Liberia’s 2017 Elections: Everything Goes; Except The Issues


For Liberians, It’s Always Been About the Personal, Not What Have You Done for Me Lately

THE SOCIAL MEDIUM Facebook is truncated lately with a lot of negative vibes regarding Liberia. Liberians, as is the case in every Presidential and legislative elections, are fond of going at each other’s throats.

IT IS A SEASON that brings out the ugliest and the worst in everyone. The unearthing of criminal records making enemies out of friends, the labeling and enormous character assassinations and a simply put, rugged intonation toward ensuring that one pollical figure sets himself apart from the rest – and the worst is still to come.

AFTER ALL, this is the same country that now embraces its first female head of state who once, as a political activist referred to a sitting President, albeit a dictator, Samuel Doe and his government as idiots.

WHEN THE SAME is said of hers, her supporters are quick to take offense and play the respect the President card.

WHILE PROMOTING her 2009 bestseller, “This Child Will be Great”, Sirleaf, was asked in an NPR interview to look back on her now infamous statement against Doe

TELL ME MORE’S MICHEL MARTIN, asked: “You said several times in the book that you just, you just couldn’t help yourself. If you felt there was a need to speak about something, you would speak about it, even though you knew there would be consequences. And there was a point during Doe’s 10-year reign when you gave a speech overseas, where you talked about the mismanagement of the country, you talked about the fact that though Doe had come in promising to a reformer and end the corruption of the past, all he really did was perpetuate it.”

SIRLEAF REPLIED: “I don’t know if I can, you know, answer that in truthfulness. Sometimes I ask myself, did I have to go that far? Did I have to say that? Perhaps if I hadn’t I would not have been in the situation where I was put under house arrest and subsequently jailed and subsequently charged with sedition and went before a military tribunal. I have just over the years spoken from the heart and said things that I believe, you know, sometimes to my own folly, as was that case.”

SIRLEAF’S APPREHENSION about what she said then and what the realities unfolded now that she is in the driving seat and on the last leg of a controversial two-term, speaks volume to what Liberia is all about, a post-war West African nation which proudly carries the tag as Africa’s oldest republic but widely regarded as perhaps one of the more immature rising post-war democracies around today.

NEXT DOOR NEIGHBORS Sierra Leone, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Nigeria and The Gambia have all successfully made smooth transitions from war to peace and the democratic turn over from one democratically-elected government to the next. In all of these situations, the opposition have been successful in capitalizing on the incumbent fatigue and ushered in new governments in hopes of maintaining the momentum of a successful transition.

IN LIBERIA, the trend has a bit of a murky outlook, at least for now. Although issues of corruption, nepotism, dictatorship and political hegemony have dominate the discussion boards in the past decade, it appears Liberians, have at least for now put those thoughts on the back burner and have instead shifted their attention toward tearing down each other, breaking long-standing friendships and simply choosing to suspend the more pressing concerns and bread and butter issues for temporary political engagements that are unlikely to decide what the average Liberian and those languishing at the bottom of the economic ladder will have to eat when day breaks tomorrow morning.

LIBERIANS, IT SEEMS have put themselves in pole position to ask questions later after making yet another mistake when voting ends in October.

THIS HAS SADLY BEEN the case for a country which prides itself as being the most racist country on planet earth with archaic immigration laws that deny citizenship to non-blacks even though its own citizens are proudly bearing passports of other nations.

THIS IS THE SAME country with bountiful of natural resources, but repeatedly ranking among the poorest in the world.

THIS IS THE SAME country where lawmakers and elected officials prey on the vulnerabilities of the poor to enrich themselves while promising to take their constituents out of poverty.

THIS IS THE SAME COUNTRY amassed in underdeveloped land space with very little to show.

THIS IS THE SAME COUNTRY where shoeless young boys and girls parade through traffic daily in search of daily bread for their families while the rest of the country sit and watch and castigate each other on social media with issues and rants that have nothing to do with the basics.

WHAT SADDENS US is that after all is said and done, Liberia, Africa’s oldest may end up just where it was before: poor, underdeveloped, malnourished, impoverished, corrupt, nepotistic and largely underappreciative of the richness it has in abundance.

THIS IS THE STATE we find ourselves ahead of an election that sadly may result in the age-old refrain that the more things change, the more the are likely to remain the same.