— Senatorial aspirant takes transparency and accountability to voters
All through in Liberian politics, people seeking elective offices have campaigned on promises to build infrastructures and provide jobs and educational opportunities for electorates when elected. In Liberia, where more than half of the population is impoverished by inequality perpetuated by elites controlling the affairs of the state, voters are enticed with such political rhetoric. And though many have voted, expecting the fulfillment of such promises, sadly many of such promises go unfulfilled. As the senatorial election in December fast approaches, and as politicians dish out rice, money and ‘hail Mary’ promises, one aspirant aims to shift the discourse by providing a roadmap to greater transparency and accountability, a political approach through which Montserrado County Senator Darius Dillon has gained his popularity.
Margibi County Senatorial aspirant, Rev. Alexander Collins in this regard, has said he would push for electronic voting in the Senate to properly reflect voting records of members and promote parliamentary accountability if elected.
Rev. Collins, who is running as an independent candidate, said his decision is predicated on the fact that the business of the Liberia Senate has been conducted in secret—leaving Liberians with limited information about the inner workings of the Senate.
“Accountability and transparency are important aspects of governance—so when I am elected, I am going to focus on making sure that the business of the Senate is conducted through electronic voting so that each Senator’s vote on national issues is made public.
“The essence of this electronic voting is to ensure that electorates have easy access to the voting records of their Senators in order to be held accountable on issues they voted for or against,” said Rev. Collins.
At the moment, voting in the Senate is done via the “yea and nay” voting paradigm. The result, Rev. Collins argued, has led to Senators lying to their constituents since they (constituents) do not know the Senators’ position on key issues.
According to Rev. Collins, electronic voting does not only breed accountability but also promotes the ability of the electorate to acquire information about their Senators’ decision on national issues.
“Absolute transparency is also essential to preserve the credibility of the Senate and to eliminate confusion, doubt, and suspicion among the public about the workings of the Senate. While in the Senate, I will write bills and vote for bills that will put Liberia and Liberians first. Apart from pushing for electronic voting, I will make my votes on issues in the Senate public. The goal is to encourage accountability and transparency on how the Liberian Senate conducts business. I will also set up a functional website where Margibians can follow my work in the Senate,” Rev. Collins said.
Meanwhile, Rev. Collins has promised to give 35% of his total salary every month back to the county to be managed and invested by a transparent county development team reflecting all five districts.
“I will avoid taking county sitting fees for any county sitting and will make reports and solicit feedback from county stakeholders at least two times a year. Also, I will appoint a Diaspora Constituent Service Director to effectively engage Margibians and friends of Margibi in the Diaspora,” Rev. Collins said.
As part of the transparency, Rev. Collins added that his office staff will comprise individuals from all five districts of Margibi County and will hire two Constituent Services Directors for both lower and upper Margibi.
“When elected, I am also going to push a bill for a national food sufficiency program through increased support for subsistence farmers, subsidize commercial farmers and advocate for government officials to engage in real and verifiable commercial farming.”
“Also, I will establish the New Horizons Resource life transformation program to help disadvantaged youth and adults to think for a change, find meaning and purpose in life and to become contributing citizens to society,” he said.