Who Wins Tuesday’s Presidential Election to Replace President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf?

By: Josephus Moses Gray/Email” graymoses@yahoo.com|

JOSEPHUS MOSES GRAY

Never in the history of the Liberian presidential election captivated so many national and global interests and commentators before than the forthcoming October 10th presidential election. And the stakes in this race are high. But the question is which of the twenty presidential candidates that has the political chemistry in place to clinch victory on the first ballot on Tuesday to replace President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf?

Most recently, the various streets have been engulfed by huge crowd gathering and turnout for the various candidates but can these massive crowds driven by either loyalty or monetary gains translate into actual votes? Tuesday will justify the issue of gigantic crowd. The true is Liberia desires peace, the people desire peace, and the final result of the Tuesday’s election should not drive the nation to it unpleasant past.

Otherwise will Liberians use the Tuesday’s elections to punish the political corrupt and egocentric bureaucrats or do the opposite to make wrong choices again? And time around will October 10 Presidential Election represents a long-awaited smooth transition of state power from one democratic leader to another driven by  the majority decisions-the highest votes count under a constitutional democracy?

In recent time, likeability of these candidates has taken a dramatic turn; they are drawing huge crowd, congregating to these political parties gathering, lavish t-shirts and expensive placards are flying across the country and street corners, while radio stations broadcasts are engulfed with pro and anti- songs, jingles, and messages; the same goes as the various daily publications as pages of newspapers from the banner headlines on the front page to the back pages captions, depicting pro and anti-stories in favor or again a particular candidates.

Will the Tuesday’s election be a new defining chapter in the life of UP’s Joseph Boakai ; CDC’s George Weah, LP’s Charles Brumskine, ANC’s Alexander Cummings, ALP’s Urey, or MOVEE’s Jones? Will the poll this time break away from the past by ending in the first round or like history, be obliged to engage the traditional  second round ballot or what’s referred to as run-off?

But given the evidence of the past year, it would be unwise to discount such a Boakai-Weah in the run-of. It is also true, however, that a new comer triumph would be the biggest political shock yet. Political pundits are wondering if the Tuesday’s poll be a referendum on the governing Unity Party-led government or a perpetual dynasty of the UP?

The Tuesday’s election will be won by an influential presidency candidate who has the well-organized political chemistry in place across the country, one who came with the reservoir of ideas and the inspiration to play on the emotions of the exasperated voting population and also be able to make the election people centered oriented; one who will speak thought on issues affecting bulks of the needy populace.

Unlike the past, 2005 poll, Senator Weah undergoes a distinct alteration in his campaign — a tactical shift and a calculated in his uphill campaign to replace President Johnson-Sirleaf while the Boakai camp is portraying the Vice President as the best option for the president but the presence of other heavyweights like LP’s Brumskine, Senator Johnson, ANC’s Cummings, MOVEE’s Jones, or ALP’s Urey have introduced new dynamism in the presidential election. Other candidates have also embarked on a strategy campaigns, focusing on the leeward countries, as part of a broader strategy to draw and win more voters over.

Unfortunately, the precise state of key political players does not support any optimism that any of them is prepared to preform magic if given state power. The ultimate quest of these politicians would be considered as some hopeless utopian expeditionists; they have put into place obscure plans using false innuendos coupled with huge promises to disadvantage the poverty-stricken masses and illiterate population.

But when it comes to campaigns for the presidency, we’ve really only seen one side of Liberian politicians; they all presented their manifestos but these platforms lack detailed policies how they intend to bring about share prosperity and move the country forward. We have not yet experienced their genuineness of these presidential candidates to make the October’s election issues centered and not personality.

In recent time, likeability of these candidates has taken a dramatic turn; they are drawing huge crowd, congregating to these political parties gathering, lavish t-shirts and expensive placards are flying across the country and street corners, while radio stations broadcasts are engulfed with pro and anti- songs, jingles, and messages; the same goes as the various daily publications as pages of newspapers from the banner headlines on the front page to the back pages captions, depicting pro and anti-stories in favor or again a particular candidates.

But the question is: Will majority of the electorates be prepared to make sound decisions or will they continue to trade the ever present chronic tradition of their ballots in exchanged for monetary gain coupled with other most essential materials including a ‘tea spoon full of raw rice to pathetically, but just for few minutes ease their immediate quest and livelihood.

The local media especially radio stations on a large scale regularly betrothed into biased reporting by treating some candidates with favor, while the rest are not given free media access to present their cases to the people, but others have argued that elections require money and publicity is not a cheap business—propounding that elections are money driven, they must be paid for if a particular candidates should get their messages across to the largest voting population.

But in the case of state owned LBS, the situation is different; all candidates have not been treated fairly and given equal space despite the station being national Radio Station owned by the state.  In recent time, various media relating organizations have been conducting self-style polls and statistical models to present a vivid picture of the candidate that the October’s 10th presidential election favored, but the authenticity of their polls remained unknown.

