‘Reconciler, Not a Weakling’

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The President Pro-tempore of the Senate, Armah Z. Jallah, has described as incomprehensible the recent outburst by Nimba County Senator Thomas Grupee, describing him as inefficient and weak with regard to the way he is running the Senate.

The Nimba County Senator who chairs the Senate Committee on Internal Affairs, Good Governance and Reconciliation, on September 27, 2016, during the 65th day sitting of the Senate caused an uproar in the Chamber when he accused the Pro Temp’s administration of sheer weakness and efficiency, and compromising issues at the Senate and allowing himself to be used by others.

But in a strongly worded statement through his office, Pro Temp Jallah said he finds it incomprehensible Senator Grupee’s statement of weakness and inefficiency attributed to his administration.

“Senator Grupee chairs the Committee on Internal Affairs, Good Governance and Reconciliation; we are yet to see a proposal from his committee on how the objectives of this committee can be achieved, especially when it comes to good governance at the Senate. It is unthinkable and disappointing that the Senator would choose to be severely critical of a body that he is an integral part of and should be highly involved in making it proactive
and efficient.”

The outburst of the Nimba lawmaker, who until that Tuesday morning was considered one of the strong confidantes of Jallah, came about after he realized that a communication written by him and two other Senators, asking the Senate Plenary to invite Education Minister George Werner and the President of the National Teachers Association to speak on the ongoing strike actions by public school students and teachers, was not mentioned on the day’s agenda.

The Pro Temp’s statement clarifies that Senator Grupee’s communication was received at 5:48 p.m. on Monday when the agenda had already been approved by the 27th Senate Session and the Pro Temp was already on his way home.

What makes Senator Grupee’s utterance even more convoluting, Pro Temp Jallah noted, is his perception that when a leader is accommodating and respects democratic principles, then he/she is considered weak and or a failure.

“Perhaps we all need a concise definition and/or interpretation of the clause ‘allowed to be used by others’ and delineate weakness and failure in the context of the work at the Senate and a clarification on whether achievements are accomplished at the Senate by the Pro-temp alone or jointly by the leadership and the entire Senate,” the Pro Temp’s statement continued.

It then went on to recall the success story of the Pro Temp uniting a fragmented Senate among three candidates vying for the Pro Temp post and how, with the help of his colleagues, he endeavored to keep the independence of the Senate and made it a dignified body.

Jallah recalled approving the first ever Senate Staff Association to be established in the Senate to seek the welfare of staffers and gave out of his personal budget US$100,000 to raise staffers’ salaries and has been giving motivations both in cash and kind on holidays to staffers.

On the diplomatic scene, the Pro Temp’s statement recalled his talks with heads of diplomatic missions accredited near Monrovia, including those from the United States, Israel, Cuba, Sweden and Cote d’Ivoire, “to lift Liberia’s plight and encourage more aid to help Liberia in the areas of infrastructure… and investment in the Liberian economy, accentuating the need for collaboration with the Senate.”

Meanwhile, the Gbarpolu County lawmaker has disclosed that under his administration, the Senate is now working with the Internal Audit Agency (IAA) to set up an accounting system at the Senate that will ensure internal controls are followed and respected, something that is unprecedented. “Already the IAA has conducted risk analysis to determine the strength and weakness of the financial system of the Senate, while at the same time the Chamber of the Senate has received the first electronic voting system installation,” said the Pro Temp.

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