Getting Right Answers From Manifestos – The Media Must Lead Charge
THE CAMPAIGN TO REPLACE President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf officially began on July 31, 2017 but way before the official date; many political parties had already been in the overdrive, canvassing across the country in an attempt to sell best their brand.
FROM THE WOLOGISI Mountain in Lofa County to Cape Palmas in Maryland County, it has been all but Liberia.
AN ELECTION IS THE CONTESTATION of ideas. And politics is the art of the possible; Ambassador Dew Mayson would often quote during the 2011 elections.
BUT THUS FAR, EVEN BEFORE the referee could declare open the campaign season, it has not been about the contestation of ideas, at least for the majority of the “biggest” political parties. No! Neither has it been about who has the best alternative as President Sirleaf exits the stage.
AS THE ECONOMY CONTINUES to take as nosedive, we are yet to see plans, detailed ones too, on how are we going to transform it by closing the doors on the Open Door Policy which has brought nothing but growth without development.
HOW ARE WE GOING TO enforce the Liberianization Policy which is simply just in the books and yet the foreigners dominate businesses reserve exclusively for Liberians? Eyvonne Bright-Harding is fighting a good fight but is her government going to allow her to lose out to the foreigners?
EBOLA EXPOSED THE vulnerability of the health sector which, in itself needs to be saved, not by pills which are sometimes not available and many would have to go across the street to Lucky Pharmacy and are sometimes rejected by those who took the Hippocratic Oath, but by doctors which are desperately needed.
CURRENTLY, ACCORDING to the Liberia Medical and Dental Council, the country boasts of only 298 doctors to service its four million plus population. How do we intend to handle this? A thing or two is needed from the candidates to tell us how they intend to tackle this problem which, from afar, seems like the littlest thing of all but in itself is gargantuan. Is there going to be a national insurance or a social scheme of some kind so that every Liberia can have access to affordable health care instead of being rejected at JFK Hospital? If so, how is it going to be done?
AND EDUCATION? ALREADY it has been labeled messy by the President, measures have been instituted by the Ministry of Education, including moving it from best to beyond its pre-war status. There has been numerous blare by the candidates to provide “free education” but the Minister of Education, George Kronnisanyon some pointed questions in a Facebook post which they must all take some time to ponder over.
“JUST A REMINDER! ASK your Presidential candidates. What will Presidential candidates do about 60% of the population under 35?
“EDUCATION HAS 19,000 teachers on the government payroll. It needs an additional 8000 to meet classroom needs across the country. It requires 65 million USD per year to meet payroll needs for public school teachers. Currently, government budgets around 35 million USD per year for teachers’ payroll. Where will you get the money from to bridge the gap?
“4000 TEACHERS ON supplementary payroll underpaid by the government. To give them regular pay according to the CSA caps would cost millions. And volunteer teachers?
“FREE EDUCATION? WHAT does that mean? What’s the cost of early childhood education? Around 20 million USD per year. What’s the cost of 6 years of primary school? Let’s say around same. What’s the cost of 3 years of high school? What’s the cost of WAEC exams?
“TECHNICAL AND VOCATIONAL training? If free, too, what’s the cost and who pays for it? Where’s the money coming from?
“PUBLIC UNIVERSITIES? Who pays? Ask similar questions about health, energy, and roads. How do you pay for your ideas?”
AND AS MUCH AS THESE questions are important to be asked, it is the media who should be leading this charge. Alongside other stakeholders, the Press Union of Liberia should be leading the charge and call for a debate so that the policy prescriptions of the candidates can be analyzed for proper administering.