The 2017 general and presidential elections must lead to the election of Liberians whose love for the country is without question. They must also be ready to make sacrifices for the people.
For almost 12 years, under the leadership of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Liberia has struggled with many challenges – the invasion of the Ebola virus disease being the major challenge.
And of course, the pervasive presence of rumors of corruption, the tragic financial crisis that recently affected the National Oil Company of Liberia (NOCAL), to cite but a few, are worrisome. What worries us is that there has not been any tangible evidence pointing to the handling of these cases – a fact that demonstrates the enormity of the situation. This is something that the next administration would have to deal with.
Compounding the situation for them are challenges to improve the quality of education, issues that affect women, girls and children, and on the national level, the improvement of infrastructure, particularly roads, across the country.
It is not too hard to know that we have the responsibility as Liberians to determine the future of this nation; therefore, it is necessary that we are educated on who to vote for, not simply on voting for a candidate of our choosing and liking, but also for those who are patriotic enough to take Liberia to another level.
The issue of violent demonstrations in the wake of the withdrawal of UNMIL is troubling and needs urgent attention from leadership.
It is therefore the responsibility of civil society groups to lead the vanguard in educating our people. A house to house, village to village and hamlet to hamlet approach is needed so that after the decision to select our leaders is made, we will all be convinced that we have made the right one.
I made reference to selecting leaders who are nationalistic. This is important because love for country will make our leaders strive to invest their all in the country. On a personal level, I usually get angry when I hear some Liberians say, out of frustration, ‘Liberia will not go anywhere.’ What they can’t answer is: ‘Who should take Liberia ‘somewhere’?’ These complainers take themselves from the forward march of Liberia, sit supinely and expect miracles to happen.
I need to remind every Liberian that it is about time we begin to think fast. We have to be wise in our dealings with our neighbors, our community and our country.
When events that will lead to the 2017 Elections come around, there will also be many politicians. Some will promise the moon as a reward for your votes. How do we differentiate politicians who would only tell us what they think we should know from those who are truthful? It is only awareness and the ability to think wisely that will help us to identify the bad apples from the good ones.
As 2017 draws closer, we must develop the ability to ask important questions about our future leaders, and of course they will be many. But being many only creates confusion as to who deserves our vote. We don’t need politicians who would make fools of us. We don’t want those who ride very big cars accompanied by young girls.
We must also ask questions of our honorable men and women we have elected to the various houses. We must put a searchlight on them and see the development initiatives they have introduced, for the years they have been at their various positions, to move our country forward. In the end, those who have not made any significant impact that made a difference in our country should be booted out.
As Liberians, we must also begin to respect our leaders. We now have the ability to express ourselves on national issues, in both the print and electronic media, without the need to abuse our leaders. And in all things, we must show love to each other as Liberians. Liberia cannot achieve glory if we don’t respect each other. The young must respect their elders and the elders must provide direction. Parents must also be encouraged to perform their roles.
To conclude, I want to urge every Liberian to be mindful of the responsibility we have to elect leaders based on capability, and not to be influenced by money. Understanding what we need to do to help the proverbial ‘Mama Liberia’ is our responsibility, and we dare not fail.
About the author: Hannah N. Geterminah is a student at the Peter Quaqua Journalism School, run by MediaAid Foundation of Monrovia.