As the world has witnessed in shock over the past year, polls and statistical models do not always come to fruition. If they did, Hillary Clinton would now be president of the United States and David Cameron would still be prime minister of a Brexit-less Britain.       By way of comparison and taking curb from the recent American and French elections, the gulf was never even close to being so large for Trump against Clinton, not even when he was seen as a total outsider upon first announcing his nomination in the summer of 2015.

However, judging by persistent polls, one party cannot win on the first ballot, however, two candidates, CDC’s Weah and UP’s Boakai are at the threshold of power but they all have odds. They are leading an improbable quest to become the heir to President Johnson-Sirleaf. They have seen daylight and are confident to cause a major upset, but the unpredictability of Liberian voters remain a standing factor in the way of candidates.  One of these parties, in the 2017 presidential election is likely to be the king or the kings-maker, a trophy colonized by Senator Prince Johnson as evident in the 2011 elections.

Many are of the conviction that if the presidential election ended into a run-off between CDC and UP, the king-makers in the process would be Cummings, Jones, Urey, Brumskine and Senator Johnson.  But the question is which of the two—CDC and UP, which will these political heavyweights give their supports? Will they keep the UP’s longevity for additional six years of 18 year rule or will they go for an opposition win over the ruling party?  According to some political pundits, ANC and Senator Johnson will go toward supporting UP’s Boakai while others including Jones, Urey and other might support CDC’s Weah; others pundits expressed optimistic that LP’s Brumskine would support a opposition ticket.

Despite the Unity Party’s obvious twelve years successes in some areas, unambiguous strategies for electorates for the third times to reward the party remains a challenging task to overcome in this year poll. The UP has its own in-house unfavorable political situation-it is the party’s establishment versus the party’s base with the based firm behind Veep Boakai backed by the boakai’s Movement. But the question is can Boakai win without the steady involvement of the party establishment which was credited for the two successive elections?

This situation is not only limited to ruling UPP but cut across all political parties in the 2017 presidential race.  In recent time, there has been party’s establishment and based crossing carpet from one party to another, seeking political accommodations and relevant. But a question from skeptics is when will this generation of politicians ever learn?

This election will be won by an influential presidency candidate who has the well-organized political chemistry in place across the country, one who came with the reservoir of ideas and the inspiration to play on the emotions of the exasperated voting population and also be able to make the election people centered oriented; one who will speak thought on issues affecting of bulks of the populace.

Unfortunately, the issue of vote buying is greatly impacting these elections and might leads to the wrong people being elected public offices of trust. In a poor country like Liberia, politicians know how to play on the vulnerability of poverty stricken electorates, most of whom have no means of livelihood.

These politicians take advantage of poor electorates’ weaknesses and their hardships in life. That is why even when the act is illegal and unlawful, like selling votes; they instantly resort to it to easily come up with a solution to their problem, like poverty. On the long run, the vote buying mow becomes a stepping stone for corruption where the wrong people are given power because of the financial power.

Vote buying involves the individual, immediate, and private exchange of goods, services, or cash for electoral support, usually in violation of legal norms; vote buying can be categorized into two types: direct vote buying and indirect vote buying. Both types, according to researchers on elections are widely used mostly in Africa where about seventy-five percent of elections have been questionable.

In a poor country like Liberia, politicians know how to play on vulnerability of poverty stricken electorates most of whom have no means of livelihood; these politicians take advantage of poor electorates’ weaknesses and their hardships in life. That is why even when the act is illegal and unlawful, like selling votes, they instantly resort to it to easily come up with a solution to their problem, like poverty. On the long run, the vote buying will only be a stepping stone for corruption where the wrong people are given power because of the financial power.

In other countries, the people hold their leaders’ feet to the fire to fulfill their promises, but for Liberia, the situation is to the dissimilar. That is why during these electorate processes, the masses are taken for a short ride moreover and very consistently for granted by those seeking their votes; all is squally due to ignorance by our people due to the high rate of illiteracy in the country. The people, bulk of the voting population are taken for granted by the corrupt bureaucrats and crooked most of whom are in leadership.

The current state of the politics of Liberia remain, at best, unwarranted, as there is a wide assumption that the election result would be manipulated in favor of a particular candidates but the reality of this election is that public frustration is high over the failure of politicians to deliver on past promises, there would be a huge   disillusioned voters who abstain could determine the outcome—either play again or favor a particular candidates.

The electoral system allows voters to cast secret ballots, free of intimidation, violence and inducement; it further gives electorates the options to make their choices on the basis of alternative developmental programs instead of primeval issues such as religion, ethnicity, race and personality. It provides for changes in government without violence while power can be transferred from one party to another by means of majority decisions-the highest votes count.

The electoral process-service as a conduit for the nation to move another step forward; provides an opportunity for those eying the presidency to advance their respective strategies, distinctive platforms and manifestos and understanding of state power. The 2017 poll should not be used by avaricious politicians and other bureaucrats to exploit the poverty-stricken masses’ vulnerability; instead it should be classed as a precise movement for positivity in Liberia.

