Deputy Speaker Koffa

Speakership Election At The House Intensifies, As Many Prefers Deputy Speaker Koffa

As the election of the Speakership of the House of Representatives intensifies, legislative correspondents say the influx of new lawmakers at that lower House, many of them are said to be given rounds of support for the deputy Speaker of the 54th session of the National Legislature, Cllr. Jonathan Fonati Koffa to ascend to the speakership due to his numerous successful contributions over the years at that Lower House.

In a chat with a local daily in Monrovia, specifically the Daily Observer, Cllr. Koffa  who also is the direct representative of Grand Kru County District #2 said, e  ….  “In this current election, there was a divided country,” Koffa said. “I believe even the Unity Party will agree that national unity is what we need; now that they have the Executive, it is only fair that the opposition picks up the Speaker position.”

Deputy Speaker J. Fonati Koffa, donning a traditional short-sleeved shirt, surrounded by a group of his supporters – Photo credit: Daily Observer

“If you are in the opposition, I think we should talk, and if you are in the ruling party, I think we should talk also,” Koffa said as he confirmed his candidacy for the speakership in an interview on Monday.

Koffa, who remains confident of winning the speakership, is reportedly being backed by at least 30 lawmakers-elect, but uncertainty looms over whether they will remain steadfast in their support as the speakership elections draw near.

At least 25 of them, which includes some first-time lawmakers, met with him on Monday to formalize strategies that would enable his election.

However, Koffa, who is the first sitting lawmaker to publicly announce his candidacy, faces an uphill battle to secure speakership, analysts say, due to his affiliation with the outgoing ruling Coalition for Democratic Change, which currently holds a significant majority in the House of Representatives.

“In this current election, there was a divided country,” the Deputy Speaker said. “I believe even the Unity Party will agree that national unity is what we need; now that they have the Executive, it is only fair that the opposition picks up the Speaker position.”

“Based on our performance as Deputy Speaker, we have the gravitas and the confidence of our members that we can provide leadership for,” Koffa said in an upbeat tone.

The Deputy Speaker, however, faces a challenge from Rep. Thomas Fallah, who is one of the longest-serving lawmakers in post-war Liberia. Fallah, also a ranking member of the outgoing ruling party and the current chairman of the House’s influential Ways, Means, and Finance Committee, is reported to be eyeing the speakership as well.

Asked whether he was concerned about a potential Fallah bid,  Koffa answered in the negative and said that he is confident that the outgoing ruling party will produce a candidate for the speakership.

Koffa, who ascended to the Deputy Speaker post in 2020, had vowed that under his speakership, he would hold the “Executive feet on fire” in terms of making sure that whatever is proffered is in the interest of the Liberian people.

“We will be robust but, in the end, it is only to make sure something good happens,” he added. “I think what you can look for under the gavel of Fonati Koffa is accountability and transparency in the Legislature.”

“The ruling government can trust me as a speaker because I work in the national interest. We are not going to turn it into a partisan Legislature because we are in the opposition,” Koffa added.

Meanwhile, Koffa brushed aside the notion that the Executive Branch plays a key role in the selection of the speaker as he cited the Presidency of Ellen Johnson, whose choice for the speaker position was not preferred by the majority.

“Former Speaker Edwin Snowe and former Pro Tempore Armah Jallah were not supported by the then president, yet they were elected,” he said. “The current ruling party was able to control both Houses owing to the massive win in 2017 — 14 of the 15 counties.”

At the same time, the Deputy Speaker congratulated President George Weah on being a “true democrat who has demonstrated mature leadership at a defining moment in our country’s history.”

“The grace with which he conceded defeat is legendary and it testifies to the fact that President Weah is a true real patriot and man of peace,” he said.

Koffa has also congratulated President-elect Joseph Boakai on his historic win in the country’s presidential election and wishes him all the best in his service to the nation.

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