The National Elections Commission (NEC) has finally declared open the presidential and legislative campaign. This comes amidst a lot of pre-campaign activities by political parties and individuals both in the public eye and on social media.
Some political parties, well ahead of the NEC declaration, have used primaries and other activities in preparation for this day to galvanize their supporters. Most unfortunately, some have also used time to castigate and insult other candidates, with more criticisms and insults leveled against the ruling Unity Party and its standard bearer, Vice President Joseph Boakai.
It may be recalled that when last month the political leader of the All Liberian Party (ALP), Benoni Urey, chose as his running mate, Alexander Duopue in Nimba, Mr. Urey branded the UP-led government as a “Corrupt government” and called on Liberians to vote it out. George Weah of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) has also been describing other candidates, including Charles Brumskine, Joseph Boakai and the rest as “Immaterial.” These men, said Weah, lack the moral authority to lead Liberia and only he, and he alone, possesses such authority.
Charles Brumskine and members of the Liberty Party (LP) in public speeches and on the social media, have equally branded Boakai as “Sleepy and stupid”. This derogatory description of the Vice President caused the chairman of Alex Cummings’ Alternative National Congress (ANC), Lafayette Gould, to condemn Brumskine’s speech. Gould demanded an open apology from Brumskine.
Members of the Unity Party have also been engaged in their own lambasting, using sectional politics to hit their opponents. It was Representative Larry P. Younquoi of Nimba County’s District 8 who, on the day the House endorsed the Vice President for President, said that “the natives being in the majority, the time had come for them to rule Liberia.”
These are just but few reflections of the pre-campaign activities which we believe have been characterized by insults and sectional politics leading to this day, the official commencement of the campaign.
Election campaigns are the means by which candidates and political parties prepare and present their ideas and positions on issues to the voters, according to the Free Encyclopedia. Political campaigns also include organized efforts to alter policy within any institution or organization.
With this definition, campaigns for the forthcoming elections should solely be based on issues that will sell platforms of politicians, in a bid to convince the electorate that the candidate and his or her party is the best suited to lead.
All of our political candidates, legislative and presidential, should never forget what happened in this country last week. Liberia celebrated her 170th independence anniversary, meaning that as a sovereign and independent state, we are 170 years old. Yet, as we asked in one of our Editorials last week, what have we to show for it?
Cannot our politicians see the deep and disturbing crisis we are in as Africa’s oldest independent republic? Our infrastructure, including electricity—the driving force of all development and progress, is down. Our education system, from primary to tertiary, is down. The Independence Day Orator, Dr. Herman Browne, mentioned this in his oration. Our roads, including farm to market ones, are down. The country is not reconciled, and this is a serious threat to our peace. Our justice system is down, as justice is for sale and been that way for a very long time. Our economy is in very bad shape, evidenced by the low-key way in which we celebrated Independence Day last week. And last, but by no means least, we still import our staple, rice, and many other agricultural produce, including meat and vegetables, which can be produced right here.
Our cultural heritage is in shambles; we do not even have a National Cultural Center anymore. Moreover, the urgently needed project to write Liberia’s History has been abandoned, they say because there’s no money. Alas, we look to Dr. Carl Patrick Burrowes’s latest work, Between the Kola Forest and the Salty Sea, as a breath of fresh air in doing justice to Liberian history.
So the question is not simply what do we have to show for 170 years, but even more critically, where are we headed?
It is, therefore, crystal clear that Liberia needs a proactive, visionary and patriotic leader to change this dismal trend and move our country forward.
Liberia needs a reconciler, a dynamic builder, a true patriot who will put the country before self and be, like Lee Kuan Yew, totally uncompromising against corruption. It was by this stance that Lee took Singapore from a dirt poor country with no natural resources in the early 1960s and transformed it into one of the world’s richest and most successful nations.
So clearly, tribalism and sectionalism is NOT, repeat, NOT what we are looking for. We seek in these all important forthcoming elections a visionary, dynamic and patriotic leader, who will say NO to corruption and YES to clean, accountable and transparent government that will put the country and people FIRST, before anything else.