The election of George Weah is a danger to Liberia’s recovery


By E. Gongloe-Weh

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia
October 24, 2005


Liberia has been at a cross road for over twenty-five years and is today an endangered country, which has reached a critical mass and the bubble of destruction seems inevitable if the right leader is not elected during these crucial elections.

The current results of the elections indicate a run-off between Mrs. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of the Unity Party, UP and soccer star George Weah of the Congress for Democratic Change, CDC. How Liberians vote in the second round of election will determine the fate of post war Liberia.

What is at stake is enormous and the country risks being returned to a post Tolbert era where illiteracy thrived over education, thereby projecting a new national paradigm or a conceptual framework within which ethnic connection to the status quo became a determinant for one’s earning power than education and capacity. This paradigm promoted an ethnic bigotry replacing the oligarchy of the “old order.” Arguably, while the old order was absurd, the Doe era did not present a national alternative for a peaceful co-existence among Liberians, either. It only brewed more animosities and tribal divisions unlike anything Liberia has ever seen or experienced.

Henceforth, the marginalization of education and educated people dwelt the worse blow to our failing educational system. Inevitably, the mythical belief that “educated people are no good or have failed” was born and bred during this era. Ethnic connections, as stated earlier, became the trump card for earning fat state jobs regardless of competence. This infusion of ethnic superiority and its accompanying tension created such tribal division that culminated into the civil war, which has today ravaged the country in its totality.

Do Liberians want a repeat of this? There is a lesson to learn from this scenario. The overarching cause of the ineffectiveness of the Doe regime was illiteracy, lack of capacity and integrity to deliver state functions. This is precisely a lesson for all Liberians and a compelling reason to critically take a sober reflection of those in the current race.

President Doe may not have been in and of himself a bad man, but he did not possess the requisite skills and training for handling state affairs in these modern times. Therefore, to make up for his ineptitude and lack of capacity without being ridiculed, muscling civil society and human rights advocates to instill fear in everyone else became his governing chip. Such is the story all over the world with incompetent people who find themselves at the helm of state power.

No one can give what he or she does not have. A man without education will not give education, the required ingredient for national survival in today’s world. To govern effectively and meet the national needs of a nation, the governor must know how and possess the art of modern governing skills. With the present competitiveness of globalization and its accompanying complex negotiations among nations of the world, a leader who is expected to participate in these dialogues must have the requisite intellectual wit to decipher the dynamics of those discussions, especially, a leader of a post war Liberia with its dire need for international assistance for its recovery and transformation.

Therefore, how we judge these elections and the participants would determine whether we survive as a nation or finally sink in the depth of destruction. Just remember that posterity will judge us if we allow ourselves to make the same mistake again or if we allow greed and ethnic loyalty to blur our vision and determine our vote. What is even worse is this time around we will be making a conscious decision free of any threat from presiding power, unlike the Doe era which was basically forced on the nation by a military coup.

The scenario of a George Weah presidency is indicative of some frightening flash backs of the eighties. These are frightening scenarios and Liberians need to wake up quickly before the rude awakening of a King Weah victory. When the euphoria of stardom wears off and the reality of governance sets in, the reality will be an ugly picture that no one would ever want to watch.

Has it even crossed your mind to question why Mr. Weah practically has no support among his soccer colleagues, most of whom he has long standing social ties with? A few of those soccer stars include, Dionysius Sagbe and Salinsa Debah. These gentlemen who know Mr. Weah better than any fan have consistently cautioned Liberians about the danger of electing Mr. Weah president of Liberia. In addition to Weah’s incompetence and gross illiteracy, these men point to his intolerance for dissent in opinion. They record that Weah’s leadership in the Liberia Lone Star points to nothing less than an epitome of dictatorship, where disagreement with the captain was nearly an abomination.

It is recorded by many of his colleagues that Mr. Weah on many occasions, sanctioned players from the game as reprimand for disagreeing with him at one time or another. Sometimes those sanctioned would not be permitted to play for a whole year. Does it not bother you that Weah abhors disagreement with his leadership even on the soccer field? Have you imagined how this would translate in the field of politics where leaders are criticized for the performance of their government?

Make no mistake; with the Weah personality trait of intolerance coupled with his other deficiencies, Liberia is gearing to make the worst dictator ever in human history should Mr. Weah be elected president. Thank God the people are becoming sober. Certainly there seems to be some divine intervention in the way the elections played out.

Looking in hindsight, one can now appreciate that so many candidates participated in the elections, thereby splitting the votes so much so that no one candidate could pull a 50% plus 1 votes in the first round. This was to me a sort of divine intervention to thwart the danger of a George Weah win. If it didn’t happen the first round, it certainly will not happen again, because most electorates are currently unraveling Weah’s threatening package for Liberia.

Additionally, Liberians must be mindful of the reappearance of the “king makers. “ In 1979, the king makers mindlessly incited innocent youths to take to the streets to protest what they called the “hike in the price of rice against the masses”. That infamous rice riot resulted to the toppling of the Tolbert’s regime. Today, Liberians are left to mourn the good old seventies when Liberia was truly on its way to national development and perhaps becoming the model for development in Africa. That opportunity was prematurely strangled by the architects of the “rice riot” and the “king makers“. Today, the king makers have reemerged. George Weah is being hailed as the nation’s healer and a unifier. BEWARE of the “king makers”.

We can only hope that Liberians will be prudent to say no to the king makers. We can not and will not allow one man to continue to gamble with the destiny of Liberia. We must in unison say no to Mr. Baccus Mathews, the king maker. We cannot and must not allow posterity to judge us on our failure to reckon with the evil forces of self interest and selfish ambition against national interest and national progress.

Paid for by E. Gongloe-Weh