The House of Representatives continues to receive public condemnation for what many consider the reckless and shameful behavior of two lawmakers, Roland Cooper and Adam Bill Corneh of Margibi and Bong Counties, respectively. The two lawmakers during the past week were engaged in a fist fight during session.
Already, there is a strong negative public sentiment against Legislators and the entire government for doing little in spite of huge resources and foreign aid to impact the common citizens’ lives.
During live broadcasts in Monrovia over the past week, commentators and callers described the fighting carried out by the two lawmakers as “irresponsible and uncivilized.”
The fighting broke out amid confusion among those for and against House Speaker Alex Tyler stepping aside until he exonerates himself from Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission’s (LACC) accusation that he misapplied about US$23,000 meant for consultation on oil and gas.
In one broadcast, Liberian politician Fonate Kofa of Liberty Party and civil society advocates, including Oscar Bloh of Search for Common Ground/Election Coordinating Committee (ECC) and Malcolm Joseph of Center for Media Studies (CEMES), all expressed displeasure over the fighting between the legislators.
According to the three men, the act does not reflect the expected image of the Legislature, and therefore those involved should be investigated and penalized in line with the House’s standing rules and the Constitution of Liberia.
The three men indicated that though the call for Tyler to step aside from the position for investigation may be right, lawmakers themselves need to approach the issue in line with legal and civil protocol without exhibiting such violent behavior.
Some callers on the show also noted in their comments that God Himself was dealing with lawmakers for compromising the interest of the state for their personal gains.
“We elected these people to represent the interest of this country, but they are there dividing the money of the country and leaving us in poverty. That’s our God fighting them to bring them to public ridicule,” one caller said.
“Those men should be investigated and punished for what they did, and Speaker Tyler should also face investigation to free himself from the corruption allegation brought against him by LACC,” another caller suggested.
“This thing is deeply rooted, and I believe it is not yet over but will resurface. Of recent we heard that the Executive gave US$3million to the Legislature for distribution to pass the oil and gas law,” another person claimed.
Meanwhile, the drama unfolding in the House of Representatives, if continued, could unveil the secret associated with the interest in rushing to become a legislator.
On the surface, it is an open secret that lobbying fees in brown envelopes is the main motive for which many yearn to be elected to the legislature in the name of representation.
On the other hand, lawmakers and senators have over the years liaised with county authorities to squander development funds for counties, and one of such was the “You eat I eat” case with Montserrado County Representative Edward Forh and former Montserrado Superintendent Grace Kpan, who recorded him on tape making that most corrupt and shameful suggestion.
Furthermore, Montserrado District 5 Representative Thomas Fallah was once accused of receiving scholarship money from the county authority for his private school, while pretending that the money was being used to give scholarships to students in his district.
In the unfolding combative activities in the House, Representative Edwin Snowe of Montserrado District 6, though seeking clarity in Tyler’s fate, is himself being accused of stealing over US$40,000 intended to purchase a vehicle for Deputy Speaker Hans Barchue.
This allegation led to the sidelining of Snowe in the oil and gas consultation that US$900,000 was allotted for.
In another development, Margibi County Representative Emmanuel Nuqua has also been accused of linking with Ministry of Finance and Development Planning to divert US$2 million to his personal projects in his district.