“The Case for Democracy and Good Governance: Reflecting On Liberia’s Pending Post-Conflict Second Constitutional Democratic Election”

By George Barrolle

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia
Marcg 4, 2011


Few months from now Liberians from all walks of life will be straining in streams at the polls to repeat the process of 2005; to make the most important decision as citizens of Liberia; to elect their President! The importance of this decision is incomparable and very weighted. It’s not just an important decision, but a decisive one for that matter. It’s a decision that bears upon other decisions and upon which other decisions are contingent. In other words, your choice of who to elect as president will determine whether you and your children can live a meaningful life. What benefits and hopes did the previous elections offered? The fundamental nature and scope of this decision is, therefore, incumbent upon every Liberian of voting age to seize the moment, but to do so soberly. Your vote or the choice of your vote will be much more informed if considered from the perspective of what it fundamentally means for you and your future, especially garnering from the current political dispensation.

I urged that you factored into your vote the prospects for a commendable future - a future that will ensure a better quality of life for you and your family now and into the future; which this administration seem quite unable to offer. The decision that you will make in October should and must consider the possibility of education for you and your children, not just a flimsy free education, which multiplies and perpetuates ignorance that the current administration shamelessly boast of; but a free education that offers real productivity and that maximizes the best in Liberians.

Factored into your vote the possibility of free and quality healthcare services for all Liberians; the protection of our youths against the menacing onslaught of drugs, teenage prostitution and pregnancy; and a growing culture of crime, violence and deviants; which this administration seem to ignore; despite the glaring fact that Liberia has become a place of homegrown terrorists wherein hundreds of former fighters and economically stringent youths are groomed as mercenaries, and are now actively engaged in the civil upheavals in places like the Ivory Coast, Guinea, and even Libya.

Factored into your vote the hope of a peaceful and stable Liberia that this administration seems unable to provide or has simply lost the capacity to influence. Today, a single Liberian can seemingly move about freely because of someone from Ghana, Nigeria, India, Pakistan, or some other parts of the world. They are not Liberian citizens and to continue to entrust our security in the hands of strangers is unsustainable, untenable and goes against practical reason. What happens when they leave? Every time we hear the President and her Government making a case for the United Nations-backed peacekeepers to stay. Why? For how long can the United Nations sustains this?

Considering the wave of change that is at the moment sweeping through the Arab world, and who knows where next, can the United Nations afford a permanent peace keeping force in Liberia, which is not under any visible threat? To insist that the U.N-backed peace keepers remain, after nearly eight years of cessation of hostilities, is to acknowledge the fact that Liberia is still under threat; if so then from who and why? Should the response corroborate our fears, latent or active, shouldn’t this be understood as a de facto admittance of the Government’s failed policies and unconstitutional and unpatriotic practices? If the Government cannot demonstrate enough will to ensure the peace that Liberians are yearning for, what guarantee is there that our peace and security will be assured even if giving a second chance? Hence, the list citing reasons that demands that you vote and that you do so soberly not persuaded or pressured by politicians or for whatever flimsy political gains or because of political nepotism or for ethnic reason is simply endless.

In October 2005, when Liberians stood in long lines and gathered around the various polling sites, like bees around a beehive, they were registering their hopes in the future. This opportunity to choose their leader and to determine the future of their country had come at a very high and priceless cost. I know what I am talking about, because I was an election observer during the 2005 elections. I was a witness to the making of history or thought so at the time. Unfortunately, little did I know that I along with the thousands of Liberians that thronged those sites was being deceived. I observed first hand Liberians, as they cued up in long lines during the first spark of dawn, long before any of the electoral polls had opened for business; some with very young babies tied on their backs! There is nothing to guess about the fact that many who were out there had not eaten anything, because of the simple fact that they just couldn’t afford a meal! But I noticed that later on as the day expanded into the late afternoons some of the parties brought in food and water for their partisans who were mending the polls! Consequently, constrained by the circumstances of life, this was indeed a precious moment for Liberians.

It was a moment like none other and everyone wanted to ensure that he/she was in the number, as a significant member; because one’s vote and the value of one’s vote has inestimable value. Despite the events and circumstances that had driven these haggard, harassed and timid mass over the course of the remitting circumstances that finally gave birth to this event, their determination was anchored in a renewed hope; in the prospects that somehow Liberia’s best days still lie in the unfathomable future. Glad, just too glad, to be a part of a process of rewriting Liberia’s shattered story of injustice and inhumanity; of might over right; of the lies of history over the truth espoused by Liberia’s contemporary realities; thus, it was not logic or mere history or political expediency, but all put together, both of the past, blurrily written, and the currency of the remitting realities that poked us in the face that uncoiled the passion and defined the moment.

