It’s decision time in Liberia. Tuesday, 10 October electorate here go to the poll to elect a new president that would succeed Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, first elected female President in Africa, who is ending two six-year terms in office. The electorate are also electing members of the House of Representatives to serve six-year tenure in the Lower House.
The 2017 Presidential and Representative Elections set the basis for a peaceful political transition in January 2018, the first ever in 73 years. The elections on Tuesday are very crucial for the forward march of Liberia, a country that had suffered 14 years of bloody civil war, which took the lives of several hundred thousand people and left similar number or more displaced.
The cause of the violence was the lack of leadership or the poor handling of it, where some fellow compatriots felt marginalized and deprived. Justice was reserved for the highest bidder, while the voiceless were confined to the margins of society with no means of seeking and obtaining redress.
After the prolonged carnage and subsequent cessation of hostility, Liberians thru the intervention of the international community were given the opportunity in 2005 to settle the leadership struggle at the ballot box where they elected long-time advocate for democracy and social justice, Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who received a second term mandate in 2011.
Having served two terms in line with the Constitution, it is time for her to leave and handover state power to another democratically elected leader. Who that person will be is being determined by the electorate. They are making that decision from among a choice of 20 Presidential candidates, including incumbent Vice President Joseph Nyumah Boakai of the governing Unity Party.
However, amid the large sample space of contestants to choose from, citizens seem unanimous against a return to violence that plunged this country into more than two decades of self-destruction and derailed the advancement of two generations of Liberians, who never had the opportunity to go to school or to enter school and remain there to acquire an education.
They are largely today’s youth and adults roaming the streets with no education and skills to contribute to society positively. And so, they resort to taking drugs and becoming social deviants.
The decision we make both as Liberians and electorate on Tuesday would determine whether this country will move ahead with peace, development and economic growth or retrogress to the dark days.
We challenge all electorate not to elect candidates based on ethnic, regional, religious and political ties, but competence and commitment to service. Unless a candidate sincerely desires to serve Liberia, electing him or her in power is meaningless or counterproductive to national development.
This is no joke. These are critical times in our nation’s history. We urge all well-meaning Liberians as they go to the ballot box to think soberly not only for themselves, but where they hope to see this country progress in the next six years to come in determining who becomes our next President and lawmakers on Capitol Hill.