James Emmanuel Nuquay

Profile of Hon. James Emmanuel Nuquay, Speaker and Head of the Liberian Legislature

If one looks down the tunnel of history, one will see countless examples of people who came from relatively obscure and humble backgrounds but, by the dint of hard work mixed with the grace of God, greatly impacted their generations, their countries, and the world. Such was the case with Jesus Christ of Nazareth, King David, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, Jr., and many others. James Emmanuel Nuquay certainly would hesitate to put himself in this honorable league of great men of history whose lives are strong inspirations to many across the world. But in his own humble way and by the sweat of his brow, Nuquay has risen from obscurity to prominence, from grass to grace and is making some noticeable impacts on the Liberian political landscape.

Born on October 24, 1968 to George (deceased) and Kpannah Nuquay in Sein Town, Dinningta Clan, Borlorla Township, Margibi County, the young Emmanuel finished his elementary education at the Nuquay Public School in Gwee Town, Todee District, Montserrado County in 1982.

Upon completing junior high school at the Presbyterian Todee Mission in Goba Town in 1985, he went on to earn a diploma in accounting from the Booker Washington Institute (BWI) in 1989. He followed this up with a BSc in Economics from the University of Liberia (UL) in 1998 and an LLB from the Louis Arthur Grimes School of Law (UL) in 2009.

James Emmanuel Nuquay or JEN as he is affectionately called by some of his friends and colleagues started his working career in 1988 as a Bookkeeper Trainee at the Liberia Petroleum Refinery Company (LPRC) while pursuing a diploma in accounting at BWI. Successful completion of six-month internship was a requirement for earning a diploma at BWI and during the six-months spanning November 1988 and April 1989, Nuquay was exposed to some practical applications of some of the Bookkeeping theories and concepts he had acquired in the BWI classroom. After successfully delivering his mandate at the LPRC and earning his Diploma in Accounting from BWI in 1989, young Emmanuel’s progress was initially halted by the outbreak of war. But undeterred by the prevailing situation in the country, he went on to pursue a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics at UL, completing in 1998.

Upon graduation, the new graduate was hired as a Quality Control Operator by the Socfinco Group that owned and operated the Weala Rubber Company. Nuquay’s role was critical in that it was his responsibility to ensure that the rubber shipped from Liberia by the corporation met international specifications as required by customers. At that time, earnings from rubber was still one of the war-torn country’s chief earners.

Having established himself as one capable of successfully delivering his mandates, a trend that will become the hallmark of his life in public service, Nuquay was promoted to the position of Quality Control Supervisor, a position he held from 1999-2005.

Although possessing a sharp political mind, young Nuquay was not active in student politics in high school. He became more active in student politics at the University of Liberia when he served as a staunch member of the Student Integration Movement (SIM) of the University of Liberia, serving on numerous committees of the Party. Whether in high school or in University, Nuquay always shied away from the forefront or the limelight. He instead took comfort in vigorously supporting a collective goal from the back.

After he left the University of Liberia, Nuquay started having some deep reflection on politics in Liberia and was concerned that for a very long time, politics in Liberia has largely been a game of rhetoric. Tell the people what they want to hear, get their votes and go about your own agenda. As a result, many ordinary people take a detached position from the political process. But change does not come just from wishing for change. Change comes from working for change and sometimes leaving your comfort zone and stepping in the front.

It is against this backdrop that J. Emmanuel Nuquay entered politics: to transform this situation from a politics of rhetoric to a politics of development. Nuquay believes that politics through development will impact the lives of his people and keep them glued to the democratic process and progress of Liberia.

As Liberia prepared for the holding of presidential and legislative elections in 2005, Nuquay developed the novel development concept of “Gbaisue,” a Kpelle name for the reserved corn that is preserved by being hung over the fire to be planted the next season. The Kpelle people believe that this reserved corn hanging over burning firewood is sent by God, who is the only one who knows where it will germinate.

It was against this motivation and with the strong encouragement from some of his people in the Weala area that Nuquay decided to vie for a seat in the National Legislature during the 2005 presidential and legislative elections.  Some naysayers, judging from the number of “heavy-weights” in the race, wrote Nuquay off completely and felt that it was a pity that the young man would decide to put himself up for political destruction. To them it was like a rat trying to compete with leopards. But Nuquay was not deterred by the critics. He had worked with his people and knew what his people were actually yearning for.

Nuquay contested as an Independent candidate in 2005 and came from relative obscurity to emerge as Representative of the then District #1 of Margibi County. The people of Margibi were moved by the promise of the Gbaisue campaign, made through the motto: “Prepare for the harvest.” In the 2011 elections, Nuquay was overwhelmingly elected by citizens of his constituency, becoming one of very few representatives who were elected with an absolute majority.

