Liberia: Is There Any Justification Not to Confirm Nwabudike?

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Augustine Ndubusi Nwabudike, Chairman, LACC

By J. Nhinson Williams

Liberia’s President George Manneh Weah, on Monday, March 22, 2020, appointed Counsellor A. Ndubusi Nwabudike as chairman of the country’s election commission, and this appointment has raised mixed feelings amongst Liberians.

Counsellor A. Ndubusi Nwabudike, the Nigerian born “naturalized Liberian,” would sit at the throne of real power in Liberia, if confirmed by the Liberian Senate.   He will be the principal decider, and chief referee of decisions relative to who (President of Liberia) governs Liberia.

He will also decide the fate of those who (lawmakers – both the Senate and House of Representatives) will represent the Liberian people in the national legislature. This is the ultimate power and authority in any land.

Before his recent appointment as election boss, Counsellor A. Ndubusi Nwabudike was appointed by the same President Weah and overwhelmingly confirmed by the same Liberian Senate to two key government positions of national importance. Namely, Chairman of Liberia’s Governance Commission (GC) and Chairman of the Liberia Anti–Corruption Commission (LACC), respectively.

No one, including President Weah, forced the out-of-touch and visionless Liberian Senate to confirm Counsellor A. Ndubusi Nwabudike to those two prior positions, and I would like to assume the Liberian Senate vetted the newly nominated NEC boss before confirming him to the GC and the LACC.

Such vetting might have included verifying the eligibility – qualification, experience, moral rectitude, and nationality of Counsellor A. Ndubusi Nwabudike. Moreover, the Liberian Senate approved Counsellor A. Ndubusi Nwabudike to his two prior appointments in roughly two years; the most recent approval was granted in 2019.

I want to state very clearly that I am not a friend of Counsellor A. Ndubusi Nwabudike nor a fan of the yardstick used in determining his appointment to a very patriotic, nationalistic, and politically charged national position such as Chairman of the National Election Commission.

Still, I am vehemently opposed to critics and opposition Liberian politicians who are citing his alleged ‘prior’ nationality as a native Nigerian at birth as a reason for his disqualification for the position of NEC boss as revealed in the domain of public opinion.

The main question to the critics and opposition is, why question now?  Why are Liberians suddenly so concerned that Counsellor A. Ndubusi Nwabudike is not a native-born Liberian and, therefore, should not ascend to the leadership of the NEC when in fact, being chairman of the NEC has no constitutionally stated clause that one has to be a natural-born Liberian?  Why are individuals in the Liberian Senate plotting to block Counselor A. Ndubusi Nwabudike, the current head of the LACC from transitioning to the NEC when they are the same people who approved of him as chairman of the GC and the LACC – two critical positions in two significant commissions? Are they now worried because their deeds are coming back to haunt them?

Stopping Counsellor A. Ndubusi Nwabudike from assuming his new duties as NEC boss based on a xenophobic backdrop is un-Liberian, indecent, and unnecessary. Liberia should not and must never be defined as a xenophobic nation. We are better than that.  It does not mean I don’t have serious concerns about Counsellor A. Ndubusi Nwabudike in some regards, especially when it comes to the issue of honesty and credibility concerning his “naturalization” stories.

Honestly, I was a strong supporter of his appointment [based on my philosophy of inclusion] until he gave an interview this week to FrontPage Africa – a prominent local Liberian newspaper.  Based on the narrative of the interview, even my 12 years U.S. born daughter in middle school whose mother is a Kenyan-American and me her father, a natural-born Liberian citizen, read through the lines and concluded that his (A. Ndubusi Nwabudike) narrative in the FrontPage Africa’s interview was phony and appeared far from the truth.

Nwabudike and President Weah

It would have been better if Counsellor A. Ndubusi Nwabudike had just focused on his story as a “naturalized” Liberian and backed it up with proofs – legal naturalization documentation and witnesses. But to assume that all Liberians are fools, by claiming and providing a phony tail and a tribal lineage to the Gola ethnic group, stating he had [a non-existed] Gola grandmother by paternal marriage as well as suggesting that his father had ‘naturalized’ as a Liberian before his family went back to Nigeria over six decades ago just unveiled the curtain.

Counsellor A. Ndubusi Nwabudike, not all Liberians are fools, even if you think you know some and had deceived some including most members of the clueless Liberian Senate.  Tell Liberians about your naturalization, your love for Liberia, and your work and character as a Liberian. I believe most Liberians, including me, might support you if you are honest in stating your facts instead of baking an unfounded and unwarranted story.

