Liberia is Africa’s oldest republic. It was founded by freed slaves from America who were in search of a free land. As Africa’s oldest republic, Liberia ought to be a shinning example of political freedom amongst the other nations of the continent. When one considers that Liberia was founded by freed slaves who were in search of a free land, it would be hard to deny that the very roots of our country were cultivated by the forces of freedom and liberty. Unfortunately, events in the country have not reflected the principles and essence of freedom and liberty especially within the last fourteen years. The political landscape of our beloved “SWEET LIBERIA” has been pillaged by greedy and self imposed rulers who literally hijack the presidency and manipulate the larger society for their personal gratification.
During the most recent administrations of the wicked Samuel Doe and his tyrannical successor, the nefarious Charles Taylor, Liberians went through the toughest and darkest times and our nation was on the verge of total collapse. In other words, Liberia’s problems and failures can be attributed wholly to bad leadership. Our leaders, although I am tempted to call them rulers, have no focus and do not have the well-being of the larger society at heart. Liberia, for our leaders, is an elephant meat… you chop, I chop and hence the verbiage “Gorbacheau”.
Given the history of leadership in Liberia, as our presidential candidates parade the political scene in preparation for the upcoming 2005 presidential elections, we Liberians must be cautious of the choices we make. We must NOT sell our votes again for bags of rice. The bags of rice will only last for a while, but the pain and suffering inflicted upon our lives as a result of compromising our votes will leave indelible scars and memories. We must NEVER again entertain empty promises. We can not continue to be lied to by these so called saviors who promise us one thing and give us the exact opposite.
As a concerned Liberian, I have a simple proposal upon which we can evaluate our presidential candidates. This proposal is non-exclusive but intended to be an open forum through which all Liberians can participate. There can be no doubt that the more informed and aware we are of the track records of our candidates the better the choices we will make at the ballot boxes. In this regard, I propose a thorough screening of the credentials or report cards of the potential candidates. Some of the variables to be considered may include family background, childhood upbringing, school records, social interactions, previous careers/experiences, academic credentials, moral uprightness etc. I believe these variables and many others are crucial because if, for example, a candidate has not been responsible enough to raise and maintain his/her family, how can such individual be a good and responsible leader? If one cannot successfully manage and lead his/her own home, how is that person capable of leading our nation? If our potential candidates have concubines everywhere, renting homes and buying all the luxuries and excesses of life for their concubines, how can we trust them to be good stewards of our national cake? If our political aspirants once stole from national coffers how can we be certain, this time around, they will not rob us once they attain political power? If our presidential aspirants were once rebellious to authorities and did not get along well with others, how can they unite us as a people during these difficult times?
Charles Taylor is a case in point with regard to the values cited above. It is my understanding that Taylor was a very troubled kid while growing up and even as an adult he exhibited such attributes. He was always up against authorities and was even expelled from school once. It is common knowledge that he defecated in the well at Ricks. After these horrible childhood and adolescent experiences, we know how he turned out once he attained political power.
With the assistance of the international community, Liberians must create a forum for these presidential hopefuls to discuss and debate issues of concern to our nation. It is a known fact that a majority of our people are not educated. In this regard, the candidates must come to the level of our people and tell us precisely how they intend to resurrect Liberia. The role of the literate few must be to help bridge that gap in this process. We should serve as facilitators to ensure that Liberians from all walks of life are better informed when they walk to those queues to cast their votes.
We must not let this opportunity which the international community has presented us pass us bye. We must keep our eyes on the prize. The choices we make this coming election year will be the most important decision we will ever make as a nation. May the almighty God lead us in the right direction!