The Senate at its 15th day sitting yesterday voted 13 against, four abstentions and two for, to defeat a motion for reconsideration filed by Bong County Senator Jewel Howard-Taylor, against the Senate plenary to cite the Ministry of Youth & Sports for contempt hearing.
Last Thursday, the Senate voted 14 for, with seven abstentions and one against to cite Minister Eugene Lenn Nagbe to appear before that body on Tuesday, March 3, to show cause why he should not be held in contempt for an alleged ‘inappropriate statement’ against a constituted Ad Hoc Committee; and he was encouraged to go along with his lawyer if he so desired.
Immediately following the vote, Senator Taylor, who voted against, rather suggested that the matter be sent back to the Ad Hoc Committee for further deliberations and announced that she was filing a motion for reconsideration.
Citing her reason, the Bong County lawmaker emphasized that the operations of the Senate committees are the bedrock of its engagements and analyses that have bearings and impact and oversight of the Senate.
“But over the years, however, the impact of our respective committees has been severely watered down, principally because individual public sector actors who should answer to their oversight committees opted instead to decide whether to appear before such committees,” she said.
Senator Taylor, who was absent from yesterday’s motion hearing, stated in her communication that in order to exercise the full powers of the respective standing committees, the authority must remain with these committees in order to exhaust issues before them.
“At the first instance, some authority is rather transmitted to the Senate plenary, and such a decision erodes the function of the Senate. In view of the foregoing and in consideration of Rules 59 & 60 vis-à-vis the enormity of the task before us, it is time that the plenary of the Senate uphold its jurisdiction for Senate committees to be able to exhaustively attend to issues which may be referred to them from time to time, and exercise adequate jurisdiction not only to ensure compliance, but appearance of witnesses, who cooperate in premise.”
She concluded by praying the Senate to allow the committees the powers to ensure compliance, saying “this way forward I believe is a win, win compromise that takes into consideration all concerns…I humbly pray the indulgence of the President Pro Tempore and my distinguished colleagues to reconsider my motion to allow the committee to probe further into the issue at bar so as to arrive at the information being sought.”
It may be recalled that the Senate plenary recently constituted an Ad Hoc Sports Committee, headed by former soccer legend, now Senator George Manneh Weah, with the mandate to investigate a communication from River Cess County Senator Francis Paye, regarding news about the intention of the Ministry of Youth and Sports to conduct the annual National Sports Meet in March, 2015.
The Weah committee, however, reported to plenary that Minister Nagbe refused to meet with them, but rather wrote the committee and published same on the Internet and Facebook, in which he was quoted as urging the committee to redirect its energy towards preparing for appropriation in the 2015/2016 National Budget so that the MYS can again organize and implement a National County Sports Meet with the grandeur deserving of such a national event.
The committee that included five Senators then informed the plenary that the refusal of Minister Nagbe to attend the hearing was an obstruction to the work of the Senate, and the publishing of the Senate letter of invitation and his reply in a local newspaper “as a serious affront to the Senate. [The committee wished] to request the Senate’s intervention in this matter.”