By: Duannah Siryon
The advent of the 2017 Presidential and General Elections in Liberia has brought about exciting times for Liberians both at home and abroad. This excitement stems from the fact that for a lot of Liberians, this is a time where one can freely choose sides and express their political will [of sorts]. Of recent, we see lots of people distracting themselves from the key strategic imperatives of the 2017 elections in Liberia and are rather focused mainly on debates as if debates alone can make someone win an election. We do not know how soon they have forgotten that Hilary Clinton did win all the debates in the 2016 US presidential election but – lost to Donald Trump.
Now, what is important to note is that the US has more sophisticated electorates than Liberia and – more people do pay attention to the debates than in Liberia but then, the results in those elections showed that while Hilary Clinton was winning the debates, Trump was winning the votes.
What is more stupefying in Liberia is that fewer than 10% of the electorates really pay attention to debates of any kind. Actually, most of those who listen to the debates already have a side and only want more reasons to support their side; but the debates rarely swing 1 per cent of those paying attention.
Besides, in the case of Liberia, if we want to decide the elections by debate, we say please end the process and give the presidency to Dr. H. Boima Fahnbulleh. It is that simple. Who amongst the 20 candidates can stand Dr. Fahnbulleh in any kind of debate? Even if the debates were in Kissi, Dr. Fahnbulleh would win Joe Boakai or if it were in Bassa, he would win Brumskine.
Additionally, Dr. Fahnbulleh is the person with the most history of “the struggle” with an understanding of the issues that confront us, but is he a leader? If leadership is not by educational attainment or oratory skills, then let the Liberian people decide who better fit to lead them is. And from some internal polling that we have seen, the Liberian people seem to be looking for someone who they believe loves this country. In such a case, there is no amount of debating that can make that case; the people have lived with each of these candidates and have followed their track records and know whose life story demonstrates “love for country.” The ordinary people believe that if someone loves this country, everything else will fall in line.
Here’s free advice to the strategists and campaign consultants: stop spending your energy on the least important things and focus more on what matters. Most, if not all of the debate coordinators have partisan leanings and all the responses at the debates are rehearsed anyway – so what is all the fuss about? The recent withdrawal of the PUL from the process underlines this fact. You and your candidates should be spending time making your case to the Liberian people who do not have TV, Radio or internet and, also do not have the time to listen or watch.
The Liberian Presidency is More than a Debate! Got it?