgbor Zargo (Lofa) are favored by bookmakers for the coveted posts.
During the close of last Thursday’s sitting, the Pro Tempore announced that Senators interested in contesting for the two vacancies should apply in writing by the deadline yesterday February 23.
The two positions became vacant following the resignation of Senator Joseph Nagbe from the committee on Judiciary to run for the post of President Pro Tempore. His decision was in line with guidelines for the Pro Tempore election which stated that candidates chairing statutory committees shall resign before contesting.
The position for the Committee on Defense was last Thursday declared vacant after its Chair, Nimba County Senator Prince Yormie Johnson made a surprise announcement that he was resigning to vie for one of the two posts allotted for Senate representation at the ECOWAS Parliament. The other post was won by Montserrado County Senator, former football legend George Manneh Weah.
Last Thursday, the Senate elected chairpersons of four Statutory (Leadership) Committees of the Senate, and three representatives to international bodies.
Montserrado Senator Geraldine Doe-Sherif was voted in to replace ousted Margibi County Senator Clarice Alhpa Jah as Chair of the Committee on Executive. Prior to her election Thursday, Senator Doe-Sherif chaired the committee on Transport.
The much loaded Committee on Ways, Means, Finance and Budget went to Grand Cape Mount Senator Edward Boakai Dagoseh, who defeated Grand Gedeh County Senator G. Alphonso Gaye. The two once worked at the Ministry of Finance.
Prior to Thursday’s elections, Senator Dagoseh chaired the committee on Public Accounts and Audits while Senator Gaye chaired the Committee on Public Corporations.
Another important position within the leadership hierarchy is that of Committee on Rules, Order and Administration which was once chaired by former Bomi County Senator Lahai G. Lansanah, but was last Thursday won by Lofa County Senator George Tamba Tengbeh, who had chaired the standing committee on Maritime.
Interestingly, the Committee on Maritime now appears empty as the co-chair and other members were either defeated during the December 20, 2014 Special Senatorial Elections as the case with Senators Joyce Musu Freeman-Sumo, Clarice Jah and Mobutu Vlah Nyenpan, or John Whitfield, who passed away, and Senators Frederick Cherue and Cletus S. Wotorson who have retired.
Nimba County Senator Thomas Grupee, former chair on Social Security, Pension and Insurance, has now been elected to chair the Committee on Internal Affairs, Governance and Reconciliation.
Meanwhile, a staunch member of the ‘Majority Bloc’ in the Senate has declared that Cllr. Sherman is the candidate who his group will ensure wins the Committee on Judiciary.
Bong County Senator Henry Willie Yallah allayed fears that his bloc’s overwhelming victories to chair all the important committees will cause a division in the Senate. On the contrary, Yallah said the heads of those committees will ensure that effective work is done to help bring integrity to the Senate.
The next task of Pro Tempore Armah Jallah is the appointment of chairs of standing committees. That process he said is already underway and will continue on Wednesday.