By Kadiker Rex Dahn, MA, M.Ed, PhD
President Weah needs help from all members of the Lower House especially those from the opposition and independent political parties. The Lower House under the leadership of Speaker Bhofal Chambers has not been able to rally all members of that Body to demonstrate unity. As a matter of fact, the Lower House is completely divided. Besides, Speaker Chambers is weakly embedded with poor human relations, questionable academic credentials, and above all,has not been able to rally support on behalf of the government in and out of Liberia. The Speaker’s inability to head a Congressional Delegation to powerful Economic Houses like the United States and European countries speaks to the fact that Speaker Chambers cannot offer anything tangible to the Government of President Weah. One must ask if the current Speaker of the House of Representatives cannot ably represent our government at the international level what actually is the need and purpose to have such an individual in such a powerful position? Tribal/regional politics is seriously undermining the government of President Weah. The purpose of this article is to appeal to President Weah for the sake of the betterment of Liberia to do an objective critical analysis of the deteriorating leadership of the Lower House, rethink, remove and replace Bhofal Chambers as Speaker of the House of Representatives.
After the departure of Speaker Chambers, we appeal to the President to proffer an individual not necessarily from the Congress for Democratic Change but any respected individual either from the opposition or an independent party who can help the President in implementing national agendas. Mr. President, the truth of the matter is that Bhofal Chambers is not serving you well and to it bluntly, he is an embarrassment to you, your leadership, the District he represents, his county, his political party, the Lower House, and the Country. Someone may ask if Speaker Chambers is to be removed and replaced, why not directly campaign among members of the Lower House and an appeal has to be made directly for the President’s intervention? In African politics Liberia, not an exception, Presidents always have their say and influence in all of the Branches. In the Liberian context, considering the caliber of people in both Houses, certainly, a President has a sweeping power to influence decisions. The Liberian President’s power to influence the decision, whether or not one likes it, includes that of the Judicial Branch. That being the case, even though fundamentally, such power undermines the separation of powers among the Three Branches, sadly, it is how things look like in the practice of Liberian constitutional democracy. Emphatically, based on what we know, Liberian presidents have the power to influence the Liberian Legislature. Former Speakers of the House of Representatives, Edwin Snowe and Alex Tyler can speak to the power of a Liberian President. Bhofal Chambers is a Speaker today of the House of Representatives because of two persons, God and President Weah. Had God not used his power to influence thought processes of President Weah to consider Bhopal Chambers as prime candidate for the Speakership, certainly, he could not have been elected. In other words, Bhopal is in this position because of the influence and recommendation of President Weah. Since Chambers on the other hand has not been able to deliver and President Weah still possess such power to influence removing and replacing the Speaker of the House of Representatives like former President Sirleaf, we feel it is prudent for the President to use such influence and power once again.
One does not need to be a rocket scientist to determine that Speaker Chambers has not been able to perform to expectation. Bhofal Chambers’ alleged order or the flogging of a Liberian businessman whom the Legislature owes for work done on behalf of that Body at the Capitol Building in the presence of the Speaker without his intervention, invalidates Bhofal Chambers as an honorable man and a lawmaker. Here again, we maintain that the abuse of power without the Court as the final arbiter is inconceivable because such action undermines the rule of law. Speaker Chambers’ action against the businessman in question clearly speaks to undermining the rule of law. In our opinion, he is not worthy to be a lawmaker not to mention a Speaker. Chambers’ presence in the House, especially as a Speaker, is a waste of state’s resources. We believe at this point in time in the history of our country, President Weah for the betterment of Liberia needs to ensure the departure of Speaker Chambers. We know for fact Speaker Chambers has not been able to deliver. If during good times, Speaker Chambers has not been able to deliver, how would he possibly deliver during post-COVID-19? We are optimistic that in the fullness of time, the coronavirus will be defeated. The challenge we are going to face after the defeat is how do we garner international support for our government? We know very well that powerful Economic Houses like the United States and European countries are facing tremendous challenges as it relates to the COVID-19. We will need help from these Economic Houses but, they too have to first work on their own recoveries before paying attention to others. Certainly, Speaker Chambers with the many deficiencies cannot ably lead a congressional delegation to Washington, Brussels and any foreign capital to lobby persuasively and convincingly on behalf of the Liberian government. With this uncertainty, we appeal to President Weah to closely look at the honorable men and women in the Lower House and endorse an individual just like what he did for Chambers.
