Countless aspirants the world over – in developed and underdeveloped countries – have run for president; applied for the post of the highest office in the land. Some have won and some have lost. What did they tell the people? Did they make promises, medicine or commitments?
Promises can be empty. The people can see straight through them. Typically, promises are weak because they stand by themselves in skeletal form without so much as a complete picture, let alone a track record to back them up.
Medicine, as associated with politics, is what we call “African Science”. Ritualistic killings make human blood and body parts readily available (for a very handsome price, we might add) to those who are willing and able to fork over the money (and their souls) for power. Medicine can be powerful but short-lived. Neither cash nor soul is refundable. It can conjure the hearts of constituents to vote for a by and large unknown candidate where nary an intelligible word was spoken.
Permit us to get graphic here. Believe us, it is necessary. This is Africa. Disbelieve it at your own peril. The female clitoris, extracted during “bush school” activities of the Sande, Poro and other traditional societies, carries potent spiritual powers for which candidates are willing to pay a fortune.
The problem is that it may get a candidate elected, but cannot perform for him in the elected position (no pun intended). So after the zoes have wielded their powers on his behalf and he has carried the day, he does not know where to start in said position. He fails to perform on behalf of his people; the spell wears off and he loses their vote of confidence. He serves the rest of his term in infamy and loses any re-election bid – along with the money he made. This constitutes a net loss for country, constituency and the man himself. Was it worth it?
But the candidate who makes a commitment to the development of his people and his country with a matching track record – that is the man or woman for the job. A commitment is much more than a skeletal promise. It has meat on its bones. A commitment stands firm. It tells voters HOW said candidate plans to institute needed change. It does not just list the problems or criticize other candidates. It finds and presents solutions to said problems. These are the kinds of leaders we need – leaders who will uncompromisingly stay the course no matter what. That is how Barack Obama won both elections. He focused on solutions.
These solutions to the problems affecting people are what we call DEVELOPMENT. From North America to South America, people want development. And what is development? At the national level, development moves the country from where it is to where the people want it to be. At the personal level, development moves people from where they are to where they want to be.
Now at the technical level, development may mean different things to different groups of people. In America, it might mean moving the country from dependence on Arab oil to renewable sources of energy. In South America it might mean fighting corruption. And yes, fighting corruption is absolutely an essential part of development. In Liberia, it might mean all of the above and then some – fixing the education system; prioritizing self-sufficiency in food; electricity and running water; roads networks that bring down the cost of transportation and goods, especially food.
At the personal level in Liberia, people want to see their lives improve. They don’t want to see government or candidates play political soccer with their problems. They want to see the issues that affect them on a day-to-day basis prioritized. They want access to clean water. They want access to toilets. They want open sewage running by their houses closed. They want garbage cleared – all of the above so their children do not get sick. They want affordable healthcare. They want to see tangible development that they can be proud of.
People’s demands are not unreasonable. They know that Rome was not built in a day. But they can tell whether progress is being made or not. Even one tangible, sustainable improvement is better than none. That being said, however, they will absolutely follow the numbers and judge the LEVEL and QUALITY of development accordingly. So for example, if US$16 billion worth of aid came into the country over 10 years and all we have to show is Fendell, Tubman Boulevard and a few relatively inexpensive building projects, then of course the people are pissed off!
As 2017 approaches, let us put aside the gimmicks. The people want development. That is all they’ve ever asked for, and it is the surest way to win their hearts.