Home Politics On Support For Koon’s Speakership: Boakai Faces Hurdles …As Reps-elect Reject President-elect’s Plea; Reaffirm Support For Koffa

On Support For Koon’s Speakership: Boakai Faces Hurdles …As Reps-elect Reject President-elect’s Plea; Reaffirm Support For Koffa

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By: Frank P. Martin

MONROVIA: What appears to be a major political setback has been encountered by Liberia’s President-elect, Joseph Nyuma Boakai (JNB), when nearly thirty-one (31) Representatives-elect to the incoming 55th Legislature reportedly rejected plea by the incoming President to support Unity Party (UP’s) candidate, Richard Nagbe Koon, for the powerful and influential House Speaker post.

Members of the incoming 55th Legislature are expected to elect the leadership of the august body including Speaker, Deputy Speaker and other officials on Monday, January 15, 2024 at the Capitol Building, the seat of the National Legislature in Monrovia.

The out-going Government, led by the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC), selected the re-elected Representative of Grand Kru County, Cllr. Jonathan Fonati Koffa, an American trained Lawyer, who is also incumber Deputy House Speaker, to represent the CDC, while the incoming, Unity Party (UP), is galvanizing all the necessary support for the Montserrado County re-elected Representative and financial expert, Richard Nagbe Koon, to become the House Speaker.

On Tuesday, January 9, 2023, President-elect, Joseph Nyuma Boakai, formally invited members of the incoming House of Representatives at his Rehab residence in Paynesville, outside Monrovia, “to acquaint himself the with Reps-elect.”

Surprisingly, most of the newly elected Representatives did not attend the called meeting with President-elect Boakai, as 31, out of a total of 73 Representatives, graced the occasion.

Reports also had it that following the ‘meet and greet’ aspect of the meeting, incoming President Boakai promised each Lawmaker a mouthwatering US$5,000 for their respective electoral districts, aimed at celebrating his inauguration slated for 22nd , January, across the country.
According to an insider of the meeting which was held behind closed-door, the President-elect further told the incoming Representatives to elect UP candidate for the House Speaker post, Richard Nagbe Koon, a comment that reportedly sparked intense debates among the newly elected Representatives.
This paper has also gathered that most of the participating lawmakers expressed displeasure in voting the UP candidate in the Monday, January 15, 2024, House leadership elections.

It is further gathered that many of the meeting attendees expressed explicit confidence and trust in the leadership of Representative Koffa based on his demonstrated foresight, reservoir of professional and hands-on experience, leadership acumen, sociability, people-centered administration, and as an astute lawyer.

After the newly elected lawmakers’ meeting with President-elect, Boakai, Grand Gedeh County District#3 Representative-elect, Jacob C. Debee, via his Facebook page, vehemently dismissed rumors circulating in some quarters of the Liberian society and via social media that the incoming lawmakers’ meeting with President-elect Boakai, was aimed at receiving ‘brown envelopes’ in favor of Unity Party’s candidate for the post of Speaker of the incoming 55th Legislature.

The meeting also comes amid increasing speculations that the President-elect had threatened that any Legislator who will vote against the UP candidate for the House Speakership elections would not receive any development funds for their district.

It is also speculated that President-elect Boakai vowed to deny some lawmakers who will vote against the UP candidate, Richard Nagbe Koon, any access to him (Boakai).

However, Mr. Mo Ali, Director of Political Affairs in the Office of the President-elect, refuted such speculations, describing them as “unfounded.” He spoke with OK FM on Wednesday, January 10, 2024.

Interestingly, on his Facebook page, Gbarzon District Lawmaker-elect Jacob Debee further clarified that his purpose in attending the meeting was to congratulate both the President-elect and Vice President-elect, Jeremiah Kpan Koung, and to speak about the development of his constituency and his people.

Jacob Debee: “Good afternoon everyone; I was part of 31 lawmakers that met the president and vice elect Tuesday, January 9, 2024, not necessarily to pledge support to his candidate for the SPEAKERSHIP but rather an opportunity or privilege to meet, congratulate and explain to him and team what we stand for as a district and county.”
He said, during the meeting, the President-elect outlined his 100-day deliverables to the nation, ranging from reconditioning all major roads to standard, decentralizing the distribution of medical supplies like building regional hubs in one central county that would distribute assorted medical supplies; and disbursement of US$5,000.00 to each electoral district for celebration of his (Boakai) inauguration.

Representative Debee: “He revealed that the CDC government has made available 650k for the inauguration program.”
In November 2023, President-elect Boakai promised to “extend development programs to all parts of the country” by also building the dilapidated roads network in the Southeastern region, which has been “neglected for years” by succeeding Liberian administrations.

The Gbarzon District Lawmaker-elect futher delved into how the Southeasterners voted and “that you don’t have to come from a particular part of Liberia to develop or build roads”.
“I went on to ask him (president-elect and team) to give/let us know how much his government intends to raise in addition to what the outgoing government gave them as part of transparency and accountability but they fell short of that,” he said.
Debee: “I told them that we from Grand Gedeh don’t vote because of name but rather what we believe you can do and who you are as a person. I gave them some examples of why our people voted the way they did.”
Representative-elect, Jacob Debee was elected on the ticket of the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC).
He is a staunch member of the pro-Koffa’s “Majority Bloc”, a group of over 40 elected lawmakers of the 55th Legislature.
Meanwhile, several elected lawmakers, including Bong County District#3 Representative, J. Marvin Cole, have affirmed their commitment to support Cllr. Jonathan Fonati Koffa as Speaker.
Representative Cole said there is no amount of pressure that will disengage him from the process of getting Koffa elected as Speaker.
“I do not believe that Richard Koon is competent for this position and I do not still believe that he will be able to be a very good House Speaker, because, he comes from the incoming ruling party,” Cole told Legislative reporters on Capitol Hill, Tuesday, January 09, 2024.
The Bong County and CDC Lawmaker confirmed that they received threatening text messages if they vote against the UP’s Richard Koon for the Speakership to avoid stringent pressure from the incoming administration.
The incoming lawmaker maintained that when he informed the President-elect concerning those threatening texts, Ambassador Boakai denied making such threats.

Cole therefore called on all elected lawmakers, especially colleagues from Bong County to support Cllr. Koffa on the basis of his leadership ability.
“I am therefore informing all the supporters of team Koffa who are receiving similar texts in the name of the President-elect that it is false, baseless, and misleading, because the President-elect is not out for a one-party state,” he added.
Last December, Deputy Speaker Koffa garnered support from 42 of the 73 lawmakers who signed a petition, endorsing him as the Speaker of the 55th Legislature.

“We, the undersigned Representatives hereby declare Representative Jonathan Fonati Koffa as Speaker of the House of Representatives and urge our fellow Representatives to support this resolution as a demonstration of our shared commitment to fostering effective and principled leadership within the 55th House of Representatives,” the lawmakers said in the Resolution they signed in affirmation of their support for Representative Koffa.
In the House of Representatives, the CDC has 27 Lawmakers; independent candidates are 18, while the Unity Party has 10 lawmakers. The remaining number is spread across other political parties.

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