On Wednesday, August 31, 2011, the National Elections Commission or NEC, through its Acting Chairman Elizabeth B. Nelson, announced the results of the just-ended National Referendum with a resounding NO to all of the four prepositions crafted by the Liberian Legislature a little more a year ago. The declaration in favor of the ‘NO’ votes, as announced by Acting Chairman Nelson, was indeed indicative of the fact that none of the four prepositions could meet the Two-Thirds majority.
Most surprisingly, the ‘simple majority preposition for the election of candidates of the Liberian Legislature which many had thought would have made it through, could not survive. Indeed, in the words of Elizabeth Nelson, “the Liberian people have spoken”. They spoke the way they did because of the inability’ of NEC, political parties and other stakeholders to be very vigorous in the process of creating public awareness/sensitization. While other stakeholders are to blame, Chairman Fromoyan and his NEC must also take the greatest responsibility in view of the foregoing, owing to the fact that they were constitutionally tasked to spearhead all electoral activities in the country.
It is very clear that most of the non-impact-making organizations/groups with which NEC had partnership or contracted to do public awareness, sensitization or civic education did very little or nothing to reach out in sincerity in the cause of the people they claimed to represent. It is an open fact that a few chose one to two media outlets, which could not even achieve the purpose for which the ‘cash’ was given as evidenced by the number of invalid ballots and confusion which characterized the referendum on August 23, 2011. This is why we must always work against personal interests and nepotistic policies in any national endeavor.
Moreover, other than soberly reflecting on the factors responsible for such dismal results and conceptualizing strategies to avoid recurrences in the October 11, 2011 General and Presidential elections, as well as the anticipated run-off, a few politicians, most especially from the ruling Unity Party took to the microphones to describe such results as a “ victory for democracy”. Such acknowledgement was just a shameless mockery aimed at consoling their failure to be sincere with the entire process, as well as the politically aggrieved.
When they should be transforming words into deeds in their respective neighborhoods, communities, clans, districts or counties throughout Liberia-making practical what they say, they give inflicted impressions to attract the attention of the leadership. It is unfortunate and very deceptive for ruling party stalwarts and senior officials to welcome referendum results as a “victory for democracy”, while political tears keep rolling down the cheeks of other well-meaning officials, stalwarts and members whose resources, efforts and desire may have been directed at attracting ‘YES’ to at least one or two of the four prepositions.
But again, we do know that African political leaders are always carried away by inflicted impressions, and those who give such impressions in the absence of the realities are always the best and reliable ones and not those who mean well. The mere fact that far less than fifty-percent of the 1.7 million registered voters participated in the just-ended referendum, it would be very foolhardy for anyone to accept that what came out of the process was a “victory for democracy”.
For us, our concern is not what was announced by NEC, but sober reflections on the process to include strategies for public awareness, civic education, public relations and partnership, as well as redesigning such strategies for soft-landing. The implementation of such must be devoid of the vices attributed to the poor participation experienced by the just-ended National Referendum. To our brothers and sisters in politics, your acknowledgement of the referendum results as “victory for democracy” is not only a ‘lip-service’, but very deceptive. You must be sincere with your leader and nation.