On Tuesday, March 14, 2017 at about 5:00pm the Voter Registration Process officially closed. In spite of the challenges, the National Elections Commission records to date show that over TWO MILLIONS Liberians across the length and breadth of this country were able to register to vote. To this we express our sincere thanks and appreciations to them (NEC) for the job well done, thus far.
It is worthy of being admonished not to lose sight of your constitutional right as enshrined in the 1986 Constitution of the Republic of Liberia, Article 1 which states: “All power is inherent in the people. All free government are instituted by their authority and for their benefit and they have the right to alter and reform the same when their safety and happiness so require. In order to ensure democratic government which responds to the wishes of the governed, the people shall have at such period, and in such manner as provided for under this Constitution, to ensure their public servant to leave office and to fill vacancies by regular elections and appointment”. And indeed, the first step to exercising such power is by registering to obtain a new voter card in every given election, that which we did.
Notwithstanding, the new voter card obtained is your legal power to electing and ushering in a new government. The courage and resilience shown during the just ended VR process is one that deserves due commendation and should not be overlooked. With this, we say thanks so much for taking off your time, energy & effort to participate in the process. Your action demonstrated is a clear manifestation of your wiliness to involve yourself with the ensuing elections.
Towards this juncture, let us take a sober reflection on the outcome of our vote cast in the last three elections (2005, 2011, & 2014), in order for us to understand the consequences of the decision we made back then. In this light, generally what we boast of and agreed on positively is the fact that: a) we have lived up to the constitution of this land and subscribed to the rule of law, b) we have shown to the world that, indeed we are a democratic group of people, c) we have maintained peace over the last 12years, and d) we have exercised our God given right – that is, the freedom of expressions and the press. Yet, there are challenges and failures that we have alluded to, and have our shared views on them; they are: a) lack of quality education, b) scarcity of jobs and adequate prosperity, c) corruption, greed, and insincerity on the part of our leaders, d) economic recession, e) lack of quality health care delivery system, f) food security, g) youth empowerment, h) and most importantly, national reconciliation.
Henceforth, we are left with no option but to ask ourselves these questions: What are these elections about? With the current challenges we face, what kind of leader do we want after 2017? Are we going to vote on the basis of perceptions rather than issues? Are we going to sit there and vote on the basis of sentiments rather than competence? Are we going to just vote because it is our right or to see our beloved country move from one level to another? Are we going to vote based on change or continuity?
With these thought provoking questions, concerns, and cautions in mind, the consideration of these superb recommendations are necessary going forward in these elections;
- We ought to be critical and investigative, so as to not allow Aspirants and would be Candidates sway our minds to non-substantive issues and political rhetoric. We must do a cross analysis or examination of all of the Political Actors in these elections.
- Our vote should be based on issues rather than perceptions. We must ensure that our politicians prioritize discussing the things that matter to us most, and will change our lives for the best.
- Let us frown on all forms of violence; Politicians/Political Parties with hate messages and divisive politics and set the bar for discussions in these elections.
- We must prove to the various Aspirants that we are their employers. And that whatever discourse or forum we all engender, we are the interviewer/employer, while they (Aspirants) are the job seekers/respondents.
In so doing and with these recommendations being provided, we must also remember that these elections are about us, the electorates and not them, the Politicians, Aspirants or would be Candidates. Being afraid to ask should not be an option; because we must ask to make an informed decision. Being afraid to vehemently resist their policy (ies) that do not reflect our views and aspirations is not an option; because they are going to work on behalf of us. Being afraid to name, shame and deny those whom are preaching tribal politics cannot be an option; because we have the key to their ascendancy.
If today was the 10th of October and all of us hold the beliefs and views that the Voter Card in our possession is not a power, is just a mere Identification Card and decide not to vote; be honest and tell me which one of our Politicians, Aspirants or would Candidates will get elected or hold public office for the next 4, 6 or more years. That is to tell you how important the VR Card is, how important our vote is and to say we, Liberians, are the original owners and employers of those jobs and so despite our current challenges, we should and must not overlook ourselves and our votes.
The process is on and fast approaching October 10th, 2017. Up next is the Exhibition of Provisional Registration Roll (June 12 – 17, 2017). With this process we are sure that indeed we are going to vote on Election’s Day. Again, inasmuch as we all share the concern about the future of this country, it is incumbent upon us, the over 2M registered voters to form part of this process and ensure that we vote in these elections.
Come these elections, we, the electorates are going to show the world through the casting of our votes – with our legal powers, the VR Cards – who our leaders are. Like we have also said pre – 2017 and now, these elections are about the fundamentals, systems and structural changes of our governance. So, it must be!
With this, it is certain that the ultimate decision will be made during the polls, and said decision being informed by a bulk of very significant factors will place preference on Candidates with the requisite skills, patriotism and intelligence needed to radically overhaul our governance which is set to bring socio-economic prosperity to all of Liberia. Interestingly, that decision is in your hands; make it or abuse it!
The author of this article, BAKO KOBOI SHUAIBU, JR., is a graduate of the Seventh-Day Adventist High School (PHOENIX-CLASS of 2013/2014) on Camp Johnson Road, Monrovia. SHUAIBU, JR. is a Student at the African Methodist Episcopal University on Camp Johnson Road, Monrovia; majoring Public Administration and Minor in Economics. He’s an Advocate, Writer, Social Entrepreneur, Pan-African Evangelist, Global Change maker, Community Organizer, Social Change Activist, Communications Strategist, Motivational Speaker, Innovator and a staunch Intellectual of the Pan-African Conscious Corner.
He can be reach at cell #’s: (+231) 777-604-909/886-161-455, or Email: firstname.lastname@example.org/Facebook.