By: Patrick Seyon
No doubt and as expected, over the next few days, the Capitol Building will be marred by the bustling frenzy of legislative politics and its attending intrigues or you may even call it a scene of a political conundrum—fraught with billows of fierce and dazzling negotiations over who occupies the vacant coveted Deputy Speaker post—in the next few days. The Deputy Speaker post became vacant as a result of its immediate former occupier Rep. Prince Moye courageously moved on to the Liberian Senate with an epic win that earns him the feat of becoming Senator of Bong Country.
As the Legislature returns to session this week, the election of a new Deputy Speaker is chief on the agenda of the House and the body is expected to elect one of its members on Thursday, 14th of January 2021, to occupy the hallowed post. Several names have been heralded in the corridors of the House of Representatives to contest for the post—primarily based on interest as characteristically unique to legislative politics—partisan or personal.
Nonetheless, this piece puts the spotlight on one name that is buzzing and inundating the headlines and charming the hearts of a diverse group of people as the favorite candidate to assume the post, for obvious reasons. He is no one else but erudite, unassuming, gracious, affable, and legal scholar Representative Cllr. J. Fonati Koffa of Grand Kru Country. The name of Koffa is on the lips of most of his colleagues and legislative staffers, and even independent political commentators as being the best man to occupy the job. Why is Koffa tipped as the best man for the job? Koffa is the best because he has the credentials, temperament, equanimity, he is humble, accessible, and approachable and more importantly, he is courteous and gracious to his colleague Representatives and legislative staffers, and he relates to all irrespective of which party one is a member of. His friendly and appealing demeanor, cordial relationship, and peaceful nature with all at the House of Representatives have earned him loads of favors and confidence from among colleagues and staffers—thus increasing his electability standing as the body edges towards electing a new Deputy Speaker. Rep. Koffa’s approach to politics is patriotic in context wherein he sees Liberia first, not partisanship, cronyism, tribalism, and regionalism. With such a brilliant and nationalistic mentality, he aligns with each of his colleagues, void of party alignment, whenever the need arises, and he essentially does so for the common good of Liberia.
This should be the cognition and character of people who aspire to national leadership and such people must be permitted to lead because with them at the helm, Liberia is bound to blossom into prosperity.
When elected, Koffa goes to the job fully prepared and hits the ground running with immeasurable velocity. The sagacious Grand Kru Lawmaker has served as Chairman on the Committee of Judiciary for about three years and counting and has performed his duties with unmatched distinction. The role of the judiciary committee is to oversee the scrutiny of bills and guide the House of Representatives on lawmaking and how to execute its powers and other statutory functions.
With this knowledge and experience as Judicial Chairman which ultimately makes him the lead lawyer of the House of Reps, Koffa brings great depth to the post of Deputy Speaker. As a man steeped in the law and the nuances of lawmaking coupled with how deeply familiar he is with legislative norms and common practices plus his personal relationship across the broad spectrum of the House of Reps, Koffa is no doubt the man fit to become the next Deputy Speaker to succeed Prince Moye.
Rep. Koffa also has a deeper knowledge of the workings of the Executive Branch, as before assuming his seat in the House of Representative he worked in the Presidency as Minister of State without Portfolio and Legal Advisor to former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf from 2014 to 2016. So, in terms of the cordiality that should and must exit between the Executive, Legislative, and Judiciary Branches of government, Koffa, as a Lawyer, politician who has worked in the Presidency and an astute and revered lawmaker, is insightfully oriented to assist the Speaker and the entire Body in such regard. I should also add that while serving in this capacity, Rep. Koffa was appointed by former President Sirleaf as Special Prosecutor and Chairman of a Special Task Force Investigating and prosecuting official corruption across all levels of government.
Koffa is politically grounded and understands the politics of Liberia, and the ruses and trappings thereof. He is a founding member of the Liberty Party and became its first Chairman from 2011 to 2014. During his time as Chairman, he oversaw the growth and expansion of the party including winning legislative seats for the party and ensuring that LP Lawmakers sat on and led ranking committees in the National Legislature. He has since resigned from the Liberty Party and joined the Coalition for Democratic Change where he serves as a member of the Executive Council.
He is comparatively one of Liberia’s brightest barristers and began his legal career in the United States in 1998 in private practice and would move 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.
Koffa was educated at the University Of North Carolina School Of Law at Chapel Hill, where he obtained a Juris Doctorate (JD) degree in Law. He also holds a Master Degree in Public Administration (MPA) from Raleigh, North Carolina State University, and a Bachelor of Public Administration (Cum Laude) with a concentration in Urban Planning, from Shaw University, Raleigh, North Carolina, USA.
In conclusion, we argue in favor of Koffa not based on partisanship or tribal relations, but in the broader context of recruiting our best and brightest into mainstream government with the viewpoint of securing quality service within public governance. Today, public service is dismal simply because officials appointed in key cabinet positions are grossly and shamefully unqualified. They are dumb and bereft manifesting the functionality plaguing the government at the moment. Consequently, the point must be emphasized quite succinctly that political governance is significantly quintessential to the forward march of any nation and the wellbeing of its people. Everything about a nation hinges on effective and efficient governance. For governance to be effective and efficient in Liberia and produces the quality of efficacy we yearn and long for as a people, we must ensure, beyond partisanship, parochialism, mendacity, and sentimental biases, that at all levels of our governing ecosystem, the best and brightest of Liberians are given the chance and opportunity to serve. Rep. Cllr. J. Fonati Koffa is qualified in every respect to assume the post of Deputy Speaker and he proudly represents the best and brightest of our country. We only can humbly pray and admonish his colleague Representatives not to judge him on account of his membership in the Congress of Democratic Change or by his tribe, but he should rather be evaluated and/or considered based on his questionable qualification, accessibility, his patriotic mindset, and cordial working relationship with fellow Liberians, humility, depth of experience and skills set he would bring to the office of Deputy Speaker should he get elected.
Viva and onward to victory, JFK!