Liberia: Is Senate Confirmation Hearing of a Natural-Born Nigerian in Violation of Dual Citizenship Proposition (1, Article 28)?

On January 28, 2019, His Excellency, Dr. George Manneh Weah, was celebrated by Liberians in the Diaspora, when he called on, in his second Annual Message to the second sitting of the 54th Legislature, members of the honorable body to pass the "Dual Citizenship Bill" citing it as having "significant implications for the achievement of the country's pro-poor agenda for national renewal (Liberian Observer, 2019)."

On September 24, 2019, The Honorable Body, the Liberian Senate forwarded to the Honorable House of Representatives the voted and approved Proposed Senate Proposition 1 on Dual Citizenship (Article 28) which, while granting dual citizenship to natural-born Liberian citizens "who hold citizenship from another country", denies natural-born Liberian citizens from holding positions as heads of "autonomous commissions" (Frontpage Africa, 2019). While Liberians in the Diaspora remain concern over the discrimination, they however celebrated the President and the Legislature in this remarkable achievement. The Honorable House of Legislature during their 24th sitting of their extraordinary session would vote in concurrence with the Senate allowing a referendum for changes to the Liberian Constitution (Frontpage Africa, 2019). Liberians in the Diaspora jubilated singing praises for the administration and particularly the leadership of the President, the President Pro Tempore, and the Speaker of the House for their leadership in moving this process further than any previous administration.

This is why, given a proposition has been voted into an instrument of law by the 54th Legislature, it remains quite surprising that a natural-born Nigerian, is being nominated to the post of head of the National Elections Commission (NEC). One cannot help but wonder, is the President being wrongly advised on his nomination of a Nigerian-born naturalized citizen to Head an Autonomous Agency when we have a law passed by the 54th Legislature, Proposition 1 (Article 28) on Dual Citizenship, which bars natural-born Liberians from heading autonomous agencies? Is the Senate in holding a nomination hearing saying to Liberians, that the Republic places greater value on natural-born foreigners than its own natural-born citizens?

Furthermore, in international relations there is a litmus test, the principle of reciprocity, which "states that favors, benefits, or penalties that are granted by one state to citizens or legal entities of another, should be returned in kind (Wikipedia, 2020)." Would the government of Nigeria ever entertain a Liberian to head its Independent National Electoral Commission? Do we have such an example with Nigeria to use as a precedent?

These are questions that those clothed with authority to represent the citizens of Liberia, must ask themselves as they endeavor to set a precedent that is likely to set the stage of trouble to come as Liberians exercise their democratic franchise. Is this fair to the very Liberians that continue to celebrate the wisdom and foresight of the Administration of His Excellency, Dr. George Manneh Weah, who saw it important to move this issue of dual citizenship in a positive direction?

Alfred B. Stevens



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