Liberia: Sen. Dillon Urges Citizens Not to Cast Vote in Exchange for Bags of Rice and Cash
MONROVIA – Ahead of the December 8, Special Senatorial elections, Montserrado County Senator Abraham Darius Dillon has called on Liberians to look for tangibles in the character of those vying for public offices, instead of trading their votes for rice or cash during this electioneering period.
Senator Dillon, who is also the Vice Chairman for Political Affairs of the opposition Liberty Party (LP) has been endorsed as the candidate for the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP) in the ensuing senatorial elections.
The LP is one of the political parties that make up the CPP. The remaining parties that form part of the CPP include: the former ruling Unity Party (UP), All Liberian Party (ALP), and the Alternative National Congress (ANC).
Speaking to a cross section of citizens including youths, marketers and religious leaders in Paynesville on Tuesday, October 28, Senator Dillon observed that for too long leaders in the county have been elected based upon deceptions, false campaign promises and on the basis of distributing rice and money to win the minds of electorates.
He noted that this traditionally way of voting by citizens has negatively contributed to the growth and development of Liberia, and as such, it is not time for citizens to value themselves by casting their votes for leaders with integrity and character.
He stated that people with character and integrity should be elected to public offices to help guarantee sustainable changes that will benefit the citizenry, bulk of who are already impoverished.
“During our campaign last year, we refused to lie to you. This country does not like the truth. We can talk the lies and we expect the lies to turn to truth. I refused to lie to this country. I said I will win election speaking the truth, or losing the election speaking the truth. But I will not win election lying, because when you win election lying, you will keep lying to the people”.
“I came here without truck of rice behind me or money in my car to give to you. Anyone who gives you rice and money for your votes do not respect you; you who take it-you are taking it to extend your suffering”.
Senator Dillon continued: “I hear people say my contender T5 (Thomas Fallah ) gets school, clinic, radio station, university-all of that is true. But where is your own Senator Dillon. My own is my character. This country is looking for assets in character and integrity for changes”.
Senator Dillon indicated that the constant habit of citizens cheering or chanting battle cries in favor of those responsible for their sufferings and backwardness should stop in Liberia.
He noted that citizens should not be carried away by politicians who are using projects funded from tax payers’ monies through the County Development Funds to deceive them during this period.
He pointed out that Liberians should compel their elected government officials to put in place a better system and prioritize check and balance in the governance process of the nation in a bid to help improve their living conditions and ensure infrastructural growth and development.
“We are fighting for a country where the system will work for you. We want a system that will empower our citizens. If I am paying your child school fees and if I am corrupt, you will back me. But if the system is paying your school fees only because you are a citizen, if I want to corrupt that system, you will deal with me”.
Employers suffering; employees enjoying
Senator Dillon observed that Liberia has become a country where those who provide jobs for elected government officials continue to live in abject poverty and deprivation.
He noted that the primary reason for the elections of government officials is to help improve the living conditions of their employers (the citizens), but the situation in Liberia has been the direct opposite for so many decades.
“I am sick and tire of a country where you who employed people who are there enjoying-you are sitting down suffering and clapping for them. You employed me to work for you so your life can change and not for you to continue to suffer”.
He said it is the paramount responsibility of elected government officials to prioritize the interest of those who provided them jobs, instead of enriching themselves or satisfying their personal aggrandizement while their employers go to bed on empty stomach and continue to suffer as a result of the lack of basic social and health services.
“Our business is to fight for you and to serve you. In a democracy, everybody will not be for you. If you expect everybody to be for you, you are not democratic. Between campaign and elections, people will be against you-but when you win, serve everybody”.
The Montserrado County lawmaker maintained that the transporting of elected government officials out of the country for advance medical treatment, while those who elected them are being denied access to adequate and better health care delivery at various public health facilities remain the order of the day in Liberia.
He observed that most often citizens championed the need for their public officials to be taken out of the country for advance medical treatment whenever they felt ill, but these elected officials are not doing enough to upgrade public health facilities to provide treatment for those who employed them.
“You elected us so we can fix John F. Kennedy medical center for you. You elected us so we can bring public clinic in this district or community for you. Where we are now; if I get sick-they supposed to carry me to the nearest hospital or clinic in this community”.
“If President is sick or I am sick and we go to the JFK and the thing that supposed to heal or cure us is not there, we will put it there, and when we are leaving, we will leave it there to cure you too. We are normally taken Ghana because; the people in Ghana fixed their hospitals. So, why we can’t fix JFK for all of us to go there”.
Living in officials’ pockets
Senator Dillon observed that the lack of a system in Liberia has compelled most citizens, particularly young people to continue to beg or receive handouts from public officials.
He disclosed that though some of these public officials engaged into rampant corruption and have accumulated ill-gotten wealth, these officials remain in the habit of giving handouts to those who played a major role for their appointment or election to public or elected offices.
“Let’s stop living in public officials’ pockets, because you are the ones who employed us. What kind of country wants change and a change agent have come but they are fighting the change agent”.
Too much hate
Senator Dillon claimed that there exists a high level of hate among Liberians as a result of the manner and form in which President George Manneh Weah is steering the affairs of the society.
According to him, those who openly speak their minds on ills affecting the Liberian people are now being perceived as enemies.
He added that the growing wave of hatred among citizens under the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) led government has allegedly reached to a point where some members of various churches are going against their Pastors or other church leaders who openly preach against bad governance and other negative vices or happenings in Liberia.
Senator Dillon maintained that though he wants the Liberian Chief Executive to succeed, the necessary check points will be erected to point out the wrongs that are detrimental to the forward match of Liberia and its citizens.
“I don’t hate President Weah. The Legislature is a place for check and balance and not the place for yes sir. The only place for yes sir is in the cabinet because they serve at the will and pleasure of the President. (Representative) Thomas Fallah cannot ask Wilson Tarpeh what happened with the stimulus package but I can do it. Thomas Fallah cannot tell President Weah that Ndubusi Nwabudike is not qualified to be at the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC), but I can do it”.
“We who you people elect-if we join Samuel Tweah (Finance Minister) and the others to be praising the President every day, who will serve you? Legislators serve at the pleasure of the people. If every official start to serve at the pleasure of the President-the people are in trouble”.
Keep the peace
Senator Dillon, however, underscored the need for citizens to continue to sustain the peace and stability of the nation ahead of the December 8 senatorial election.
He called on Liberians, particularly civil servants not to be intimidated by the government or anyone to vote against the candidates of their choice.
“We need to keep the peace in this coming election. And the way we need to keep the peace is by voting for the candidate of your choice. No need to throw stones or to fight. We should learn to be tolerant”.
Senator Dillon, however, urged the citizens to rally their support around him to guarantee his re-election with more than 300,000 votes over his contenders.