With less than ten days before the induction of the newly elected and certificated 15 Senators of the just ended Special Senatorial Elections, it is becoming clear that the battle for the post of Pro Tempore will be fought between two sitting Senators.
Last week, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Senator Joseph Nagbe, told the Daily Observer in an interview that he will be a candidate for in the forthcoming race for the post of Pro Tempore, which became vacant due to the defeat of former Pro Temp Gbehzohngar M. Findley in the Grand Bassa race.
But in a brief chat with this paper yesterday, Gbarpolu County Senator Armah Zolu Jallah said he is now a formidable candidate for the post of Pro Tempore, and that he is receiving the blessings of the majority block Senators in the current Senate.
Senator Jallah, who chairs the Senate Committee on Internal Affairs, Governance and Reconciliation told our reporter that he was confident of occupying the coveted Pro Tempore seat; “I can tell you with total confidence that I am poised to win. We are going to have a Pro Tempore who commands respect among his colleague Senators, people-centered and who fears being judged wrongly by posterity when he shall have left the Capitol Building,” an excited Jallah told this paper.
Like Senator Jallah, the Sinoe County Senator Nagbe also has a confident posture, which shows that the forthcoming election will be a very close call.
Senator Nagbe is quoted as having said that the post of Senate Pro Tempore needs to be occupied by someone who commands respect among his colleagues; and garners long years in governmental and Legislative experience.
But recent Legislative unscientific poll conducted by this paper observed that Senate watchers see Jallah as the most appropriate as he has shown to be open minded and representative of all sides.
Jallah has not been available for a comment mainly due to long consultative meetings, but according to a profile on his website he returned to the Senate in 2012 as Senator for Gbarpolu County, following the 2011 General Elections. The Pro Tempore hopeful’s earlier stint was in 1998 – 2003, when he won by about 70% the by-election to replace Cllr. Eddington Varmah as Senator of Lofa County.
“The creation of Gbarpolu was the result of a pledge Senator Jallah made in the by-election to replace Cllr. Varmah,” the website says, “and he mobilized his people of Gbarma and Bopolu Statutory Districts for this purpose. He attended both the Gbarma and Bopolu meetings that initiated plans for the creation of Gbarpolu County during the regime of former President Charles Taylor.
“During his earlier tenure, Senator Jallah sponsored the enactment of statute that changed the National Bank of Liberia into a full-fledged Central Bank, with a centralized national monetary policy and control in 1999.”
In the current Senate, Jallah chairs the Senate Standing Committee on Internal Affairs, Governance and Reconciliation; and co-chairs the Committee on Land, Mines, Energy, Natural Resources and Environment.
Senator Jallah also represents Liberia at the African Parliament, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and the Parliamentarian Council on Population and Development, a body that focuses on and advocates for population, family planning and health related issues in Liberia.
Senator Jallah whose County has one of the largest forest reserves in the country, has always fought against the abuse of private property rights, and opposed the New Forestry Law of Liberia intended to confiscate private property rights to logging companies.
Meanwhile, it is not known whether earlier names like Senators H. Dan Morais, Oscar Cooper and Alphonso Gaye will be on the ballot for the vacant post.
But for now, the ground floor office of Senator Jallah and the 1st floor of Nagbe are as busy as beehives with consultative meetings day in and day out.