Liberia: Would Snowe, Nuquay, Samukai, Dillon and Karnga-Lawerence Bring the Anticipated Impact in the Liberian Senate?

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Monrovia – When Liberians went to the polls on December 8, 2020 to vote in a mid-term senatorial election, they did so for a change in the system of governance.

They voted to have a balance of powers among the three branches of Government. They voted with a gauge to send a message to their government.

So far, the results announced by the National Elections Commission (NEC) show that there may likely be only three of the 14 incumbent Senators who ran for re-election returning.

They include Senators Abraham Darius Dillon of Montserrado County who ran on the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP) ticket, Nyounblee Karnga-Lawrence, Grand Basssa County and also of the CPP,  and  Augustine Chea of Sinoe County who ran on the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) ticket.

With these results, expectations among Liberians are high. The last time expectation was seen at this level in the faces of Liberians was 2017 when they elected football legend George Weah as their President.

In an election where majority of the sitting lawmakers performed dismally, the new batch of senators will have no choice but to meet up with a great deal of the people’s expectations and hopes. It can no longer be business as usual and those elected must show a different attitude.

No doubt a senate with majority opposition members will be under the obligations to set the pace for a normal system of governance where the interest of the people will be placed above individuals.

The Senatorial Mid-term elections was a rude awakening for the ruling CDC. To political pundits, the results are the way they are because the Liberian people are not pleased with the way President Weah is handling things – they believe he is not in charge.

With the advent of new faces at the Senate, it is no secret that President Weah and his ruling CDC will not get it all on silver platters. He might not get deals like the ETON, EBOMAF and the Passage of a US$30 million stimulus package sail through without thorough scrutiny.

FrontPage Africa’s Legislative Bureau Chief, Henry Karmo delves into the profile of the new faces and the handful of re-elected Senators that are expected to run things at the Upper House.

Brownie Jeffery Samukai

Brownie J. Samukai is a former Defense Minister under President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. He held that position for twelfth years. He led the process of recruiting and building a new Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL). He is a solider and fighter, and many who are familiar with him talk about his firebrand characteristics.

Samukai will represent Lofa County in the Senate. His colleague Senator from Lofa County is Senator Steve Zargo who, like him, came from a security background – a US trained police and intelligence personnel. He is a member of the CPP and Chairman of the Liberty Party (LP).

Mr. Samukai has had a rough road to the Senate where he had to clear his name off accusation that convicted him of economic sabotage.

On March 25, 2020, he, along and two others were found guilty for misapplying soldiers’ money and ordered by Criminal Court “C” to restitute over US$1 million.

His legal battle started days after he announced his interest to contest for the Senate in Lofa County. However, he got the green light to contest when the Supreme Court denied a petition filed against his registration by Korvah Jorgbor, seeking the Supreme Court to pronounce him ineligible for the Lofa County senatorial race due to his conviction by the lower court.

James Emmanuel Nuquay

Former House Speaker J. Emmanuel Nuquay is a also a former two term Representative of District #3 Margibi County. He is also a former head of the Liberian Aviation Authority (LAA). He dropped his ambition to contest for his district’s seat for the third term when he was picked by former Vice President Joseph Boakai to contest as his running mate in the 2017 Presidential and General Elections.

Nuquay led a revolution that unseated Former Speaker Alex Tyler and assumed the position as Speaker. After the 2017 elections he was one of the first members of President George Weah’s Cabinet to be announced. He resigned his membership from the former ruling Unity Party when he harbored the ambition to contest for the senate.

Contrary to expectations that he was the ruling CDC’s choice for Candidate in Margibi County in the just ended senatorial race, he contested as a candidate on the opposition People Unification Party (PUP).

Edwin Snowe

Representative Edwin Snowe was serving his third term as a member of the House of Representatives. He served two term in Montserrado County District #6 and was serving his first term in District #1 (Senjeh District), Bomi County. Snowe resigned as a CPP member to contest   for the Senate as an independent candidate, going against the CDC candidate Alex Tyler and Incumbent Senator Sando Johnson of CPP.

Like him or not, the name Edwin Snowe is no stranger to legislative politics. It may be his first service in the Senate but he understands legislative Politics and has had a great deal of influence on the floor of the Legislature. He has promised to align with the CPP and the opposition bloc in the Senate. Currently, he chairs the House Foreign Affairs Committee and leads the Liberian Delegation to the ECOAWS Parliament.

Abraham Darius Dillon

Dillon has been declared winner of Montserrado County with an unprecedented vote number of over 200,000. It is arguably the highest number of votes won by a senatorial candidate in Liberia. His number of vote accumulated is far higher than President George Weah when he contested for the Senate and won in 2014.

Dillon is the incumbent Montserrado County Senator who received huge Public approval by the number of votes just after one year of service in the Senate. He succeeded Senator Geraldine Doe-Sheriff who died of a prolong illness.

Dillon has to his credit of publicly informing Liberians the take home salary of a Senator and promised to take US$ 5K of such amount and returned the balance to the County for developmental propose through a county Development council setup by his office. On the road to his first election in 2019, he promised to be the light at the Senate, which is perceived of engaging in shady deals and receiving bribes to make laws.

With his huge approval ratings as evidence of his landslide victory over the CDC and Rep. Thomas Pangar Fallah, Dillon will surely continue being the “light” at the Senate. 

Nyounblee Karnga-Lawrence

Senator Karnga Lawrence is so far the only female candidate that has been announced winner of the Special Senatorial Elections. Currently, she is one of the most influential female politicians in Liberia. Senator Karngar-Lawrence is currently the Political leader of the Liberty Party and the only female Political Leader of the CPP, alongside three men. She is also expected to take over the Chairmanship of the CPP after current Chairman Alexander Cummings’ tenure expires.

She represents Grand Bassa in the Senate and has been given another nine years mandate by the Bassa people. She won against fiercest rival Gbezohngar Findley, a former Pro-Tempore of the Liberian Senate, who stepped down from his post as Foreign Minister in the Weah-government to contest on the ruling CDC in Grand Bassa County.

His political woes started in 2014 when he lost to then little known Johnathan Kaipay while he was serving as Pro-Tempore of the Senate. Despite enjoying huge support from the ruling CDC that also saw President Weah campaigning for him in Buchanan, Findley was unable to make his dream comeback to the Senate.

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