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Montserrado County Senator Abraham Darius Dillon and  Montserrado County District#9 Representative Frank Saah Foko, Jr. Montserrado County Senator Abraham Darius Dillon and Montserrado County District#9 Representative Frank Saah Foko, Jr.

Over Controversial Pension Bill, Senator Dillon attacked - Labelled as ‘‘selfish politician’’ Featured

Montserrado County District #9 Representative, Frank Saah Foko, Jr., has launched a stinging attack on Senator Abraham Darius Dillon over the passage of the controversial Pension Bill proffered by the Liberian Senate.

Lawmaker Dillon, who represents Montserrado County in the Liberian Senate on the ticket of the opposition Liberty Party(LP), rose progressively to prominence in Liberia and gained public respect as a result of his actions and messages on “accountability”

The Montserrado Senator is generally referred to as the ‘‘LIGHT) in the Liberian Legislature, which is also called the First Branch of Government

The controversial Bill, which has since sparked angry reactions from a large segment of the public, terming it as a wicked attempt by their lawmakers to plunder the country’s resources and send millions into poverty, among other things, calls for 50% benefits of salaries to some members of the three branches of the Liberian Government.

The Liberian people, in their angry reactions, called on their direct Representatives at the House to reject or vote them out in the fourth coming 2023 Presidential and Legislative Elections.

The Bill titled “an act adopting an integrated pensions and benefits scheme for certain categories of officials of the Government of the Republic of Liberia and to repeal and or amend certain portions of title 26, Legislative Act, Title 12, Executive Law and Title 17, Judiciary (1972) and the 2003 act which amends these laws”, for the three branches of government, seeks to allot 50% benefits to retired lawmakers, the president and Vice President, justices as well as circuit courts judges. It also indicates that the President will maintain 75% of his staff and assigned security detail following retirement.

In an official communication dated September 9, 2022 and addressed to House Speaker Bhofal Chambers, a copy of which is in possession of the Heritage, Rep. Foko, who described the bill as ‘‘Evil’’ and asserted that it is from the belly of the devil.

‘‘Let’s see this bill as though it never appear here. Though it is from the House of Elders but it should not be granted based on the current economic situation facing our country and people,” Lawmaker Foko, who represents his district in the House of Representatives on the ticket of the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change(CDC), further asserted while strongly criticizing Senator Dillon(the LIGHT) and others for supporting the contentious document.

‘‘ I am neither surprised about the hypocrisy of this so-called LIGHT nor baffle about a man who held accountable Darlington Karnely for airport MD based on credentials but had his friend Israel Arkinsaya confirmed at the LTA with mere or no high school paper. Though we can’t question the will of the people but those who brought these fake lights on us, now see what you have done!,’’ the CDC lawmaker averred in his communication.

He continued: ‘‘Little over two years, this so-called LIGHT has received US$30,000 for quote-unquote constituency visits, lied about his ticket of flying Business Class, and got US$40,000 cars after condemning others prior to being a senator. How in the world do we continue to use our people for selfish benefits and say we’re playing politics; this evil bill is from the belly of the devil we in District#9, Montserrado County openly reject it.’’

According to him, Liberians need to clearly understand this is not a government or CDC bill, but something that comes from the hands of the majority in the opposition, who he said, everyday questions the government on frivolous issues but in actuality they are the ones designing plans to continue milking system.

He named Senators Abraham Darius Dillon, Nyonblee Karnga Lawrence, Steve Zargo, Varney Sherman and others as prominent amongst the opposition who preferred the controversial Pension Bill.

‘‘Are these not the people who believe the country isn’t going anywhere except they come to power? Are these not people who say the country has failed under President George Manneh Weah? Are these no the hypocrites who say Liberia and Liberians deserve better? Are these not the people who claim that the economy is in the toilet? How come they want a pension for their lifetime, which will eventually increase the wage bill of the country?,’’ the Montserrado County District#9 lawmaker inquired in a rather serious tone.

‘‘Mr. Speaker, if we continue to pay ourselves handsomely, how will we make a better appropriation to health, education, water and sanitation, youth development or infrastructure development? We believe that any retirement benefits we as lawmakers or any government official get must be earned and accrued in conformity with the NASSCORP Act set aside to dignify life after a distinguished job in the public sector,’’ Rep. Foko uttered.

In conclusion, he called on his colleagues in the House of Representatives including the leadership to stage a major press conference to clearly communicate their rejection of the Pension Bill and bring sanctity to that august body, stating that, ‘‘Our people look up to us to better their lives, not ourselves. If even the majority succeeds, we are very optimistic that the President, His Execellrency George Manneh Weah we know, and his love for all Liberians, will veto that wicked bill.’’

‘‘We are on an irreversible path with this country and the people can be assured we won’t join these hypocrites calling themselves politicians whose true intent is to continue to milk the state to the detriment of the poor people,’’ Rep. Foko, among other things, added in his communication.

However, in response to the huge public criticisms, the Senators including Abraham Darius Dillon of Montserrado County, Edwin Melvin Snowe of Bomi County and J. Milton Teahjay of Sinoe County issued public disclaimer about what is been discussed in the public and what the Judiciary Committee submitted for Senate plenary discussion.

Senator Dillon said: “I want the Senate to make correction to what is being discussed in the public. What is in the public is not what we submitted and that committee members don’t pass bills into law. When a bill is passed into law the President of the Senate or the Pro-Temp and the secretary of the Senate signs it.”

 Senator Edwin Melvin Snowe of Bomi County backed Senator Dillon’s argument that the version of the law in the public is different from what was being discussed by the Senate. Snoe blame political opponents of the Senate for playing; there is already an existing pension law that is being applied and what the Legislature intend to do was to make it confront to current day reality.

Senator Snowe said : “I think this matter is grave, the information in the public is not right, the information about our colleagues on the judiciary committee is not fair to them. To take a committee report signature page and signal them up of passing a bill that is not how it’s done in our Legislature. People should find another way of formulating their campaign strategy.”

Meanwhile, the House of Representatives has voted unanimously to ‘reject and return’ the Senate’s bill calling for 50% benefits of salaries to some members of the three branches of Government.

In a heated debate on the floor of the House of Representatives in its Thursday, September 8, 2022 Extra Sitting Session, several members of the House decried the bill, described it as draconian and only intended to suppress the already suffering masses.

While members of the House were condemning the bill on Thursday, the Liberian Senate, in the wake of public criticisms, voted to recall the Pension Bill from the House of Representatives.

 

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