In an effort to “fix” the morale of the House of Representatives after a change of leadership which brought “hard feelings and division” among the 73 Representatives, and among the three branches of the government, House Speaker J. Emmanuel Nuquay has unveiled a roadmap, comprising five cardinal pillars.
The Speaker said the “change of leadership” affected the functions of the government, brought tension between the Executive and Legislative branches, drew the Judiciary into the fray and factionalized the media.
Speaker Nuquay, on Monday, January 9, during the official program which marked the opening of the 6th Session of the House of Representatives, said: “We cannot ignore or play blind eye to this reality.”
He pointed out: “In realization of this division and its attendant consequences and being cognizant of the importance to have a united government to do the business of the Liberian people, our leadership wasted no time in developing a roadmap to address the problems and to ensure unity and reconciliation not only in our House but among the branches of government.”
According to the Speaker, the roadmap includes reconciliation and rebuilding the image of the House, coordination among the branches of government, partnership with the media and continuity in governance.
The first pillar of the roadmap, the Speaker said, was the ‘Reconciliation Retreat’ held in Ganta, Nimba County, from Nov. 2-4 that recorded a remarkable success, adding that the House Leadership has earmarked measures aimed at addressing some of the critical issues that were raised at the retreat in an effort to unify the House of Representatives.
“We will continue to preach reconciliation because in unity there is strength and, as the old adage puts it, ‘a house divided against itself cannot stand,’” Speaker Nuquay said.
The second pillar, the Speaker said, is to rebuild the image of the Legislature, tainted over the years with incessant public condemnations. He added that his leadership strongly rejects the mischaracterization of the House of Representatives and the general legislature in general.
Speaker Nuquay said to achieve the pillar of rebuilding the image of the Legislature, a nationwide survey in all the 73 electoral districts has been concluded to hear from the people (electorates) about governance, their activities and ascertaining their weaknesses.
“The result of the survey has informed us that 33 percent of our members are in appreciable standing in their respective constituencies while serious work needs to be done on the remaining 67 percent,” the Speaker said.
Another way to achieve rebuilding the image of the Legislature, he said, “is for the media to report on the activities of the Legislature in a fair and balanced way without bending the truth or dwelling on the negatives.”
The third pillar, the Speaker stated, is that the House will coordinate with the Executive and the Judicial branches of the government in the interest of the country.
“We believe that dialogue and negotiation are the way forward in doing the business of government because government is like one family,” Speaker Nuquay indicated.
For the fourth pillar, the Speaker said the vision for the Legislature and the country’s transformation cannot be achieved in isolation, and as such “We need the Fourth Branch onboard if we must have a truly holistic and functional government.”
“We want to help the Fourth Branch organize a responsible press in the country to promote peace and reconciliation among our people and we want the media to constructively critique our other three branches of government to help us discover our flaws and shortcomings so that we can take the necessary actions to correct our mistakes,” the Speaker noted.
He added: “Under this partnership and in recognition of the cardinal role of the media, we think it is prudent for our government to help the media to have a home too like all the other branches of government. Against this background, we are proposing including the 4th Estate in the National Budget beginning (with the) 2017-18 budget period to help construct the headquarters of the Press Union of Liberia.”
For the last pillar, continuity in governance, the Speaker said the national survey which was conducted by the Legislative Information Services (LIS) has informed the House of Representatives on some of the problems facing lawmakers in their respective districts, and will shortly begin instituting necessary measures to address the problems and improve on the relationship between the members of the Legislature and the people.
“They (incumbent lawmakers) know the inner workings of government and how to get things done. Changing our lawmakers every election undermines this investment and slows down development initiatives. It has been proven that with stable and continuous representation in the legislature, our constituents can easily access resources they need to accelerate developments in their areas,” the Speaker said.
“This is why, in this year’s election, we will be making a strong case to the Liberian people to see the need to return hard working and results-oriented lawmakers to the Capitol Building in 2018.”
Meanwhile, during the formal opening of the 6th Session, the President of the Senate, Vice President Joseph N. Boakai, and President Pro Tempore, for the first time in 10 years, didn’t make formal statements.
The twelve support departments, which make up the Central Administration in the Senate, were appreciated by the Senate’s Leadership.
Certificates of Appreciation were signed by the Senate’s Chairman on Rules, Order and Administration, Senator George T. Tengbeh, and approved by President Pro Tempore Armah Z. Jallah.
After the separate opening program, members of the House of Representatives and the Senate had a joint reception at the rotunda of the Capitol Building.
Today, Tuesday, January 10, 2017, both Houses will begin the first sitting of the 6th Session.