ELECTIONS HAVE PLAYED A CRUCIAL ROLE in Liberia’s thorny past. It bears some of the greatest burden in the country’s tumultuous history spiraling it to its current state.
IT BEGAN WITH THE ELECTIONS of 1927 between Charles D.B. King and Thomas J.R. Faulkner. King was seeking a third term in 1927. He would go on to defeat Faulkner but the ironic twist in that elections is there were 15,000 registered voters but King won with a whopping 234,000 votes.
TILL DATE, LIBERIA STILL HOLDs the dubious distinction of the most rigged and corrupts elections in the Guinness Book of Records.
THEN IT WAS THE FAILED AND FALSE COUP of 1951 which saw the jailing of major opponents of President Tubman, including Dr. Edwin Murray Barclay, S. Raymond Horace, Nete Sie Brownell among others.
TUBMAN WOULD GO ON TO EASILY win the elections of 1955, cementing himself as the ruthless Al Capone of Liberian politics. He faced no opposition until his death on July 23, 1971, at a clinic in London.
HE WAS SUCCEEDED IN THE TRUE Whig Party machinery by his Vice President, William R. Tolbert, who had been cast in his shadow for nineteen unbroken years.
TOLBERT WAS TOPPLED IN A NASTY COUP along with 13 officials of his government by 17 enlisted men of the Armed Forces of Liberia. For a brief period of five years, Liberia was manned and marred by military decrees, arbitrary arrest and all but anything legal and constitutional.
BUT WHY ARE WE BORING you with all of this history?
AMID REPEATED CALLS FROM all quarters for his resignation due to sheer incompetence and perjury for allegedly holding an American passport while also claiming to be a Liberian, Cllr. Jerome George Korkoya continues to prove his critics right all the time, leaving us to question whether he is really fit for the job which he currently holds.
AT A PRESS CONFERENCE LAST WEEK—the first of many over a long period of time—at the headquarters of the National Elections Commission when journalists probed about the many irregularities of the voter exhibition process, such as the disappearance of names and pictures on the voter roll, the NEC chair said anyone with a voter registration card, despite not being listed as a registered voter, will be allowed to vote.
THE ASTONISHING PART OF THIS VOTER exhibition process is, it is costing tax payers a whopping amount of US$2.5 million dollars.
AND WHILE SUCH AMOUNT HAS was remitted to the accounts of NEC, it has proven its incapability of making sure the exhibition is done simultaneously in other parts of the country, evident by a statement by Cllr. Korkoya that forces of nature have prevented Sinoe County from having its share of the exhibition process. But shouldn’t NEC be prepared for this process way before it even begins?
FOR A LAWYER WHO, WE ASSUME, took many a history lesson during his high school days at Monrovia College, his remarks are very much troubling, to say the least, as it could mean the perpetuation of fraud. The elections of 1985 can never be forgotten.
FOR EXAMPLE, DURING THE VOTER registration period, Amos Siebo, former deputy head of the President Delivery Unit (PDU) in the office of President Sirleaf, was caught with voter registration materials in the privacy of his home.
WHETHER THERE ARE MANY OUT THERE who are also in possession of such materials remain the guesswork of anyone but such statement by Cllr. Korkoya leaves the barn wide open for fraud and the replication of the elections of 1927 and the surpassing of its record thereof.
FROM ALL INDICATIONS, IT APPEARS that Cllr. Korkoya, vis-à-vis the National Elections Commission, is hell bent and knowingly wants to cause chaos a la the elections of 1985 presided over by Emmett Harmon. The ripple effect of the Harmon led commission came to full cycle on December 24, 1989.
AN ELECTION IS ABOUT TRANSPARENCY. When the process is transparent for all to see, it erases the fear of cheat from the countenances of many.
THE NEC HAS NOT BEEN FORTHCOMING and transparent with information as to the current state of affairs. Besides sending out boring press releases, the press conference last week was a first for the Commission in a very long time.
AND BARELY HAD IT EVEN REACHED THE light of day, a member of the board of commissioners, Jonathan Weedor, is disassociating himself remarks made by Cllr. Kokoya in the behalf of the Commission.
THE WEBSITE OF THE NEC REMAINS dormant since February of this year despite the flurry of activities the Commission has been engaged in.
DUE TO APPARENT FEAR, THERE hasn’t been an interactive press conference with the media, as it was in 2005 and 2011 respectively, to keep the country fully abreast of the electoral cycle and to allay fears, if any, of transparency and rigging.
AND AMID THESE HAPPENINGS, the Legislators, stewards of the people, have been completely reticent and impervious to the concerns which have been raised by many, including the head of the steering committee of Elections Coordinating Committee, Oscar Bloh.
LIBERIA IS AT A CROSSROAD AND the elections in October will decide the charting of our future and where we go as a country. We owe it to our generation unborn. We owe it to the many men and women who were killed senselessly in a civil war which spanned 14 intermittent years. Failure to heed to history is at your peril.
A hint to the wise