Lawmakers Express Disappointment in Speaker Chambers’ Refusal to Attend Rep. Adolph Lawrence’s Funeral
MONROVIA – Some members of the House of Representatives say they feel ashamed being legislators under the leadership of Bhofal Chambers as Speaker, describing his refusal to attend Rep. Adolph Lawrence’s funeral service as a sign of bad leadership.
Report by Lennart Dodoo, [email protected]
The Speaker and some members of the Legislature, including Rep. Acarous Gray and Thomas Fallah boycotted the funeral ceremony of their fallen compatriot.
The Speaker and Rep. Fallah have since refused to speak on the reason for their failure to show up, but Rep. Gray told FrontPageAfrica over the weekend that he decided to stay away from the program to avoid the similar disruption that occurred last Thursday when members of the CDC and LP could not agree on taking the body to the Capitol.
For Nimba County Representative Larry P. Yonquoi, Speaker Bhofal Chambers cannot put up any justifiable excuse for not attending. He believes his refusal to attend the ceremony further deepens the division in the House.
“It cannot be for security reasons because the Speaker is third most powerful person in the country, he is always protected. Even if he didn’t have confidence in the local security, he could have written ECOWAS to send him security so that he would perform his role as Speaker at the ceremony,” Rep. Yonquoi said.
Rep. Yonquoi added: “This is hatred manifested. Why would the Speaker, as the head of the House, refuse to attend the funeral of a legislator? It only shows how divided we are. It also proves how the Speaker has been marginalizing some of us. He should remember, he’s not the Speaker of the CDC or the 73 Lawmakers, he is the Speaker of the Republic of Liberia.”
Rep. Yonquoi lamented that Speaker Chambers would decide to go such a route after being a sitting in two separate legislatures with the Late Rep. Lawrence.
He said Speaker Chambers could have averted last Thursday’s fracas between the members of the CDC and the Liberty Party which led to the family of the fallen lawmaker refusing to allow the remains of the lawmaker to enter the premises of the Capitol Building for the State funeral.
“The Speaker can easily access the Liberia National Police, he also has his private security who could have contained that situation and also the Sergeant-at-Arms who has the authority to call in the Liberia National Police at any point in time, why didn’t he do something about it for us to have gotten the opportunity to pay respect to the fallen legislator?” Rep. Yonquoi asked rhetorically.
According to him, though he cannot criticize President George Weah for not attending due to the presence of the Vice President and the Foreign Minister, the President, he said, should have borne in mind that Rep. Lawrence was not an ordinary citizen, lest to say a member of the ruling political party.
“The President should have recognized the bond they share. Rep. Lawrence was at the LFA and you know the President has his roots from football, he was a member of the ruling CDC; they shared a lot in common for him not to have shown up,” he said.
Rep. Yonquoi said the Independent Legislative Caucus would be meeting this week to come up with a position statement on the Speaker’s action.
Other lawmakers who spoke with FPA on the basis of anonymity expressed their frustration over the situation.
“One of the reasons why I don’t you mention my name is that when you I will become the next target. But it does not make any sense that the Speaker of the House of Representatives would decide not to attend the ceremony marking the burial of our fellow lawmaker. For God’s sake, even if none of us were there, the Speaker should have been there,” he said.
Another lawmaker quipped: “Now you can see how divided we are as a country. It’s only coming to the public now. What the Speaker exhibited is bad leadership. He’s not a unifier. We cannot under any circumstance support such action.”
It can be recalled that members of the Independent Legislative Caucus last week met with Pres. Weah asking him to admonish Speaker Chambers to reinvent his leadership style due to insistent complaints coming from his colleagues.
The lawmakers, who are members of the House of Representatives, recently held two meetings with President George Weah aimed at brokering a truce amid increasing discontent at the Capitol.
During the meetings, the lawmakers outlined nine pertinent issues including several disagreements with the leadership of the Speaker and the repeated criticisms of the President by Montserrado County’s District #10 Representative Yekeh Kolubah.
Grand Bassa County’s lawmaker Vicent Willie, claimed that their bloc is made of “few conscious legislators that think the same way” and have been ignored by Speaker Chambers.
“We’ve been rising this thing from the day we arrived at the Legislature up to current; we have flagged several issues and it was based upon the poor management and the way things were being handled in the house,” said Willie in an interview with FPA.
The Grand Bassa County’s District Four, who won the 2017 elections as an independent candidate, claims that “Speaker Chambers is not paying attention to the entire membership of the House” and has been putting up a none compliance posture.
“We were elected to make law but if you put your hands up in the session and the Speaker cannot recognize you or take your view that undermines your work as a lawmaker.
“The Speaker does not recognize us – if you sent your letter, your letter will not surface on the floor and when you raise issues, he doesn’t listen,” Rep Willie alleged, adding that the Speaker has been blatantly violating the standing rules of the House including his recent dissolution of several standing committees.