The Institute for Research and Democratic Development (IREDD) has released the score card of Representatives and Senators for the 3rd session of the 54th Legislature with some lawmakers scoring high marks while others making zero. The Legislative Monitoring Report is funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through the National Democratic Institute (NDI).
The latest report card under the theme, “Promoting Political Party’s Accountability in Liberia,” contains several lapses recorded during the period under review.
This report focuses on three monitoring areas; representation, lawmaking and oversight in which lawmakers have the constitutional mandate to execute their formal responsibilities.
The 3rd Session of the Liberian Legislature began on Monday, January 14, 2020 and ended on August 26, 2020. The Legislature extended its session for extra one month from September 1, 2020 to October 14, 2020 after they were recalled by the President to continue deliberations on some critical instruments including the 2020-2021 National Budget.
Report Card Details
Plenary Attendant: For the period under review, IREDD recorded the total of 3, 962 present for the 73 lawmakers of the House of Representatives and 986 absentees; distant times 416, and a total of 983 participation.
IREDD also recorded during the year under review the total present time of 655 for the Senate, absent time 109; 196 distance times, 9 excuses, 24 sick times and the total of 912 participation times.
There were two deaths recorded in the House of Representatatives, Rep. Munah Pelham Youngblood and J. Nagbe Sloh.
Leadership Meetings & Public Hearings
The House of Representatives held 7 public hearings during the period under review, while the Senate recorded 15 public hearings during the same period.
“We cannot verifiably report on the leadership meetings in both Houses as they were held “In camera” and the reports not yet made public. IREDD sought legislative disclosure of the reports but are not forthcoming,” IREDD Project Manager Bob N. Johnson said.
According to IREDD, 32 bills were introduced and sent to committee rooms in the Senate. Of the 32 bills, 26 came from the President of Liberia and six (6) introduced by Senators.
Also, 26 bills were introduced and sent to committee rooms in the House of Representatives, 17 originating from the Office of the President and nine from the House itself.
The Liberian Senate passed 27 bills while the House of Representatives passed 21 bills.
IREDD also recorded five petitions to the House of Representatives.
IREDD recorded the Legislature’s performance of its oversight responsibilities in two categories; Communications and Committee Reports. Communications are letters written by individual or group of Legislators calling the attention of that body to national or local issue(s) for remedial action. Committee reports are reports made by standing and ad-hoc committees of both Houses on issues referred to that body by plenary.
The Senate had 51 communications, 60 committee reports and 35 nominations by the President while the House of Representatives had 81 communications and 16 committee reports.
The Senate held a total of 56 sessions but IREDD’s monitor recorded 33 and obtained a total of 655 present times with 3 Senators obtaining between 90-100 percent or “A” for plenary present times.
Senators who made high marks in attendance are Sen. Abraham Darius Dillon – Montserrado County, Liberty Party (LP); Sen. Albert Chie —Grand Kru County, Independent; and Sen. Morris Saytumah —Bomi County, Unity Party; (UP).
Those Senators who miserably failed or obtained 50% or “F” in plenary present times are: Sen. Mathew N. Jaye – Rivergee County, Unity Party (UP); Sen. Peter Coleman -Grand Kru County, Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC); Sen. Prince Johnson – Nimba County, Movement for Reconstruction and Development (MRD); and Sen Jim Tornolah -Margibi County, People Unification Party (PUP).
The Senate recorded the total of 912 participation times with four of its members obtaining the highest in plenary participation times. Those Senators include: Sen. J. Milton Teahjay-Sinoe County, Unity Party (spoke 111 times); Sen. Abraham Darius Dillon-Montserrado County, Liberty Party (spoke 101 times);Sen. Jonathan L Kaipay-Grand Bassa County, Liberty Party, (spoke 85 times); and Sen. J. Gbleh-bo Brown-Maryland County, Independent, (spoke 78 times). Three Senators obtained the lowest in plenary participation, namely: Sen. Jim Tornolah-Margibi County, People Unification Party, (spoke 4 times); Sen. Victor Watson-Grand Cape Mount County, People Unification Party, (spoke 5 times); and Sen. Prince Johnson-Nimba County, Movement for Reconstruction and Development, (spoke 5 times).
The House of Representatives
IREDD recorded in the House of Representatives the total of 3962 present times, with four Representatives obtaining 95% and above, or “A”. Those Representatives are: Speaker Bhofal Chambers of Maryland County, Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC); Rep. Mary M. Karwor Grand Bassa County, Unity Party (UP); Rep. P. Mike Jurry, Maryland County, Unity Party (UP), and Rep. Joseph Nya Sonwabi Nimba County, Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC).
Seven Representatives failed and obtained the lowest present times with an average score of 55% and below or “F”. They are: Rep. Thomas Fallah -Montserrado County, Coalition for Democratic Change CDC; Rep. Mariamu Fofana -Lofa County, Unity Party (UP), Alexander Poure -Rivergee County, All Liberian Party (ALP); Rep.Yekeh Kolubah, Montserrado County, Independent; Rep. Bob H. Sheriff, Grand Cape Mount County, Independent, J Marvin Cole, Bong County, Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC); and Rep. Manah Bishop Johnson -Bomi County, Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC).
House Plenary Participation
The House of Representatives obtained the total participation times of 983, four Representatives obtained the highest. Those Representatives are: Rep. Mathew Zarzar of Sinoe County, Unity Party (UP), ( spoke 37 times); Rep. Samuel Korgar Nimba County, People Unification Party, (spoke 35 times); Rep. Dixon Seboe Montserrado County, Coalition for Democratic Change, (32 times); Rep. Isaac B. Roland, Maryland County, Coalition for Democratic Change, (spoke 30 times); and Rep. Acarous Gray, Montserrado County, Coalition for Democratic Change, (spoke 28 times).
Six Representatives obtained the lowest in participation times with a total of 0 percent.
Those Representatives are: Rep. Zoe Pennue, Grand Gedeh County, Independent (spoke 0 times); Rep. Bob H. Sheriff, Grand Cape County, Independent, (spoke 0 times); Rep. Hans Barchue, Grand Bassa County, Independent, (spoke 0 times); Rep. Joseph M. Mathew, Gbarpolu County, Independent, (spoke 0 times); Rep. Manah Bishop Johnson, Bomi County, Coalition for Democratic Change (spoke 0 times); and Rep.Abraham Vamuyah Corneh, Montserrado County, Coalition for Democratic Change (spoke 0 times).
Performances of Political Parties
IREDD research shows that other political parties’ representatives were unable to regularly attend session to obtain the necessary average in plenary attendance. Those political parties include: the Liberian People Party, Movement for Economic Empowerment, Victory for Change Party, Liberia Transformation Party, Liberia National Union, and the United People’s Party. Those political parties also scored low grades in participation either based on their inability to push their party’s manifesto or based on their low number to push their interest.
The rest of the political parties scored low numbers in plenary attendance and participation. Those political parties have a single senator in the Liberian Senate which may be a factor including their inability to push their parties interest.