In less than two weeks (by schedule on October 11th) Liberians at home will be going to the polls to elect those who will lead that war-torn country for the next six years or more. Unfortunately for those of us in the Diaspora, we will not be chanced to take part in such a noble and sacred activity behooving all citizens of a democratic country. Even so, those of us in the Diaspora are no less concerned about the outcome of the votes cast on that eventful day. As a matter of fact, we may be even more eager for a successful result of that day than our compatriots at home. Like our people at home, we hope for a peaceful, reconciled and just country, bereft of war and violence.
When one looks back on national elections in Liberia since 1985, one cannot but conclude that we have made one too many mistakes at electing our national leaders, especially the head of state, the President. It is such mistakes that have plunged us into the chaos and catastrophe of the past fifteen years and more. We did so in 1985, then in 1997 and at the Accra debacle of 2003. Somehow enigmatically and quite dishearteningly, Liberians have gone about these elections with a degree of naivety that bedevils many of us. In 1985, for instance, enthusiasts and partisans of Samuel Doe’s NDPL party took to the famous (now infamous) justification slogan for his election: i.e., that “Moses did not have a Ph. D.” to have led the children of Israel out of Egypt. But of course, we do know that that prophet grew up in the Pharaoh’s palace and must therefore have had the best of education befitting that of a prince. Then in 1997, the electioneering slogan to justify Charles Taylor’s rise to the presidency was: “You killed my ma, you killed my pa [yet] I will vote for you.” What a misleading attitude for a sovereign people! Some of our country folks in further justification proposed that if Taylor were not elected President the country would have been plunged into more devastating bloodshed. But in fact that was precisely what happened when he was elected. And again at Accra in 2003 those who together with Taylor’s men had killed their mamas and papas were given the franchise to select an interim head of state that has turned out to be very ineffective – to very few people’s surprise. Now going into the ensuing elections next month we hear another sloganizing from at least one of the presidential camps: “You don’t know book, but we’ll vote for you”. Must we let history of this type repeat itself in Liberia? Does our salvation from a fifteen-year war and national catastrophe really lie in such a path? I think not. Indeed, I believe strongly that the redemption of our country lies in the hands of a fairly well educated, experienced and well-seasoned politician who is capable of taking some very crucial and critical decisions both individually and with the advice of his/her cabinet; and, where required by law (by the constitution), with the advice and consent of the Legislature. For it is no telling that after such a long lapse in good governance in the country, the election of the next leader at the helm of government is the ultimate duty that behooves the Liberian electorate. Anything short of this will only translate into gross disservice to the Liberian people and the international world (the UN, the EU and the US in particular) which have helped bring our country to its present status!!
Luckily for our voters this time, there is no incumbent soldier (as in 1985) or an incumbent warlord (as in 1997) to threaten them for their election or re-election. Hopefully, therefore, people can vote according to their consciences. The election this time could thus go into history as one in which the playing field was pretty much level – at least more so than at any time we’ve had in living memory. Accordingly, fellow Liberians, let us go about the sacred process of electing a leader (a President) in an honest, sober and sincere fashion, guided only by the Great God above and our conscience. We cannot afford to plunge our country further back than it has already fallen. So far I’ve put the emphasis on the presidency because it is my considered opinion that if the electorate chooses the right person (as President), he/she will choose and surround himself/herself with like minds to help with the herculean task of salvaging a devastated country from the throes of a decades-old decay. With such a leader also, Liberians can once more learn to make decent and honest living their goal; with such a leader the chronic disease of rampant corruption which has seeped into and overwhelmed every sinews of government operations may be considerably minimized; with such a leader our citizens who live in the hinterlands may once more be able to make their farms and live the tranquil life they have heretofore known; yea, with such a leader Liberia may be restored to the “safe haven” it once was in West Africa.
And so, fellow Liberians, especially those of you who hold the franchise this time to elect our leaders (our President and legislators), I appeal to you to go about it with the zeal of electing a leader behind whom we all may join the train and look to a brighter future for our once “Sweet Liberia”, our once “sweet land of liberty” which we must bequeath to our children and their children’s children. We can do it! We must do it!! We have seen too much bloodshed in the last two short decades, for such a small and sparsely populated country; yet a country so rich in human and natural resources. But for the selfish greed of past leaders, Liberia is rich enough to offer every citizen and resident all the necessities for a comfortable life. Certainly, we have among those now vying for the presidency such a leader: let’s go forth and find him/her and elect him/her. And this is my humble plea, fellow citizens. [Having done this we may truly forever sing: “With God above, our rights to prove, we will over all prevail.”] May that Great God of heaven and earth direct your hearts as you go to vote on that eventful day of October 11; and may He, through your votes, restore our dear country to its former luster and glory!! A M E N!!