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Monday, June 17, 2024

LIBERIA: POLITICAL SHIFT LOOMS

Date:

MONROVIA – Cllr. Jonathan Fonati Koffa, the highly esteemed Liberian deputy Speaker, is on the verge of achieving a significant milestone by securing the role of speaker in the 55th national Legislature, House of Representatives. As Lyndon Ponnie, Sr. reports, if elected, this momentous event would mark a turning point in Liberian political history as the speaker would come from a different political party than the ruling party.

Liberia’s ability to showcase such political maturity would serve as a shining example for other African nations. By transcending party lines and embracing a new era of governance, Jonathan Fonati Koffa has the potential to usher in a paradigm shift that can shape the future of Liberian politics.

The Speaker of the House has never come from the opposition since the country’s independence.

It can be recalled that 43 years ago, the True Whig Party government of President William Richard Tolbert had Richard Henries as the Speaker of the House of Representatives.

After the Government was overthrown, the National Democratic Party of Liberia (NDPL) the ruling party headed by President Samuel Kanyon Doe elected Samuel Dualu Hills as the Speaker. Hills was a member of the NDPL. In 1997, during President Charles Taylor regime, Nyudueh Morkonmana who was a senior member of the National Patriotic Party became the Speaker of the House of Representatives.

And in 2005, the ruling Unity Party of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf had Edwin Snowe from the UP at the time as Speaker before he was impeached and replaced by Alex Tyler who also was a member of the ruling Unity Party at the time, but was also removed and replaced with James Emmanuel Nuquay, another member of the ruling Unity Party at the time.

Under President George Weah, Mr. Bhofal Chambers, an executive of the ruling CDC is the Speaker of the 54th Legislature in the House of Representatives.

Cllr Koffa if elected to the Speaker post by his colleagues, he will be the first to rise from the post of deputy speaker to be elected Speaker. He will also be the first to serve in that capacity outside of the ruling party. His election will admirably be breaking away from the winner takes all culture in the Liberian political landscape in 43 years.

Koffa’s election will put Liberia on level with powerful nations including the United states, where the speaker of the legislature are not from the ruling party.

There are several countries where the President and House Speaker come from separate parties.

In the United States, it is not uncommon for the President and the Speaker of the House to be from different political parties. For instance, during Barack Obama’s presidency, John Boehner served as the Republican Speaker of the House.

In France, the President and the Speaker of the National Assembly (equivalent to the House Speaker) can be from different political parties. This occurred, for example, during François Hollande’s presidency when Claude Bartolone, a member of the Socialist Party, served as the Speaker.

In Germany, the President (Bundespräsident) is a largely ceremonial role, while the Speaker of the Bundestag (equivalent to the House Speaker) holds more political power. It is possible for the President and the Speaker to be from different parties.

In India, the President is the head of state, while the Speaker of the Lok Sabha (equivalent to the House Speaker) is responsible for the functioning of the lower house of parliament. It is not uncommon for the President and the Speaker to be affiliated with different political parties.

Cllr, Koffa recently announced his candidacy for the prestigious position of Speaker of the House.

With a wealth of experience and a compassionate heart, Koffa’s decision to seek the speakership has sparked excitement and hope among the citizens of Liberia.

A prominent figure in Liberian politics, Jonathan Fonati Koffa has dedicated himself to the betterment of his nation through his exemplary service as Deputy House Speaker over the past year.

His unwavering commitment to upholding the values of democracy and fostering progress has earned him widespread respect and admiration across the West African nation.

A distinguished American-trained lawyer, Koffa brings a unique blend of legal expertise and an innate understanding of the needs of the Liberian people to his role in the political arena.

Throughout his tenure as Deputy House Speaker, Koffa has consistently demonstrated a deep-seated dedication to ensuring the welfare and prosperity of all Liberians, earning him a reputation as a leader with a true human heart.

Koffa’s decision to run for the speakership has been met with resounding support from his constituents and fellow lawmakers, who recognize his exceptional leadership qualities and unwavering dedication to public service.

