House Speaker James Emmanuel Nuquay, one of the key figures who have lost their seats in the two nights of shocks following the 2017 presidential and representatives elections, turns out to be the only person who sustained three political strikes at a go, when he lost his incumbent seat as Representative from Margibi County, Speaker of the 53rd Legislature and, finally, as vice presidential candidate.
Speaker Nuquay and eight other Representatives did not contest, wile 34 other incumbent Representatives lost the elections, but 30 of their colleagues were re-elected, including 43 new ones.
The two-term Margibi County District #5 Representative failed to seek re-election as an incumbent, which would also have allowed him to seek re-election for the Speakership.
Statistics show that efforts to re-elect Nuquay for the third term would have been successful, had his supporters built good rapport and lobbied with his colleagues, including some of the incumbents or the newly elected ones, who would have caused his re-election as speaker of the House in a near-unanimous vote that might reflect a unified opposition.
Unfortunately, his decision to throw his hat in the presidential race as the vice standard bearer on the ticket of the Unity Party fragmented his political sojourn. Nuquay is now recorded in history as the shortest-stayed speaker of the House of Representatives in more than three decades. His days are numbered — 96 days from October 5, 2017, to January 8, 2018.
Now, being completely out of the political limelight will be the test of Nuquay’s political mettle — what assets and influence can he leverage from his political playbook to remain relevant and actively engaged from the outside.
Speaker Nuquay was born on October 24, 1968, unto George (deceased) and Kpannah Nuquay in Sein Town, Dinningta Clan, Borlorla Township, Margibi County. He obtained a Bachelor of Science (BSc) Degree in Economics from the University of Liberia (UL) in 1998 and LLB from the Louis Arthur Grimes School of Law, UL in 2009.
He entered politics in 2005, and developed the novel development concept of “Gbaisue,” a Kpelle name for reserved corn that would be planted the next season.
The Kpelle people believe that this reserved corn hanging over burning firewood is sent by God, who is the only one who knows where it will germinate.
Some naysayers, judging from the number of “heavy-weights” in the race, wrote Nuquay off completely and felt that it was a pity that the young man would decide to put himself up for political destruction. To them it was like a rat trying to compete with leopards. But Nuquay was not deterred by the critics. He had worked with his people and knew what his people were actually yearning for.
Nuquay contested as an Independent candidate in 2005 and came from relative obscurity to emerge as Representative of the then District #5 of Margibi County. The people of Margibi were moved by the promise of the Gbaisue campaign, made through the motto: “Prepare for the harvest.” In the 2011 elections, Nuquay was overwhelmingly elected by citizens of his constituency, becoming one of very few representatives who were elected with an absolute majority.