At a well-attended pre-county meeting in Bopolu City, Gbarpolu County, Senators Armah Zolu Jallah and Daniel Flomo Naatehn recently promised their kinsmen that they have decided to turnover a new leaf and that whatever disunity and bad blood that existed between them has been squashed.
The two lawmakers also dispelled rumors of disunity in the Gbarpolu Legislative Caucus, describing the rumors as the perceptions of some Gbarpolu citizens.
“We will never allow our personal differences to interfere with the work of the county at the Legislature; we will work for the development of the county,” the two lawmakers promised.
Although the gathering was not originally for reconciliation purposes, the citizens, led by a large cross section of women, told our reporter that the timing was right to bring peace and harmony between their sons. “We are worried about recent statements by Senator Naatehn against Pro Tempore Jallah and the entire Senate,” the women said in a joint statement.
Taking the podium to address the citizens’ concern, Senator Naatehn, in a somber mood promised that he will never again speak against Pro Temp Jallah, adding, “I want to promise you my people of Gabrpolu County that as of today’s date and from the meeting Pro Temp Jallah and myself had with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf before coming to this meeting, you will never hear me altering any negative statement against him.”
Earlier, Representative Alfred Koiwood blamed Pro Temp Jallah, Senator Naatehn and Representative Gertrude Lamin for the continuing disunity within the county’s Legislative Caucus.
Citizens of the county interviewed told this paper at last week’s meeting that it was not the first time the two Senators have smoked the peace pipe.
The citizens recalled that during the groundbreaking of the Gbarma-Weasua highway early this year, the lawmakers went as far as hugging one another in the spirit of reconciliation. “In fact, at that occasion,” one citizen recalled, “Senator Naatehn confessed that it was the first time in five years that he had shook hands with Representative Lamin. But there are still reports that the two lawmakers are still not speaking to one another.”
A prominent citizen of the county has meanwhile attributed the conflict in the county to lawmakers fielding candidates against their colleagues in electoral processes. “This attitude should be discouraged, because it is already sending negative signals to the outside world that all is not well amongst members of the Caucus.”
The bad blood between the two lawmakers reached a boiling point when Senator Naatehn, who is Co-Chairman of the Senate Committee on Executive, accused Pro Tempore Jallah at a press conference for undermining his progress in the Senate, and warned that the patience of his citizens was waning and they were contemplating visiting the Capitol Building to seek redress.
Senator Naatehn also accused Pro Temp Jallah of stalling the confirmation of local government nominees for Gbarpolu and suppressing bills that he has submitted; and furthered that the Pro Temp was influencing the work of committees in the Senate to the extent that the Senate has now lost its independence and has become a rubberstamp institution.
“The Senate seems to be very weak, while the committees are not independent, (but only) rubber stamp; otherwise they wouldn’t be manipulated,” rebuked Naatehn, a former Unity Party partisan. He told journalists that the situation is so serious that even attempts by the Catholic Church, to which both of them belong, and the county’s traditional leaders have failed to find a remedy.
Responding, Senator Jallah clarified that he has never in his lifetime been either power-drunk or someone who allows himself to be obsessed by his position to the point that he would lose his sense of reasoning. “Every Senator from 1998 to present and the public can testify that I have always been a consultative leader,” Jallah contended.
He described Senator Naatehn’s assertions as a game plan aimed at destroying his political future, an objective the statement said Naatehn will never succeed in achieving. “The admini-stration of Senator Jallah as President Pro Tempore of the Senate has provided opportunity for continued professional interplay at the Senate,” it said.
Senator Naatehn’s description of members of the Senate’s committees as “rubberstamp” infu-riated the lawmakers, but he was lucky with a lenient punishment of a letter of apology to be published in five local newspapers for five days. However, it is not known whether he carried out that mandate issued on the eve of the Senators’ two week Easter break.