Liberian Senate Conducts Confirmation Hearing Today on the Controversial Appointment of Nigerian-born Liberian as Chairman of Elections Commission

Born to Nigerian parents in Nigeria, Cllr. Nwabudike insists he’s Nigerian having naturalized as a Liberian

MONROVIA – Cllr. Ndubusi Nwabudike, a Nigerian-born naturalized Liberian, passed the Senate confirmation to head Liberia’s Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) but there are more raised eyebrows and calls for rejection on his recent nomination to head the National Elections Commission (NEC) and lead the country to the October 2020 senatorial elections and the 2023 presidential and general elections.

The controversy borders around his nationality and allegiance to Liberia despite disclosing that he naturalized as a Liberian citizen, having been born and raised in Nigeria – his father’s land.

He faces the Senate once more for confirmation today.

Cllr. Nwabudike told FrontPageAfrica in an exclusive interview on Sunday pleaded with Liberians to give him a chance. He said, “Let’s do the 2020 By-elections and let them judge me by that,” the nominee said Sunday. “If they feel that I didn’t deliver to them, the true wishes of the people, let them make sure that I don’t get to 2023. I mean, God set it like that. Please, they have a litmus test. Give me just few months to deliver. What I deliver to you. If you’re not sure that it represents the true wishes of our people, then don’t let me go to 2023.”

Addressing the issue of his nationality, Cllr. Nwabudike explained that he is a Liberian, although nationalized.  “My nationality is Liberian, let’s settle that and my name is ugly, let’s settle that, this is not the first time. It’s hard to pronounce, but it’s Ndubusi Nwabudike and my parents come from Delta State in Nigeria.”

Cllr. Nwabudike said his father migrated to Liberia in 1946 because of his wife; the grandmother of his wife was a Gola woman. “She wanted to know her history because she was never in Liberia. So, my father came here to trace that lineage. Unfortunately, he came with only a picture, there wasn’t too much history because the lady in question died young, I think she was 28 or 30. So, after staying here for a while, he started a relationship with President Tubman as a consultant. He also worked for Firestone as consultant. He was in Liberia, he naturalized, became a citizen, some of his crowd at that time were the Jones, Wariebi, Adhigibe, people like Brown, Edwin Kaleku, a whole bunch of them, that class. He stayed here until 1960 when Nigeria got independence 1960, 1961 he went back. He was in Nigeria until the civil war in Nigeria started, I think 1967. 1968 he came back here.”

But Senator Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence, Liberty Party political leader – who is also Grand Bassa County Senator – has urged her colleagues to reject the nomination of Cllr. Nwabudike as NEC Chairman.

In a strong worded statement to the Liberian Senate, Karngar-Lawrence argued that the Dual Citizenship Proposition recently passed by the Legislature and signed by President George Weah for referendum, the President and the Legislature agreed that a Liberian born to both or one parent with citizenship of another country will be given dual citizenship but will not be appointed to certain government positions.

This is because, being a citizen of two countries, such persons will also be beholding to dual allegiances, she said.

“Today, the President, who placed this proposed amendment before us, has nominated for our consent, an individual with obvious dual allegiances, a Nigerian-born citizen who has naturalized as a Liberian, to head the National Elections Commission of Liberia, a position of trust and magnitude that a natural-born Liberian, under the Weah Amendment would not be permitted to occupy because of dual allegiances,” the opposition Liberty Party leader wrote.

The Grand Bassa County Senator is the latest high-profile politician to voice her opposition to President Weah’s appointment of Cllr. Nwabudike. She joins several other lawmakers and civil society groups including her colleagues, Senators Darius Dillon (LP, Montserrado County) and Senator Sando Johnson (NPP, Bomi County).

The pair had earlier vowed to vote against Nwabudike’s confirmation.

Also, speaking on a local radio station on Wednesday, March 25, Rep. Jay Nagbe Sloh (CDC, District #2, Sinoe County), called on President Weah to reconsider his decision and withdraw the nomination.

Liberia’s largest civil society grouping that oversees electoral matters in the country, the Election Coordinating Committee (ECC), in a major press conference on Tuesday also rejected the President’s decision and called on him to rescind it.  

However, a member of the ECC, Mr. Harold Aidoo, has distanced himself the ECC’s call, terming it as unconstitutional.

According to him, the nominee should not be disqualified based on his nationality as a naturalize citizen of Liberia but on his character and competence.

“As an entity IREDD we agree that we need a commissioner who will have independence and neutrality, and someone who can deliver on his or her mandate as a commissioner. We don’t to component of the statement that says that the fact that the chairman designate is a naturalize Liberian, he cannot occupy that position.

“As an institution that ascribe to the rule of law and the tenant of Democracy, it is important that our actions do not depict discrimination against people because of nationality. We don’t think naturalization is an issue we should be looking at his competence to deliver.

However, IREDD has expressed concern over what he called the “proximity”, and closeness of the nominee to the executive branch of government. “Our concern is how he will exhibit neutrality.” The IREDD boss who was also present at the Press Conference held by the ECC said, he earlier raised the issue to the ECC but his concerns were ignored.

He also called on the Executive and the Legislature to take into consideration public perception about the nominee by being conflict sensitive. According to him perception about the nominee could play a major role in maintenance of the Country’s peace.