The craze over the presidential seat of Liberia has once again reached an alarming proportion. Over the past years since the birth of multi-party democracy, some research groups and political analysts have been able to determine reasons for this over-zealousness and over-powering desire to ascend to the nation’s highest seat.
They reasoned that the Liberian Constitution did opened the floodgate for any Liberian who reached the age of 35 and has the required property value and has stayed in the country for ten years prior to elections is qualified to run for president of the Republic of Liberia.
The constitution has no academic qualification nor has it years of political and administrative governing experience such as being required for lesser governmental positions as required by policies of government. Thus anyone who believes he can foot or raise the cost of campaign and has little or no exposure in government as well as popularity finds himself as the suitable person for the nation’s highest seat.
They have further deduced that the constitution gives enormous powers to the president which includes economic, political, military, security and developmental control of the state. With so much power, anyone assuming the functions of the president presides over the wealth of the nation and can compete with the world’s richest men by the time a tenure is over if he desires not to manipulate the constitution for a prolong stay in office.
Analysts have noted that for over a century and five decades Liberians have never cross the trajectory of a centralized system to grant some autonomies to the counties such as electing their own superintendents, having some coordinating leverage over their resources, putting in place their own financial management and budgeting systems and the establishment of administrative and technical structures that would allow for majority participation and an independent strategic plan to create job opportunities and poverty alleviation.
From experiences and past observations, one can safely assume if not a proven reality that 90% of those seeking the presidency are not motivated by a patriotic desire to serve but by a rapacious quest to wield power and to amass wealth taking into consideration the loopholes in the power structure of the state. Such people, if elected, neither remember their political platforms nor have a keen memory of those who elected them.
The parade of presidential candidates bespeaks the volumes of Liberia’s political problems with each claiming to have the perfect solutions to the nation under development and economic problems. Each of them seems to be saying the same things to the people but with different intellectual persuasion and jargons.
There are those who believe that popularity is the only criterion for the presidency with no insight of the enormous responsibilities of the presidency and the complex intricacies associated with domestic and foreign policies. What I believe should conspicuously claim the attention of Liberians is that they have never, until now, enjoyed the pleasure of a free society where every tenet of democracy is respected.
Thus, it behooves each of us not to concentrate on partisan politics or party loyalty but to listen to the roll call of presidential candidates and honestly assess their lives both past and present with the hope of electing a president that would provide for all of us the true dividends of democracy and a free society where there would be the rule of law, justice, equality and not extra-judicial proceedings, witch hunting and danger to democratic values.
The dynamism of politics therefore demands of us, caution, and ability to honestly assess beyond political platforms, integrity and valor to come to terms with realities and not dreams and imaginations.
Sadly, Liberians are engulfed in a state of confusion as regarding choice due to the proliferation of political parties and candidates. This state of confusion adversely affected the recent voters’ registration through silent protests all around the country which resulted into low registration and most especially Nimba County that was expected to produce the winning figure for some notable political parties.
It is important to note that the proliferation of presidential candidates and political parties do not necessarily place Liberia on the map of democratic nations but only demonstrate a multi-party character. And it is neither the expansion of democratic space but a demonstration of a people who are developing at a higher rate the culture of individualism.
Democracy is measured in terms of responsible choices by the people and the integrity of the government to respect those choices and expanding participation in decisions and policies from the center to the political sub-divisions of the country.
This participation should include economic, developmental, and political decisions and creating efficient counties governing structures and elections of local authorities. Such can only be possible with the election of a democratic minded President and not those without democratic credentials and dispositions. As we go to the polls, there are only three words that are important and they are: “LIBERIANS, ADVISE YOURSELVES. “