Liberia: ECC Wants Pre. Weah Rescind Cllr. Ndubusi Nwabudike’s Nomination As Election Commission Chairman
Monrovia – Liberia’s largest civil society grouping that oversees electoral matters has outrightly rejected President George Weah’s pick as commissioner of the National Elections Commission.
The Election Coordinating Committee (ECC) called a news conference on Tuesday, March 24 and denounced the president’s nominations as lacking broad-based consultation with stakeholders.
ECC said though it realizes that the President has the power to appoint and the new election law of 2013 states that a commissioner must be a Liberian, it still takes acceptance to the nomination of a Cllr. Nwabudike, who still holds loyalty to his country of birth – Nigeria.
ECC said Cllr. Nwabudike is morally conflicted and lacks the credibility required to exercise neutrality over an independent body that is supposed to decide Liberia’s president and other elected officials.
If the President failed to rescind Cllr. Nwabudike’s nomination, the ECC also called on the Liberian Senate not to confirm him.
“The Elections Coordinating Committee, (ECC) strongly opposes the nomination of Cllr. Ndubusi Nwabudike as the new Chairperson of the National Elections Commission (NEC), replacing Cllr. Jerome Korkoyah and calls on the President to withdraw the nomination and the Senate not to confirm him if the withdrawal is not heeded to,” the ECC said through a statement read by its Chairman, Oscar Bloh at the press conference.
Bloh argued: “Not everything that is legal is expedient. If he is successful in serving as the Chairperson for NEC, he could sit as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Bench because there is no law that would prohibit it.”
The Election Coordinating Committee fears that the chairmanship of the national election management body cannot be seen as representing the interest of any particular political party as elections are about people and the public needs to have trust in the election management body, which is a fundamental requirement for the peaceful outcomes of election processes.
“While it is true that Cllr. Nwabudike is a naturalized citizen of Liberia, he is firstly a Nigerian citizen and this questions his loyalty to Liberia and therefore is not a suitable candidate to lead and manage a sensitive state institution like the NEC”, the ECC said.
Cllr. Nwabudike is the current head of the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission and previously served as head of the Governance Commission, in a position he was never confirmed by the Senate.
At the weekend, President Weah named Nwabudike along with Davidetta Browne Lansanah Co-Chairman, Cllr. Ernestine Morgan-Awar Commissioner, Floyd Sayor Commissioner, Barsee Kpankpa Commissioner and Josephine Kou Gaye Commissioner.
“The Elections Coordinating Committee, (ECC) strongly opposes the nomination of Cllr. Ndubusi Nwabudike as the new Chairperson of the National Elections Commission (NEC), replacing Cllr. Jerome Korkoyah and calls on the President to withdraw the nomination and the Senate not to confirm him if the withdrawal is not heeded to.”– Elections Coordinating Committee
The nominations have already triggered murmurs that the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change government is craftily putting in place a plan to steal both the 2020 and 2023 elections.
But Cllr. Nwabudike, speaking Sunday said cheating is not in his DNA.
Questioned whether he is capable of overseeing, supervising and orchestrating free and fair elections in Liberia, Cllr. Nwabudike said he sees no reason why he should not be, citing his role conducting free and fair elections at the Louis Arthur Grimes School of Law.
“When I was in the law school, Louise Arthur Grimes, I was the Chairman of the Elections Commission at Louise Arthur Grimes School of Law. I supervised, I believe, the most credible student elections, there,” the nominee noted.
Said Cllr. Nwabudike: “You can go check the record. Former Presidents like Morris Saytumah, Murphy Kanneh, those who were there at the time, ask them my record. In that capacity, it was the first election, at Louis Arthur Grimes School of Law where five students were certificated, just like National Elections. So, there’s no reason why anyone would doubt my neutrality or my capability or credibility to conduct a free and fair election. It’s hard, I’m not the kind of person that people swing easily or buy over easily. There’s no reason why. I look up to people, I look up to the interest of the common people whom I serve. Once I’m confirmed, if the people confirmed me, I will look up to serving the people, not individuals.”
Prior to the ECC statement, some Senators including Darius Dillon (LP, Montserrado) and Senator Johnson (NPP, Bomi) have vowed to vote against his confirmation.
At the same time, the ECC has opposed the confirmation of Mr. Floyd Saryon as a member of the Board of Commissioners and calls on the Senate to also reject his nomination.
The electoral watchdog recounts that Mr. Saryon played a controversial role in the recently conducted by-election in District 15, Montserrado County that led the NEC to order a re-run at several polling precincts.
ECC Chairman Bloh explaining further, said, Saryon was a data officer of the NEC, and under his watch, several results during the poll were questionable and rejected by NEC, who ordered a rerun in the areas with the disputed results.
At the same time, the ECC has observed that the appointment of the new batch of Commissioners lacked broad-based consultation with Political Parties and civil society organizations.
While it is true that the President has the Constitutional power to appoint Commissioners of the elections management body, the Election Coordinating body believes that those on the Commission should reflect the country’s political diversity and interests.
The Elections coordinator committee also warned that “elections can make or break emerging democracies like ours and sometimes they contribute to violent conflicts. Our peace is fragile”.
ECC urged the government to ‘protect” Liberia’s growing democracy by making the right decisions, particularly when it comes to the nomination and appointment of individuals to manage and supervise the conduct of elections in the country.