By: Wainright Y. Acquoi
The 2017 Presidential and General Elections period is fast approaching in Liberia. As a constitutional mandate, after every six years of a presidential tenure, elections must be held to elect new code of officers to serve the country. During the period of preparations, there are several things that happen in the political sphere. Some people are making decisions to contest some of the positions in the government while some citizens are petitioning individuals who they think can do a better job in representing them. Some of these petitions are based on hard work while others are bought. That is the beauty of democracy, though.
In the same light, top politicians and political parties are gradually rolling out plans to reach out to people in several parts of the districts, counties, and country to present their platforms and win the hearts of the people to vote them to power.
Among all of these, what stands out to be disheartening is how most of these people make all the good promises that they don’t come close to fulfilling half over a six or nine years period. This is an act that is repeatedly done. And because of this, citizens become frustrated about having leaders that do not care about their well-being. The frustration arising from this problem nurse several national problems including some citizens refusal to register or participate in the entire elections; citizens selling out their votes to gain something because they do not believe when these people are elected they will serve them; and on the other hand, candidates are buying the votes of people because they will not be responsible to undertake certain initiatives since they bought the votes – they personally own the positions.
All these rigmaroles are factors that fuel underdevelopment and economic hardship in the country. I believe that it is now that Liberians must begin to take certain actions that can effect immediate change in the country. We cannot keep doing the same thing over and over and expect to have a different result. This is what my article seeks to address, and so based on my analysis of what I think should be, I will be talking about the issue moving forward.
Community leaders and members must begin to rethink about how they give their votes out to candidates. In every constituency, the citizens should identify their priorities. Instead of listening to politicians make promises they can almost never fulfill, the constituencies must design their own platforms and only seek someone who they absolutely believe can deliver accordingly. When candidates accept to take on the responsibilities, an agreement must be signed by the candidate and the community leaders while presenting the comprehensive platform and also clearly articulating the consequences if the deliverables stated within are not met within a specific period. Regardless of whatever status the person holds, this shall apply always.
The consequences must also be harsh, except otherwise justified appropriately. These should include calls for immediate resignation, leaving official duty without salary until investigation is done, etc. I think if this is practiced in every community across the republic, we will have responsible people as leaders and not people who only seek “greener pasture” for themselves and their families. Only if we can hold our leaders to account, and make them pay for making decisions that hamper the development of citizens, we can have our country getting back to normal as it was many years ago; but better.
While we target those in national leadership for progressively managing the affairs of the country, we must not forget the national youth and student leaderships, which should complement the efforts of national government to improve service delivery in the country. Just like the elected government officials, young people who are elected to serve these various capacities must also be checkmated and guided by an agreement. These institutions must have stronger laws to oppose unfavorable actions by their leaders but guide them in making the right decisions.
When we elect candidates for what they can deliver, and also face harsh punishments when they cannot deliver, we will have committed leaders working to ensure we progress in every sector. My thought about being critical on people that run for public positions does not only speak to the fact that it will help bring on board passionate and transformative leaders, but will automatically win the fight against corruption – something our commitments have not done.
Recently, some elected government officials were linked to a bribery (corruption) case with London-based Sable Mining Company to influence a process to grant the company access to part of the country’s resources. This made the widest headlines in the media and citizens from everywhere requested those involved to resign their post or step aside from their official duty and face investigation. Because this is not constitutional, everyone spoke based on self-conscience and integrity. Even with this, none of the persons involved did; and not long after, nobody hears about that anymore. This is how weak we are in fighting the ills of our society, that is why we need mutual agreements that can effectively check and balance.
If we had made those leaders sign agreements stating that they resign immediately or step aside from their functions if involved with corruption cases while serving their respective position, we wouldn’t need loud calls that were not successful, so far. Even if there is refusal, the legal system could take action, except in these cases.
For too long we have suffered as ordinary Liberians, while the ones we entrust with power continuously use the same power to suppress us and keep our potentials hidden. Because we are weak and cannot fight physically; we are poor and cannot fight legally; we must use our intellect and the pen power to punish the evil ones whose actions only keep our country in the dark flames of light.
Before I end this article, it is important to also emphasize on appointed leaders in government. They are sometimes the major reasons why the country moves slower towards development. When the president is given the mandate by the citizens to serve the country for six years, there should also be certain standards required to be met by anyone who occupies appointed positions over a certain period, or be dismissed. I also think people must apply for these positions, state their intent and what will be their deliverables after certain periods. Through an effective monitoring and evaluation system, these people must account for every day they serve their respective positions. We must take radical approaches if we need results that can transform our country effectively and efficiently.
We owe it all to Liberia to restore it to a better state, and this task is on the shoulders of every conscious person; especially the young ones. Therefore, we must change our way of thinking and acting. We the young people have the energy and intellect to effect change, but until we can realize and harness our potential, we will still remain future leaders and not leaders of today.