Are Liberian Voters The Problem?
As Liberia march towards yet another national elections slated for October of 2017 the annunciations of “I want to be President” and “I want to be a lawmaker” are becoming more and more mundane.
Quite irritably, the frequency of these declarations have all but given the process a ridiculous tint -literally reducing it to a travesty!.
Not a day goes by in which we do not hear of the presidential and legislative aspiration of some individual.
We are inundated with announcements from those who have made their presidential aspirations public, those who have formed “de facto” exploratory committees and those who have resigned with the expressed intent of not being “inactive” come 2017.
Virtually every major Liberian politician seems to be jockeying for the proverbial front runner position. Powerlessly watching these antics are the hapless Liberian voters!
In a telephone conversation I had with a friend and brother regarding the upcoming elections of 2017 and Liberian politics in general, he intimated that it is not the candidates on the Liberian political landscape who are the problem but rather the Liberian voters themselves!
I am enticed to partly agree with him – and on that basis I would ask just what do Liberian voters really want and what are their expectations of their elected leaders?
This inquest is not rooted in the notion that Liberian voters are unsophisticated – but I am at a loss as to why they vote the way they do? Why do they continuously vote against their own interests?
Worldwide, it is expected (almost as a norm) that anyone running for an elected office gives his or her constituents an agenda and or platform – formulated mostly in collaboration with the people he or she intends to represent (mainly to address issues facing them).
Once elected, his or her successes or failures are graded on the basis of the degree of actualization of their agenda. This critical piece of politicking is missing in Liberia!
Our National Elections Commission has a statutory responsibility to sensitize voters regarding the voting process – a responsibility to which I believe they pay only lip service! The recent pattern of voting in Liberia has given us more poverty, less development but huge salaries for incompetent and mostly absent elected officials.
A cursory look at our national legislature and other elected offices around the country will reveal a motley crew of characters in leadership positions – some of whom have no business being elected. One is tempted to ask yet again, just how did these people get elected and just who voted them into office?
Why is it that Liberian voters do not demand competence?
Why is it that Liberian voters do not demand results?
Why is it that Liberian voters do not initiate a process for recalling non-performing elected officials?
Why is it that Liberian voters do not demand transparency and accountability?
Some will be quick to chalk these shortcomings up the level of education of many of the voters – I respectfully disagree! I am of the opinion that non-existent standard, very low and or no expectations, quasi-societal norms and the widespread acceptance of wrongdoings are major factors that cause us to tolerate and sometimes give excuses for incompetent elected officials.
Until the Liberian voters can start demanding that elected officials perform and duly hold them accountable, we will continue to get the mediocrity and nonperformance that we deserve – Incompetence!
Benjamin Kofa Fyneah, Contributing Writer