In October of 2017, Liberia goes to the poll to put in place a new governance structure- in Presidential and General elections, for another six years (if and only if the 1986 Constitution of Liberia stays the way it is). The election and subsequent inauguration of the new Government of Liberia in January of 2018 will mark the end of twelve years of governance under the Unity Party led by President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.
Borrowing from the April 23, 2015 comments by Liberia’s Ambassador to the United States, Mr. Jeremiah Sulunteh, the 2017 poll will definitely be a ‘flood gate’ as it relates to the proliferation of individuals, vying for the nation’s highest seat- and that’s the Presidency.
As we have seen many years back in previous presidential elections from 1997 to 2011, election-2017 will indeed occasion faces from all walks of life, including the Diaspora, who may for one reason or another, harbor the conviction that they hold the answer(s) to Liberia’s many socio-political and economic challenges.
Even if such conviction is not characterized by tangible evidence of their impact-making past and presence in the country, they would still maintain such position- of course, backed by the usual political ‘lyrics’.
Interestingly, politicians who participated in the Presidential elections of 2005 and 2011 that have not, one way or the other, tangibly impacted the socio-economic lives of Liberians across the country since then may be in the numbers when the “sins go matching in”.
And they may be given credence because Liberia voters, generally, don’t base their decisions during elections on issues, but sentiments. At the core of these sentiments is the “cash’ influence- belly-driven voters? Of course, some would definitely think so, judging even from last December Special Senatorial Election.
But it’s better not to jump into conclusion this time around. Perhaps the new variables every election brings may surface in 2017, when Liberian voters will “think straight” this time to make their voting decisions issues-based, rather than the same old “social, tribal or cash sentiments”.
While the 1986 Constitution of Liberia may give the right to all Liberians who meet the requirements of the National elections Commission to participate in the electoral process as candidates, it is also important to noted that not every ‘Tom, Dick and Harry’ whose past and present achievements in the country must be allowed to “rail row” our body politic and then leave us in oblivion and abject poverty upon assuming power- this time, we must know them by their fruits and not because he or she is a member of our tribe, county and what have you.
Already ahead of the 2017 general and Presidential elections, moves are being by a number of Liberians toward the presidency. The likes of Cllr. Charles W. Brumskine (who has bounced back from self-retirement following 2011), Liberian Influential Businessman Benoni A. Urey, Dr. Togba Nah Tipoteh, Rev. Kennedy Sandy, Winston A. Tubman, as well as Senator George Manneh Weah (for now), among a few others, continue to engage Liberians across the country as signals of the political ambitions.
Except for Prominent Businessman Benoni A. Urey, most of these politicians may only rely on “political advocacy” as a ground to make their cases, but nothing much tangible they can point to as impact-making achievements since becoming thirsty for the Liberian presidency years back and now, despite their abilities to make things happen.
For Urey, he may be a new comer; but the impact he has made on the lives of the people of Liberia over the years could make him a formidable- take it or leave- and think whatever you may about such comments; that’s the reality.
Many had anticipated that as a new comer, Urey would have missed his steps, but associating with a few seasoned politicians and political parties, including the Congress for Democratic Change, as well as understanding what practical politics entails, Urey may be singing the song to which many well-meaning Liberians would want to listen- and that’s the message of peace, unity, development and progress.
And perhaps, with his background and strength is as a progressive farmer and businessman and local investor (especially in telecommunication, real estate and others), no one anticipates any behavior incompatible with the aspirations of the people of Liberia he so desires to lead come 2017, if elected.
Of course, along the way, the process may be characterized by unrealistic political challenges and affiliations some fifteen years ago, but his focus and firmness on his ambition and goals for his motherland-Liberia would definitely overcome such temptations. This is why those who currently associate with him in whatever way must not only pretend to be commitment and upright because of whatever “cash” they think he has, but sincere in the same direction with him to realize his ambition and national goals and objectives.
Urey’s growth such as it is today may be against the backdrop of the United Nations’ travel ban that he, however, utilized to expand his economic activities not only in Montserrado, but to Konola in Margibi and Bong Counties where he also runs a very huge rubber plantation and other businesses. This is why it was of no surprise for the U.N Panel of Experts, in its last report on Liberia, to describe him as a person of huge potentials and of no threat to the peace and stability to Liberia, even though it was an open fact that the travel ban imposed on him was very political. They had actually valued him, from all of their assessments and investigations, and realized that he was actually a true and productive Liberian, and that with such potential investments of his in a country emerging out of crisis, it was irrational and un-necessary to continue the travel ban.
By even mentioning his Presidential ambition in its report to the Security Council based on the facts seen on the ground further suggested the potentials he has to move Liberia to another level, wherein the issue of abject poverty et al will be things of history. By Wesley B. Cole