It is also possible that Counsellor A. Ndubusi Nwabudike’s father did naturalize as a Liberian. But if so, where are the indications? If Counsellor A. Ndubusi Nwabudike is claiming Liberian citizenship based on his father’s “naturalization,” does it mean all his adult siblings in Nigeria and those we don’t know are ‘naturalized’ Liberians, too?  Does he have any Liberian documentation such as old birth records, national identity card or other records to validate his claims since he does not want to be a Liberian on his own merits?  As a lawyer, does he know that under Liberian laws if one of your parents were a Liberian at the time of your birth, you have up to 18 years to make a choice of nationality? Has he ever made that determination, if so, when, where and how?

He also cited his father’s ties with some prominent Nigerian-Liberians – the Wariebis, Adhigibes, and others like the Ajavons and Gedegbekus.   There is a contrast between the ‘Liberianess’ of the Wariebis, Adhigibes, Ajavons, and others and that of the story of Counselor A. Ndubusi Nwabudike.

The Wariebis, Adhigibes, Ajavons, and others maintained their Liberianess in Liberia and outside of Liberia.  Their children took on the Liberian identity to the letter. This scenario, too, applies to descendants of Guinean, Malian, Sierra Leonean, Ghanaian, and other immigrants who settled in Liberia. Even in the time of distress and need, they never abandon being Liberians.

There being Liberians has never been a matter of convenience and opportunism. Also, it has always been based on honesty and real love for Liberia.  One such example was the late Mamadee Diakitee, whose parents were Guinean immigrants in Liberia when he (Diakite) was born.

Even in exile, Diakite never abandoned his ‘Liberianess.’ It is not the case with counselor A. Ndubusi Nwabudike, who was a Nigerian, used Nigerian travel document, and identified as a Nigerian for the most part of his adult life before migrating to Liberia a few years ago.

The fact is the Liberian Senate has no valid justification now for rejecting Counsellor A. Ndubusi Nwabudike at this time, especially after unanimously confirming him twice to critical positions of national relevance.

However, if Counsellor A. Ndubusi Nwabudike cannot be honest in a simple thing, such as revealing the real account of his naturalization, then why does he expect the majority of Liberians to trust him; as credible, honest and eligible for the most critical job in governing Liberia?

Counsellor A. Ndubusi Nwabudike, as a “naturalized” Liberian, please speak the truth about your “naturalization”, and the truth shall set you on the path to the NEC chairmanship. If Liberians cannot buy your personal story now, why should they trust your stories as chief of elections in Liberia?

The Author: 

J.N. Williams is a Catholic educated public philosopher and a U. S. trained public policy and institutional governance professional with strong expertise in job creation policy, workforce development analysis, and socio-economic growth and development. He can be reached at [email protected]

2 COMMENTS

  1. I oppose the nomination of Cllr. Ndubusi Nwabudike not because he’s a naturalized citizen, but because, in my personal experience with him, I came to learn with great sadness and shock, that he does not respect the rule of law. So on Yesterday, I penned a letter to Hon J. Milton Teahjay, opposing Cllr. Nwabudike’s nomination at NEC, and whether the Liberian Senate does so or not, they have good reason to deny him. Here is the doc in full: 26 March 2020

    Hon. J. Milton Teahjay
    Chairman
    Senate Committee on
    Autonomous Agencies and Commissions
    House of Senate, Republic of Liberia
    Capitol Hill,
    Monrovia, Liberia

    Re: Request to the Honorable Senate to reject the nomination
    of Cllr. Ndubusi Nwabudike to head Liberia’s National
    Elections Commission (NEC).

    Dear Hon Senator:

    On March 9, 2020, as one of counsels for eight (8) former LACC staffs, and one of the victims of LACC Board’s unlawful acts, I wrote a communication to Cllr. Ndubusi Nwabudike, in his capacity as Chairperson of the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC), requesting his compliance with the mandate of the Chief Judge of the Commercial Court, Her Honor Judge Eva Mappy Morgan. This very communication (letter) was circulated to several agencies of the Liberian government, including your office, as Chairperson or the Senate Committee on Autonomous Agencies and Commission. To date, I have received no word from Cllr. Nwabudike, the LACC Chairperson, which singular act demonstrates his utter disdain for the rule of law. Even as I waited for feedback, I learned with utter dismay the appointment of Cllr. Nwabudike as Chairperson of the National Elections Commission (NEC).

