The position of the Speaker of the House of Representatives is considered the pinnacle of power in the Legislature. On paper, the position sounds like a politician’s dream job, and with the position vacant after the removal of J. Alex Tyler, many lawmakers have expressed interest in the position.
Among them are Deputy Speaker Hans. M. Barchue, Representatives Emmanuel Nuquay, Clarence Massaquoi, Josephine George Francis and Ricks Toweh.
The removal of Speaker Tyler on Tuesday marked the second dethronement of a Speaker in a decade (since 2006).
Deputy Speaker Barchue
Reports say the Deputy Speaker, who has been at the rim of the Speakership for over 9 years, has thrown his hat in the race. His support for the removal of Alex Tyler drew a lot of media attention over the past three months.
In fact the Deputy Speaker is the most experienced among the contestants, even though he was only elected 2011. His knowledge in accounting and security gave him the advantage for his deputy speakership role. He ran as an independent candidate and his ideas are linked to those of the political leader of Liberty Party, his kinsman, Cllr. Charles W. Brumskine.
Though he isn’t a close ally of the Chief Executive as compared to contender Rep. Francis, his good and harmonious relationship with his colleagues could compel the Chief Executive to support his quest for the position.
Currently, it’s said that the Deputy Speaker controls a little over a quarter, 16 members, of the 49 lawmakers, who affixed their signatures to the resolution that removed J. Alex Tyler Sr. from his position as Speaker. Reps. J. Byron Brown, Mary Karwor and Robertson Siaway of
Grand Bassa and Gertrude Lamin of Gbarpolu are his front-liners.
The Deputy Speaker’s interest in the speakership cracked the anti-Tyler bloc, which was referred to as Conscious Lawmakers, with a dozen lawmakers pledging their support to the former House’s Ways, Means, Finance and Development Planning Committee, Margibi County District # 5 Representative Emmanuel Nuquay.
The Chairman on the House’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC), Montserrado County District # 5 Representative Thomas Fallah, is his main campaigner.
Rep. Nuquay, among his colleagues, is said to be the richest lawmaker, having been the Chairman of the House’s Ways, Means, Finance and Development Planning Committee for seven years, and an influential businessman.
Since his dismissal from the Committee in 2014, Rep. Nuquay has been instigating plans to unseat Speaker Tyler. He is considered the most respectable lawmaker that understands the National Budget.
He was a member of the Unity Party (UP), under whose ticket he was elected in 2005 but later resigned from the party and became a founding member of the People’s United Party (PUP). He was reelected in 2011.
Many believe that with his financial prowess and his attempt to reconcile with the Chief Executive, he may have a chance to get the job as Speaker of the House.
The pro-Tyler lawmakers are still having ‘secret meetings’ to control the Legislature, hoping to field a candidate to emerge as the Speaker. Between the two favorites, Reps. George Wesseh Blamoh and Clarence Massaquoi, the latter has the edge, owing to his positive working relationship, some of his colleagues said.
The pro-Tyler bloc stands at 24 members, after the defection of five lawmakers. This means, holding everything constant, the anti-Tyler bloc also has a good chance to keep the speaker position in their grip.
Unconfirmed reports say Rep. Francis is the Chief Executive’s choice, and with the current level of cordiality and cooperation between the two branches, the Chief Executive’s way could be upheld.
Since 2006, the Chief Executive has always expressed her keen interest in the leadership of the Legislature. In the House of Representatives, the ousting of two Speakers and a President Pro Tempore of the Senate is reported to be the result of adverse rapport with the Chief Executive.
It is said that the ‘President has her way and the decision is made by the legislators,’ and it has also been rumored that the same anti-Tyler lawmakers have advised the Chief Executive that Rep. Francis has a ‘very bad bond’ with her colleagues.
In spite of the advice from the lawmakers, it is said that the Chief Executive would either insist on Francis, or support either Barchue or Nuquay and have Francis to settle for the Deputy Speaker post.
The defeated 2011 Speaker contender, Nimba County District # 6 Rep. Toweh, is said to be interested in another stab at the speakership.
An unconfirmed report says the Nimba County lawmaker can boast of about 11 lawmakers in his arsenal, including Montserrado County District # 6 Representative Edwin M. Snowe.
It is said that Rep. Snowe is supporting Rep. Toweh with a devil’s advocate ideology and would not support any lawmaker who would be eyeing the position in the 54th Legislature.
Credible reports gathered have it that owing to the passage of the Land Rights Authority Bill and the holding of the Speaker’s election, there would be an extension of an extraordinary sitting. Rule 10 of the House’s Rules and Procedure say that there would be election for Speaker within 60 days.
“When the office of the Speaker shall become vacant by reason of removal, death, resignation, inability or other disabilities, the Deputy Speaker shall act as Speaker until a new speaker is elected within 60 days,” the Rule said.