Health Minister’s confirmation in deadlock
It appears that the confirmation of the newly appointed Minister of Health and Social Welfare is far from reach with senators in bitter argument and some calling for reconsideration.
The plenary of the Liberian Senate Thursday was in serious disarrangement when the confirmation report from the Senate Health Committee recommended that the Health Minister, Dr. Bernice Dahn, should be confirmed.
Nimba County Senator Thomas Grupee had made a motion in compliance with rules of the senate that action of confirmation be taken in executive session, but Grand Bassa County Senator Jonathan Kaipay raised an amendment that Senator Nyonblee Karnga Lawrence of Grand Bassa and Montserrado County Senator George Mannah Weah, who both are on the Health Committee, did not sign, suggesting that the report did not meet the full approval of the committee.
Following the amendment from the Bassa Senator, the plenary went into serious confusion with senators leaving their respective seats to apparently confront Sen. Grupee. It took about 15 minutes for the presiding officer, Pro-Tempore Armah Jallah, to put things under control.
After the protracted delay, the motion of Sen. Grupee was overruled on grounds that it lost its essence and River Gee County Senator, Conmany Wesseh, proffered a motion that action be taken in executive immediately and the motion won the minds of senators.
However, Bong County Senator, Henry Yallah, filed a motion for reconsideration that the confirmation report be brought back on the senate’s floor for proper scrutiny.
According to the rule of the Liberian Senate, the motion for reconsideration will be tried through votes and if the votes go in favour of Sen. Yallah, then the confirmation of the controversial health minister may likely take longer time.
Recently, Sen. Lawrence alarmed that she was excluded from the confirmation hearing process of the Health Minister- designate, which led to her signature not being affixed on the report sent to plenary by the committee.
The Grand Bassa County lawmaker’s concern brought the whole activities of the senate to a halt as consultation took over the floor between the presiding, Pro-Tempore Armah Jallah, and Vice President Joseph Nyumah Boakai, who at some point, presided over the session. The Senate Health Committee is one of the biggest statutory committees next to the Ways, Means and Finance and Security Committees with a total membership of seven.
“Mr. Presiding, I am concern why my signature is not on the health committee report and why Bassa County was not part of such a serious confirmation hearing,” Senator Lawrence had inquired.
It may be recalled that health workers last month wrote the Liberian Senate, requesting that body not to confirm Dr. Dahn because according to them, she has been part of an administration prior to her nomination, that had no interest in the welfare of health workers across the country as demonstrated by failure to place on payroll sacrificing health workers and refusal by former Minister, Dr. Walter Gwenigale, to re-instate dismissed health workers. By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor - Editing by George Barpeen and Jonathan Browne