Monrovia, Liberia – President Joseph Boakai’s recent selection of Amin Modad for the role of Minister of Commerce has ignited a heated debate, as critics question his suitability for the position, citing concerns over his Lebanese-Liberian heritage.
Modad, a well-known businessman and former Unity Party Chairman, faced defeat in the 2022 Unity Party primary, with sources close to him suggesting accusations of racism. In a 2022 interview, Unity Party Chairman Luther Tarpeh attributed Modad’s loss to a lack of unity and visibility within the party. “I believe Amin Modad lost the election to me because he is probably not a unifier. He was not visible in the counties and he was not close to the youth,” Tarpeh stated during a recent appearance on Spoon Talk. “But I have the ability to move around, and I know how to mingle with people.”
However, the primary contention regarding Modad’s eligibility revolves around his citizenship status. In 2022, the Liberian Senate rejected the appointment of Cllr. Ndubuisi Nwabudike to the National Election Commission based on his Nigerian heritage.
While Criminal Court “B” later declared Nwabudike a full-fledged Liberian citizen, highlighting his Oath of Allegiance and the relinquishment of allegiance to Nigeria, this decision followed his expulsion by the Liberian National Bar Association (LNBA) and the withdrawal of his NEC Chairman nomination by President Weah, along with his removal as chairman of the Liberia Anti Corruption Commission.
Critics argue that Modad, like Nwabudike, shares foreign parentage—his father from Lebanon and mother from Liberia. However, they assert that Modad’s qualifications pale in comparison to Nwabudike’s. While Nwabudike had previously served as the head of the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission and was recognized for his legal expertise, Modad’s public roles have been limited to his chairmanship of the Unity Party and ownership of Bella Casa Hotel.
An analysis by our law reporter suggests, “In an objective sense, Modad could face disqualification by the Senate for similar reasons that led to Nwabudike’s disqualification unless he can present a stronger case for his citizenship.” The scrutiny surrounding Modad’s eligibility raises questions about the Senate’s approach to his confirmation, particularly considering the precedent set by Nwabudike’s case. Observers stress the potential impact on the Unity Party’s internal dynamics and the government’s credibility in upholding citizenship requirements for crucial positions. As the controversy unfolds, political observers anticipate a comprehensive Senate confirmation process to address concerns and determine Amin Modad’s eligibility for the pivotal role of Minister of Commerce.