Select from the House
To show the maturity of the CDC’s led government, we appeal to the President to look outside of the “Box.” In other words, we do not want the President to look for another CDCians to become the next Speaker. Most of those serving in the Lower House are all “honest” Liberians with various levels of competency, expertise, and leadership abilities who could equally work with the President for the betterment of our country. Based on our research, there are several individuals that could ably serve as a Speaker of the House of Representatives after the departure of Chambers. Though from the opposition, Deputy Speaker, Honorable Prince Moye, could be a candidate for the speakership. Honorable Larry Younquoi, an outspoken member of the House from the opposition could equally be a candidate. Honorable Edwin Melvin Snowe, once a Speaker equally could be considered for the list. Honorable Fonati Koffa can make the list. Our only concern is that Honorable Koffa is just entering the House; selecting and eventually electing him to such high position may not go well with some lawmakers. That said, Koffa is the President’s countryman far better educated and experienced than that of Chambers who in our opinion can do a better job.In addition to all of those qualified individuals mentioned above, we feel there is another individual we equally believe and convinced can be the best candidate. That person is Honorable Hans Barchue. In our research and background checks, almost all staffers, former and sitting Representatives we spoke with all concluded that Honorable Hans Barchue could be the best to replace Speaker Chambers. One Representative told us that Honorable Barchue “is like an octopus and all over the place showing concern to every lawmaker; he reaches out and works with everyone. This guy understands the job. He can really make a difference and unify the Lower House.” Besides, our team was told that his major concern is working with a sitting president while at the same time, maintaining the integrity of the House of Representatives. As a former Deputy Speaker, if preferred and elected, Honorable Barchue will begin performing. In any event, our ultimate goal and for the sake of our country, is for Speaker Chambers to be removed and replaced with a competent lawmaker and Honorable Helms Barchue and any of those mentioned above fits into that shoe.
Liberia is at a crossroad in our political governance. Three years of President Weah’s six years have already elapsed yet the government of President Weah is still facing daunting challenges. Some members of the national Legislature, especially its leaderships, are immersed in destructive partisan and regional politics and haven’t been able to demonstrate genuine leadership. One of such failed leaders in our opinion is Bhofal Chambers. The form and manner, Bhofal Chambers has conducted himself and that of the leadership of the Lower House has not been to standard. Flogging a Liberian businessman perhaps by the order of the Speaker, in his presence especially at the Capitol Building without his intervention speaks to the fact that Chambers days are numbered at the Legislature. Such action by an individual, third in line for presidential succession is disturbing and equally gives an ugly picture of the CDC led government. If Chambers is not removed, it would appear in the eyes of Liberians and perhaps the international community that President Weah is the barrier. Bhofal Chambers as we know cannot face the international community to lobby on behalf of our government especially after COVID-19. He didn’t do it then and cannot do if after COVID-19. Since in the Liberian body politics presidents have the power to influence decisions, we are appealing to President Weah considering the dismal performances of Speaker Chambers to see reason, rethink, remove and replace Bhofal Chambers as a Speaker of the House of Representatives.
Kadiker Rex Dahn holds a Ph.D. in Historical, Philosophical, and Social Foundations of Education from the University of Oklahoma. He is an author of the book, “Learning from the Lives of Exiled Liberian Women: An Oral History from 1979-2006.” He is a member of the North America Scholar Consortium, membership with the Highest Honor. Contact: [email protected].