    Though my first letter was copied to you, Hon. Senator, as noted above; yet, I am again attaching this [March 09] letter (and accompanying documents) to this current letter as the basis for objecting to Cllr. Nwabudike’s Chairing of NEC’s Board and superintending our elections. While the previous letter sufficiently proves that the newly-appointed NEC Chairperson does not respect the laws of Liberia, nor instructions or directives from our courts, I herein again relate the substance of my complaint. The crux of the matter is that Cllr. Nwabudike, as Chairman of LACC, was instructed on 13th January 2020 to pay former staffs their salary refunds, which refunds case was the subject of litigation, and which legal case the LACC lost on 27th December 2018. LACC failed to appeal this judgement and hence, the judgment became final.

    Since then, successive LACC Chairpersons have refused to pay this judgment debt, including the current Chairperson, Cllr Nwabudike. What is more abhorrent in Cllr. Nwabudike’s case is that: he was present when the Commercial Court’s Chief Judge sternly rebuked the LACC for its unlawful conduct and threatened to take more stringent actions, if her directive was not followed. In this case, the directive was for Cllr. Nwabudike and the LACC to ensure that the Plaintiffs (i.e., eight former LACC staffs) be paid within two (2) weeks and that the payment check must be brought to the Court. Since the 13th January 2020 hearing at the Commercial Court, Cllr Nwabudike has never bothered to speak with us, the Plaintiffs, much less to talk of making any effort to pay us, even though as a counsellor-at-law he ought to know what an “order” from a court of law means for law-abiding citizens and residents alike.

    As a matter of fact, on the 13th January 2020, in the hearing with the Commercial Court Judge, this counsellor-at-law of the Liberia’s Supreme Court Bar, Hon. Ndubusi Nwabudike, repeatedly and shockingly tried to reopen this closed case, to the effect that we be denied our just benefits. The counsellor-at-law obviously knows the meaning of STARE DECISIS, But INJUSTICE is apparently in his DNA! Disregarding the universally established legal principle of STARE DECISIS, Cllr. Nwabudike tried all is best to reopen, rehash, reargue and relitigate a case that has been decided, affirmed and confirmed. He was soundly rebuked by the learned Judge, who stated in no uncertain terms, that this matter is now closed and that the only thing outstanding is for the Plaintiffs to be paid their just salaries/refunds as stated in the judgment and detailed in the bill of costs prepared by Court officers.

    All evidence supporting my averments herein (plus more) are contained in court papers attached to this letter. It proves only one thing: Cllr. Nwabudike is totally unfit to hold any high-level position in government. He does not believe orders from the courts of law are applicable to him or to institutions he leads. Confirming this counsellor-at-law as Chair of NEC (or any position or repute, for that matter) is tantamount to legitimizing disdain for the rule of law and orchestrating chaos in the country. Liberia deserves better than this lawyer who does not respect the law or directive(s) from the court.

    Honorable Chairman and members of the Senator Committee on Autonomous Agencies and Commission, I look forward to this complaint being given your utmost consideration. It is my candid opinion that too much is at stake in an election process to allow someone to lead our elections process, who has a record of disregarding court orders and directives. I am of the view that NEC must only be led by persons who respect the rule of law, and Cllr. Nwabudike, certainly, isn’t one of such persons.

    With this, I rest my case and defer to your judgment.

    Regards,

    Wonderr Koryenen Freeman, CFCS, LLM, MBA
    One of Counsels for former LACC staffs 077888188/0880605843)
    One of Plaintiffs in the case: Daniel Tipayson et al vs. LACC (2018)

    Cc Cllr. Ndubusi Nwabudike
    Chairperson
    LACC

    All Members of
    Senate Committee on Autonomous Agencies
    House of Senate, RL

    Members of the Press

  2. Bravo, Mr. Williams with the erudite analysis of the saga surrounding the appointment, pending confirmation hearing by the senate, and the popular opinion of Liberians of Mr. Nwabudike as the next NEC boss in Liberia. I just want to make one small correction to some of the family names mentioned in your commentary: The ajavons and Gadegbekus are not originally from Nigeria. They immigrated to Liberia from Togoland (AKA The Republic of Togo today); and so are the Itokas, Amegashies, and Madisons.

    You are absolutely correct when you say that these Liberians of Togolese descent never abandoned or betrayed their allegiance to Liberia. At least there is no traced record of dishonesty of these sons and daughters of Togolese immigrants.

    I do not know Mr. Nwabudike and his story of his family’s naturalization as Liberians. The name does not ring a bell as one of the many Nigerians who migrated to Liberia either to attend Cuttington College or the University of Liberia before our civil war. However, I don’t want to paint all immigrants from Nigeria with the same brush, as most of them have been exemplary Liberians and contributed positively to the Liberian society over the years.

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