The elations and the wave of inflamed passions wrought by that moment, which was actually hysterical in nature, could or should not have been misconstrued for anything else other than the sense of true liberation and the hope that it offers – the expectations that a new dispensation awaited somewhere around the corner. Somewhere locked in the bosom was an unutterable belief that all will be well and very soon! Paused and poised to rewrite Liberia’s shattered and blurred story, this moment on the October elections morn of 2005 was being embraced and held tightly! The pace was now set; there could be no turning back! Out of the ashes would spring forth a new nation and a people redefined.

The pillaging of years of history, which culminated into a wave of deaths and destruction and anarchy, would be redeemed by the simple stroke of a pen or the thumb by those of our compatriots less literate than us. It was this that held the hallucinations by which Liberians were described. Just as the ravages of the evils of war enamored the fighters to any sensitivity, so the peaceful post-conflict election on this October morn enamored the voters to any shame and embarrassment – the quest for change was highly riveting! Unfortunately and begrudgingly, we can no longer speak of that day as glorious, but simply and now as the fateful October 2005 event!

At this juncture, is it not reasonable to ask: what has happened to the hope? How have we been deceived in view of all that we have sacrificed and hoped for? Why is the deliberation on the part of our leaders to rewind the past? Whereas, the insensitivity, indifference, and mindlessness of our leaders! Is it nothing to them, the horrendous past: unmarked graves - sepulchers that bear the immortal remains of thousands of Liberians dumped in single shallow graves? How about those perpetually handicapped and disoriented by the crisis: children made orphans, parents childless, husbands and wives becoming widowers and widows, providers and sustainers of households becoming beggars and homeless, and about the distraught and the insane? Where is the justice for these our fellow compatriots? Why this witting or unwitting elusion?

Since the elections of October 2005, what has fundamentally changed in Liberia? Precisely nothing! It is sad and unfortunate, that the only opportunity that Liberians ever really had to make a truly Constitutional decision about their leaders and the future and nature of their country now mocked them crudely. Considering the sheer sacrifice that Liberians had to make in order for them to benefit from the privileges to participate in electing their leaders is now been viewed as a total waste of time amidst bludgeoning realities that confront them today?

It would seem that the prospects and hopes of Liberians have been made elusive. Some propound that except for the expulsion of Charles Taylor and his hooligans nothing substantively has changed. There are those who even dare to believe that the Taylor administration was much better than this administration except for the dense cloud of terror that hovered over Liberians at the time. The sheer thought of juxtaposing this administration, during Liberia’s peace time, with the most rancorous and dangerous political development at a most perilous time in the history of Liberia is adequate or equated to any claim of illegitimacy.

I am simply led to wonder: what authentic reason that this leader and this administration can offer the Liberians for their vote for another six years term? While, I personally harbored no ill-will against anyone in the current administration, I hold very strong views about the prospects of change. I am convinced that this administration has lost the capacity to offer any tangible change. I surmise that had this been the case, my time to sit and write this article would simply have been a waste of time. Moreover, it would be construed as a spite-filled dissent for the simple reason of being controversial; or as a paid agent for some political interests. I don’t belong to any political party; neither am I beholding to any politician, and I am not writing from a partisan perspective. This article is dictated and provoked entirely and purely by the love of country! Should this administration be allowed to succeed itself what kind of change can anyone expect? How can this administration convinced the Liberian people that it will do better the second time around? My doubts remained unswerving!

In closing, I wish to offer a candid advice! Were I to have the opportunity to vote, this will be the course that I will pursue. Firstly, don’t be deceived! Know what is at stake! If you don’t know who to vote for, know at least what you are voting for. Take a step back, for those who can still trust their memory, go back into your mind; look around you, what do you see? What do you hear? If the things you see and hear around, apart from the shooting and killings, are as they were prior to the shootings and killings, I urged you to be wearied and be alert. Because it will appear that what was before the war or give legitimacy to the war means that war is imminent; if not now somewhere in the future.

