Liberia: Open Letter to my Brothers and Sisters in Liberia on the Upcoming October 10th Presidential Elections

Flashback: People wait to vote during the presidential election at a polling station in Monrovia, Liberia, Dec. 26, 2017.


By Abiodun Egunjobi

My dear brothers and sisters in Liberia,

The Presidential Elections of October, 2023, will be a momentous occasion for Liberia. Any decision and choice made as to who will be president would be irreversible with implications for Liberia now and the future generations.. Consequently, all Liberians must, by their participation in the election, display the full honor and responsibility of their citizenship as Liberians.

I urge you to think of your “hopes and dreams” and of the “hopes and dreams” of future generations; your children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. Everybody’s chances of a secured employment, right to travel at will, right to safety and security, right to build the sort of open and successful society we want to live in, and so on, rests on the outcome of this election, whose consequences will last longer than most of us. Remember that Liberians never quit. They get involved and, even, take the lead, whenever there is a need to make a difference and get things accomplished.

What are the issues in this election? Let me, from my vantage point as an interested observer, summarize these briefly as follows:

a.     revitalizing the country’s economy and creation of employment;

b.     planning for peace and security in the post UNMIL security environment;

c.      food security;

d.     Corruption;

e.      reconciliation in the wake of the TRC debacle;

f.      health care; safe drinking water and sanitation;

g.      education; and

h.     Dual Citizenship and other human rights.

Campaigns are permanent conditions. Indeed, a successful campaigner is expected to be a successful president if the president proceeds to governs as well as he campaigned; and the country will be all right. There are similarities between a campaign and the presidency. They both require a candidate to perform well under pressure, communicate effectively, and build a team that people trust. Campaigns are, therefore, crucibles for examining the souls of the candidates.

Therefore, as you watch the campaigns, understand the need for you to reward the “fighters” on behalf of the people. Go for a candidate who understands that governing requires leadership, cooperation, compromise, conciliation, negotiation and being on the side of the people at all times. While a campaign focuses on the opponents, a president “attacks” so many things, people, issues and so on, everyday; again and again.

Consequently, an astute political observer once declared the following as issues to consider in the onerous task of electing a president:

“Political skill: Campaigns give us a good idea of a candidate’s priorities, but can they read the political landscape they’ll face when they get to office? Are they honest enough to win voters’ trust but ruthless enough cut a deal with their enemies when necessary? Are they comfortable with the schmoozing, backslapping, and ego-massaging that comes with the job?

Management ability: Is the candidate focused enough to follow an overarching vision, but nimble enough to tweak that vision when real-world events intervene? Can they admit mistakes and learn from them? Can they sift through complex ideas? Can they recognize baloney when it comes from their staff or supporters? Do they know how to hire a good team? 

Persuasiveness: Do they know how to deliver a good speech? Do they know when to stay quiet? Do they know how to read public opinion? Is it possible for a president to short circuit Congress by taking an issue directly to the people?

Temperament: Has the candidate ever faced a true crisis? Do they have the equanimity to handle the erratic and unpredictable pressures of the office? How are they with uncertainty?

Leadership: A president should be a leader. Recognize that leadership is actually the sum of these four attributes—and probably a few more. These attributes, unlike the vaporous leadership mantle, are more measurable qualities. We shouldn’t let politicians get away with asserting they have this magical ability when we can bore down a little deeper to see whether they have these necessary and underlying traits.”

To the above add these personal characteristics: experience, honesty, morality, patience, diligence, truthfulness, courage, confidence, self-control, compassion and competence.

 A Phillipino blog was even more explanatory given the claims it established as follows:

“14 Qualities of an Effective President of a Country: #14 is the Greatest of Them All.

The following qualities of an effective leader of our nation may be too idealistic, but I believe that we can still find some (if not all) of these traits in a person who is or who will be worthy to become the leader of our government.

1. Accountability. A good president understands that he (she) is the head of the state. When the nation falls, he acknowledges his responsibility rather than blame his subordinates. He recognizes himself as the father of the entire nation. Hence, he treats the local government unit leaders as his children, and takes responsibility in helping them whenever they face problems.

2. Respect. A good leader of a country respects the constitution, abides the laws, and honors the decision of the Supreme Court. He also listens and respects the views of the common people.

3. Cohesiveness. An effective head of the government promotes unity among his people rather than causing them to divide and have meaningless fights.

4. Humility. An effective president admits his mistakes and weaknesses. He also acknowledges that he’s not good at everything. That is why he leaves the other tasks to the other branches of the government, such as the legislative and judiciary bodies.

5. Honesty. An effective leader upholds truth and integrity. He preserves the trust and confidence given to him by the people. And of course, he doesn’t embezzle the funds of the nation.

6. Independence. A strong president is not a puppet. His actions are not a product of impartial decisions. He’s not manipulated by oligarchs or a few people who are thirsty of power and wealth of a nation.

7. Wisdom. A wise president knows how to discern right from wrong. He knows how to make the right decisions. He shows maturity of the mind. His words provide power and enlightenment to all.

8. Courage. A great leader of a nation has the courage to execute the decisions that he believes are right. He’s not afraid to stand and fight for righteousness for the sake of his countrymen.

9. Compassion. An effective president understands what his people are going through. He can feel the sufferings of the oppressed and poor people. He is not arrogant, rather he’s gentle and uplifting to people who are suffering from misery and pain.

10. Action. A great leader is a role model of hard work. He walks his talk and inspires his people through his actions. He makes sure that his promises are done and not broken.

11. Proactivity. An effective leader of a country is not insecure and reactive. Instead, he possesses intuit and initiative to create solutions for the present and future problems.

12. Passion. Great leaders do their job with enthusiasm. They serve the public, not because they are compensated with money and fame, but because that is their mission in life.

13. Commitment. An effective head of the government is determined to realize his great visions and dreams for the nation. Patience and persistence manifest in him.

14. Love. Finally, an effective president of a country has a selfless love for his (her) people and for all the next generations. All of the qualities above are difficult to practice, but because of his love, he does his best to practice them all.”

Finally, let me remind you all that an election constitutes an opportunity to employ people who will serve you loyally and diligently. You should, therefore, as voters, look for the qualities that employers are looking for in the presidential candidates: initiative, experience, creativity, and problem solving. It is probably fairest to match their promises with their skills.



Abiodun Egunjobi