Election 2017: The Litmus Test for Progress or Failure in a Country Mired by Horrible Governance


By Flomo Johnson

The Liberian civil war officially concluded with the holding of general and presidential elections in October and November 2005. Over a dozen people ran for the presidency, while hundreds stood to fill the 30 senate and 64 representative seats.

Mrs. Ellen Sirleaf of the Unity Party (UP) won the country’s presidency after a runoff against Mr. George Weah of the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC). A motley group of individuals also got elected to the two branches of the country’s legislature.

When the Sirleaf-led government was inaugurated in January 2006, many people in the country had a huge degree of hope in her leadership. This was largely due to her many years of advocacy against bad governance and her reputation as a tough leader who had little patience for graft and laziness.

So Mrs. Sirleaf’s declaration that corruption will be the “major public enemy” was taken literally by many Liberians. How disappointed they are on the verge of her exit in a few months.

Going on 12 Years of Extremely Governmental Corrupt

That declaration of Mrs. Sirleaf, whether it was meant in good faith or not, turned out to be a clear falsehood. She has presided over one of the most corrupt governments in Liberian history. Even she has admitted that she lost the fight against corruption.

Even with the glaring failures of the Sirleaf administration to make any meaningful change in the economic lives of the vast majority of Liberians, her political party and most certainly her vice president for the entirety of her presidency have put themselves in the frame to continue running the Liberian state.

The Sirleaf government, with her vice president in tow, has pillaged Liberia to an extent that will take the country generations to recover from. Such a recovery will only be possible if serious measures are taken to take back some of the loot from her and the rest of her ruling establishment who are clearly culpable for their economic crime against humanity against the Liberian masses.

Under the Sirleaf administration the country’s vital institutions made no perceptible progress. Health care in Liberia is probably worse off than at any other time of the country’s history. Liberia’s premiere hospital the John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital is for all intents and purposes currently run as a private hospital. The reason for that hospital was both to train doctors and serve the Liberian masses not just the elite class.

Just like its health counterpart, Liberia’s education system is also at its worst state perhaps in the entire history of the country. Many people graduating high school and even universities can hardly do basic math let alone compose correct or logical sentences. 

Liberia’s fledgling oil and gas sector was roundly pillaged by the Unity Party government under the direction of President Sirleaf’s son. The same thing happened with the sale of every natural resource that was done during their time in power.

Preaching Continuity in a Land of Hunter Gatherers 

As a direct result of the Unity Party’s extreme corruption, Liberia’s economy has greatly suffered. The Liberian dollar has lost more than 50% of its value just over the past decade. This has correspondingly meant that the cost of living in the country has increased especially for the poorest Liberians who earn their living in Liberian dollars.

The cost of food is astronomically high. There are many Liberians who can either not afford to eat more than one meal a day or no meal at all. Twelve years after the Unity Party came to power in Liberia; the basic necessities of life remain a luxury to the vast majority of Liberians. Many people do not only go to bed hungry, they just do not have the means to get food.

The prices of every essential good are astronomically out of the reach of the average Liberian. This is largely due to the government’s tax policies which are geared towards catering for the welfare of Mrs. Sirleaf, Vice President Joseph Boakai, Speaker Emmanuel Nuquay, and their cronies.

In a society where the average person lives the hunting gathering existence of the Stone Age, a few people in the government make huge amounts of money. What justifies a government official earning tens of thousands of dollars in a country where food is a luxury for most people?

The Choice in October and November 

With the way the Unity Party headed by Mrs. Sirleaf, Mr. Boakai, Mr. Nuquay and others have run the country, there is no reason why they are even contenders in these elections. The Liberian people will have to make a clear choice between either continuing with them in the horrible state in which they have brought the country and embrace the continuing hardship or boot them out and replace them with one of the other contenders. 

It makes no sense for anyone to say that they would maintain a group that has clearly failed to run the country well because they lack an alternative. That is an argument that is borne by people who are either the beneficiaries of the system or hoping to benefit from its spoils.

The current election has about a dozen people running for president. For anyone to conclude that it is better to maintain the status quo than look at the others is a measure of folly that will come back to haunt the country like the election of Mr. Charles Taylor did in 1997.

If someone fails to deliver after 12 years of absolute authority, the most logical thing is to try another person. If someone is suffering from an ailment, that person would most certainly not continue going to the same doctor if that doctor’s repeated interventions fail to result in any improvement. The logical and best course of action will be for the sick person to consult with another doctor.

Liberia is very sick! The people have given the Unity Party doctor nearly 12 years to find a cure. The fact that the condition continues to worsen suggests that the Unity Party doctors will have to be changed since they have clearly run out of ideas to treat the illness.

The Liberian people have the option of consulting with a different doctor in October/November this year. It will serve the country best to change doctors as the current doctors who are treating its chronic illnesses have proven to be unequal to the task.