FOOLS GOLD & POLITICAL MISCALCULATION IN LIBERIA

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The Editor,

Pyrite is the most common form of sulfide minerals. It has a metallic luster and pale brass-yellow hue that gives it a superficial resemblance to gold. People who don’t know real gold or cannot discern the differences between gold and pyrite often mistake it for gold. The very popular nickname for Pyrite is fool’s gold. We all know gold is very expensive (over though our gold in Liberia is being exploited for pennies but that’s another story to touch on down the line) and in high demand, but its cousin pyrite, though having a variety of uses, is not equally valuable. These days, the nickname for pyrite has not come to be the description for anything that initially appeared to be important or valuable but was nothing special.

I hope you now get the context. The recent CDC Retreat falls into that category and the reconciliation portion was a debacle. We have been very patient in the process of the government and the party getting it right. Unfortunately, the de facto leaders of our party, ensconced in the comfort of government, have no intent to reconcile our beloved party. Honestly, I am not even sure they care about the upcoming 2020 Senatorial elections. It is safe to say that we will have an issue winning any election going forward if we do not honestly reconcile the party.

Let us not be fooled by the attendance. Our partisans went there because they ASS-U-MEd that it was about reconciliation and not praise singing to President Weah or for the purpose of demonstrating that “the party is strong.” No, it is fool gold for President Weah to think that “the party is strong” and be emboldened to make nominations bereft of any political or situational awareness. This brings us to the issue of the appointment of Cllr. A. Ndubusi Nwabudike as Chairman of the National Election Commission.

Based on our understanding of the Liberian constitution, and the New Elections Law of 1986, we are all aware that the president has the right to “nominate and, with the consent of the Senate, appoint and commission the Chairman, Co-Chairman and other Members of the Elections Commission.” We are also aware that the qualifications for Commissioners is that they “shall be Liberian citizens and shall not be less than thirty-five (35) years of age. They shall be of good moral character and no two (2) Commissioners shall be from the same county.” Not knowing what county each of the appointed commissioners come from or their respective ages, I am inclined to believe that the President’s nominees have met those two requirements. However, my focus is on the Chairman nominee as the hullabaloo has been focused on him and the issue of his citizenship and good moral character.

On a personal level I do not know the individual. We have been convinced that he is a naturalized Liberian citizen of Nigerian descent, though I have not seen a certificate of naturalization and neither do I know when the naturalization took place. However, I believe if the nominee is a citizen of the Republic, he meets that specific requirements of the position. On the “good moral character” issue, this fellow has numerous negative stories of allegations of fraud, duping, and criminality that it would be a contradiction to reference him as one of “good moral character” if he cannot exonerate himself from those allegations.

Now, let’s visit the political perspectives on the nomination of a person of Nigerian descent and dubious moral character to one of the most sensitive and significant positions in the new republic. We have seen the various issues that have aroused from lack of trust in our political system. It represents either a lack of judgement or understanding of the political climate and sentiments or very bad advice for the President to make such an appointment at this critical time. Many of our partisans are very unhappy with this appointment for two different reasons:

  1. They prefer to see one of their own partisans hold this critical position; and
  2. Coming out of supposed reconciliation, their expectation is that appointments would move in the direction of qualified partisans rather than nominees who they will have to defend.
    Additionally, the opposition or their sentiments cannot be discounted in appointments to such a sensitive position. In my opinion, the nominee to such a position, whether partisan or not, should be someone who is respected and perceived as person of integrity with the ability to handle critical issues adroitly.

My second concern rests on the resume and performance of this individual. LinkedIn, does not say much about his professional profile and it seems abandoned. With regards to performance in government, I believe the below items are reflective:

  1. He was appointed Chairman of the five-member Special Presidential Committee President Weah set up a on April 17, 2018 to examine allegations made by Global Witness against the National Oil Company of Liberia (NOCAL). Cllr. Nwabudike presented his committee’s report on May 16, 2018. That’s the last I heard of the report and to date, I doubt if the President has made that report public or acted on it in any respect.
  2. In May 2018, Cllr. Nbuduis Nwabudike was nominated as Chairman of the Governance Commission by President Weah to replacing long serving statesman Dr. Amos Claudius Sawyer but his confirmation was unsuccessful. Over time, he has been accused of “…knowingly violating the Constitution by acting in the position of Chairman of Governance Commission for more than 90 days.” To date, no one knows if he was ever confirmed or commissioned.
  3. On October 18, 2019, President Weah nominated Cllr. Nbuduis Nwabudike as Chairman of the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission. His integrity was called into question on several issues in a FrontPage Africa article (https://frontpageafricaonline.com/…/liberia-anti-corruptio…/) that focused on allegations linking him to conflict of interest and breach of fiduciary duty. As last as mid December 2019, Nwabudike had not been confirmed as the LACC Chairman nominee by the Senate. In all the hassle and allegations no one seems to understand the continued commitment of the President to secure Cllr. Nwabudike a confirmation at one Liberia’s integrity institutions.

Unfortunately, we will be remiss if I do not introduce the issue of the sentiment of the people and the virulent virus COVID-19. At a time when the President should be bringing all Liberians together to fight a common enemy, he’s alienating many Liberians by not reading the political tea leaves and focusing only on fulfilling his desire to nominate an individual who cannot pass muster with the Liberian people.

Given all the noise surrounding this individual over time, the criticality of the position of Chairman of the National Elections Commission, the timing of the upcoming mid-term elections, the lack of any substantive performance results, the presence of COVID-19 in Liberia, and the vehemence of the people not to accept a Liberian citizen of Nigerian descent in that position one has to question whether it is judicious for the president to stand firm on such a controversial appointment at this time. Prioritizing a peaceful transition at NEC rather than creating unnecessary dissension at this time should be a priority of the president. Seeking national political homeostasis by creating a relatively stable equilibrium between interdependent stakeholders in our political ecosystem is the right thing to do at this time. Galvanizing all Liberians in the fight against COVID-19, should be a primary focus of the president and the entire country. In this light, I call on President Weah to formally withdraw the nomination of Cllr. A. Ndubusi Nwabudike as Chairman of the National Election Commission.

In closing, the CDC brand is a very embattled brand at this time, not necessarily due to the CDC itself but to the actions that those in the CDC led government have taken which have caused a backlash on the CDC. It pains me to say that the CDC protest vote may rear its ugly head again in the 2020 mid-term elections if real corrective actions are not taken and genuine reconciliation made. It’s time for CDCIANS to demand that Chairman Morlu leads the party as an institution in a growth direction if we expect any political longevity beyond President Weah. For those who believe opportunities will be created for them, I wish them the best. For those of us who believe in supporting the party to identify a new corps of leaders internally and in government, we need to start advocating for that scenario. 2020 is here. 2023 is not far off.

Isaac Vah Tokpah
[email protected]

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