The historic Liberian elections of 2011 are now a matter of history. Political analysts and historians can evaluate the merits and demerits of the all the events that have occurred.
The first round of the election was marred with complete incompetence on the part of the elections commission and fear mongering as well as a false perception that there will be war by some politicians. The Liberian citizenry only desire was to have transparent, free and fair elections. However, the process was murky and at times sloppy.
Even though the much trumpeted “International Community” heralded these elections as free and fair, it can be argued that the International community arrived at this conclusion in their own self-interest. It was evident that the opposition that did not have as even a level playing field with the incumbent. The opposition also had a self-inflicted weakness due to their self-aggrandizing and incompetence articulating their vision for Liberia. It can be argued that politicians managed to turn the elections, keeping only their selfish interest at play and not the concern of the nation.
The second round of the elections brought about the clear divide in the country. It showed the deep dissatisfaction by the people to the incumbent and apprehension of the opposition. There was a lot said of the opposition Congress for Democratic Change (CDC), that its vice chair is incompetent and illiterate and does not deserve to be vice president of the republic. The last time I checked, he met all the constitutional requirements. Some may not like his politics and policies, but he has all the rights!
The Liberian people need to know one fact, that, inasmuch as some may dislike the CDC, the CDC, represents an important part of the electorate that have a legitimate concern. This group feels that they have no opportunities, no education and no way out of their present state; they are not empowered, and most importantly, they are viewed as “thugs” and trouble makers by the elite and incumbent. What is missed is that these people are as Liberians as the incumbent and their affiliated people.
What was missing in this election was that No politician has experience what this group are experiencing or can genuinely identified with this group. Only one politician has been a part of this group, George Weah! He has eaten with them, worked with them, lived amongst them and been a part of their group when no other believed in their cause, as a result, they can identify with him. Again, we can dismiss CDC and George Weah, but we cannot be dismissive and derisive of this group of Liberians.
Liberians need to come together for the betterment of their country. Politicians need to articulate their vision for the country. And we, the people, need to do our part to promote a sustainable democracy. There is nothing wrong to point out the inconsistencies of your opposition or state that your position is better, but to make blatantly false and misleading statements and attribute innuendos to your opponents and raise fear in the electorate, is simply dishonest, lacks integrity and very Un-Liberian.
Nevertheless, there is a way forward. All sectors of the Liberian society must play their own part in making Liberia a productive, strong and democratic country. We need a country that we are all proud of and ensure we develop its culture and character. Where do we start? The incumbent, opposition, Legislature, Judiciary, Press and the Liberian people must all be responsible for their own actions and must be beyond reproach so that we build a society that we all can be proud of and we can live peacefully. And most importantly, we can agree to disagree and still be cordial and civil.
We do not need another civil conflict. We need successive changes through the ballot box, the courts, through civil remediation and also, through peaceful civil disobedience when we are aggrieved.
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and the Unity Party (UP)
In order to successfully move forward, the president and the Unity Party must acknowledge that they have no mandate in this term to govern the country. In order to have a mandate, an overwhelming number of the electorate would have voted for this government, despite the calls of the opposition. The Liberian people’s message to this administration is, “Be Inclusive!” To achieve that, this administration should consider the following:
1. Forgo the pomp and circumstance of a big and grand inauguration. Liberia lacks developmental dollars as these funds could be better utilized to rehabilitate and remodel the Executive Mansion. Moreover, this President must administer the affairs of the state from its formal offices.
2. The current cabinet, advisors and heads of government agencies must be replaced and not recycled. Every single one must go! This will promote new ideas and vision. Recycling promotes entitlement and is a recipe for malfeasance. The message also needs to be sent out that appointed government service is not a way of life. This government needs to hire the best and brightest this time around. We have the tried and tested this current crop to no avail.
3. Implement the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) report. This government has the legal duty to implement this commission’s report as its authority was derived as part of and a consequence of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) signed in Accra, Ghana. Inasmuch much that this president and other government officials may be ensnared, the law of the land must be adhered to and those responsible for the destruction of Liberia must be held accountable. The absence of this will make peace and good governance elusive.
4. Dust off the General Auditing Commission’s audit report and make those accuse defend their actions. Malfeasance has inebriated most appointed government official and the ordinary civil servant. If not checked and those responsible for shenanigans not held accountable, God Help Us!
The CDC and Other Oppositions
The best way to be an effective opposition is to refrain from personal aggrandizement and come together for the better good of the country. This election has demonstrated that a fractious opposition is a waste, what would be otherwise, a strong and viable alternative to the incumbent. Moreover, the daily mantra cannot be the ills of the incumbent, but what is your articulated vision for a new and better Liberia. This election has also clarified that Liberia does not need so many political parties. The opposition needs to be consolidated to a limited number of parties of no more than 2 or 3 political institutions. This will help ensure that voting can be focused, the process clarified and effective changed can occur in the future.
The Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) has shown that they represent a segment of the electorate and society that has legitimate and fundamental rights that are being ignored. However, its leaders must be able to competently lead and inform their constituency of the proper and responsible way too proceed, whether through peaceful civil disobedience or through the legal process.
Liberia is a budding young democracy with a strong need for competent representation and good governance. This body has over the years shown a tendency to be nothing more than a rubber stamped body. The result is what appears to be illiterate and ignorant accomplishment of their fundamentals duties. These duties are very important to the establishment of a working democracy.
This body needs to revisit most concession agreements and make it more Liberian and Liberia focus. Promote the citizenry in these multinationals doing business in the country. Make competent laws. Do not sell Liberia and allow bribes, incompetence and malfeasance to be your legacy and the order of the day.
Liberia is governed by Laws. The laws must be fair to all not just to those who are personal friends or those who can pay for the desired outcome. Liberia needs competent lawyers with integrity.
The press in any society is the vanguard of the larger society. The press represents the interest of the people and safeguards them against the ill of big government. The press should be independent of the politicians and not their paid mouthpiece. The press should be factual in its reporting, seeking all sides to a story before reporting. So far, it appears that the press has been a negligent defender of the Liberian people and has been functioning only as the mouthpiece of the politicians.
If the press is being intimidated to not report factually, then they should leave the career as journalist and seek some other profession. The press must be fearless, truthful and factual in its reporting.
The Liberian People
The Liberian people have for the most part elected people who are a direct representation of who they are, illiterate, ignorant, corrupt, lacking in integrity and evil. And Yes, I am not being politically correct! When we vote people into offices on the slogan “You kill my ma, you kill ma pa” or “Monkey working, let baboon wait small”, what does that say about our society?
Liberians for the most part want everything handed to them, we do not take responsibility for our actions, we lack integrity and we will be corrupt yet still, accuse government officials of corruption.
We, as a people, have to change our entire mindset. We need to show others that we are responsible and serious, that we are hard working. We need to show the international community that we have integrity with each other and within ourselves. We need to be strategic thinkers, capable of reasoned evaluation of the situation before we speak, so we do not blabber in ignorance what we think we know. We should not be vile and make unsubstantiated claims about people we do not support or disagree with. Liberians, we need to speak the truth always, for with the truth comes respect, character and integrity!
There is a way forward in Liberia. Together, it is possible for us all to work together to build a more viable and civil society. It will take a collective effort, especially when we disagree.
We, as a people, must put Liberia first, before party and self. We must believe in Liberia, because no one and I mean, no one can make and build Liberia, except Liberians.
May God Bless Us and Help Us! May God Bless Liberia!
By Ramses K Nah, firstname.lastname@example.org