One of the fundamental reasons why people consciously become active politicians is to have or gain access to political power or authority through a unique electioneering process such as: election or referendum or any other means formulated and endorsed by a given society so as to impact the lives of ordinary people.
To impact the lives of the ordinary people, every politician should endeavor to align his focus, activities, programs and strategies must resonate to the expectation of the ordinary people. In other words, it is about what the people want or expect from the Politicians’ leadership- in large part from the body politics of the regime that be. It is not necessarily what the politician wants that could be viewed as personal aggrandizement. If the expectation of the people is to build schools, reduce poverty, improve health facilities, democracy, social justice or agriculture sector, Politicians need to understand that they are under contractual obligation to perform in line with the people expectations; interestingly many elected politicians today have failed to actualize that. In the eyes of the ordinary people, a politician is a failure, if he or she performed contrary and far below the electorate expectations. This is no doubt.
It is the expectation of the ordinary people that influenced the empathy of the politician for which he or she enters into politics as direct representatives of the people. This is the contractual obligation. History is replete with politicians who profiles reflect the caption of this article despite of their pitfalls which is obvious for every politician and on the ground that there is no perfection in all human beings. Let’s briefly look at these past leaders’ political careers to build the case.
It can be argued that the quest for independence sought by the people of Ghana, under the harsh British rule influenced the empathy of Dr.Kwame Nkrumah and this forced him to into politics, in order to actualize the expectations of his people. The Ghanaians quest at the time was political independence, to enable them govern their own affairs and country’s destiny. He made them realized that. However, history has it that Kwame Nkrumah, was a despot, his Prevention Detention Act-detention without trial), harsh treatment of opponents, while some were imprisoned until their death. To date his critics argued to justify his overthrow. Many Ghanaians believed since independence that Dr Kwame Nkrumah, the first President of Ghana, achieved remarkable success in Ghana’s political existence, as evident by the outstanding development projects such as: Korle-bu Hospital, Achimota College, Railway lines between Kumasi, Accra and Takoradi, roads, Tema township, Accra-Tema Motorway, Komfo Anokye Hospital,, University of Science and Technology, University of Cape Coast, polytechnics and secondary school around the country, Akosombo Dam, Adome bridge, among others, he left behind. His foreign policies, Kwame Nkrumah made a priceless contribution to the formation of the Organization of African Union and Pan-African movement in general. Arguably, all of these are evidence of how he impacted the lives of the ordinary Ghanaians and beyond.
The legacy of Nelson Mandela, whose regime never penchant personal aggrandizement. Again, showed that the expectation of the ordinary black South Africans was what influenced the political career of Nelson Mandela. Their quest for freedom from apartheid’s iron fist rule, which was their primary expectation and a gate way for all South Africans to have access to basic social amenities. This also served as a driving force and conscious for the late Mandela’s political ambition, which led him to take a violence-freed approach to liberate his kinsmen from the tyranny of apartheid. On Also, research had revealed that Mandela aligned his political strategies to the expectation of the ordinary people which created a platform that allowed blacks not only into polling booths, but also into the corridor of power today.
Another case worth mentioning is that of Jo Cox, former Prime Minister of Great Britain. Not long ago, the nation mourned the death of one of its PM named Jo Cox; Jo Cox fellow countrymen said she entered politics for the right reason. Because throughout her career, she aligned her political ideology to the expectations of the ordinary people that led to her death, thousands in United Kingdom, across her constituent and other part of the world, reacted with sympathy when the news filtered in that she’d passed out.
The issues discussed above leave me with no doubt to conclude that the way in which leaders impact the lives of the ordinary people in society, despite their obvious shortcoming; provides room for society at large to idolize them, and also sees them as good prototypes.
Now let’s turn to Liberia Politics. How many of our politicians that historically and contemporarily understand that politics is about impacting the lives of the ordinary people as per their expectations? This question derived from the current debate or sharp reaction by some lawmakers from Bomi County about the decision of the ordinary people of Senjeh, District # 1 in Bomi County decision to petition Hon. Edwin M. Snowe, Montserrado County, District #6 Representative, to contest for District #1 in the pending 2017 general and legislative elections in Bomi County.
Let it be cleared that I have no personal relationship Hon. Edwin M. Snowe, I have never have I meet with him or I desire to meet with him because of this article. The message I as a social, political thinker and lecturer want to objectively convey is the argument that Hon. Edwin M. Snowe action reflects the crux of this article. Comparatively, the gap between Hon. Edwin M. Snowe and Nkrumah, Mandela and Cox is too wide in terms of impacting lives. However, what Hon. Snowe seems to have in common with those past statesmen is the endeavoring spirit to align his legislative work with the expectations of the ordinary people that falls within his political constituent. Discussion around the legal possibility for Hon. Edwin M. Snowe to contest in Bomi comes 2017 general elections based on the petition is another topic I might attempt to address when the need arises. .
Let’s start the argument by asking the question. What prompted the ordinary people of Senjeh, District # 1 in Bomi County, who have petitioned Hon. Edwin M, Snowe? The reason for the petition as asserted by district paramount chief Moinama Jah and other chiefs answered the question, which is expressed in their thanks and appreciation for the employment opportunities Hon. Snowe had created for more than 200 of their kinsmen in the district. This development I surmised motivated the citizens of Senjeh’s constituent to have petitioned Hon. Snowe.
From the assertion or reason of the paramount chief as voice of the ordinary residents, isn’t it safe to infer that employment which to some extent had tackled poverty minimally as you would argue is the expectation of the ordinary residents? Isn’t it also safe to infer that the almost 1,000 acres of palm that has created employment opportunities and income sources for the ordinary people in Bomi County, owned by Hon. Edwin M. Snowe aligned to the expectations of the people? Probably, this might just be the little thing that have shifted the people mind to Hon. Edwin M. Snowe to lead them comes 2017. There’s this saying that ‘the difference between the ordinary and extraordinary is the word ‘extra’. Apparently Hon. Edwin M. Snowe had done something extra that other leaders from the Bomi County yet to do. This is not to say that other leader from Bomi county are not impacting the lives of the people .There are other law makers probably doing similar projects in other places perhaps outside their districts yet to be petitioned. No one can reasonably conclude that they are not impacting lives. But to what extent they are impacting lives is another question that requires an answer.
To conclude, politics is about what the people desire or expect. Despite Hon. Snowe short comings that are obvious, he has been a bit mindful of coming up with program or project resonate with the expectations of the ordinary people in Senjeh, District, Bomi County. This explained how much he understands the definition of politics as I have attempted to argue in this article. I believed if his project was not impacting the lives of the people on a large scale, they wouldn’t have petitioned him. Therefore, politicians who are reacting sharply to will of Bomi’s citizens need to the realize that the beauty of olden and modern days politic center around impacting the lives of the ordinary people who stood under the rain and sun during elections. And that is what defines politics.
By Ambrues M. Nebo