The report under the theme “Conscious Knowledge of Legislative Responsibility: A bedrock for Effectiveness” covers the period for January to December 2014.
The document which was released in Monrovia on Thursday, evaluates lawmakers’ constituency representation, law making efforts and oversight responsibility.
According to the report’s score chart, Rivercess County Representative Francis Paye got the highest participation times at the lower house, speaking 121 times. He is followed by Bong County’s Prince Moye with 115 times and Jeh Byron Brown with 113 times.
Conversely, two lawmakers got zero in plenary participation during the period under review. The lawmakers, according to the report, are Manbu Sonii of Grand Cape Mount and Samuel Worleh of Nimba.
Releasing the report, IREDD’s Program Officer Aaron Weah told journalists that the report exercise is intended to complement the open government partnership engendered by the world today, especially on the new global openness of governments.
“We at IREED take no interest in targeting any particular legislator or institution, but feel it is a national responsibility as a civil society organization to campaign for transparency and accountability in all facet of society”, Mr. Weah added.
For his part, IREDD’s Executive Director Harold Aidoo is calling for more openness at the National Legislature.
According to the report, secret legislative sessions continued throughout the reporting period, something it stressed cast doubt on the transparency and accountability of the legislature.
Mr. Aidoo said: “Legislative openness is part of the commitment that we committed ourselves to in ensuring that we become more open and transparent in the way we do the Liberian people business”.
The IREDD report indicates that the House of Representatives slightly topped the Senate in plenary sittings with 122 times while the Senate convened 121 times.
The members of the Senate attended more plenary sittings than the House of Representatives.
Fifteen Senators attended more than 90% in plenary attendance. They are: Nyonblee Lawrence, Joseph Nagbe, John A. Ballout, Edward B. Dagoseh, Jewel Howard Taylor, Henry Yallah, Thomas S. Grupee, Alphonso G. Gaye, George T. Tegbeh, Oscar A. Cooper, Armah Z. Jallah, Fredrick D. Cherue, Matthew N. Jaye and Adventus D. Gweh.
Similarly, 11 members of the House of Representatives attended more than 90% of the sessions held. They include: Lester M. Paye, Edward W. Karfiah, Armah Bill Corneh, Hans M. Barchue, Jeh Byron Brown, Robert N Siaway, Sr., Stephen S. Kafi, Jr., Thomas Fallah, William V. Dakel, Sr. and Matthew G. Zarzar.
Conversely, nine lawmakers spoke only twice or thrice the entire 122 sessions held at the House of Representatives. They include: Aaron Bondokai Vincent, NRP Cape Mount, Roland Opee Cooper, Solomon George, CDC, Montserrado, Jeremiah W. N. McCaulay, Robert N. Siaway, Sr. and Malai Gouto Gbogar.
Without any form of interest and special malice to a specific legislator or branch of government, IREDD said it takes key interest in the “National Code of Conduct” for all Public officials and Employees of the Republic of Liberia” and the Act against criminal conveyance of land.” The institution believes that these bills are not only in the interest or serve the benefit of the vast majority of Liberians but also, when passed into law, will boost the morale of our emerging democracy on both the national and international scene.
“The tradition of “Secret Legislative Sessions” continued throughout the reporting period, virtually obscuring the transparency and accountability commitment of the National Legislature. What is becoming to be known as the “Secret Session Syndrome” appeared to be more prevalent in both houses. This is the tendency where the lawmakers take behind closed doors critical national decision-making processes in an apparent bid to evade public monitoring and observation of how subsequent decisions of the secret deliberations are arrived at; who took what stance and why. Though authorized by the rules of both chambers, most of the secret sessions held by the Legislature, particularly the Senate, were void of state security justifications consistent with best legislative practices,” the report averred.