If the government is still corrupt – personal interests over and above the national interests; if the Government is still making promises that it is not keeping or has no desire to keep – lies and deceit; if the Government is seeking international credit by falsifying or exaggerating it’s gains or its unintentional intents – ballooning propaganda; if poverty is still on the rise and expanding more and more; if the peace process that the Government is boasting of is nothing but a bland assertion of vanity! Think about it, the fact that there are thousands of Liberians mercenaries that are actively engaged in the political upheavals in Ivory Coast, Guinea, Libya, and who knows where else, under the spectacle of a legitimate Government in place leaves very little doubt about the capacity of this Government to institute any meaningful change in the country. If the Government can’t prevent that, what guarantee that it will protect you when the strangers who are currently in charge of our peace process leave?

I could cite reasons after reasons and state instances after instances why it is very crucial to make knowledgeable decision in October 2011 and not to be deceived by false promises that will never be kept! And why I think that it rests squarely upon the enlightened masses of Liberians to undertake the task of creating the kind of awareness and information dissemination. The press, civic society organizations, religious and faith organizations and institutions, the intellectual and professional community, unions and associations, community leaders and elders, are being summoned and sanctioned to take the lead in the redemption of Liberia from the unpatriotic remnants of our country; who have only succeeded in transforming Liberia into a rogue state where international criminals and con artists roam!

In this respect, I wish to conclude on this note! I will advice that at the behest of and prioritizing the appeal to vote soberly, in view of what is at stake, is that you get to know who you should vote for and not merely about them. For example, if someone came to you and ask you to vote for this or that person, you should as them why he/she thinks you should vote for that person. Let them be able to convince you with facts and figures and real and tangible demonstration why you should vote for the person. Some will tell you that the person brought peace to the country or that the person is responsible for the peace in the country. While this is not only cheap politics and should not even demand your attention, for the sake of fairness, let them tell you how she/he is responsible for the peace and if you are not satisfy with their response ask another person who you are convinced is better able to tell you the truth. Meanwhile, I am poised to tell you how peace came to Liberia, because I was there!

Wisdom and experience have thought us that many of the politicians in Liberia or those who are posturing themselves for elected offices are wolves in sheep clothing or opportunists, pure and simple! Some of us were deceived because we did not know those who we were voting for, we only knew some things about them. In this respect, I urged the media and civic society organizations in particular that have committed themselves to truth and transparency to help our people in making the necessary decision that this pending election demands. I urged you to grill those who want to lead our people. Be unmercifully inscrutable about them and dare to embarrass them if they aren’t telling the truth! Dare to call them out and to make who they are public information. You have the truth as your defense and do not need to succumb to any kind of maliciousness or as a pretense to settle personal scores.

This is no time for rhetoric! Liberians are hungry and dying by the seconds; hence, it will serve no redemptive purpose to feed them with half-baked information. We want to know who Mr. X or Madam Y is and what he/she has done. We want to know how he/she is going to take Liberia out of this mess, the vicious cycle of corruption and poverty and poverty and corruption! We don’t want any guessing! We want a program that is well articulated, thoughtful, reflective, and that is practical, realistic, transparent, and offers meaning for Liberians. Unfortunately, one such program, POVERTY REDUCTION STRATEGY (PRS for short), which was sold to the Liberia and the International Community has only strengthened, sustained and entrenched poverty in Liberia and created a situation of desperation and despair.

Since the so-called implementation of the PRS, there has been no review of it. It lacks any monitoring mechanism! And much to our despair and dismay, educated and well-informed Liberians sit supinely pretending that all is well! For your information, I wish that you consider and reflect upon this inevitable outcome that exemplifies the failure of the so-called PRS: at present, there are thousands of our young Liberians, both men and women, which have become homegrown terrorists and are currently actively engaged in destabilizing other countries; Ivory Coast, Guinea, Libya, and who knows where else! Imagine what will happen to the tiny bit of air that we now breathe from the slow down or temporary break from armed robbers when these military contractors return. Unfortunately, the Government is claiming credit for the temporary break in armed robbery, how sad! Please don’t be deceived! Please don’t be mocked by the seeming serenity! Just wait and see after they return. They will surely come home! This too ought you never forget: armed robbery in Liberia and Liberian mercenaries are baked in the same oven and by the same bakers! Thanks!

© 2011 by The Perspective
E-mail: editor@theperspective.org

To Submit article for publication, go to the following URL: http://www.theperspective.org/submittingarticles.html