President Pro Tempore of the Senate Albert Chie, in a rather unusual mood on Tuesday, August 28, 2018, issued a stern and threatening comment that he would soon start taking serious and drastic action against senators who only attend sessions through his intervention.
“I will soon start taking serious and drastic action; this is not called for, the people’s work must go on. Sergeant, please go and call the senators to come to session,” Pro-Tempore Chie, who was the only lawmaker in the Senate Chamber at about mid-day Tuesday, was heard ordering the sergeant-at-arm.
He was at some instances inquiring from some of the senators, who have absented themselves from sessions, by phone as to whether they were not coming to do the people’s work.
For many visitors, and even legislative reporters who attend sessions on Tuesdays and Thursdays, the Pro-Tempore’s warning was rather belated but very necessary.
“When seeking for elected posts, some of these senators are energized to attempt campaign meetings as early as five o’clock, but are too tired to attend session twice a week after winning elections,” a disappointed visitor reacted to the Pro Tempore’s comment.
In early January, prior to his election, Senator Chie promised to lead by example as President Pro Tempore of the Senate for the next six years. The Grand Kru County Senator at a well-attended press conference, told his colleagues in attendance that under his leadership committees and their heads would be visited daily, especially during committee hearings, to ensure an effective team.
“The level of seriousness I attach to my committee work will double to help yield meaningful results in areas of legislation and oversight,” he said.
Chie also promised to ensure that perfect coordination exists among the leadership of the Senate, to assure that effective and stringent scrutiny is done on all bills before passage or ratification, especially the huge workload of legislation that are brought forward from the 53rd Legislature.
For several weeks, if not months ago, Pro-Tempore Chie said he has been requesting the summon of senators to attend sessions. That was for the few who visit their respective offices on session day, while a greater number could not appear at the Capitol at all.
It is not clear what specific time is stipulated for senators to commence session, but since the 54th Legislature, the earliest for start of sessions has been 11:00 a.m. and the latest 1:00 p.m.
Due to this development, observers wondered as to how the Pro-temp will administer drastic action, when some senators attend sessions as late as 3:00 p.m., depending on the workload of that day, and when there is no known pronounced time to start session.
Meanwhile, despite frantic efforts by the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Internal Affairs and Good Governance Reconciliation Senator J. Gbleh-bo Brown and Pro-Tempore Chie for the passage of the Local Government Act on Tuesday, Senators resolved that more cleaning needed to be done before possible consideration of the Act.
The debatable areas remain elections of paramount, clan, and town chiefs against the continuous appointment of local authorities by the President, while others argue that the number of 10,000 stipulated in the Act to create a city is too much, especially for a county like Grand Kru, which has a population of about 40,000 but with over 40 cities (2008 census).