Helping Liberians in Proper Voter Decision-making: Accountability Lab-Liberia’s Worthy Initiative

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The most important act in any election anywhere is not how much money is spent on election preparations, how well they are organized or how much rhetoric and cash candidates spend to woo voters.

What is rather more central, critical, compelling in any election is the decision or those decisions each voter will make inside that voting booth. The fundamental question facing the voter will be who to vote for.

Should I vote for a crook, a hypocrite, a selfish and corrupt candidate who only wooed me with a bag of rice, money or sweet talk? Or should I vote for someone who I know will sincerely, honestly and patriotically represent my interest, the welfare of my area, my fellow citizens and my beloved Liberia?

The answer to these questions is a no-brainer; which means, something you don’t even have to think about because the answer is so obvious. I would vote for the latter—a candidate that will sincerely, honestly and patriotically represent my interest, the welfare of my area, my fellow citizens and the Liberian Republic.

That is exactly what the NGO Accountability Lab-Liberia (ALL) is aiming at in launching its music video—sensitizing Liberians about their right to vote, whom to vote for and how properly to utilize their votes. The particular aim, according to our Diplomatic Correspondent Joachim Sendolo, “is to reverse the poor representation and leadership Liberians have experienced in the recent past.”

Do we not all know what happened in the distant and most recent past? How since 2006 until now—the period in Liberia we thought was a veritable “new dispensation,” we elected the whole 103 members of the Legislature—30 Senators and 73 Representatives? Each of them, during the campaign season, promised us the world and as soon as they got seated, made themselves—not the people—the center of political gravity (importance, magnitude), taking care of themselves and themselves only, and totally forgetting about the people who elected them.

One of the leaders, using the millions he had been allowed to steal from the Liberian people, bribed his colleagues to elect him to a powerful post. Another in the same lower House, a man called “Honorable Forh,” encapsulated (bagged, seized) the corrupt, ruthless and selfish mandate these elected officials reserved for themselves: The County Development Funds (CDF), which he demanded that the Superintendent of Montserrado County share with him, herself and the Minister of Internal Affairs. He told her in a manner utterly bereft of conscience, “You will chop (eat), I will chop and the Minister will chop.”

And what would be left for the impoverished people of Montserrado? Nothing but the filth, squalor and poverty into which they were born!

And when the Superintendent blew the whistle of graft, malfeasance and misfeasance, these corrupt Legislators angrily demanded that she be removed.

Alas! The Liberian people were forced to accept another shocker: President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf bowed to the wishes of these despicable (contemptible) “Representatives of the people.” The President, yes, dismissed the Superintendent—a woman like herself.

In the upper Chamber, the Senate, things were no different. In mindless and ruthless collaboration with their colleagues in the lower House, the Senators played every trick in the book to shortchange the Liberian people and Liberia. President Sirleaf could hardly get them to pass a bill, or ratify an Agreement or Treaty without her surrendering to each of them substantial sums of cash.

There were numerous instances, but we will recall one. When Clemenceau Urey was Chair of the National Oil Company of Liberia (NOCAL), many oil blocks were being leased or sold to various bidding oil companies. But when each was successfully negotiated and forwarded to the Legislature, especially the Senate, for ratification, they (the Senators) wanted their share before they could touch it.

When later Mr. Urey was no longer Chair, the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) accused him and a select number of other Board Members of corruption for offering “bribes” to the Legislature. But LACC did not include the Ministers of Justice on the Board, who at various points approved the transaction. Nor were the receivers of the “bribes”—the Legislators themselves—indicted. The LACC’s case could not stand in court, and it was abandoned.

We ask our Liberian people, are these kinds of people the ones you want to elect in 2017? The answer should be obvious, but we are not sure. We can say only, we hope not!

We commend Accountability Lab-Liberia for its initiative in launching the music video “Whom to Vote For,” and musician Henry Toe for his brilliant musical contribution to the cause. We further commend British Ambassador David Belgrove and the US Embassy staff for supporting this worthy initiative.

The Daily Observer pledges to work with Accountability Lab-Liberia in helping to get these extremely critical messages to the public, toward achieving the desired goal of helping our people make the proper choices in the impending 2017 presidential and general elections.

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