The ECC is one of the several civil society groups that have vehemently rejected the nomination of Cllr. Nwabudike.
The ECC supports electoral reforms as an important component of deepening and consolidating Liberia’s emerging democracy. In pursuit of this agenda, the ECC adopted a participatory and bottom-up approach by consulting a wide range of stakeholders across Liberia’s 15 counties.
It could be recalled that on March 21, 2020, President George Manneh Weah nominated Cllr. A. Ndubusi Nwabudike, Chairman and Browne Lansanah Co-Chair respectively, replacing officials whose tenure had expired at the commission.
President Weah also nominated Cllr. Ernestine Morgan-Awar, Floyd Sayor, BarseeKpankpa and Josephine Kou Gaye as Commissioners to the commission to the country’s electoral body.
According to an Executive Mansion press release, these nominations are, however, subject to confirmation by the Liberian Senate where applicable.
In a press statement issued in Monrovia recently, the ECC through its Chairman, Atty. Oscar Bloh, called on President Weahto withdraw the nomination of the NEC chairman-designate and the Senate not to confirm him if the withdrawal is not heeded to.
The ECC asserted that not everything that is legal is expedient, contending that 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.
“Within a year, Cllr. Nwabudike has been appointed to two other important government institutions the Governance Commission (GC) and the Liberian Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) and now nominated to head the NEC. These previous appointments are a clear demonstration that Cllr. Nwabudike has very close ties to the President. This also raises questions about his neutrality and independence to serve as the chair of the agency responsible to manage elections in Liberia,” the ECC averred.
The election management body, according to the ECC, cannot be seen as representing the interest of any particular political party.
“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. Liberians should not forget that the rigged elections of 1985 by Samuel Doe planted the seed for the 1989 civil conflict.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. Article 52 (A) of the Liberian Constitution states that no person shall be eligible to hold the office of the President or Vice-President unless that person is a natural born Liberian citizen of not less than 35 years of age. As a naturalized citizen, it is not morally prudent for him to preside over a Commission that manages elections that determine who our President and other political leaders will become,” the ECC further averred.
The ECC also opposed the confirmation of Mr. Floyd Saryon as a member of the Board of Commissioners and called on the Senate to also reject his nomination. It can be recalled that Mr. Saryon played a controversy role in the recently conducted bi-election in District 15, Montserrado County that led the NEC to order a re-run at several polling precincts.
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, those on the Commission should reflect the country’s political diversity and interests.Elections can make and break emerging democracies like ours and sometimes they contribute to violent conflicts. Our peace is fragile and we must protect our 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,” the ECC added.
Meanwhile, what has been described as a political showdown is expected to take place today, Monday, March 30, 2020 at the Liberian Senate as the Chairman of the Board of Commissioners-designate of the NEC appear for confirmation hearing.
Accordingly, in line with constitutional requirement, the NEC chair-designate will today face the Liberian Senate for confirmation and is expected to answer to some sticky issues of nationality as well as his ability to serve without bias.
Unlike other confirmation hearings, today’s hearing is expected to be attended by representatives of various political parties, civil society organizations among others following an invitation by the Senate’s Committee Chairman on Elections and Inauguration, Senator J. Milton Teahjay.
“I want to urge members of all political parties and civil society organizations to attend and witness these proceedings come Monday,” announced Teahjay, who is also a Senator of Sinoe County and member of the former ruling Unity Party (UP).
In a related development, five of the six nominees at the Commission on Saturday, March 28, 2020 appeared before the Upper House of the Liberian Legislature for confirmation.
Two of the nominees, Cllr. Davidetta Browne-Lansanah, Co-Chair-designateand Cllr. Ernestine Morgan-Awar Commissioner-designate told the hearing that their confirmation would further boost the function of the commission.
According to them, they would use their position to help speed up the process of elections in 2020 and 2023.
But several of the Senators, specifically Montserrado County Senator, Abraham Darius Dillon, were overly critical of one of the nominees in person of Mr. Floyd Sayor for his controversial role in the Montserrado County Electoral District #15 by-election, which was ordered rerun.
Sayor, a data analyst at the Commission during the time of the by-election, has been accused on numerous occasions for manipulating data at the NEC against certain individuals who for some reasons felt cheated in every electoral process in the past decade including the 2017 and the District #15 by-election.
In the face of these controversies, Sayor who denied any wrongdoing bragged that he was overly qualified for the job with the level of job done at the commission.
“Honorable Senators with the level of work I have done at the NEC and my experience I think I am qualified and ready to serve,” he asserted.