His vision for a more inclusive, prosperous, and united Liberia resonates deeply with the aspirations of the nation’s citizens.

In a statement addressing his candidacy, Jonathan Fonati Koffa expressed his deep gratitude for the opportunity to serve as Deputy House Speaker and emphasized his unwavering commitment to advancing the interests of the Liberian people.

He articulated his vision for a future where every Liberian has the opportunity to thrive and contribute to the nation’s growth and prosperity.

Elections for the Speakership and other officers of the National legislature is slated for early January.

As Liberia looks ahead to the prospect of Jonathan Fonati Koffa assuming the speakership, there is a palpable sense of optimism and renewal in the air.

Koffa’s leadership, rooted in both experience and empathy, offers a beacon of hope for a brighter future for his beloved nation.

The upcoming election for the speakership is poised to be a pivotal moment in Liberia’s political landscape, and the candidacy of Jonathan Fonati Koffa has undoubtedly brought a renewed sense of enthusiasm and anticipation to the forefront of the nation’s collective consciousness.

With his proven track record of service, his exceptional qualifications, and his genuine compassion for the people of Liberia, Jonathan Fonati Koffa stands as a beacon of hope and progress, ready to lead his nation into a new era of prosperity and unity.

Cllr. Jonathan Fonati Koffa, the deputy speaker of Liberia’s Parliament, is an eccentric political leader adept in the science and art of constituent representation. A Lawyer and political leader whose short but meteoric rise to prominence in Liberian politics show a healthy understanding of politics and the ability to cut across political and ethnic divides to accomplish national goals and objectives. He has been instrumental in passing crucial gender-responsive bills, including the Domestic Violence Bill and the Female Genital Mutilation Bill.

Cllr. Koffa, or JFK, as popularly known in Liberian circles, was born in then Sasstown Territory (now Grand Kru) County in 1963 into the union of Major Stephen Jaitoh and Margaret Mona Koffa. The son of a military officer, his family relocated to Monrovia, Liberia, in 1966, where he grew up and began his educational journey

JFK was recently lauded by the Regional UN Women Ambassador for Africa, Madam Jaha Dukureh, over his efforts to end Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in Liberia.

She praised him for being a significant player in the Legislature for championing bills in the interest of women, including the bill to outlaw the practices of FGM.

In her words, “we have seen this as an opportunity for us to interact with you, and we would like to say this as a fact that you are a champion in the fight against female genital mutilation in Liberia.”

“Honorable, I must confess that your stance against FGM is realistic and honest, and since I have been here, I have not found someone who is so passionate and firm on this issue as you: your dedication, your commitment, your passion and your willingness to champion is excellent, “Amb. Jaha said.

Prior, the Deputy Speaker was very instrumental in the passage of the Domestic Violence Bill.

Legal Role:

He is the founder and Managing Partner of the International Law Group (ILG), and he has been practising law since 1997, both in Liberia and the United States of America.

Hon. Cllr. Koffa was also admitted into the Supreme Court Bar of the Republic of Liberia with distinct honour as valedictorian of the graduating class.

Political Role:

In 2016, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf appointed Koffa as Minister of State without Portfolio and Special Prosecutor of the Sable Mining Bribery scandal case.

A few months later, he was appointed legal counsel to the President of Liberia.

Cllr. Koffa resigned in late July 2017 to participate in the General and Presidential elections as a candidate for the Representative seat in Grand Kru County District 2.

On October 19, he was declared the winner of that electoral process, and in 2021, he was subsequently elected as Deputy Speaker of the 54th Legislature of the Republic of Liberia.

Leadership Role:

Hon. Cllr. J. Fonati Koffa is the immediate past Chairman of the Judiciary Committee of the 54th National Legislature. He was a member of the Committee on Elections and Inauguration and the Committee on Human & Civil Rights.

He is the current acting Chairperson of the Grand Kru Legislative Caucus at the 54th National Legislature and the Deputy Speaker of the 54th Legislature of the Republic of Liberia. Source: Concord Times

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