Immediately after his stunning victory in 2005, Nuquay transformed his campaign committee into a development movement renamed the Gbaisue Development Association, charged with the execution of the Representative’s development programs, as promised in the areas of education, health and grassroots empowerment.

Over the past 12 years, Hon. Nuquay has greatly impacted the development of his constituency by ensuring the construction of public clinics, high school, resource centers, youth centers, town halls, guest houses and many other projects in many towns and villages across his constituency including Weala, Massaquoita Town, Jennita, Dinningta, Peter’s Town and many others.

Upon entering the Legislature, Nuquay set himself apart by never losing sight of the interest of his constituency and the greater national interest. As Representative for the people of Margibi County since 2005, he has made representations to protect the development interest of his people, made laws and exercised oversight on the execution of laws by the Executive Branch of government, introduced and ensured the passage of a law which exclusively sets aside the payment of Firestone land rental fees to Margibi and Montserrado counties as a social development fund. Margibi County benefits US$160,000 annually under this law.

Since 2006, Hon.  J. Emmanuel Nuguay has served in the following capacities in the Legislature: Co-Chair of the Judiciary Committee, where he co-conducted the affairs of the Judiciary Committee, handled all legal matters for the House, reviewed and advised plenary on the legal implications of bills submitted to the House for passage; Chairman Ways, Means and Finance Committee, where he supervised the execution of all financial transactions for the House of Representatives, managed the Budget process and advised plenary on budget passage and execution; Speaker of the House of Representatives, where he presently serves as Presiding Officer of the House of Representatives, Head of the Legislative Branch of government, the third most powerful person in the land. It is worthy of note that Nuquay was elected Speaker of the National Legislature on white ballot, a rare occurrence at the House of Representatives in recent times.

Since his emergence as Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Nuquay has distinguished himself as a unifying force, when one considers the divided House he inherited. During his tenure, he has not only established a peaceful working relationship with the other two branches of government but has also overseen the passage of key legislations for the betterment of Liberia.

It is safe to say that from the start of his higher education to his present position as the Head of the Legislative branch of government, Speaker Nuquay’s life has been one of preparing for the harvest, which he keeps bringing in year after year. Destiny has set this son of a Presbyterian pastor and farmer apart from his cohorts for a special appointment with fate in order to be one of the leading players who will transform the politics of rhetoric to a politics of development.

“My faith is built in God and I believe in destiny. From my political profile, I have never opted for anything, but God has always showered me with his blessings through others. God has worked through people to get me to where I am. I am never desperate for anything. I have learned to be humble and leave the rest with God. In Hebrew 13:5 God said: ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ And in Jeremiah 29:11, He said: “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm; plans to give you hope and a future.” My Lord and my God has given me a hope and a future. My life is in His hands. I am a team builder. I believe that leadership will not be successful in the absence of teamwork. In my political life, I have always endeavored to build a team as the foundation for success. Just as our people say ‘one tree cannot make a forest,’ so I believe one person cannot provide leadership.”

The time has come again to “Prepare for the Harvest.”

Speaker I. Emmanuel Nuquay is married to Mrs. Ruthtoria B. Nuquay and is father to Emmantoria Happiness Nuquay (17 Yrs), Isaac Joy Nuquay (15 yrs) and Rib Success Nuquay (6 yrs).

A former schoolmate looking back at Nuquay’s days in high school recalls that Nuquay was a quiet, smart, studious, hardworking gentleman, who knew how to manage himself very well. “Unlike many of us those days, I can’t remember any instance throughout our high school days where Nuquay committed any act worthy of disciplinary action by a Dean or a teacher. He enjoyed spending long hours studying with his colleagues and cracking jokes.”

A legislative colleague with whom he has worked for nearly twelve years describes him in this manner: “He is smart, dynamic, credible, trustworthy, eloquent, and hardworking. He is not only a strong floor fighter, but he is also a true  professional legislator, who can dedicate countless hours behind his computers to make sure that a committee work is done. As Speaker, he has demonstrated that he is a wise, effective, and trusted leader of the Legislature.”

Jerry Flomo, a 67-year-old resident of Weala, Margibi County, when asked about Speaker Nuquay, was very effusive in praise of the honorable man. “He is the best Honorable we have ever had. He cares for us, that’s why we love and care for him so much. Nuquay doesn’t talk too much. He believes in doing. See the number of development projects he has undertaken in Weala and other parts of the district. Every day I wake up, I pray for Nuquay. I pray that God protects him and shower him with more blessings now and in the future”. 

We do not know what the future holds for Nuquay or anyone of us for that matter. But one thing is certain: if the prayers and best wishes from Oldma Flomo and thousands of others for James Emmanuel Nuquay (JEN) are things to go by, then we can expect better days ahead for the humble, intelligent, and well-groomed 48-year-old Kpelle boy from Sein Town, Dinningta Clan, Borlorla Township, Margibi County.

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