The quest by some members of the House of Representatives to remove Speaker Alex J. Tyler as chief administrator of the Lower House seems fruitless, as the ringleaders are said to be after “lucrative positions at the moment.”
The rules of the House give the Speaker the power to appoint committee members and chairpersons respectively with a mandate to reshuffle them after three years.
Since the news broke of an imminent reshuffle during the 4th Session of the 53rd National Legislature, there have been several political maneuvers by individual Representatives to join the clique of those in lucrative positions or struggle to retain their respective committee jobs.
At the closing stages of the 3rd Session last year, the clique inclusive of Representatives Edwin M. Snowe, Emmanuel Nuquay and Bill Twehway threatened Speaker Tyler with removal after sensing that they might be replaced.
That threat was short lived, thereby reenergizing Speaker Tyler to proceed with his planned reshuffle.
Snowe and Nuquay head the Committees on Rules, Order and Administration and Ways, Means and Finance, respectively, the two positions considered “highly lucrative.”
Snowe was accused of “stealing” over US$40,000 intended to procure a vehicle for Deputy Speaker Hans Barchue, an allegation that led to his being sidelined during the Nationwide Oil Consultation, leaving Representative Barchue in charge of managing US$900,000 for the consultation.
Rep. Snowe, a Montserrado County lawmaker, is also aggrieved because Speaker Tyler appointed Deputy Speaker Barchue to manage US$5 million that was placed in the National Budget for district development purposes under the Liberia Agency for Community Empowerment (LACE) projects in the counties.
As for Margibi County Representative Nuquay, he was accused of linking with the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning to divert US$2 million to his personal projects in his district. Both Snowe and Nuquay have remained tightlipped about the allegations against them.
After realizing their failure in the first quest, the clique again rearmed and submitted a communication to the secretariat of the House calling for Speaker Tyler to recuse himself from presiding until his corruption allegation with the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) is addressed.
The letter to the Secretariat was not placed on yesterday’s agenda, forcing the ringleaders to disrupt the holding of session.
According to their rules, the Chief Clerk is under obligation to prepare the agenda of the House with the approval of the Speaker.
In keeping with that order, Speaker Tyler seized the bill noting; “Leadership does not see it fit to place the item on the agenda.”
That action caused serious contention among lawmakers both for and against, stoking a heated debate that lasted for hours.
The first Session in the New Year was called off and a called immediately following the disorder.
According to reports, the number wanting to unseat the Speaker is far less than what is required, and sources believe that the likes of Representatives Henry Farnhbulleh, Edward Karfiah and Snowe among others are seeking Tyler’s removal for “personal reasons not for the House’s interest.”
Interestingly, only 12 representatives are keen on removing the Speaker and signatories to the communication as presented to the Chief Clerk are all non-influential and perhaps afraid to fully support the move to unseat Tyler.
For instance Representatives Robertson N. Siaway, Mary Karwor and Roland Opee Cooper of Grand Bassa and Margibi Counties respectively, could not defend their signatures when debate opened yesterday. Asked why she affixed her signature to the document but declined to participate in the debate, Madam Karwor could not say a word about her action. “I don’t know what’s going here, but I know that there are procedures for things like this,” she said dodging the question.
Contacted for comment, the Speaker’s office considered yesterday’s drama as an attempt to create tension for political reasons. “They don’t have the numbers to proceed with their action, but they just want to make noise,” the Bomi County Representative’s spokesperson said.