Many are of the conviction that if the presidential election ended into a run-off between CDC and UP, the king-makers in the process would be Cummings, Jones, Urey, Brumskine and Senator Johnson.  But the question is which of the two—CDC and UP, will these political heavyweights give their supports? Will they keep the UP’s longevity for additional six years of 18 year rule or will they go for an opposition win over the ruling party?

It is an indisputable fast that Liberians are yet to see a captivating political character , one whose owns the political chemistry to out rightly win the 2017 presidential election, a character who can removed greater number of poverty-stricken messes from abject poverty to a new level of appreciative livelihood, one that will momentously improve the provisional of basic necessities of life like electricity, paved roads across the country, safe drinking water for a majority of the population, reduce the massive unemployment and create jobs, ensure quality education and available and affordable health care among other necessities of human needs.

But can these essential necessities be visible in the absence of placing state authority in the hands of a  leader-one who lack the political will to conclusively combat corruption and cannot commends greater respect from the population? History tells us that no matter how great a nation is, if the citizens of the nation and other nations began to lose faith in their leaders, that government or leadership could eventually fail as others around the world have in the past.

Some of these prime concerns include lack of quality education and improved health delivery system, growing poverty, destitution and hard cost of living, corruption, lack justice for the poor and rule of law for all, lack of decentralize development, economics viability and empowerment of the poor, security for all and reduce the high prices of basic commodities and merchandises.

Owing to the poverties and destitution prevalent across the country, the indication is the bulk of the electorates will vote with frustration, fury and resentment, as suffering in the country will overplay in the democratic process in 2017. But let it be made clear that in term of substance, the various political parties come with nothing that give much hopes and aspirations, instead the same old story with empty impracticable promises.

Nowadays in Liberia, every Dick and Tom appeared to have solution to the numerous problems facing this country.  Some of these aspirants have not won a Susu Club or community elections while some these fly by night political parties are being hosted in a shared apartment, but yet they want the people of Liberian to trust them with the nation’s highest office; what a national disgrace.

What a political shame for a country with less than four million populations to have twenty presidential candidates and over one thousand candidates for just seventy-five legislative seats for this year’s elections.

Majority of these political parties are, and remain fragile, weaken by either poor leadership or the government in order to keep regime dynasty. Nowadays political parties in the country often function as fly-by-night-venture upon only being active during election periods. Immediately after electoral exercises, these political institutions most often and in some cases, eventually disappeared in thin air while craving through reflection by operating from hand-bags and the back seats of some aging vehicles and unidentified offices.

Generally, political parties and candidates fall far too below the ability to possess the muscles that will propel them to play a cardinal role in influencing public policy and providing checks and balances wherein the government will not operate as an exclusive authority or law and gospel unto its self and not being answerable to the custodians (the people) of power in keeping with the nation’s constitution. These parties are not able to exercise oversight beginning with their members, moreover to run their offices professionally, effectively and smoothly.

Most of these so-called parties are surviving from individual pockets, a result, political institutions especially parties are built around individuals. The parties that are form in this class include the governing Unity Party, CDC, Liberty Party, ALP, UPP, LAP, and several others.

Whenever these individuals whose influences and financial assistance these parties are operating on are no more around, such a party is doomed and definitely will collapse; why? As an evident, this has been the case of several political parties such as the TWP, NPP, UPP, LUP, LAP and NDPL.  But a question from skeptics is when will that generation of politicians ever learn?   Author By: Josephus Moses Gray at Email” graymoses@yahoo.com

About the Author: Josephus Moses Gbala-hinnih Gray is an Assistant Professor at the University of Liberia Graduate School. He is a native born Liberian, hails from the Southeastern village of Kayken Chiefdom in Barclayville, Grand Kru County. He is an author, professor, journalist, diplomat and scholar with a wealth of rich credentials. He once worked at the Ministry of Internal Affairs as Programs Coordinator and Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Liberia as Assistant Minister for Public Affairs and later undertook oversea diplomatic post at the Embassy of Liberia in Paris with distinction as a Political Counselor and later appointed as Master Counselor to Geneva at Liberian Permanent to the UN and International Organizations. He is a graduate of the USA ICFA Global Journalism Program in Washington D.C., USA; he  further holds post-graduate diplomas and certificates in International Relations , Journalism, Diplomacy, Foreign Policy Studies, Public Policy, Peace Studies, Digital Media, Conflict Management and Analysis, Project Management and Development Communications, from the United States of America, France, Netherlands, China, Senegal, Ghana, South Africa and Liberia. He has authored two books, published Two Graduate Studies Theses and a 600-page Doctoral Dissertation on the theme: “Geopolitics of African Oil and Energy: China and America New Strategic Interests in Africa”. He has written extensively and published over 45 articles on variety of contemporary issues. He can be contacted at Email: graymoses@yahoo.com

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