Who remembers our Staff Writer, Lindiwe Khumalo, who few years ago wrote the article, “Liberians Are Stupid Because They Are Selfish, and Selfish Because They Are Stupid?
Tuesday’s Liberian election, one robbed of seriousness and excitement, was a typical manifestation of the truism of that article.
Here is a tiny African country of barely 4,000,000 in which almost everyone wants to be president. Accordingly, we had 20 presidential candidates, most of whose names nobody heard in the vote counting!
Take Simeon Freeman, a fairly successful businessman, who for many years has sought the presidency in vain. Why? Because each time he has gained absolutely no traction. Did anyone hear his name in Tuesday night’s vote counting? So what was the point in running?
When we, out of love for Simeon and respect and appreciation for his television business, DSTV, advised him to quit politics and concentrate on improving and expanding his business, he took serious exception and threatened to take his former employers, the Daily Observer, to court!
He forgot that we are a media institution that has since our establishment in February 1981, championed Liberian businesses and bitterly complained about the foreign dominance of our economy.
Let us now take a look at the pathetic litany of presidential candidates that participated in the elections—all 20 of them:
- UREY, BENONI WILFRED – ALL LIBERIAN PARTY (ALP)
- CUMMINGS, ALEXANDER B. – ALTENATIVE NATIONAL CONGRESS (ANC)
- MCINTOSH, WENDELL J.E. – CHANGE DEMOCRATIC ACTIONS (CDA)
- WEAH, GEORGE MANNEH – COALITION FOR DEMOCRATIC CHANGE (CDC)
- WILES, ISAAC GBOMBADEE – DEMOCRATIC JUSTICE PARTY (DJP)
- COOPER, OSCAR – INDEPENDENT CANDIDATE
- KPADEH, ALOYSIUS WILLIAM – INDEPENDENT CANDIDATE
- MATOR, YARKPA JUWUR N. – INDEPENDENT CANDIDATE
- COOPER, MACDELLA B. – LIBERIA RESTORATION PARTY (LRP)
- SANDY, KENNEDY GBLEYAH – LIBERIA TRANSFORMATION PARTY (LTP)
- FAHNBULLEH, JR. HENRY BOIMA – LIBERIAN’S PEOPLE’S PARTY (LPP)
- BRUMSKINE, CHARLES WALKER – LIBERTY PARTY (LP)
- JOHNSON, PRINCE Y. – MOVEMENT FOR DEMOCRACY AND RECONSTRUCTION (MDR)
- JONES, JOSEPH MILLS – MOVEMENT FOR ECONOMIC EMPOWERMENT (MOVEE)
- FREEMAN, SIMEON C.M – MOVEMENT FOR PROGRESSIVE CHANGE (MPC)
- TUIDER, WILLIAM WIAH – NEW LIBERIA PARTY (NLP)
- DWEH, SR., GEORGE SLUWEH – REDEMPTION DEMOCRATIC CONGRESS (RDC)
- WENTO, MACDONALD A. – UNITED PEOPLE’S PARTY (UPP)
- BOAKAI, JOSEPH NYUMA – UNITY PARTY (UP)
- WEAPOE, JEREMIAH Z. – VISION FOR LIBERIA TRANSFORMATION (VOLT)
Among these, there were not more than seven whose names were heard in the counting by the National Elections Commission Tuesday night. They were UP’s Boakai, CDC’s Weah, LP’s Brumskine, ANC’s Cummings, MDR’s Johnson, MOVEE’s Jones and ALP’s Urey. The other 14 were lost in oblivion.
The question that immediately arises is why did not most of these parties form coalitions and reduce themselves to two or at most three parties, and run credible campaigns? The simple answer: each wanted to be president of Liberia—why? To eat, or at least to smell the ever drying grease left in Mama Liberia’s breast. Is that not what, with very few exceptions, most Liberian Presidents since the 1920s have done? It was Charles Taylor who said that the quickest way to become rich is to become president of Liberia.
Most of the 20 candidates have told the Liberian people nothing about why they want to be president. And how many platforms have we seen? Very few. Why? Despite our repeated calls for platforms, most of these candidates have provided none. Why? We figure it was because they did not want to commit themselves to any promises that they had no intention of keeping.
Now with their dismal performance at the polls, it remains to be seen how many of these candidates will attempt to join with one credible party in order to form a winnable coalition.
At this point, we pray for three things: first, that one formidable coalition will be formed to create a credible and electable winner of the presidency.
Second, that those parties which become part of this coalition will work tirelessly until victory is achieved.
Third, we pray that this 2017 election will FINALLY teach us Liberians three lessons: that everyone CANNOT be president; that one does not have to become president to serve or help his or her country; and that we should stop making ourselves the laughing stock of the world by foolishly pretending that all of us can become president.
Let this be the very last time that we canvass more than two or, at most, three candidates running for president.