We often tell anybody (insert ‘presidential candidate’ here) finding his/her way into government, “You are not going in there to amass wealth.”
But how does this person recoup (get back) the millions of dollars he/she had spent on campaigning—the rented Building as Party’s Headquarter; the campaign posters and bill boards; the fleet of cars (many of them Jeeps) and gas/petrol to power the cars, salaries/per diem given to drivers and multitude of ‘foot soldiers’ (campaigners); etc.?
Mr. Charles Walker Brumskine, a seasoned lawyer, and presidential candidate on the Liberty Party ticket in Liberia’s presidential election (in 2017), had asked the Supreme Court of Liberia to halt the run-off of the presidential election (between Coalition for Democratic Change’s George Manneh Weah and Unity Party’s Joseph Nyma Boakai) on foul-play during the Round One of the election (Mr. Brumskine’s reasons paraphrased here). The Supreme Court submitted.
Mr. Brumskine had raised several reasons for his action. Here are two of the reasons: (1) An increase in the number of reported registered voters (from NEC’s official record) at a Voting Precinct far above the number the National Election Commission had instructed its Polling officials to allow, based on the official listing the NEC had issued to the Polling officials before the voting began; and (2) reports of voting cards holders’ complaints of being left out of the registration process due on NEC’s registration staff’s sluggishness during Voter Registration period (February-March, 2017) for voting scheduled for Tuesday, October 12, 2017.
Mr. Brumskine wants the NEC to settle these issues before the run-off of the presidential election proceeds. (The run-off had been set for November 7, but paused by the NEC on instruction from the Supreme Court on candidate Brumskine’s complaint to the Supreme Court)
Mr. Brumskine’s action has divided Liberia into two blocs—one Against and the other For.
Members of the Against-group are lashing at Mr. Brumskine on his action (on which the presidential run-off election is on hold), arguing the pause could exacerbate the financial and economic pangs Liberians are experience and, worst, engender an Interim Government—that would be practically ineffective due to internal wrangling on political or educational egoism.
Those of the For-group are supporting Mr. Brumskine’s action, saying it’s calling the NEC’s attention to ‘transparency and accountability’ as a sin qua non of election administration by an Election Body in any intelligent society, and that it is aimed at preventing political volcano that has the potential to send Liberia spiraling into war. Similar to what the Country experienced for 14 years beginning from 1990!
Whatever any Liberian feel about Mr. Brumskine’s action (whether it would engender a situation of Interim Government or to push the Election Body’s to being transparent), the action of the Liberty Party Standard Bearer has a ‘business side’.
What is this ‘business side’? It is a yet-to-be-voiced-out-in-a-public-place intention of Mr. Brumskine to recoup all—or most—of the money he had spent on campaign. He feels the money spent is too much to go in breeze on the NEC’s constitutional failure at voting centers through the Commission’s officials stationed at these places.
Before spending this money on campaigning, Mr. Brumskine knew he would not get back the money he had spent. Sponsors of his political ventures (in Liberia and abroad) knew that, too. But did he plan to ‘easily waive’ the money on the National Elections Commission’s ineffectiveness—which started during the pre-election preparation process? Two examples: Faulty cameras that caused blurriness of some voters’ photos on their voting cards; and less education or slow-on-writing of NEC’s staff whose limitations prevented many voting-age Liberians from having their names registered for voting?
On being concerned for the croaked channel of one’s invested money in an electoral business, caused by the ineffectiveness of the electoral umpire (say NEC), I support Mr. Brumskine—even though I was not a member of his political bloc (Liberty Party) and may never be. Let’s call a spade a spade.
Those (including this writer) who want Mr. Brumskine to ‘withdraw’ his case from the Supreme ‘now’—for the run-off election to begin in earnest—should do one thing: Help Mr. Brumskine to get back the money he had spent or persuade his (political creditors) to waive the money they had loaned.
Or is Mr. Charles Walker Brumskine pushing for an Interim Government (to be headed by who?) where he (a member) will get the money. What do you think?
No political investor will easily waive money spent on electoral campaign. He or she hopes to get it from his/her position in government (where amassing wealth is easier) or, if he or she is illegally prevented from entering the government, he/she hopes to get it from some kind of pacifying arrangement: ministerial or Ambassadorial position offered by the winner in the presidential election.
If you want Uncle Charles to drop his ‘legal weapon’ against the run-off of the presidential on NEC’s failure, asked yourself this question: “How will the Liberty Party’s presidential candidate pay back the money he borrowed for his campaign?”
I wish the Jerome Korkoya-led National Election Commission knew about this ‘business side’ (for any of the would-be losers) and had prevented it prior to voting day by hiring the right persons as NEC’s Polling Staff.
Samuel G. Dweh, Journalist, Fiction Writer and Author,