By Aisha Dukulé
“We cannot continue to be a problem child. We must grow up and become responsible adults taking care of each other and building our nation.” Atty Kofi Woods stated that Liberia’s democracy is still vulnerable and constantly threatened by leadership deficits, which have plagued the nation. In spite of criticisms of this view, Woods added: “I held that to be true in the past and do so now.”
In the past month, Liberty Party’s Charles Brumskine has filed a supreme court case against the National Elections Commission (NEC); President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has been accused of not only tempering but essentially rigging the election in favor of the opposition party, Coalition for Democratic Change; the ruling party’s national chairman, Wilmot Paye, on a national stage on her birthday declared Madam Sirleaf “an ingrate and a troublemaker”; The Supreme Court indefinitely stayed the runoff election; a chorus has risen for the recusal of NEC Chairman Cllr. Jerome G. Korkoya; Sirleaf has in-turn condemned the political actors for misbehavior, stating that the Liberian “democracy is under assault.” And the battle continues.
15 years ago, my parents would have packed my things and made me leave the country. My father would have stayed back as he did in the 1990s, negotiating peace amid the daily threat of death.
In 2017, death is no longer a serious threat or worry. In 2017, I am waiting to see how it all plays out, so I can take a trip out of town possibly to Nimba or to the Libassa resort in Marshall for the weekend, where I can finally recover from my election fatigue.
In 2017, negotiations have dwindled down to text messages and the occasional visit of a disgruntled uncle while we watch Trump TV.
“They’ll figure it out soon,” he says. “Be mature and patient,” he warns them.
“Nothing is going to happen,” I echo confidently.
So, when I read about the speech Human Rights Advocate Atty. Koffi Woods gave to the Liberia Federation of Labor Unions, in which he says that Liberia can no longer continue to be a problem child; chills ran through my spine. He asked that we must grow up and become responsible adults taking care of each other and building our nation.
I thought to myself, he should give Liberia a little more credit. Like my political leader Alexander B. Cummings often states, “Liberians don’t give themselves enough credit. We always point out the negatives first.”
For the past eleven months while campaigning with Mr. Cummings as communications coordinator, we again reiterated here and abroad to Liberians, that this election would be Liberia’s first democratic peaceful transfer of power, that Liberia has never been as free as it is today and that we ought to take ownership of that feat. We ought to find pride in it. This election is a moment in our history no Liberian could not partake in.
How many countries can stand firmly after 15 years of civil war and say in the process of peacefully transferring power to another head of state, the third runner-up questions the electoral process, puts the entire country in limbo and not one bullet is shot? Not one person is beaten up and bloodied in the streets?
If Liberia is truly the problem child of the region as Koffi states, why was our President elected as the Chairperson of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), appointed co-chair of the Secretary General’s High-Level Group on Post-2015, and subsequently Chair of the African Union’s High-Level Committee of Heads of State and Government on Post-2015.
From my understanding you don’t leave the problem child in charge when you’re away from the house.
Liberia is unanimously considered one of, if not the safest country in the region, and for good reason. Insults are passed like a hot potato on the airwaves, but no one is banging on your door with an AK-47 strapped on their back.
This is not a shared luxury in the sub-region.
Brumskine didn’t have to bust a single window. No one’s house has been set on fire. CDC hasn’t taken the streets; no one is rioting in West point.
I am a Liberian raised in the United States who was able to return home, and amid the electoral process does not have to wake up in the morning to gunshots outside or bombs being dropped on the Ducor hotel where my family lived when I was a baby.
It is even more sobering considering the fact that young people such as myself see Mr. Woods as a leader. Heroic in his pursuit of human rights advocacy, it is unfortunate to see how he regards himself and the other heroes of his time.
I disagree, Mr. Woods. We have adults in Liberia, we have leaders and potential leaders. You are one of them.
I salute Ambassador George Weah and his followers for their maturity and patience. No one can imagine the anxiety Moses endures as he gazes at the promise land from a distance. That is leadership.
I salute Cllr. Brumskine for taking a heroic stand, challenging the veracity of our justice system, the fairness of our electoral process, and defending democracy, so that when my friends from abroad call and ask if there’s chaos and if I’m safe, I can boast, “No, everything is fine; our legal system is doing its job.” That is leadership.
I salute all those who sacrificed their lives during the Liberian wars, worked tirelessly during the peace negations, and continue to maintain peace so that young people like myself may enjoy the peace and democracy we have now. That is leadership.
And Madam President, our democracy is not under assault, this is what you fought for. Thank you for your leadership.
Liberia’s democracy is safe. Take pride in Liberia. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
This piece is of my own opinion and in no way reflects that of Mr. Alexander B. Cummings or the Alternative National Congress.