In a politically charged country, the selection of the head of the electoral management body often triggers a riotous discourse. At times, the concerns can be genuine because the incumbent end up proving to be a loyal partisan and at times the concerns can be empty, inconsequential and mere political fears. It is not surprise, therefore, that the ever-growing cantankerous opposition facing the George Weah Government would descend on the President rather rowdily over his appointment of the new Chairperson of the Liberia National Elections Commission. Still worse is that the name of the nominee sounds un-Liberian; so, without first questioning the political neutrality of Cllr A. Ndubusi Nwabudike, critics have jumped to the rather hasty conclusion that he’s not a Liberian and cannot be head of such a critical national institution. But multiple pundits contend that if citizenship is the sole contention of those objecting to Cllr. Nwabudike’s nomination, then they are groundless for several reasons. The Analyst reports.
It seems as dust settles on President George Manneh Weah’s nomination of the new head of the National Elections Commission, it is becoming clearer by the day that the key objection point against him—nationality question—is fading into oblivious as facts emerge to the contrary.
Multiple independent sources have confirmed that Cllr A. Ndubusi Nwabudike announced recently by the President to head the NEC is indeed a Liberian and has benefited as a citizen in various different ways in the last decades of his professional career.
Cllr. Nwabudike is a prominent lawyer who has worked extensively and acquired up to twenty years of experience in the areas of legal research, advocacy, public policy planning and analysis.
He received his LL.B from the Lewis Arthur Grimes School of Law, University of Liberia, and both LL.M. from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and Loyola University, Chicago, USA. He also holds a MSc from the Graduate School of Regional Planning and Public Policy, University of Liberia.
Of course, there are verifiable records that the incoming NEC boss is a citizen by naturalization. He told a local media entity recently: “My nationality is Liberian. Let’s settle that. Yes, 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.”
According to him his father migrated to Liberia in 1946 because of his wife. The grandmother of his wife was a Gola woman.
Nwabudike recalled: “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.”
As is, it is cleared that Cllr. Nwabudike was born to a father who was already a naturalized Liberian, and this needed to settle the question about his nationality in the prevailing discourse.
“Our law provides that if one of your parents is Liberian when you are born, you are a Liberian citizen.”
Though born in Nigeria, his family migrated to Monrovia. His mother brought him as a baby during the war in Nigeria.
“Our law provides that if two of your parents are two nationalities, you can keep two of the nationalities until you are 18 to decide the one you want to be. I decided to be a Liberian and naturalized in my own right as a Liberian citizen – and that made me Liberian.”
Cllr. Nwabudike told reporters recently that the question of his nationality was really not in context but rather, a matter of law which is settled.
He added: “In a Supreme Court opinion, my nationality is there because when you apply to sit the bar exam as Counselor at Law at the Supreme Court of Liberia, the Supreme Court will investigate you. They will validate your nationality before you are admitted in the bar. It is already written in the volume, so that issue is settled.”
He said he is a victim of unchecked sentiments. “That sentiment is: “This man, his name looks foreign, so he cannot be Liberian. I don’t care if I’m born 200 times in Liberia, so long as my name don’t sound like Brown or Jones or something, some people will have problem with that, but that’s not our law. Our law is not sentiment, our law is clear on what is nationality. So, I’d like our people to please look up to the law and judge me, not by the ugliness of my name but by quality of service I will render to the people. I can understand that the position of NEC chairman has political implications, I can understand that politicians are a little bit worried, not because there’s reason for them to be worried but the point is they don’t really know what side I belong to.”
He served with the United Nations System for twelve (12) years which provided him with the experience of working with individuals from very diverse cultural and professional background.
During his years at the UN, he acquired excellent competence in providing strategic direction and guidance in the implementation of government policies, particularly in the areas of judicial system reform programs and development project initiatives in post conflict and fragile environment. Within this period, he furthered sharpen his ability to employ the necessary skills and sensitivity required to integrate cross cutting issues like gender, human rights, and peace building in a multi-cultural environment.
Two of his most recent work was involved with leading a five member team comprising of counselors and prominent Liberians on a Special Presidential Committee to examine allegations made by Global Witness in its recent reports involving the National Oil Company of Liberia (NOCAL). Before this, he had also served as “Special Investigator” looking into the usage and misappropriations of donor funds in the agriculture sector (Ministry of Agriculture) 2017.
Cllr Nwadudike further recalled: “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. You can go check the record. Former Law School Presidents like Morris Saytumah, Murphy Kanneh, and all 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.”