Liberia: Good Leadership and Managing Expectations

A nurse casts her vote at a polling place in Paynesville during the 2023 general elections


There is plenty of talk about the lack of leadership as the source of the bad governance problem in Liberia. Many people talk about leadership, but they do not know that there are two types of leadership: good leadership and bad leadership. This leadership definition problem is also seen in the definitions of hope and change, respectively.

If there were only good leadership, then there would not be any poverty problem, any corruption problem, or any violence problem in Liberia. It is the existence of bad leadership that leads to the problems of poverty, corruption, and violence. Any leadership that promotes the production of raw materials for export without prioritizing value addition is bad. Any leadership that promotes the production of raw materials for local manufacturing and consumption through local ownership is good. The former promotion continues to be in Liberia, and, so, the prevailing leadership in Liberia is bad.

Evidence about bad leadership in Liberia goes way back to the 1950s when Liberia exhibited the second highest real economic growth rate per person in the world, but less than one percent of the people of Liberia had access to more than sixty percent of the income and wealth of Liberia. This phenomenon has come to be known as economic growth without economic development, or growth without development for short (Robert Clower, et al, Growth Without Development, Northwestern University Press, 1966). With all of this evidence, the powers that be and many scholars continue to conclude that economic growth is the main source of economic development and the fall in economic growth is the main source of poverty. Even the President of the World Bank says that the fall in economic growth is the main explanatory factor for poverty in Liberia. 

The Truth of the matter is seen in the overwhelming evidence pointing to the fact that there can be high growth, low growth and negative growth in the midst of poverty, as seen in Liberia’s experience. It is this experience that made poverty the pretext for violence that took the forms of coup d’etat and civil war, resulting in the murder of at least 300,000 people and many more people injured. It is this experience that led the people of Liberia to say: “We Want Peace! No More War!” On account of this experience, the people of Liberia conclude that Liberia is headed in the Wrong Direction (Afrobarometer, 2020).

The only way that Liberia can be moved from the Wrong Direction and placed in the Right Direction is through the awareness raising of the people of Liberia within the Rule of Law to transform the unfair prevailing electoral system into the enduring fair electoral system. It is only through this transformation that persons with good records can get elected to bring the system of Justice, the indispensable ingredient for Peace and Progress in Liberia and in any other Country. 


During the recent partisan political campaigning, the only talk was about what to expect when the candidates got re-elected or elected, respectively. So far, the records show that whatever expectations that they raised were never fulfilled. This means that whatever promises that they made never got delivered. It is most important to bring this problem out because it is a source of frustration that leads to violence.

Upon re-election or election, the campaigners run around doing their respective selfish things rather than pursuing the selfless things that the people are interested in. The re-elected and elected remain in the “everybody for self, God for all” mode, meaning that they do not carry out their promises made to the voters. Upon realizing that the re-elected and elected are not serious, the voters become frustrated and they become violent, as they did in the Liberian experience of the coup d'etat and the civil war that took the lives of at least 300,000 people and injured many more.

With this record of violence, many people locally and globally became surprised that the October 10, 2023 General and Presidential Elections displayed no violence to speak about. Well, this nonviolent posture in the first and second rounds of the Election did not happen because of the awareness raising that took place. The awareness raising informed the voters about the fact that violence does not solve any problem. Therefore, with this information, the voters were motivated to vote non-violently. The voters of Liberia are receiving praises locally and globally for their non-violent posture during and after the voting. Seeing this posture, the President of Liberia of Liberia declared acceptance of the election results and congratulated the Unity Party (UP) for being elected. This declaration is receiving praises locally and globally.

As awareness raising continues, some violence has taken place after the Election of October 10th, but it is at once minimal and unacceptable. Witness the violence that took place less than a week ago, a few yards from the Police Station and the Market Place in the Red Light area of the Paynesville Community.  The victim is a woman who was mistaken to be a motorbike rogue. Fortunately, the badly beaten woman was rushed to Ghana for appropriate medical treatment, given the poor medical facilities here. We await the investigation, the results and the punishment. The post electoral violence would be significant were it not for the continuous awareness raising that leads to the correct management of expectations and the minimization of violence.

On account of awareness raising, people are taking non-violent action through the Rule of Law to minimize the unfair and unconstitutional practices of the National Election Commission (NEC), to minimize the violence of the October 10th Election and the second round Election and to maximize the voting for candidates with good records. It is only through this awareness raising that the prevailing unfair electoral system is being transformed into the enduring fair electoral system. It is only through this transformation that persons with good records can get elected to bring in the system of Justice, the ingredient for Peace and Progress in Liberia and in any other Country.