Liberia: Representative J. Fonati Koffa in Consultations to be Second in Command at the House of Representatives
MONROVIA – The chairman of the Judiciary Committee of the House of Representatives, Rep. Cllr. J. Fonati Koffa is said to be in consultations on whether to join the race for the Deputy Speaker’s seat as consultations for the second leadership position intensified.
The Grand Kru County District #2 Representative has been petitioned by his colleagues to join six other Representatives eyeing the Deputy Speaker position but has since launched “consultations” on the prudency of his participation in the battle.
On Saturday, Rep. Koffa replied to scores of journalists: “I have not joined anything. I am in consultation to join.”
Those tipped to expressed interest include House’s ECOWAS Parliament member, Lofa county District #3 Representative Clarence Massaquoi; Education Chairman, Rep. Johnson Gwaikolo of Nimba County District #9; Commerce Committee chairman Rep. Samuel Kogar (Nimba County District #5); Rep. Moima Briggs-Mensah of Bong County District #6 and Rep. Richard Koon of Montserrado County District #12.
Sources said if Rep. Koffa joined the race, there will be a 95% probability of winning and will be trailed by Rep. Gwaikolo and Rep. Clarence Massaquoi as possible replacements of outgoing Deputy Speaker Prince K. Moye who was elected as Senator in the just-concluded elections.
Impeccable sources said the House’s Judiciary Committee chairman had been pushed to join following a meeting of about 25 Representatives on Friday night in a local hotel.
One of those at the meeting said the “like-minded” Representatives present agreed to front Cllr. Koffa despite geographical region and political party as the candidate for Deputy Speaker, arguing that he has a “big heart, opened hand and is educated’ to ably assist steer the affairs of the Honorable House of Representatives and outside.”
Rep. Koffa’s Bloc?
Rep. Koffa appeared to be [a] strong candidate among the Representatives, according to a lawmaker from Montserrado, pointing out that since 2018, the “Rep. Koffa Bloc” comprising of 24 persons, has been together and is determined.
In 2018, Rep. Koffa was poised to contest the Speaker election against Rep. Bhofal Chambers and Rep. Hans Barchue but was compelled to “throw in the towel” and pledged support to Rep. Bhofal Chambers. Because of Rep. Koffa’s 11th hour support to Rep. Chambers taunted Rep. Barchue to withdraw from the Speaker’s race which caused Rep. Bhofa Chambers to win on white ballot.
Rep. Koffa also supported Rep. Moye and his support led to the victory of Rep. Moye over Rep . Barchue in the tight Deputy Speaker’s race.
Juris Doctorate Representative
Cllr. Koffa is a graduate of the University of North Carolina School of Law at Chapel Hill, where he obtained a Juris Doctorate (JD) degree in Law. His educational pursuit took him to Raleigh, North Carolina State University, where he obtained a Master of Public Administration (MPA) and a Bachelor of Public Administration (Cum Laude) with concentration in Urban Planning, from Shaw University, Raleigh, North Carolina, USA.
Hon. Koffa began his legal career in the United States in 1998 in private practice and then moved to Liberia in 2009 and became a founder and Managing Partner of the International Law Group(ILG), now one of the emerging corporate and government firms in Liberia. He was admitted to the Supreme Court Bar of Liberia as valedictorian of its Class of 2014.
Prior to his election as Representative he served as Minister of State without Portfolio and Legal Advisor to former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf from 2014 to 2016.
He began his entry into politics as a founding member of the Liberty Party, the third leading opposition party in Liberia where he was eventually elected as Chairman from 2011 to 2014. During his time as Chairman he oversaw the growth and expansion of the party including the increase of seats the party held in the National Legislature. He resigned the Liberty Party in 2018 and joined the Coalition for Democratic Change where he serves as a member of the Executive Council.
The Deputy Speaker election might probably be held on January 11 or at most on Thursday.
Accordingly, the Legislature will resume works the second working Monday in January – January 11, 2021; and by which time there will be a formal program. Four former Representatives who have become Senators-elect including Deputy Speaker Prince Moye, Rep. Edwin M. Snowe, Rep. Zoe Pennue and Rep. Jeremiah Koung might present their elective letters to the Secretary of the Senate for subsequent sworn-in as Senators on Tuesday or Thursday creating four districts’ by-elections in four counties. Thereby making the numbers of Representatatives at 67
If Representatives-elect Foko and Samson Wiah present their respective elective letters from NEC, they will be sworn-in and the Representatives will increase to 69. Rep. Follow and Wiah will replace the late Rep. Munah Pelham Youngblood and Jay Nagbe Sloh, respectively.
Expectedly, 69 Representatives will vote or in a rare case — more than 69 lawmakers might vote.
There are legal grounds for Senators-elect Rep. Edwin M. Snowe, Rep. Zoe Pennue and Rep. Jeremiah Koung to participate in the Deputy Speaker’s election if the trio delayed or failed to submit their elective letters from the NEC to Senate, thereby still making them Representatives.
Or in the event any of the three is in court, of which NEC hasn’t given an elective letter, that Representative also has the right to vote in the Deputy’s election because he remains a Representative.