Monrovia – When Alex Jeneka Tyler, Speaker of the House of Representatives in Liberia packed his bags and walked out on the ruling Unity Party last December, many painted a sign of betrayal.
Ranking partisans including the party’s chairman Varney Sherman branded Tyler as a traitor who had betrayed the party which elevated him to political stature as the most powerful voice in the lower house of the national legislature. Tyler has since moved on, aligning himself with the Liberia People Democratic Party (LPDP), a political grouping he says has vision, passion, love and commitment to develop Liberia and ensure equal distribution of resources. In the past few days since his announcement that he was joining the LPDP, Tyler and his LPDP has been making the rounds and planting poles in the various sub-divisions of Liberia. On a trip to Greenville, Sinoe County, this week, Rep. Moses Y. Kollie, National Chairman of the party, told partisans and citizens of the Party that the program was not a campaign or political rally but simply the official opening of the LPDP office in Sinoe County to indicate the presence of the party and to identify with the aspirations of the Citizens. Tyler who re-echo the new direction and said that the LPDP would strive to ensure women empowerment, economic liberation for Liberians, quality education in the counties, efficient healthcare, and modern infrastructures in the country among others. According to Tyler, the platform of the LPDP is the best and called on the citizens of Sinoe to join the Party to ensure that Sinoe gets the best that it deserves. He pointed out that though the Party has a well -designed platform to suit the development aspirations of all citizens and political sub-divisions, the party is opened to the views and suggestions of the citizens. For all the talk of the past few days, Tyler still faces a daunting task trying to convince potential voters that he is far removed from the baggage of the ruling party. At his coming out party recently for the LPDP, Tyler sought to distance himself from UP. “I have seen a party that is not power conscious, but service conscious. I have seen a party that wants to make a difference in Liberia since 1847." "I have seen partisans with the spirit of collectivity, tenacity of purpose, discipline, vision for a new Liberia and dream to make Liberia great. I have seen a party that seeks to give power to the people through pragmatic, uncomplicated and workable decentralization system, not to take it away." For now, many are unsure about Tyler’s political direction. Some say the speaker is on a mission to put together a political alliance in a bid to set himself up as a Kingmaker and key decider of the 2017 Presidential and legislative races.
Amid concerns about ego factor keeping many in the opposition from aligning, Menipakei Dumoe, an official of the LPDP says Tyler has one hundred percent confidence in the capacity of the LPDP to bring about an opposition alliance that is able to retire the ruling Unity Party and is confident of a straight out first round victory. “He (Speaker Tyler) thinks the party is capable entering the second round on its own because of the support of politicians with established names and diverse networks right across the country.” Nevertheless, Tyler is hopeful of an opposition alliance. “I think all of the leaders of the opposition community need to come to the process with an open mind. I have been stressing the importance of people looking beyond their ambitions and focusing on securing victory for the masses in the form of a team that lead our country in the right direction.” Dumoe says “The new direction has been the rallying cry for the party in the past few days as part of its desire to move away from the current government's lack of confidence in our people capacity”. Tyler’s and the LPDP are not taking the 2017 process likely and have now hoisted its flag in Lofa, Bong, Nimba and Margibi Counties. The tour which started on March 27, 2016 is taking the LPDP on a ten days journey to Grand Bassa, Sinoe, Grand Kru, Maryland, Rivergee and Grand Gedeh Counties. Even before his resignation from the ruling Unity Party, Tyler’s made known his political ambition when he proposed what appears an attempt to buy the sympathy of rural dwellers, calling for a budgetary allotment of US$1 million for each electoral district for development purposes and to change the infrastructural conditions of the districts. With its members dominantly lawmakers from the House of Representatives some of whom have won two successive legislative elections, the LPDP might not only be relying on the shoulders of Speaker Tyler who hails from a lowly populated Bomi County. The likes of Moses Kollie, who is serving his second term at the Legislature and other lawmakers who are members of the LPDP will serve as a political boost for the new party. Odd factors While the LPDP has started showing seriousness towards the political process with a nationwide tour and showcasing its preparedness financially with the display of brand new vehicles, the long tenure of Tyler as Speaker of the House of representatives is one factor that will come to hurt his political ambition. During these years, the National Legislature ratified dozens of agreements without proper scrutiny awarding concessions to companies that lack the capacity to invest. The case of Buchanan Renewable Energy, Broadway Consolidated Plc and other hand bag companies that were awarded concessions in Liberia with the legislature ratifying their agreements at fast speed are all some of the factors likely to hurt the Tyler campaign. An audit by Moore Stephens, an international auditing firm found that the National Legislature ratified more than 50 agreements that did not meet the requirements of Liberian laws including the Public Procurement and Concession Commission and other laws.
On what looks a defensive campaign for the Speaker he has been defending his actions at the National Legislature refusing to take the blame for any failed law during the current regime. "As you may say, it is my responsibility to supervise the passage of laws, oversight functions -- therefore why speak on these when I'm the third in the power structure of the state?", Tyelr said when he officially joined the LPDP. He defended that as Speaker he does not dictate policies or positions nor to arm-twist members of the various committees, citing the independence of members of the Legislature. "The Legislature does not always devise annual legislative agenda. We review and pass legislations on the basis of majority votes. The vision bearer of the state is the head of the Executive Branch who submits her vision for the nation", said Speaker Tyler As political processes leading to 2017 intensify, Tyler may not be one of the favorites to win the Presidency according to many political observers but the early stance of the LPDP through countywide mobilization could likely position Tyler and the party to become a kingmaker in 2017. Already incumbent President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and other politicians have expressed that no one political party is capable of winning the pending election, and this puts people like Tyler and his party in a better position to make political in rows in a possible runoff where politicians trade votes for positions in government. With Tyler and Unity Party officials including Senator Sherman exchanging unpleasant words due to manner in which Tyler left the party it remains to be seen if they can still work together should the ruling party make it to a possible runoff in 2017.