The Bible in Matthew 16-26 said; what will it profit a man to gain the whole world and loses his soul. The Bible’s position regarding the above scripture was meant to guide men in their daily conducts with one another.
In no time, men bluntly disobeyed God’s word and the whole world plunged into chaos with men marrying to men and women marrying to women. Also men’s lack of respect for God’s guidance soon increased money laundering, arm robbery and dishonesty in the world.
On the political scene, Liberians have witnessed unending missteps which have continued to undermine development, good governance, and rule of law and citizens’ ownership of their destiny.
These missteps are as a result of self-interest and greed for power even in the midst of gross incompetence, lack of credibility and leadership skills and capabilities. Such has been the case with the election of unpatriotic and unnationalistic individuals to high profile national positions simply because of the regions and political institutions they come from.
It seems this situation of regional population, so-called vote rich and strategic location of certain counties is nowadays becoming a means through which people are demanding to occupy sensitive national slots if they must lend support to anybody or political institution in Liberia despite their limitation to perform in said slots.
These political interest driven demanders are not even interested in constructively critiquing themselves as to whether they are better prepared to adequately addressing the current conundrum of challenges at hand and or as to whether the time is ripe for such demands to be made.
Recently, rumors of threats and intimidations from some citizens believe to be from populated counties in demand for vice running mate on political parties’ slots have overwhelmed Liberia’s political airspace.
“We have been meeting as a team and to tell you we have decided to leave the party, but had been waiting for the return of Ambassador Jeremiah to the country, who is also a member of the party. Once he decides, he will make the announcement of our departure public”, an ally to Ambassador Jeremiah Sulunteh; William Kollie told FrontPage Africa recently.
Kollie further threatened to personally convince the Bong County youth chapter of the UP to find an alternative party if the party does not serve their interest of selecting their son as vice running mate.
“Our membership of the Unity Party is based on interest. The party must respect and meet our interest and there is no need being here if our interest cannot be met”, FPA further quotes one of the insiders.
Equally, it was also reported in similar publication that some chiefs and members of the Bong County Legislative Caucus have threatened to withdraw their membership from the ruling Unity Party should VP Boakai select Tokpa over Sulunteh.
Bong County is located in Central Liberia and is believe to be the third largest populated county next to Montserrado and Nimba respectively.
While the demand of Sulunteh and his people remain cardinal for their support to Ambassador Boakai, it has however failed to address the question of geography, qualification, national and international preparedness, creativity, innovation and the courage to lead by example in ensuring that gains made are sustained, corrective actions are taken where necessary and that future development programs of the country will proceed unabatedly. All they and several others care about is to seek their interest in a country where there is already a serious leadership deficit.
So in this case, the question of what will it profit a county to gain vice presidency and the nation suffers becomes necessary. To answer this question, let us retrospect a bit on the 1997 election.
In the year 1997, Liberians went all out to vote former warlord Charles Taylor on grounds that he was popular and controlled lots of wealth he accumulated from the war. Although overwhelmingly voted for across the country, but significant number of citizens of Bong and Nimba Counties voted for Charles Taylor than all the other counties. The results of that election indicated that Charles Taylor won a total of 87,938 votes in Bong County, and 86,544 in Nimba County.
Shortly after the election, the aftermath of that decision became known as torture, abduction, rape, extrajudicial killings, harassment, and intimidation of peaceful citizens. Others were the looting of the nation’s coffer, plundering of natural resources, mass poverty and sub-regional instability.
Between 1997 and 2003, it is reported that the Anti-Terrorist Unit (ATU), an elite security force committed about 1661 various types of human rights violations in Liberia. It is interesting to mention here that decision taken by the majority during that election did not only affect the minority and the country, it also affected the very majority decision makers.
Besides, no one county regardless of its size and population can produce a President through vote casting. If this is the case, then Senator Prince Y. Johnson of Nimba County would by now be the President of the Republic of Liberia. In addition, Lofa and Nimba Counties would have also been the most developed counties because the two counties are on record for producing some of the longest serving Vice Presidents in the country recent political history. At piece, each has produced two vice presidents.
What is even more dramatic is that, counties that are threatening to withdraw their support if certain political parties do not accept their proposal of vice running mate are amongst regions that have immensely benefited from past and current governments. For instance, the Unity Party government’s infrastructural program has done more roads in Nimba and Bong Counties than Lofa-where the Vice President comes from. Although politics is interest, these vote rich counties ought to know that national leadership is not about population but efficient service delivery across ethnic and religious lines.
The danger however is that, it is these unnecessary demands that have always slimmed the chances of qualified, experienced and internationally acclaimed individuals in electoral processes in Liberia. As we move closer to the general and presidential elections, indications on the wall suggest that history may repeat itself if counties with voting numbers do not revisit their “politics is interest” strategy to clinch onto sensitive national positions despite some missing leadership qualities.
Even after ten years of postwar transition, followed by two successful presidential and general elections, we all ought to know that, there are indications that voters in Liberia are still blind and often cast votes based on ethnic and sectionalist lines against they and their children’s future-candidates pretending to be what they are not and splashing cash and other resources to win votes. In the end, they become big failures and their supporters get disappointed and disenchanted, and even want the rest of the citizens to join them in burning the country down for the decisions they made without any duress or guns at their throats.
What has even been more disgusting about the whole election process in Liberia is; when intellectuals and student leaders allow themselves to be trucked (a new development in the Liberian political field) by people of their caliber for little or nothing to vote for them. Some of these unwise voting attitudes are meant to elect relatives and friends we think we can control and are easily accessible to us irrespective of their political and administrative ineptitude.
Now that our country has transformed from a country hindered by strife and civil war to one that is peaceful and about to hold its own free and fair elections, we need to take actions that will sustain this transformation regardless of the population size of the region we come from.
Little things that matter in African political leadership transition
The political chemistry that stands to interplay in the 2017 presidential race as well as factors to determine how politicians will do certain things to accomplish what they think is best for them have begun to manifest based on their current actions. A politician would probably refer to this period as a period of sober reflections within the context of life after government for several of our political actors including the Presidency.
Such political decisions or actions can be described as a typical African politics-wherein decisions taken before the conduct of crucial elections are always in the interest of individuals state actors for various reasons. Some of these decisions among other things, are meant for protection for post-government life of those who feel insecure after their service in a particular regime, while some are meant for juicy political landing grounds even at the detriment of the state and its people.
Leaders who controversially served are those who most often engage in those kinds of deadly political manoeuvrings, especially when they realized that no matter the case, the democratic political condition can no longer protect them from seeking another term of office.
In situation like this, those leaders with the worst undemocratic records either decide to perpetuate themselves into power or manipulate the democratic space so as to protect them when they sense that the ground will not be levelled for them after power.
In this case, most of them become desperate for protection during their last term of office. While in search of such protection, they leave no stone unturned and their political saws spare none including those they once considered loyal lieutenants as well as institutions that made them. In short, they become Frankenstein at the detriment of individuals and organizations they struggled to groom and built.
They also even disregard their legacies in the process by taking unpopular decisions that tend to limit the chances of their best friends, relatives and or would be successors who they believe pose serious threat to their post-leadership life.
Franklin Ouu Nagbeh, Contributing Writer