Liberia’s Electorates Are The Problems, Not Politicians
Elections are important component of any body politic because a nation’s well-being, development and peaceful coexistence depend on the decisions the citizenry makes during those times.
Those decisions often turn out to benefit all when they are informed and issues-based.
As such, in countries where candidates consider that the citizens can discern and vote on issues, electioneering is about agenda setting and policy formulation and contrasting for the betterment of the people.
In contrast, electioneering in Liberia is not issues-driven. It is all about deceit, egomania, self-aggrandizement and logistical showcasing while the hoi polloi wallow in abject poverty.
To illustrate, when our candidates say they will build roads, they do not detail, among others, how the projects will be financed, how the roads will add value to the economy and the people, and how and why the financing will or will not affect other sectors like education and health.
Furthermore, when our candidates present tax policy, if they have any, they do not explain why their policy is different from others and how people and businesses in the different brackets will benefit or not and how the policy will grow the economy.
In Liberia, interestingly, a politician can just wake up and say – ‘I will build universities across the country’ and we will clap and chant and vote for the empty words only to later brand the politician as a thief and a dishonest person.
The failures of our politicians lead us to bitterly accuse them of being the forces responsible for our underdevelopment and state of destitution.
However, I will differ with laying the blames solely on the politicians without considering how we use the power we have as citizens – our votes.
I am emboldened by the trend of events to say to you my compatriots, the politicians are not the problems.
We the electorate are. We are the dishonest and unpatriotic masses who accentuate the powers of the very people we brand as thieves and unpatriotic leaders.
Why so? We fail ourselves when we fail to ask the hard questions and to demand informed answers from candidates.
We fail ourselves when we fail to check candidates when they accuse other parties of social and economic injustices against us but perpetuate same.
We fail ourselves when we vote for few cups of rice, petty cash and cosmetic projects brought to our villages few months to elections.
We, the masses, have erred in the past and continue today along the same trajectories.
Notwithstanding, we have, once again, the opportunity to vote for Liberia and not for selfish interests come October.
Thus, now is the time to demand detailed, policy-based debates from our leaders.
Or else, we will elect leaders and the next day regret our decisions just as we have done year in year out.
When we vote on October 10th, let us do so not because we are from a particular tribe or county or because we are related to a particular candidate.
Let us vote on the issues that matter to Liberia. Let us vote knowing that the future of our children – to live in a better Liberia – depends on the decisions we make today.
Let us love Liberia!
Kelvin Nyan Suah, Contributing Writer
Specialist, International Development Studies
Center for Critical Development Studies
University of Toronto, Canada