Liberia Votes On October 10, 2017

By Gbe Sneh

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia
September 27, 2017


President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

Buried, and barely covered, thanks to a bombastic Trump UNGA Address, is President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s Farewell Address to the United Nations. A brilliantly constructed speech that reminded me of the person I spent sleepless nights to present as the best to lead Liberia from the doldrums, twelve years ago.

In brief, the President revisited what Liberia faced following the civil war, a monumental task, that in all fairness, she embraced totally as her own. President Sirleaf’s efforts in bringing Liberia back on the map are stupendous, herculean, deservingly earning her the unenviable distinction, “Iron Lady”.  It is only sad that all the efforts during the twelve years were undermined by bribery and corruption, which ironically, she had declared “Public Enemy No1” on the first day of her administration.  There is a very bright side, however.

The Sirleaf administration ends in a few days. The people of Liberia go to the polls on October 10, 2017 to elect her successor, and capitalizing on the opportunity, President Sirleaf craftily used her UN Farewell Address to detail what Liberia has achieved, and what Liberia faces moving forward.  In her opening remarks, President Sirleaf states, “As I bid farewell to you today, and to my fellow Heads of State, I want you to remember Liberia which is making a valiant effort to apply the tenets of democracy”.

This “valiant effort to apply the tenets of democracy” must continue, if Liberia is to have a fighting chance to improve on gains made in governance.  This is not to say that all has been well during these outgoing twelve years.  It is simply to say that, despite the struggles we have endured – a dwindling economy plagued by corruption, runaway unemployment, to name a few – the Liberian people have enjoyed FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION, thanks to President Sirleaf. We are beginning to accept that contested issues facing the nation can only be resolved through debates by our elected Congress, with supporting discussions among the public, and making the polls the final arbiter of the people. President Sirleaf insists, “Indeed, democracy is on the march in Liberia, and, I believe, on an irreversible path forward on the African continent”. That, indeed, is a beacon.

Liberia sincerely hopes to prove those words prophetic. We will not tolerate oppression of any kind; we will maintain freedom of expression; we will hold succeeding administrations accountable to their words and actions; we will strengthen our institutions; we will educate the electorate; we will resuscitate our floundering education system. There are tools and qualified Liberian educators available to help train teachers; we will connect our counties with a reliable road network, and mass communications access to give equal access to all; we will leave no one, no group behind; we will boost health care delivery systems; we will up the fight against corruption, we will revamp our accounting systems, and empower the auditing department to do its job.
Here is a much-cherished legacy of the Sirleaf Administration: We did not have a single “political prisoner”; no one has been arrested for criticizing the President and her cabinet; no “disappearances and summary killings” have been reported. If any administration comes in and we hear “fuen”, we are coming in the streets to make our way to both ATS and SKD, where we will, in a strong force, tell it to quit! We will make it loud and clear then, that we are only going to move forward, while we strive to correct all shortcomings of the outgoing administration and its predecessors.

The above said, we are looking at unchartered waters ahead. Unchartered, for I have no clue about most of the candidates and their platforms. Those that I know of, have not really shown any meaningful presentations of anything they are running for. There are those with tainted pasts, making valiant attempts to make good through the back door. Has any of the candidates shown a blueprint detailing concrete plans to build a viable and sustainable country? Has anyone told us how they intend to create jobs, for instance. So, I really don’t know.

While a lot of us cannot vote due to proximity, very sad, we should make some effort to call on those with the power to do it for us, to at least, not take what they are about to do lightly.  Tell them they are about to “lock up their next 6 YEARS to ONE PERSON”!  It better be the right one!  Let them know that this is NO CHILD’S PLAY! It is NOT ALL TALK! Did this person articulate his/her views on the public stage, for instance, in any debates?

CAN THAT PERSON DO THE JOB? This person will be representing us on the World Stage, can he/she do that with KNOWLEDGE and CONFIDENCE?


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