Special Feature

The Case for Ellen’s Re-election

The Case for Ellen’s Re-election – Why Liberia needs her for a 2nd Presidential Term & why she needs Liberians to vote “YES” for her by a simple majority or more on November 8th, 2011

As a Liberian presently out of the country, I am following the current elections cycle with deep interest. While I maintain a positive outlook on our country’s future, this is somehow tinted with a good dose of apprehension. As the title of this commentary suggests, I am rooting for our President’s re-election; but before I go into the reasons for my case, let me give the following background disclosures, as I am sure others hold opposing views and certainly have the right to do so:

o   I am not, nor have I ever been a member of any political association or party.
o   I do not know Madam Sirleaf personally, neither have I ever met her directly on a one-on-one basis or as part of any group whatsoever.
o   I have never held public office of any kind.
o   My observations and comments are based solely on my firsthand experience as a Liberian who lived in Liberia, including recently and also abroad.
o   Because I also love my country and people deeply, I am, without any outside influence or inducement, exercising my patriotic duty to free speech; for at no time during our lifetime has this right been more freely exercised as it has  been within the past 6 to 8 years.

The Liberian Presidential & Legislative electoral process is not fun and games. It is not merely a popularity contest. Its outcome should not be determined in favor of whoever makes the loudest noise in the marketplace. Some individuals crawl out of the woodwork – without fail – to seek public service positions each electoral cycle when throughout the non-electoral years, they did nothing to promote the general good of society. They must not be rewarded. These are individuals who can generally be described as unabashedly selfish, greedy for money and/or power and, as such, believe they are entitled to government jobs at the highest levels. For them, it is a “zero-sum” game. “All or nothing”. “My way or the hardway”. In a nutshell, their ends justify their means.

To promote their selfish ambitions (falsely proclaimed in the interest of the country and people), they willfully engage in acts of misinformation that even threaten national security. They carelessly and maliciously hurl seeds of unproven allegations and innuendos. Instead of being Liberians first and foremost, they create enclaves by stirring ethnic/tribalistic tensions and class warfare – dangerously pitting one group of Liberians against the other. They engage in such tactics while the majority of Liberians wallow in poverty, disease and hunger or died innocently during our senseless civil war. By so doing, they find calm at the center of the chaos that they create and thus, divide the spoils for their personal gain. For they harbor an entitlement mentality: “What’s in it for me?”.

These are shameless blusters and bullying tactics which they carry out with impunity while simultaneously portraying themselves as victims of the system. Those, along with their followers, engaged in these maneuvers believe they can sidestep or escape accountability because, in their view, the bulk of the Liberian population is illiterate or under educated. They never provide support for their statements or actions because there is no basis whatsoever. If individuals with this mentality ever get the opportunity to hold public office, the hands of our Liberian clock will certainly be turned backward many more decades. Enough damage has already been done to our nation and people! We cannot and must not risk this!

For these reasons, it is time that Liberians do the right thing by voting a resounding “NO” to these hucksters. Voting is the most cherished and important democratic right. Elections are very serious and deliberative matters. During this process, we freely and, hopefully, wisely exercise our democratic rights to ensure that the right individuals – those who stand up for their true beliefs and principles – are placed into fiduciary positions to advance our greater welfare. Liberians need leaders with strong moral values; with a sense of our history and national purpose. We need leaders who demonstrate accountability, self-responsibility and make self-sacrifice. We need leaders who believe in the dignity of labor and equal opportunity. We need leaders who display an ample dose of humility and gratitude. In short, we need leaders who will strive to engender amongst us a sense of oneness, patriotism, pride, reconciliation, value, self-worth and restorative justice.

In this matter, I have observed that President Sirleaf shows true leadership. Generally, she remains above the fray and refuses to engage in the dangerous personality-driven antics or pettiness of her detractors. I have always admired her humility when she publicly acknowledged her mistakes – no matter the consequences. As a leader she strives assiduously for our people and institutions to adapt to positive change. She strives to bring us together. While our President is not without her share of faults and mistakes (after all, she is only human!), she has, however, lived and selflessly exercised a “Purpose-driven” life – a life dedicated to the well-being of her country and people.

Here’s a simple test for each Liberian during this run-off period:

o   “Am I or is my family better off today than we were 5 – 6 years ago?”
o   “Has Madam Sirleaf begun planting the right seeds that will  spur national infrastructure, social and educational growth & development?”
o   “Are we as a nation more secure? Are we more respected as a people?”

If one can truly and objectively answer “YES”, then it will be necessary on November 8, 2011 to vote “YES” in her favor for a second term. That will ensure Liberia remains on a steady and sure course for the consolidation and continuation of her growth & development policies; and for democracy to gain deeper roots. She needs the chance to ensure that what she has planted does grow. Are we willing to take a far greater risk with a completely different team that will engage in witch hunts of their opponents (real or imagined) and start all over on a completely different path – except that this new path will generally be for their own personal gains? Will we further the trajectory we are on today or reverse the tide? We must be pragmatic because it is never advisable to remove the captain of a ship from the helm in the middle of high and dangerous seas – especially when the captain is steering a steady course which points in the direction of the lighthouse.

Giving the President a second Presidential Term also ensures she has the mandate to finally and aggressively effect the necessary changes (including combating corruption and cronyism), unlike a different individual to the office. She will not need to watch her back anymore or worry about another elections campaign because the Liberian Constitution forbids a third term. Further, President Sirleaf’s age will also limit her ability to continue serving in her current capacity. She can then complete her public service and ride away into the sunset, basking in her tremendous accomplishments for her beloved country, its people, Africa, and the world! And for the first time in our modern history, Liberia will have a former president who shall have retired under normal circumstances! What a wonderful future to look forward to!

Let me close by taking the liberty to parse the second stanza of our National Anthem:

All hail, Liberia, hail! (All hail!) ….
In union strong success is sure.  We cannot fail!
With God above, ….
By God’s command! ….

Mr. Freeman is a former multi-national banker.  Originally  employed by  The Chase Manhattan Bank, N.A.  in Liberia, he trained and worked in Greece, Germany, Nigeria, Kenya, England and the USA, during a fifteen-year career with that institution. While holding the position of corporate vice president and manager of credit & marketing with Chase in Liberia, he opted in 1987 – when Meridien International Bank Limited acquired Chase’s net assets in Liberia – to join Meridien’s Liberian affiliate as Vice President and General Manager. Within two years, he became the first Liberian to head a foreign-owned bank – serving as President & CEO of Meridien until early 1991, due to the Liberian civil war. During his four-year tenure at the helm of Meridien, the institution grew from the smallest and weakest to the largest and strongest commercial bank in Liberia. Mr. Freeman is currently a small business entrepreneur and also engages in private banking and financial consultancy services with entities and institutions in Africa & the USA. He has publishes a weblog which provides common sense commentary and analysis on critical and evolving issues relating to Liberia. His blog : www.ericsliberia.blogspot.com. He can also be reached at micrenson@gmail.com.

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