But should there be a cause to worry?
A survey report from NAYMOTE Partners for Democratic Development has unveiled that public trust in the Army Forces of Liberia (AFL) has grown considerably, while citizens’ views and perception of the quality of governance in Liberia is on the negative trajectory.
The survey, which can be accessed on the NAYMOTE website, notes that the trust in the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) has increased as 92% of respondents rated the AFL as the most trusted or fairly trusted security institution in Liberia, a remarkable increase from 2019 when 78% of respondents described the AFL as most trusted.
While the trust in the AFL may be a good situation, NAYMOTE is worried about the negative trajectory of citizens’ views and perception of the quality of governance in Liberia; which accordingly has the potential to further deepen the level of state fragility in Liberia.
The survey added that the unhappiness among Liberians about the economy does not bode well for the health of a fragile state like Liberia “because a weak economy is a sign of vulnerability,” and with a huge unemployed and youthful population, the potential for instability and violent tendency can be high.
“If not overturned, this negative trend has the potential to further deepen the level of state fragility in Liberia. One of the dividends of participating in democratic processes such as elections is that citizens will see their lives improved through the quality of services that are delivered,” said Eddie Jarwolo, NAYMOTE Executive Director. “On the contrary, the findings of this survey show that the quality of social services including health and education that are provided by the government is poor.”
The survey added without addressing the issues described in this report, forms of inequalities, particularly in access to quality services, are likely to be reinforced and heightened.
It added that inequalities contribute to the polarization of society and are triggers of conflict and deeply rooted grievances; and where they are not addressed appropriately, they could be exploited negatively by would-be “spoilers”.
Meanwhile, trust in the Liberia National Police (LNP) has also increased: According to NAYMOTE, 71% of respondents rated the LNP as the most trusted or fairly trusted national security institution. This suggests a sharp increase from 2019 when 56% indicated that they trusted the LNP. However, trust in the Liberia Drug Enforcement Agency (LDEA) has declined: 78% of respondents don’t trust the LDEA in 2021, as compared to 57% of respondents in 2019.
The NAYMOTE survey, which was conducted, in July and August 2021, to a sample of 3,220 registered voters (women 56.2% and 43.8% men) in 46 electoral districts (63% of total districts) selected from the 15 counties, was intended to assess citizens’ perception of the quality of governance in Liberia. It is conducted every year by NAYMOTE to assess what citizens across the country think about the quality of governance in the country.
This report presents the results of the seventh survey conducted since (2014), focusing on service delivery, the economy, accountability, democracy, and security.
Of this sample, 48.3% of respondents were between the ages of 18 and 35, which means that younger people mostly participated in the survey. This trend aligns with the fact that young people constituted a little over 65% of the total number of registered voters in the 2017 elections. Over 35% of respondents were between the ages 36-50; while 16.1% were 50 and above.
Overall, 78.4% of respondents think the country is going or somehow going in the wrong direction while 20.5% think the country is going or somehow going in the right direction. In the 2019 survey findings, 82% of respondents said the country was going in the wrong direction.
This suggests a slight decrease in negative perceptions of the management and governance of the country. When asked about the economy, 87.3% of the respondents described the current economic conditions in the country as very poor or poor, as compared to 89% who described it as very poor or poor in the 2019 survey report.
“Sixty-eight percent (68%) of respondents said they are very satisfied or satisfied with the way democracy is working in the country, while 30% said they are not satisfied; 2% said they don’t know. In the 2019 survey report, 57% of respondents said they were very satisfied and satisfied with the way democracy was working in the country. This suggests a sharp increase in citizens’ level of satisfaction with the quality of democracy in the country,” the report added.
It added that “Over 72% of respondents described government information sharing with the people as poor or very poor, 26% described government information sharing as very good and good, while 1.1% said they don’t know. 78.3% of respondents described the performance of elected and appointed officials making decisions for the people of Liberia as poor or very poor, 13.5% said fair, 7.1% said good or very good while 1.1% said they don’t know. “
Meanwhile, the report had revealed that the relationship between legislators and their constituents seems to be weak, with 79.7% of respondents describing the performance of the lawmakers as poor or very poor, 19.5% described legislators’ performance as very good or good, while 0.8% said they don’t know.
“Over 79% of respondents described the quality of services (safe drinking water, health, and education) in their district or town as poor or very poor, 19.9% described the quality of services as good or very good while 0.6% said they don’t know,” the report disclosed. “Over 69% of respondents described government performance in handling the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic as good or very good, 13.4 described it as fair, 16.5% described it as poor or very poor while 0.9% said they don’t know.”