By Alva M. Wolokolie
The Institute for Research and Democratic Development (IREDD) with funding from the National Endowment Democracy (NED) based in the United States has released the 53rd National Legislature score card activities with several lawmakers at the peak of being “Boo-boo Lawmakers”. Boo-boo in the Liberian setting means deaf and dumb.
The report covers the second session of the legislature beginning from January 15-April 26, 2013 which lasted for 38 days.
In late August 2012, the Legislature adjourned for its constituency break as required by the Constitution of Liberia. This ended the first session of the newly elected legislators which commenced on January 9, 2012 after the October 2011 General Elections.
At a press conference yesterday to announce the report to the media, the Acting Program Officer of (IREDD) Mr. Paul Hinneh told reporters that during this second session which is the subject of the report, the House of Representatives held 18 sittings; while the Senate had 20. He said the data contained in the report was collected based on the previous score-card approaches and monitoring which took into account the three primary functions of the legislature namely; lawmaking, representation and oversight.
Under lawmaking, Mr. Hinneh said the institute took into account bill(s) introduced, bills sponsored, committee reports consummated, concessions, treaties, agreement signed into law and petitions transformed into law. He said relative to representation, the Institute investigated Plenary attendance and participation on the floor while for oversight, investigation conducted considered annual budget performance reports from government agencies and ministries as required by law, confirmations of ministries and superintendents and communications inviting heads of government ministries and agencies on state action relative to budget utilization and management.
According to Mr. Hinneh, the exercise which now culminates into the current scorecard is to help strengthen legislative responsiveness and thereby promote accountability and transparency of legislators to their constituencies and the public.
Mr. Hinneh explained that the process will help citizens understand what their lawmakers do and say while in legislative sessions that the citizens are better able to hold them on the merit of their performances. He added that this scorecard is a way of enabling citizens not only to understand what their lawmakers should be doing but also providing them a platform to evaluate their representatives’ performances.
Touching on the report in parts beginning with “present” Mr. Hinneh said the House of Representatives scored the total percent of 49.4% while the Senate scored 38.17% in plenary attendance. Of the 18 and 20 sessions held, twenty six (26) Representatives got an average score of “A”; however, only 19 Representatives attended all and therefore got 100%.
The report says Rep. Gabriel B. Smith, an Independent lawmaker of Grand Bassa County got the least in Plenary attendance. He attended six (6) sessions and got 33.33% which is equivalent to a score of “F”.
The Senate witnessed enormous turnout of its members during this sitting. 15 of the 30 Senators got “A” in plenary attendance and 7 Senators attended all the 20 sessions held by the Liberian Senate. The report also acknowledged that other lawmakers got low or no scores in plenary attendance due to either protracted period of illness or attending official duties out of the country or at district meetings. Those lawmakers concerned include; Sen. Oscar Cooper, of Margibi County and Rep. Samuel G.Z. Woleh of Nimba County District # 3, both were pronounced sick up to the compiling of this quarter report.
For participation in plenary debate, Mr. Hinneh said this aspect of legislative representation is participation in plenary debate. This is a means by which lawmakers express their personal or constituency perspectives and aspirations on specific legislative agenda items.
As guaranteed by the standing rules of both the Senate and the House of Representatives, each lawmaker is entitled to speak on a particular issue only once. Those who have nothing to contribute are considered yielding their time to colleagues and sit quietly to watch their colleagues speak. Senator Isaac Nyenebo-NDPL, Grand Gedeh, got the highest “participation times” in the Senate. The report says he spoke 45 times. Similarly, Rep. Eugene Fallah Kparkar of Liberty Party (LP), Lofa County, got the highest “participation times” in the House of Representatives. He spoke 78 times.
Others with high participation marks include; Mabutu V. Nyanpan who spoke 30 times, Sen. Joseph Nagbe, 40, John A. Ballout, 33, Alphonso G. Gaye 30, Sumo Kupee 36, George T. Tengbeh spoke 30 times, Armah Z. Jallah spoke 37 times, Fredrick Cherue 40 and Cletus Wotorson spoke 44 times.
In the Lower House, Rep. J. Byron Brown of Grand Bassa County spoke 55 times, Bhofal Chambers spoke 42 times, Thomas Fallah 50, Larry Younquoi 45, Rep. Worlea S. Dunnah 30, Richard M. Tingbeh 40, Francis Paye 42 and Prince K. Moye spoke 30 times respectively.
Conversely, the report said the following lawmakers got zero in plenary participation which the public described as boo-boo lawmakers. They include; Rep. Mambu M. Sonii of Grand Cape Mt. County, Corpu Barclay of Bong County, Alfred G. Karwood of Gbarpolu, Malai G. Gbogar of Gbarpolu, Mary M. Karwor of Grand Bassa, Robert N. Siaway of Grand Bassa and Aaron B. Vincent of Cape Mount.
Others include; Tarwoe Waylee Morris of Grand Gedeh, Roland Cooper of Margibi County, Garison Yealue of Nimba County, Charles K. Bardi of River Gee and Alfred Juweh of Rivercess County.
Some lawmakers with low participation who only spoke 2 times are Solomom George of Montserrado County, Adam B. Corneh of Montserrado County, Sekou Kanneh and Jeremiah Mccaulay.
Those who spoke 3, 5, and 8 times include; Emmanuel Zoe Pennue of Grand Gedeh County, Alex grant of Grand Gedeh, Mariamu B. Fofana of Lofa County, Isaac Roland of Maryland Couty, Josephine Francis George, and Joseph S. Hardy.
Senators who spoke 17,18,15 and 17 times respectively are Clarice A. Jah of Margibi County, Theodore Momo of Gbarpolu County, Thomas S. Grupee of Nimba County and Joyce Musu Freeman of Montserrado County. Senator Prince Y. Johnosn of Nimba County got the least in participation in the Senate. He spoke only 10 times. Another version of the report is imminent.