Speaker Edwin Snowe Errs Again --- Tempers Flare


By: Theodore T. Hodge


The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia
July 12, 2006


In recent days it has been reported that the Speaker of the Liberian House of Representatives, Honorable Edwin Snowe, has committed another blunder --- the latest in a series since assuming the high office. The speaker is said to have undertaken a scheme with the intent to dictate or undermine the country’s foreign policy by promising to establish diplomatic relations with Taiwan. (It will be recalled that the Republic of Liberia has subscribed to the One-China-Policy, officially recognizing the People’s Republic of China).

According to published reports, the speaker allegedly wrote several letters, making promises to Taiwanese foreign ministry officials. When his folly was exposed, he is said to have sent a special entourage bearing a letter of apology and withdrawing the previous offer he had made.

This serious matter was recently brought to the attention of the Liberian legislature. Meeting in chambers the matter was amicably resolved. Although some of his house colleagues made some critical remarks about the speaker’s misadventure during deliberations, in the end the speaker simply got a slap on the wrist for his actions. He apologized and the matter was laid to rest with his honor in tact.

But in retrospect, we are left to wonder about the gravity of the speaker’s actions and motivations. There are those who see this as a treasonous act at one extreme and those on the other extreme who see it as mere folly. But what are the true implications of the speaker’s actions, did he contemplate treason or were his actions a mere foolish act by a buffoon ill-equipped to understand his job function? Many observers probably fall between the two extremes, yet there is reason for concern and caution.

Let’s take a moment to probe a bit further into what might have been the speaker’s motives. Was it a matter of naivety and a lack of sophistication? Did the speaker simply not know that the executive branch, and not the legislative branch, crafts the nation’s foreign policies? Well, if the speaker had thought it was the responsibility of the legislative branch of government to handle such policy matters, why then did he not introduce the matter in chambers to get a collective view? Why was it done in such a covert way? Does the clandestine approach used by him betray his true motives? Is it not then clear that the speaker was acting at the expense of the government for personal gain? I don’t have the answers to the critical questions herein posed but the debate is making the rounds in Liberian talk circles in Internet communities.

The comments posted below were culled from a website where Liberians across America come daily to express their views on such sensitive matters. The sampling posted here shows the diversity of thoughts Liberians hold on such matters:
One participant wrote: “Mr. Snowe just usurped the powers of the Executive by overstepping the boundaries of the speakership… the Justice Ministry should be forced to initiate a criminal probe against him…”

Another participant took quite the opposite view. He wrote: “Snowe overreached, retracted and apologized. Was he caught or discovered in a sting or impeachment proceeding? What’s the big deal?”

Another prominent participant sees it this way: “To put it brusquely, the man is ‘frisky’. He does not know how to wield the sword of power.” However, contradicting himself, the same participant says: “Snowe seems to have other legislators under his thumb. Frankly, I don’t see a more influential Liberian living in Liberia than he.”

Is the man just frisky? Another participant retorts: “There is a fine line between “frisky” and being a devilish, mischievous ignoramus…”

Well who’s right? Is it a big deal or not? Is Snowe just “frisky” or is he a crafty and over-ambitious man? Some folks see it as a big deal and others see it differently; that’s the nature of things. But those people who take this seriously do have plans, at least one of them does. His name is RSB, a frequent participant and this is what he promises: “Edwin Snowe was elected from District 5 in Montserrado County… In August of this year, (next month), I will launch a drive in Liberia to have him recalled…”

To have him recalled sounds like a plan. Is it really a feasible plan? We can only wait and see. In the meantime some folks have their doubts. This is what another participant said: “I don’t know why we are even talking about this. With his connections, money, and the ignorance of our people, this guy seems to be impermeable.”

Impermeable? Maybe, but is he re-moveable? Not only is RSB planning a campaign to have him recalled, a giant in Liberian political circles, Mr. Samuel P. Jackson is planning to take dramatic action upon arriving in Monrovia next week. In a statement released here in this Internet chat room, Mr. Jackson intends to call a press conference immediately next week. He gave me permission to quote him in this article. Among other things he plans to say:

“Ladies and gentlemen, there is an evil lurking in our midst and few have been willing to take on this evil for fear of their lives. Well, I am here to state unequivocally that I, Samuel P. Jackson, am prepared to lay down my life to stop this evil in its track immediately.

“Speaker Edwin M. Snowe is fast becoming a menace to the Liberian society. This honorable man has demonstrated that he does not deserve the leadership position he was elected to. I voted for Edwin Melvin Snowe to be a representative of my district, as I believed then through political education and growth, he could be transformed into a force to bring development to Paynesville…”

Mr. Jackson continues: “Speaker Snowe has violated the constitution of Liberia by attempting to run the foreign policy of Liberia. He has undermined the integrity of Liberia’s foreign policy, and by this action brought disgrace to himself, the national legislature and the entire nation. For this egregious action of indiscretion, he must be made to pay. I am asking Speaker Snowe to resign his position in the House of Representatives and also to resign his post as the representative of the Fifth District in Montserrado County…”

From the foregoing, it can be concluded that many Liberians in the Diaspora are following the actions of Speaker Snowe. There are those who hold the view that the Honorable Speaker is a victim of his lack of education and experience. They simply say he is not up to the task and will have to learn on the job. There are those, on the other hand, who think the speaker is an over-ambitious man who knows exactly what he wants and is cunning and rich enough to get it by any means necessary, especially through bribery and intimidation. So far, he’s gotten a free ride. How long is he going to continue to get privileged treatment from fellow members of the House? If the matter is left to citizens like RSB and Samuel P. Jackson and many other participants in this Internet forum, his days may be numbered. Or are they?

Let’s tune in beginning next week when S. P. Jackson returns to his turf. After that, we can await the gathering of signatures for the recall proposition to be sponsored and led by RSB. Maybe we can all share the optimism that democracy is finally taking its rightful course. Right on, guys

© 2006 by The Perspective
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