-Tracking legislative campaign promises
By David A. Yates and Robin Dopoe
NAYMOTE Partners for Democratic Development, Liberia’s prime democratic advancement institution, has released its first Legislative Accountability Project (LAP) report from Jan 2018-Jan 2019.
The report presents the collective findings of 97 campaign promises tracked, documented and rated by Naymote against the progress made by 12 elected members (10 males and 2 females), including three incumbents and nine new members of the House of Representatives of the 54th National Legislature from five counties.
The Legislative Accountability Project is an independent monitoring and tracking tool that enables civil society actors and voters to evaluate the implementation of campaign promises by elected lawmakers.
Of the 97 campaign promises tracked and rated, 10 were rated as completed, 66 promises are ongoing, 9 not started, and 12 not rated due to the lack of information in order to easily verify whether an action has been taken on a promise.
Of the 10 completed promises, community development projects, including the establishment of the clan offices, community roads, bridges, and the construction of town halls accounted for 6 of those completed projects, while the formation of district development council accounted for 3 of those promises completed and the construction of one health center accounted for 1 of the many promises.
Twenty-seven (27) of the promises focused on health and education, with education accounting for 15 of those ongoing promises, and healthcare provision accounting for 12 of those ongoing promises.
In Bong County: Representative Moima Briggs Mensah of electoral district # 6 made 12 campaign promises, of which 4 are rated completed, 6 are ongoing, and 2 not started.
Representative Robert F. Womba of electoral district # 4 made 11 campaign promises, none of which were completed, 7 ongoing, 3 not started, and 1 not rated.
Representative Prince K. Moye of electoral district # 2 made 7 campaign promises, none completed, 5 ongoing and 2 not rated.
In Montserrado County: Representative Rustonlyn S. Dennis of electoral district # 4 made 8 promises, none completed, 8 ongoing.
Representative Richard N. Koon of electoral district # 11 made 9 promises, 1 completed, 7 ongoing, and 1 not started.
Representative Dixon W. Seboe of electoral district # 16 made 8 promises, 1 completed, 5 ongoing, and 2 not rated.
Representative Samuel Enders of electoral district # 6 made 4 campaign promises, none completed, 2 ongoing and 2 not rated.
In Nimba County: Representative Larry Yanquoi of electoral district # 8 made 7 campaign promises, 1 completed, and 6 ongoing.
Representative Dorwhohn Twain Gleekia of electoral district # 6 made 9 promises, none completed, 5 ongoing, 2 not started, and 2 not rated.
Representative Roger S. W. Y. Domah of electoral district # 7 made 8 campaign promises, none completed, 5 ongoing and 2 not rated.
In Grand Gedeh County: Representative Zoe E. Pennue of electoral # 1 made 7 campaign promises, 2 completed, and 5 ongoing.
In River Gee County: Representative Alexander Dopoe of electoral district # 1 made 7 campaign promises, none completed, 5 ongoing, 1 not started, and 1 not rated.
A review of 73 lawmakers’ campaign promises highlighted the following: 54 of these lawmakers mentioned scholarships and improving education within their respective districts as part of their campaign promises; 35 mentioned the provision of quality healthcare in their respective districts as part of their campaign promises; and 7 lawmakers mentioned lawmaking or introducing legislation as part of their campaign promises.
The institution tracked and rated these promises over a period of one year based on four scales as highlighted below:
Completed: This is when a promise has been tracked and confirmed to be achieved.
Ongoing: This is when action is taken toward achieving a promise which has not been achieved.
Not rated: Information is not easily accessible to verify whether an action has been taken.
Not started: This is when no concrete action has taken place in response to a given promise.
Naymote Executive Director Eddie Jarwolo believes that the Legislative Accountability Project is a necessary platform to promote democratic accountability, make elected lawmakers more accountable, accessible and responsive to their constituents, thereby building citizens’ trust in elections and democratic processes.
He hoped this report will be taken in good faith and more actions will be taken to deliver ongoing promises within the second year of service.
He called on citizens to hold their elected officials accountable in order to deliver on their campaign promises during the election.
Campaign promises were documented during the 2017 legislative election by the Institute for Research and Democratic Development and verified by Naymote (Partners for Democratic Development), two of Liberia’s leading democratic advancement and good governance institutions.
Mr. Jarwolo further recommended to elected officials/lawmakers that they need to revise some of their campaign promises in order to make it more time-bound and quantify them to make it easy to track; public education needed to help citizens to understand the workings of their lawmakers; and lawmakers should be more accessible, responsive and accountable to the needs of their constituents.
He also said that there should be a need for a distinction between the County Development Fund (CDF) projects and lawmakers’ self-supported projects in order to ensure accountability and transparency for public funds and financial support needed to expand the project to every electoral district so as to track promises of all elected lawmakers.