Midterm Election 2014: Inception Of Liberia’s Decisive Moment
By Musa Dukuly, PhD
Amidst the health crisis, the object of discussion in every segment of Liberia hovers around the behavioral strategies, expositions and ideologies regarding the forthcoming Midterm Election on December 16 2014. Nationalism is the conviction on which we expect the electioneering to hover around, as the only thing necessary for evil to triumph in Liberia is for good people (electorates) to do nothing positive and exhibit thoughtfulness. The focus of this commentary is to remind the conscience of our leading political players involved in this Midterm election to put national interest ahead of personal desire for power by encouraging the atmosphere of civilized politicking. This article is also motivated by the wave of politicking between the major frontrunners in the Midterm election, where the front-runners in most of the counties embattle for monopolistic supremacy over the distribution resources in the political market.
Violence again! Liberia is down in many socioeconomic contexts. All of the political stakeholders are cognizant that most of the Liberian populace are still grappling to afford daily necessities, while over one-half of youths and adults lack access to quality social services. The health crisis is adding to the misery. Our country is not only rural underdeveloped but also urban, evident by state house (Mansion) neighboring slum that is also pervasive throughout Central Monrovia (Capital of Liberia), yet we still think on instigating violence. Can we reflect on the impending socioeconomic danger of uncivilized politicking on our country, especially when we already have nothing worthy to boost about on the continent?
Liberia as an interdependent society, indigenous or non-indigenous that was once centered on communalism appears more diverse because of personal wealth seeking interest. To move to an integrated society by understanding the importance co-existence is not just about the outcome of the Midterm election. It is more about our common humanity and empathy for one another. It is about continuity in our forward movement from diversity to integration and to cooperation. The political stage in this Midterm election seems to be compromising the stability of our country or the future of our children.
Not being remorseful about the country’s dismal development outlook (weak human development or poor infrastructure), those in the realm of politicking perennially propagate uncivilized quest for power at the expense of majority of citizenry languishing in abject poverty. As a case in point, the ensuing Midterm Election is heightening with less focus on constructive debate and issues about how, where and when Liberia should start to take off on the development trajectory to converge with other Africans such as Senegal, Botswana, Cote D’Ivoire, Ghana, Kenya, etc. What legacy is the emerging political stakeholders imbuing into another future generation with this act of uncivilized politicking (violence, disrespect)?
As the signals indicate, Liberia has not yet fully escaped from the conflict trap, which is preconditioned on smooth turning over of power and increasing access to quality social services. Many a time one follows the news on the country, especially during electioneering period, one gets disheartened about the uncivilized modes of campaigning. The behavior being exhibited in the ongoing Midterm election signals that the country has not made significant headways of nurturing decent transformation of the civic society organization, especially the grass rooters. The recent political fracas in Monrovia indicates that the Midterm campaign process is triggering extreme diversities and hate messages, which do not augur well for sustained future stability, hence exposing the country to another wave of potential conflict trap.
Violence has minimal economic returns. Provocative speeches and destructive engagements are counter-productive to civilized livelihood that we always illusively boost of exhibiting in the region. The enormous effort it takes to instigate violence could be used by electorates to seek formal contract from their candidates, so that they (elected officials) are accountable to them (electorates) on the terms of the contract. Let’s understand that gross disrespect directed at candidates of great experience, stature and age, contravenes our communal heritage that should be built on nationalism, patriotism and respect for our elders and leaders.
All of the stakeholders should endeavor to support the future stability of Liberia. The Midterm election is ongoing during the difficult days when economic hardship is pervading in every facet. Free, fair and transparent Midterm election is crucial for enhancing stability and mitigating the country’s stigma of violence. However, no matter what the outcome of these elections outside of the predetermined mindset about particular candidate does not mean that supporters of the candidate should pursue uncivilized approach to seek justice. Experience over the years suggests that violence has only escalated the underdevelopment and increased more hardship. That notwithstanding, the onus is on political aspirants and the regulator (Election Commission) to protect the future stability of the country via transparency.
In the political market, there is always a gap between perception and reality as well as political rhetoric and positivity. The midterm election indicates that the structure of competitive political process involves symmetric information where aspirants offered highly homogenous platforms in the form of rhetoric or positive action. But one cannot purchase a quality political product at any attractive price in the midst of violence.
As the political market becomes lucrative, many new entrants have ventured into the market. The circumstances of uncertainties beyond the reach of some of the candidates will inevitably reduce demand
for their products (political manifestos), thereby eventually reducing the size of the political market to two or three key players as evident in most of the counties. It means the decision to have two or three players in the political market has never been triggered by violence, instead the rationality of electorates. So, one cannot understand why the supporters are bent on violence when there is still need for the two contending players to offer quality products for electorates to opt for the best product, provided this election is a one period political game (run-off). Electorates in the ensuing Midterm elections should understand that the political decision to buy a product (i.e to vote) is instant, but the impact on the transformation of the general welfare and development is for nine (9) years. It is therefore imperative to think well, deeply and choose wisely for the future of the youth and children.
The standard of the political campaign is a crucial function of attracting quality investments to Liberia. Being offered the chance to campaign is a direct reciprocity for Liberians to equally be given the chance thereafter to live peacefully and encourage sound investment climate. The campaigning strategies and speeches should reflect decency and how Liberia can move to another appreciable level by eradicating slums from the country and promoting quality social services, not just by rhetoric, but by realistic alternatives. But the politics in the ensuing midterm does not seem to be based on joy, good will and passionate love for decent campaign. It is not centered on moving things in the right direction to give Liberians the ultimate chance to live their dreams in a unifying environment.
Don’t be amazed of any weird expectation of elected candidates after the Midterm because the development preferences of the candidates are not clearly articulated. Most of the candidates are new on the political stage. The flagging question for voters is whether to go for instant wealth or drift in the direction of celebrity or the direction of professionalism or retaining the status quo. Are we going to be better off today in relative or absolute term than we were in the last nine (9) years ago? These are the burning issues for civilized politicking, instead of delving on intimidation, vengeance and provocations in the campaigning process. Irrespective of the different political strategies employed for poverty reduction, cooperation for peaceful coexistence is far more important than instigating conflict through uncivilized campaigning which could disrupt the livelihoods and dampen our quest for broad base development.
Let me infer that the decisive moment for Liberia to take off beyond 2018 is in our hands again, beginning with this Midterm election. Building from Albert Einstein’s exposition, the political stage of Liberia in this Midterm election should elicit virtues that generation to come must scarcely believe that such political statesmen ever in flesh and blood was a part of championing transformation. Keeping Liberians dreams alive requires going thru the Midterm election in a civilized manner, whereby no individual or group that collusively exercise their franchise by declaring supports to any of the candidates are hunted, abused or regarded negatively because of affiliation. There is no auspicious time than now to debate on what to change and what to preserve to strengthen the development and happiness of Liberia. After the Midterm election, political aspirants who are not elected should serve as grateful private citizens thinking about better tomorrow.
About the authors:
Musa Dukuly lectures economics at the University of Liberia, but currently on sabbatical. He is Senior Economist of the West African Monetary Agency (WAMA) based in Sierra Leone. His views do not represent WAMA