Majority of Liberians believe country is headed in the wrong direction
Liberians are unhappy about the country’s harsh economic condition and feel that much is not being done by the government to address this gloomy situation, a new Afrobarometer study has revealed.
The study, which was released yesterday, February 24, shows that Liberians hold gloomy views of the direction of the country, the economic and living conditions, but they are split on whether protests are an effective way to influence political leaders and policies.
However, the study revealed that Liberians are divided on the impact of protests that has also been held—bringing to mind the famous June 7, 2019 protest organized by the Council of Patriots that brought thousands of protesters to the principal streets of Monrovia. Others are the Bring Back Our Money protest that called the attention of the international community to what many considered the biggest financial scandal that the nation ever experienced.
Though these bleak pictures did not start to reveal themselves only during the administration of President George Weah and his Coalition for Democratic Change, it has worsened drastically since 2018. According to the study, Liberians started being pessimistic about their country since 2012.
The Afrobarometer team in Liberia, led by the Center for Democratic Governance (CDG), said it interviewed a random, stratified probability sample of 1,200 adult Liberians between October and December 2020.
Making a presentation at the launch of the report, CDG head, Oscar Bloh noted that majority of those who were interviewed say that the level of corruption in the country has increased, and that citizen are treated unequally under the law, and officials who commit crimes often go unpunished.
Mr. Bloh stated that recent protests in Liberia have highlighted complaints about poor economic conditions and high levels of corruption in the country. However, a majority of the interviewees said protests are disruptive and should be avoided.
Majorities also say that the level of corruption in the country has increased, that citizens are treated unequally under the law, and those officials who commit crimes often go unpunished, Mr. Bloh noted.
“Recent protests in Liberia have highlighted complaints about poor economic conditions and high levels of corruption in the country,” he said
“A majority say protests are disruptive and should be avoided. Citizens also think the police and protesters are equally to blame for the violence that ensues during public protests.”
The findings from the study also revealed that members of the national legislature and the Liberia national police are the most corrupt.
Bloh noted that his team interviewed a nationally representative, random, stratified probability sample of 1,200 adult Liberians between October and December 2020. “A sample of this size yields country-level results with a margin of error of +/-3 percentage points at a 95% confidence level. Previous standard surveys were conducted in Liberia in 2008, 2012, 2015, and 2018,” he disclosed.
The study revealed that eight in 10 citizens (80%) say the country is going in “the wrong direction,” almost double the proportion recorded in 2012, while also indicating that fewer than half (45%) of Liberians describe their personal living conditions as “fairly good” or “very good.”
“Only a quarter (24%) described the country’s economic conditions as “fairly good” or “very good. About three-quarters (72%) of citizens say the level of corruption in the country increased “somewhat” or “a lot” during the previous year,” the report noted.
Majorities of Liberians say that the police use excessive force when responding to protests (58%) and that protests are disruptive and must be avoided (55%).
Half of the citizens (50%) say public protests are an effective way to influence political leaders and policies, but almost as many (46%) disagree.
Only four in 10 (41%) “agree” or “strongly agree” that protesters in Liberia are generally peaceful and law-abiding.
Almost six in 10 (56%) say police and protesters are equally to blame for the violence that ensues during public protests (Figure 5).
The Dean of the Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida School of International Studies at the University of Liberia, Dr. Samuel Toe, and the Director at the Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia (CENTAL), Anderson Miamen, served as panelists at the launch of the report. The two lauded CDG and partners for the study. Miamen noted that the findings reflect the actual happenings in the Liberian society while Dr. Toe described the findings as revealing. He hopes that the findings can have an impact on future political decisions in the country.
Meanwhile, Afrobarometer is a pan-African, nonpartisan survey research network that provides reliable data on African experiences and evaluations of democracy, governance, and quality of life. Seven rounds of surveys were completed in up to 38 countries between 1999 and 2018, and Round 8 surveys are currently underway.
Afrobarometer conducts face-to-face interviews in the language of the respondent’s choice.