When Will Liberians Finally Take Their Presidency Seriously?

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Perhaps the more cogent (logical) question this Editorial should be asking is: How many more presidential candidates should we expect before the registration door closes?

There are already 23 political parties, with almost as many presidential candidates. And on Saturday, February 4, 2017, Margibi Senator Oscar Cooper added his name to the list of presidential hopefuls as an independent candidate.

How many more such hopefuls can we expect?

We are already nearly in the third month of this magic year, 2017, when we are to elect the next president of Liberia. How many will constitute the final tally that the
National Elections Commission (NEC) will announce as those running for this one office, the presidency?

We are sure most Liberians are hoping that the tally will finally be reduced to not more than three or two candidates for the presidency. Why? Because Liberians want a united people, a united country as we approach the elections. A splintered (fragmented) country, in which everyone wants to be president, will not do.

We do not need a scramble, because the world, and even ourselves, will be asking: Why does almost every Liberian think he or she should be president? Is it because Charles Taylor said: “The quickest way to become rich is to become president of Liberia”?

Are riches all that count? Is there nothing else? If this were the case, then the future of our country, Africa’s oldest independent republic and, by all accounts, one of the most backward, is doomed. If indeed riches from the presidency were all that mattered, the nation’s future would be reduced to selfishness—a deadly syndrome (disease, disorder) that, as we indicated in our Editorial of last Thursday, has plagued this country for nearly a century; to be exact, since the presidency of Charles D.B. King (1920-1930). With the possible exception of President Edwin Barclay’s administration, practically nothing has changed. It has been a century carved in corruption, a century in which Liberia has suffocated and is now languishing behind most of the world, including Africa.

No! We cannot again choose selfishness that has reaped us nothing but continual poverty, stagnation, backwardness and war. Here we are, at the bottom of all the international indexes—education, health, food, energy, infrastructure, including roads, bridges and buildings, and above all human development.

What we need as we approach these October elections are two or at most three presidential candidates who will fire the people’s imagination and rekindle their hope for a better and brighter future—a future in which we, following the example of those who want to lead us, will be focused on one thing only—a united, highly developed and more prosperous nation, Liberia.

How do we get two or, at most, three presidential candidates? Each such candidate must convince his or her supporters on the need for all of them to look very hard for coalitions that they should join, or even take the initiative, for the sole purpose of reducing to not more than three, the field of presidential candidates. The aim here is to minimize the multiplicity of presidential candidates, so that we Liberians may take ourselves seriously, and that the world, too, may also do the same—believe that we are serious about these elections.

We must prove that we are capable of reducing the field to not more than two or three presidential candidates.

Let us face it: most of these parties know that they cannot hope to get anywhere. Most of the presidential candidates in the 2011, and even the 2005 elections, got nowhere. So what was the point of running? Only to waste their own and, more particularly, the Liberian people’s time?

Remember that in the 2011 elections, there were roughly 16 presidential candidates. But as Kenneth Y. Best indicated in his book, The Evolution of Liberia’s Democracy, only four of them proved worthy of mention—Unity Party’s Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the winner; Congress for Democratic Change’s Winton Tubman; Prince Johnson’s National Union for Democratic Progress; and Charles Brumskine’s Liberty Party.

“Most of the remaining presidential candidates in the 2011 elections performed dismally,” Mr. Best said in his book. Hardly any of them received more than 0.3 percent or 0.5 percent of the vote – a total waste of their own and the Liberia people’s time.

So what was the point of running?

We pray that all presidential candidates so far will see reason to join forces with one another and reduce the running field to not more than three candidates to save their time and money and prove their patriotism by working to unite the country in the coming elections.

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