Elections 2005: Actions And Reactions

By Gbe Sneh

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia
June 29, 2005


About one million and two hundred thousand eligible voters have registered to vote in the coming elections. How many of them will actually cast their votes? Time will tell. There will be those voting to keep the status quo, business as usual, a perpetuation of the old order. There also will be those voting for a new breed of “choppers”, simply a new shade of the old chameleon. We can only hope that these voter blocks would be drowned by the votes of those who don’t want a repeat of the ugly past.

Each of the front-runner candidates has received his/her share of public objections and/or scrutiny, with skeletons in each closet dangling to tunes ranging from questionable ties to prior regimes, wanting academic qualifications, association with brutal insurgencies, and much more.

The National Election Commission is saddled with allegations of insensitivity to voters’ needs, and cries of looming disenfranchisement coupled with disproportionate county representations can be heard from Cape Palmas to Voinjama and on to the Diaspora. Yet it seems no sensible adjustment to the election process is in the works, as the Dragon that is NEC continues to breathe fire on all reasonable challenges to its absolute powers, and everyone haplessly stays clear of it.

What public information is there to form a basis for assessing each candidate? None. Besides the “you-say-I-say” on the side-walks and the “wini-wini” about an individual’s worth in our communities, there is really no concrete measure of such about any candidate.. Amassed wealth, evidenced by tangible assets throughout the country, is glaring. Rags-to-riches cases are all over for us to see. Yet to be determined are the true stories behind these bonanzas. Those stories as they relate to candidates would make good voter information. Wouldn’t they? Yes. But, as things stand, thanks to the NEC, these volumes (stories) will remain under wraps for the coming elections. Under wraps? Yes. One by one, efforts in requesting declaration of assets by candidates have run into the side-walk, cascaded over the Tubman Bridge near Waterside; drowned.

As current circumstances surrounding the voting process dictate, we can only hope that fate is kind to us. More than eighty per cent of would-be voters are deemed illiterate. We might as well push that envelope to the near nineties. Why? A large number of citizens who can at least read and write will not be voting. They are all out of the country; stranded across the globe.

That which would influence one’s vote is anybody’s guess. This is true among informed, sparsely informed, and non-informed electorates alike. All candidates will be promising virtually the same goods. Actual delivery however, will require having the wherewithal as far as professionalism and proficiency, all anchored by leadership qualities with unyielding integrity and staunch patriotism. But is the average voter equipped to assess this of each candidate? That’s the sad verse of the electoral process song.

No doubt there are some candidates that measure up. These are the candidates that have clearly outlined their plans to get Liberia on the right track. These are the candidates that, in addition to their plans, have exemplary career paths which lend some assurance that given the chance, they would be up to the task and would perform honorably. Sifting them out of the existing chaos of candidacies and voting for them is all we hope fate would bestow upon us.

Well-meaning candidates have their work cut out for them. They are here by challenged to take nothing for granted., for they ought to know that impostors will be battling them neck to neck, every inch of the way. They must take the fight to all corners of the nation, and wherever needed, have their interpreters ready to tell their stories in local dialects; have them articulate the candidate’s strengths to the people. In each county bring on board their candidacy wagons the intelligentsia at every locality, as they are looked upon as the local experts, and thus command local following. Would they have enough time to go through this exercise though? That’s another sad verse.

Many Liberians in the Diaspora are ready to embrace any good government. They are ready to come home and contribute to the reconstruction process. For many in this group, the inclination has switched from chasing the old and often times elusive “American Dream” to a new one - a “Liberian Dream”. Some are poised to start small businesses on the ground, and in the process beef up a virtually non-existent middle class. The only precondition they all have set is good governance.

So, the die is cast. To all those with the voting power: Do you want your brother or sister who has been away from you for so long to finally come home? Do you want him/her to do more than he/she does for you now? Above all, are you tired of your country lagging behind in a world that is currently moving full speed ahead, aided by technological marvels? Then use your vote to resoundingly answer YES to these questions.

We are calling on the intelligentsia across the country to make it a patriotic and a moral duty to sift out, for the enlightenment of the general voting public, this mess called Elections 2005. Members of the intelligentsia command followings ahead of any candidate; they hold the key to victory in the elections. Such is the nature of our cultural makeup. Prove that wrong if you may.

At the end of the day, when all is said and done, what if fate is not kind to us? Fate would be unkind to us if, for whatever reasons rational or irrational, we find the wrong group voted into power. As this is a possible scenario that could play out on Elections Day, we must braze ourselves in opposition array, ready to continue the struggle should we be faced with such an eventuality. Brazing ourselves is forming a formidable opposition to ensure that our interests would not be forsaken this time around. Brazing ourselves is preparing to use our strongest weapon, People’s Power, to bring down any incompetent, repressive, and or corrupt administration “soon in the morning”. To emphasize this point, please read this series of memorable lines, courtesy of our very own NEC Chairman, Ms. Johnson-Morris when she served notice to a all political parties:

“People are very much alert these days and nobody can fool them.”

" …remember that the Liberian people are active these days and they know exactly what they want so they know when you are not serving their interest".

“You may just be the bad lucky one because the Liberian people may not allow you to chop as the other people did. They might cut you down.”

Gee, thanks Ms. Johnson-Morris! The people could not have put it any better than that! This time, all the people agree with you 100% !