President George Weah’s nominee to the National Elections Commission (NEC), Cllr. A. Ndubusi Nwabudike as Chairman is encountering with serious resistance from all sectors of Liberia including political parties and rights group condemning such nomination by the Liberian leader.
Cllr. Nwabudike, a Nigerian was naturalized as a Liberian citizen few years ago, was again nominated to two difference positions including the Governance Commission (GC) and the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) where he spent short period of time prior to this new appointment by the Liberian leader.
Dozens of phone callers on local radio stations condemned the Liberian leader for the appointment of Cllr. Nwabudike to head the electoral commission of the country, noting that it is worrisome for the coming elections years, observing that the appointment of Cll. Nwabudike by the Liberian leader may give him the edge in the upcoming presidential and legislative elections in 2023, “It is possible that this guy would give in by awarding the current government the presidency.
Condemning the action of the Liberian leader at a well-attended press conference yesterday, March 24, 2020, the head of the Elections Coordinating Committee (ECC), Oscar Bloh also called on the Liberian leader to withdraw the nomination of Cllr. Nwabudike as Chairman of the Commission.
In a related development, the National Elections Commission has submitted a bill calling for the increment of fees for those who are opting for election come 2023, with the presidency paying US$12,500.00 from US$2,500.00, while the Vice Presidency paying US$1, 500.00 to US$10, 500 among others.
But expects who spoke to the GNN exclusively on the issue yesterday said, the Liberian leader, President Weah has done no wrong in the nomination of Cllr. Nwabudike.
As Liberians pondered over this situation, local analysts have thrown light on the issue, noting that below:
Cllr. A. Ndubusi Nwabudike’s nomination has triggered a flurry of social media and radio comments questioning why should a naturalized citizen, or some even saying a foreigner, be given such a top post in government.
The purpose of this piece is not to go into the merits or demerits of the nomination or the ties between the appointing authority and the nominee, but what the organic law of the land says about naturalized citizens holding top government posts. This is not a piece that is hailing the existing law on how officials of this strategic elections governing body, NEC are appointed. Surely there’s a need for reform. In the main time, “the law is the law.”
But what does the Liberian constitution say about the kind of positions naturalized citizens can hold in this country?
By the way, this same nominee has been holding two top level posts in the ruling CDC party government (Chairman of the Governance Reform Commission and head of the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC)–confirmed twice by the Senate in the past two years.
The Liberian constitution, which provides for two kinds of citizenship–natural born and naturalized–exempts, naturalized citizens from holding only two positions in Liberia–President and Vice President.
This is stated in Article 52 of the 1986 constitution which is still in effect today.
“No person shall be eligible to hold the office of President or Vice-President, unless that person is:
- a natural born Liberian citizen of not less than 35 years of age:
- the owner of unencumbered real property valued at not less than twenty-five thousand dollars; and
- resident in the Republic ten years prior to his election, provided that the President and the Vice-President shall not come from the same County,” says Article 52 of the Liberian constitution.
Under Chapter 4 Article 27 of the constitution on Citizenship, naturalized citizenship is restricted to people of the black race, who had obtained naturalization status in line with laws of the country prescribed by the Legislature.
“a. All persons who, on the coming into force of this Constitution were lawfully citizens of Liberia shall continue to be Liberian citizens.
- In order to preserve, foster and maintain the positive Liberian culture, values and character, only persons who are Negroes or of Negro descent shall qualify by birth or by naturalization to be citizens of Liberia,” Article 27 says.
Article 28 of the constitution then spells out the details of the criteria for a naturalize citizen to meet.
“Any person, at least one of whose parents was a citizen of Liberia at the time of the person’s birth, shall be a citizen of Liberia; provided that any such person shall upon reaching maturity renounce any other citizenship acquired by virtue of one parent being a citizen of another country.”
“No citizen of the Republic shall be deprived of citizenship or nationality except as provided by law; and no person shall be denied the right to change citizenship or nationality,” according to Article 28 of the Liberian constitution.
Having spelled out the exemption as to what category of citizen can become President and Vice President, the Liberian constitution in Article 30 says:
“Citizens of Liberia who meet the following qualifications are eligible to become members of the Legislature.
- for the Senate, have attained the age of 30 years and for the House of Representatives, have attained the age of 25 years; b. be domiciled in the country or constituency to be represented not less than one year prior to the time of the election and be a taxpayer.”
Also Article 5 of the constitution guarantees the rights of all citizens be it natural born or naturalized “to participate in government”.
The Republic shall:
- aim at strengthening the national integration and unity of the people of Liberia, regardless of ethnic, regional or other differences, into one body politic; and the Legislature shall enact laws promoting national unification and the encouragement of all citizens to participate in government;
- preserve, protect and promote positive Liberian culture, ensuring that traditional values which are compatible with public policy and national progress are adopted and developed as an integral part of the growing needs of the Liberian society;
- take steps, by appropriate legislation and executive orders, to eliminate sectionalism and tribalism, and such abuses of power as the misuse of government resources, nepotism and all other corrupt practices.”
The constitution also provides an avenue for any citizen who may feel aggrieved that his/her rights are being denied to challenge such denial, as spelled out in Article 26.
Where any person or any association alleges that any of the rights granted under this Constitution or any legislation or directives are constitutionally contravened, that person or association may invoke the privilege and benefit of court direction, order or writ, including a judgment of unconstitutionality; and anyone injured by an act of the Government or any person acting under its authority, whether in property, contract, tort or otherwise, shall have the right to bring suit for appropriate redress.”
Lawyers are often heard saying, “the law is the law”. Whether for natural born or naturalized citizens, failure to respect the laws of the country would mean that this is not a country of laws but of men.
Often, many Liberia agitate for respect of the rule of law but try to shy away from accepting rights of others guaranteed by the very constitution.
But many of them are the same ones who hailed the emergence of the Kenyan-born Barack Obama as the first ever black President of the United States of America.
Many, many white Americans (including Donald Trump) would have wanted Obama to be denied the Presidency, but US has built a democratic system rooted in the respect for the law. And that American law says whoever born on American soil becomes American citizenship.
Credit: By Frank Sainworla, Jr.,firstname.lastname@example.org