Senate Debates Status of Tenured and Non-Tenured Personnel Act Today

Grand Cape Mount County Senator Varney Sherman heads the Senate joint committee on Judiciary and Autonomous Agencies

The Liberian Senate will today hold debate on an Act Regulating the Status of Tenured and Non-Tenured Personnel of the Liberian Government upon the Inauguration of a New President of Liberia.

The Act submitted to Senate plenary by Grand Cape Mount County Senator H. Varney Gboto-Nabie Sherman, basically addresses the status of tenured and non-tenured presidential appointees in the event of transition from one democratically elected President of Liberia and another democratically elected President of Liberia.

A similar Act was sent to the Senate by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf sometime last year under the title; Pesidential Transition Act, but due to public outcry and suspicion that it was purposely intended to provide immunity to President Sirleaf, she withdrew same from the Legislature.

The Senate however, produced its own “Presidential Transition Act,” referred to as the “Senate’s Presidential Transition Act,” which was voted upon by the Liberian Senate and sent to the House of Representatives for concurrence, but the Lower House failed to vote on it.

Because of the need for a transition law which Liberia currently lacks  but is common in “countries with a governance system similar to Liberia, President Sirleaf issued an Executive Order, which incorporated parts of both the original Presidential Transition Act and the Senate’s Presidential Transition Act,” Senator Sherman noted in his communication dated January 8, 2018.

However, Senator Sherman, who chairs the powerful Senate Committee on Judiciary, Claims, Petitions and Human Rights, submitted that the Executive Order has “some deficiencies and contains certain provisions which are inimical to good governance with specific reference to the status of tenured and non-tenured presidential appointees upon the inauguration of the newly elected President. ”

The purpose of this law regarding the end of the services of a tenured personnel, according to Cllr. Sherman, “is to ensure that the appointing power would not be able to, at his/her will and pleasure, use a vested power to terminate such personnel in order to influence his/her acts and conduct during his/her tenure.”

In the case of a non-tenured personnel, his/her services can be considered terminated on Inauguration day, provided however he/she shall continue to serve in his/her position in a temporary capacity until a successor is nominated by the new President of Liberia.

Upon such nomination the Act continues; “even though prior to the Senate’s consent/confirmation, the non-tenured personnel shall cease to perform the functions or exercise the powers of the office and the new presidential nominee shall serve as interim official of the Government pending consent of the Liberian Senate or other confirmation process as provided by the governing law for such ministry, agency, commission, establishment, for profit, non-profit entity of the Liberian Government.”

There are indications that the 53rd Legislature now sitting in extra nine days session will pass the Act based upon the urgency attached to it by the author.


  1. In simple English, it is about job security.

    For instance, not only that untenured personnel worry about jobs when a new government is in the horizon, the uncertainty grips high profile tenured personnel too. Naturally, such fears lead to decreased job satisfaction, lower performance levels, and the probability of weak – minded employees falling prey to temptations in order to have enough money for the rainy day, so to speak.

    One is hoping that principal postions in the Security Sector get tenured, or, at least, contracted, and renwable every three years, for example. It should stop turf wars, operational overreactions, sycophancy, and exaggerated informations being fed to the powers – that – be by insecure bosses. Most importantly, the rank and file of the various law enforcement institutions would do their jobs without fear or favor as senior
    officers won’t tell them to drop investigations, because VIP X has shown interest in the case.

    Thanks, Senator Sherman, this is going to enhance effectiveness/ efficiency, a characteristic of good governance.

    • You have made a very good point Mr. Moses and I think a law that provides a roadmap for the coming in of a new administration is important in strengthening our democracy.

      However, on the subject of tenure for heads of security institutions, I hold the position that the timing is wrong and counter productive because such move at this time could be easily interpreted as a dangerous imposition intended to paralyse the Weah’s Administration particularly in the area of national security.

      In all honesty, President Sirleaf or the 53rd Legislature should have done this a long time ago so that we would have had the time to test the law and if need be, make adjustments where necessary.

      Look my senior colleague, we are just few days to the coming in of a new administration and here we are rushing to pass laws. Why are we in such a rush? Is there a motive? Or are we saying that the new government lacks the ability to appreciate such an important piece of legislation?

      In my view, the Weah’s Administration should be the one looking at this issue and making a determination.

      The urgency attached to the passage of these laws especially the one related to the police tells me that something is out of order and we all need to be very mindful here. There is a Mandingo proverb that says “when you see the intestine of a chicken standing straight, it means something is inside”.

  2. No, Mr. Gbawou Kowou 1V, I’m not suggesting the present security bosses should stay put; that’s the prerogative of the incoming administration. Instead, henceforth, appointees in public safety and homeland security – for example, LNP and NSA – should be considered for either contracted or tenured positions to enable them honestly provide unvarnished professional opinions. (Incidentally, some of us who tried that in the past were sometimes considered abrasive, rude, drunk, or whatever adjective aides gave the – powers – that – be)

    Undeniably, unlike other countries in the sub – Region with past hands – on colonial apprenticeships, ours lack strong institutions, such as an independent Civil Service Commission. Their Civil service commissions ensure job security for mid level employees & principals; and promotions or disciplinary actions within agencies are respectively in keeping with civil service rules of merit/ performance, or evidence.

    For instance, the uncertainty about job retention which faced prosecutors in New York when a Republican president took over in 2017 won’t happen in the UK. The British have a long tradition of keeping political tides from cresting on the shores of an independent Civil Service institution.

    So, if we’re going to “change” the way things are done at home, new approaches should be part of the national conversation. And thank you Gbawou for that pertinent observation; it induced clarification of my viewpoint for the benefit of other readers.

  3. No Agency, be it security or otherwise, should be provided sanctury in Government
    services. It ties the incoming Government hands from putting new and efficient
    people to man the operation of the country. What if those in the security sector have
    had some corrupt stink on them? And according to Harold M. Aidoo, such people
    should be given second chance, period!


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here