In life you need either inspiration or desperation as Tony Robbins puts it. Speaker Alex J. Tyler invited a clergyman on Thursday June 30, 2016 into the Chambers of the House of Representatives for a joint intercessory service in which he asked for forgiveness from the Almighty God.
This, according to many who frequent the vicinity of the Capitol, was utterly unusual. Many Liberians have speculated that Speaker Tyler’s quest for divine intervention may be an act of desperation- especially given the public demand for his recusal from the role of Speaker after the court indicted him on several charges for his role in the Sable Mining bribery case.
Speaker Tyler, who is by his position a prominent Liberian citizen, has on many accounts since his election to the National Legislature been caught in controversial mishaps that may seem immoral for not only the position he occupies as a lawmaker but also as Speaker of the House of Representatives.
Unfortunately, the latest round of allegations has cast unprecedented doubt on his commitment to the public good following his deep involvement in Sable Mining’s malicious attempt to alter the concessions law of Liberia. Before all of this, the Speaker was allegedly involved in a violent exchange on January 18 2008. Tyler and his bodyguards had an altercation with former government official Prince Toe in which it is alleged that Tyler’s bodyguards assaulted Toe after pulling him from a church.
It is also reported that an arrest warrant was issued on the 21st of January for charges of aggravated assault and criminal solicitation. Following the intervention of the Minister of Justice, the arrest warrant was withdrawn on the basis of "procedural errors.” Then during a session in May 2011, Tyler ordered the Sergeant-at-Arms to seize the cameras of two legislative reporters because according to Speaker Tyler, the cameramen were disrupting the proceedings of the honorable House.
This prompted the Legislative Pool Reporters to place a media blackout on the National Legislature. After passionate intervention by the Press Union of Liberia, Speaker Tyler apologized to the reporters a month later. Fast-forward to 2015, when the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) commenced investigation into a US$25,000 payment from the National Oil Company of Liberia (NOCAL) for legal services provided to the Legislature for a nationwide oil consultation.
The payment became controversial when the amount paid by NOCAL turned out to be much higher than what was actually received by the lawyer providing the legal service. The LACC subsequently made arrests with Speaker Alex Tyler, Representative Adolph Lawrence and others at the core of an investigation along with the lawyer, Cllr. Michael N. Allison. The myriad of controversies surrounding the Speaker culminated in the May 2016 Global Witness report, which reported that the Speaker received approximately $75,000 United States Dollars as an inducement from Cllr. Varney G. Sherman to alter the concessions law of the state.
Whether he’s convicted on this allegation or not, it seems that the Speaker’s involvement in these bizarre transactions and exchanges at various intervals in his professional dealings have cast a dark cloud over the National Legislature and calls into question the integrity of him and his elected colleagues. Though some have mustered the courage to call for his immediate recusal, many on the other hand have built alliance and allegiance with the controversial Speaker. In a recent press conference, Speaker Tyler said: “The chief architect of this ploy is President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and the chief motive of President Johnson- Sirleaf is to remove me as the Speaker of the House of Representatives who is seen in her mind an obstacle in pursuance to her personal political agenda. In view thereof, the President is seeking to by-pass the constitutional safe-guard of an independent Legislature”. Evidently, the Speaker’s accusation without the presentation of the facts may easily be characterized as scapegoating or character attack on the president. The Speaker by his inclination believes that the president’s attempt to remove him as speaker is an attempt to “by-pass the constitutional safe-guard of an independent Legislature. “
Meanwhile and in the same press conference, the speaker further calls into question the integrity of some of his colleagues by terming them as surrogates of the executive who have been induced with cash to unseat him. To call into question the integrity of some members of the House of Representatives by all indications invalidate the independence Speaker Tyler asserts in his press conference.
Benefits of the Speaker It is an undeniable fact that the Speaker of the House of Representatives has generous benefits financed by taxpayers to ensure the interests of the state are appropriately protected.
Besides the comfortable salary, several perks are inserted in the National Budget for the Office of the Speaker. These include housing allowances, security, cook, housemaid, vehicles, allowances for newspapers and many others. For the budget year 2015/2016, the Speaker Office was allotted a whopping $1,057,567 United States Dollars- all of which include tax-payers contribution as well as direct support from our development partners. Unfortunately, however, such benefits do not appear to have reminded the Speaker of his immense duty to uplift the Liberian people. If he wasn’t arguing with other public officials or journalists, he was busy negotiating $25,000.00 for his personal benefits or $75,000.00 to change the concession laws to favor foreign investors at the expense of the Liberian people. P. Morris Kromah, Monrovia