The 23rd President Will Arrive Lame


By Gbe Sneh

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia
October 21, 2005


Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf
George Weah
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The winner of the looming Presidential Run-Off, the 23rd President of the Republic of Liberia, will arrive lame. At least, that is what the general elections is announcing. Both candidates vying for the Commander-in-Chief title, Mr. George Weah and Mrs. Sirleaf, fought valiantly at the battle front. But where were their respective generals (senators on the tickets) and lieutenants (representatives on the tickets)? They all disappeared, save three generals each on each side. The Commander-in-Chief would have won the battle, but would have a clearly visible limp; there will not be enough soldiers for the War of Congress.

Whoever wins will have roughly, a measly 3 partisan senators out of thirty! The CDC would be sitting about 18, and UP about 8 Members of the House of Representatives out of sixty-four! The “kpiti” in the Legislature ‘will not be easy‘; the brawl ahead in chambers is going to be free for all. Partisan affinity and loyalty will play an insignificant role in deliberations; the numbers simply aren’t there along theses lines.

For the President-to-Be, and also Members of Parliament, Dale Carnegie’s “How To Win Friends And Influence People” is recommended; make it your first book of reference immediately upon sitting in office. While person to person interaction is an innate characteristic, this paperback, however, offers valuable tips. Surely, they will come in handy.

The makeup of the Legislature will be like pussawa, palm butter, cassava, gegba, fufu, gravy, ketele, toborgi, bony, cuta, naple, and some, all scrambling to make the pot of the day. The unenviable task is to come up with a dish suitable for all of us. We will be waiting; all we know is that we are hungry, and want a good meal.

Barring any rubberstamping, debates on issues could be heavily charged. Getting a bill passed in Congress could likely set off more fireworks than one sees at Christmas time. We could perhaps see the much decried proliferation of political parties begin to self-correct. New alignments of legislators, based on voting records, could coalesce several parties, and most likely set the stage for ideological and or interests block formations.

How individual legislators vote on issues is important to their respective constituencies. It is a yardstick that measures how well the interests of the constituencies are being served. The media then is charged with the obligation to set up their spreadsheets or databases to record and tabulate these records. Doing that would provide information on ‘who is who’ in the power structures of that body, determine who is probably rubberstamping for whom, etc. Remember the old UN statistical information that shows Liberia always voting the same as the US? -something like that has a story to tell.

It will be a reality check for the 23rd President of The Republic of Liberia. His or Her excellency will have to build the bridge between promise and delivery. All those campaign promises will now have to be delivered through what appears to be hostile territory. A mandate that would have come with a partisan dominance and perhaps made party loyalty significant in the Legislature has been denied in the elections. The voting public saw the chief, but did not see the “borh“. So, now the chief will be at the mercy of strangers. This recalls a campaign time attitude which saw some parties vehemently, and nearly boastfully, thwart the notion of coalition formation. The future is, and always will be, unpredictable. It’s time to wake up and smell the coffee; it’s daybreak. On this new day, we are not looking forward to the President putting the entire Legislature in his pocket to get bills and budgets passed to suit him or her.

That the Legislature is indeed the First Branch of Government, will perhaps, finally, dawn on our society, on what is breaking as a new day in our government. This branch now has the obligation to live up to this distinction, by bringing to the table all what the people need, have asked for, and have been promised, and acting accordingly. The First Branch is to have a working relationship ONLY with the presidency. It must be poised to become the first non-rubberstamp Legislature; optimistically, that’s what we are hoping. Anything other than that will, almost certainly, have us crying foul.

From what we’ve read and heard so far, NEC along with our international, regional, and local partners, has to be complimented for carrying out this leg of the elections exercise so capably. It is an arduous service that this team has delivered so fruitfully. The online progress updates on vote counts really curbed the anxiety that anticipation breeds; it made us feel as if we were on the ground. To the Team we say, BRAVO !