The National Elections Commission or NEC, recently submitted a bill to the Liberian Legislature for possible enactment into law. NEC bill is recommending increment in the fees for registration of aspirants for the various elective public positions, including the Liberian Presidency. The fees are also for the positions of Vice President, Senator, Representatives and others for this year’s general and presidential elections in Liberia.
According to the bill, the suggested registration fees for Presidential aspirants will now be US$7,500.00 instead of the US$1,500.00 paid during the 2005 registration process, while the amount of US$5,000 has been set aside for Vice Presidential aspirants instead of the US$2,500 paid in 2005.
Also in the bill, the National Elections Commission suggested the amounts of US$4,000.00 and US$3,500.00 for Senatorial and representative aspirants instead of the previous US$750.00 and US$500.00 paid during the 2005 general and presidential elections. Registration for other elective public offices will be determined by the NEC, and shall not exceed the equivalence of L$35,000.00 or US$500.00.
The National Elections Commission attributed its decision for the bill to the conduct of the national referendum, as well as the general and presidential elections, which it said, was a huge financial burden on the Government of Liberia amid competing development priorities. While we do welcome the decision by the NEC, we also sincerely believe that the Commission ‘under-stated’ the various registration fees.
We at the New Dawn do differ with the amounts proposed because of the sensitivity of these public offices, especially so when these individuals will have public funds at the disposal. These registration fees, with all sincerity, are still too little for people who would like to contest such honorable and distinguished public offices to which all of the officials’ glamour at attached.
Moreover, we think the National Elections Commission must set some tougher standards as requirements, including high fees so that not every “Tom, Dick and Harry” would just jump from the blue skies to degrade the presidency and Vice Presidency, senate and representative. The NEC and all of us must understand that to occupy such high offices in the nation, on e must very cognizant of the public service so as to be able to make informed decisions in the interest of his or her constituents.
Other substance and issues, we’ve seen individuals elected to positions in our country for too long on the basis of sentiments and personality, without knowing and understanding the principles for which they stand, as well as their contributions to the socio-economic and political developments of their respective communities/constituencies and nation as a whole. An attributing factor to this is the very weak electoral requirements which continue to remain the same as if we have no political growth, development and changes in our political system.
Again, who knows whether or not the NEC may not be harboring some fears for political parties and their leaders in instituting stringent measures to make the competition more responsible? The NEC and the various aspirants for the Presidency, Vice Presidency, Senate and Representative must be made to understand that “before a dog swallows a bone, it must measure its throat”.
It is no joke that politics is above children’s play and those involved must be credible, politically and intellectually upright, and command the respect and honor of those the lead. This is why we at the New Dawn are differing with the NEC proposal to the Liberian Legislature, and at the same time recommending to the same Legislature that such proposal for registration fees be re-adjusted.
We say to our honorable senators and representatives, the ‘ball is in your coat. Please set the serious standards, since Mr. James fromoyan and his colleagues at NEC are afraid to do so’. We think the registration fees for Presidential and Vice Presidential aspirants must be at least US$40,000.00 and US$30,000.00 respectively, while senatorial and representative aspirants should paid the amounts of US$20,000.00 and US$ 10,000.00 so as to have credible and responsible officials of government.
We must also disabuse the minds of our brothers and sisters who may think that our position here is targeted at them-no, no. We are only suggesting that the Liberian Legislature must now be transformed, and that people going there must not only base their decisions on the benefits being given to senators and representatives under the guise of doing better than the incumbents. This is why we will continue to insist that the registration fees for aspirants are still too little, and we think the NEC under-stated the amounts.