GOMPA, Nimba â€“ The Institute for Research and Democratic Development has released its Legislative Report Card for 2016, once again grading Nimba Senator Prince Yormie Johnson poorly.
IREDD grades members of the Liberian Legislature based on individual performances, taking into consideration session attendance, number of bills introduced, and participation in floor debates among other criteria.
The former warlord has always been rated poorly, receiving an â€˜Fâ€™ for his performance in 2016.
However, Wilfred Bangura, the national general secretary of Johnsonâ€™s Movement for Democracy and Reconstruction, has come in defense of the senator.
Speaking to Radio Kergheamahn in Ganta, Bangura has expressed his displeasure with IREDDâ€™s grading of Johnson.
â€œLet me go on to say that the report that Senator [Prince Johnson] performed dismally at the legislature is completely false â€“ it is a falsehood and the story is misleading,â€ Bangura said.
The Nimba lawmaker joins his counterparts from Grand Cape Mount and Montserrado, Varney Sherman and George Weah, respectively, as graded poorly for attendance in 2016. According to Bangura, both Johnson and Weah represent Liberia within the ECOWAS Parliament.
â€œThose are people who were on official duties at the ECOWAS Parliament for Liberia and the report did not take that into consideration,â€ he said. â€œYou cannot judge a man in a report that was done as though he was in the country and refused to go to work â€“ that is the diction in the report.â€
He said the political party had reached out to IREDD about the misleading report.
â€œWe have contacted the authorities of IREDD and they told us that they are in receipt of our observations and they [have] apologized for that,â€ he said. â€œIREDD had said that the qualms we raised are correct and they would correct it in their next version.â€
Bangura argued that in the absence of a formal report from the ECOWAS Parliament on the participation of the senators, relying solely on IREDDâ€™s report, in its current form, is insufficient. He further noted that this is not the first instance in which IREDD has made a misleading claim about Johnsonâ€™s performance.
â€œThe staff who made this error continue to make the same error,â€ he added. â€œLast year, they made the same error. We corrected them; they continue to make the same error again. All they do is to go to a session and mark the lawmakers that are present â€“ those who are not there, they donâ€™t care about them.â€
While IREDDâ€™s annual report contains much more information and analysis about the legislature, the media tends to focus more heavily on the letter grades assigned to each lawmaker based on their attendance in plenary.
The grades are calculated solely based on the number of times a lawmaker was present during plenary sessions. The grades give no consideration for lawmakers away on official travel, including those representing Liberia at the ECOWAS Parliament.
IREDD is a research and policy advocacy organization that works with grassroots organizations and partners at the local and sub-national level.
Featured photo by Arrington Ballah