Africa

Commentary – Liberia: How We Forget To Vote On The Issues

Monrovia, Liberia June 20, 2018- Day after day it is becoming abundantly clear that most Liberians lack the political culture and know-how of voting on the basis of national issues presented by candidates.

A woman casts her ballot during presidential elections at a polling station in Monrovia

A woman casts her ballot during presidential elections at a polling station in Monrovia

Perhaps long-held mindset controls how Liberian voters choose their leaders on election day and only to regret soon afterwards for having chosen the wrong personalities.
On election day, voters appear oblivious about the countless vexing national problems that have been heaped on top of one another during several decades without complete solution to any by past leaders.

More often than not they begin to cry saying they chose the wrong leaders, but again fail to correct themselves during subsequent elections.

The chickens are coming home to roost.

Barely six months after populist votes brought to power a government run by the coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) which promised to bring “change for hope” , critics accuse  President George M.  Weah led- government of violating  the constitution with impunity.
The government failed to appropriate funding in the recast budget for the timely holding of by-elections following the election of Mr. Weah and Jewel H. Taylor from the Senate as President and Vice President respectively.
President Weah and his officials, after six months in office, are yet to declare their assets in violation of the code of conduct aimed to ensure transparency and accountability in government.
Despite criticisms against two loan agreements amounting nearly $1 billion for road construction, legislators swiftly sealed the pacts without sufficient scrutiny.

Lawmakers Listening To Address

Some Liberian Lawmakers At Capitol Building

The government and blind party loyalists constantly rebuke  journalists and civil society members for seeking sufficient information on the projects including  total estimated costs, credibility of givers the loans and companies the creditors choose to do the work without involving the PPCC to ensure transparency and accountability. Environmental impact studies are nowhere mentioned.

Now, the National Legislature, in clear disregard for public concerns about national issues, recently gave president Weah a “blank check” when it comes to construction of roads; a major priority.

They further passed a joint resolution authorizing the President to seek more loans from wherever to construct dozens of “critical road corridors” linking all county capitals with trunk highways. Some loyalists even tell radio talkshow hosts that the President should negotiate loans “even from the belly of the devil.”

Political Subdivision Map of Liberia map

Political Subdivision Map of Liberia

Perhaps, buoyed by this overwhelming legislative support, President Weah was tempted while inspecting roads in central Liberia to label critics of his government as  “enemies of the state”.

Though Mr. Weah often promises free speech and press freedom leading him to resubmit a draft bill seeking to decriminalise  media offences, the enemy label on critics who use the media as messengers has  created mixed feelings whether this thin-skinned legislature will pass this guarantee for freedom of expression  that is cardinal in any democratic society.
West African Journal Magazine