Liberia’s prime democratic advancement and a think tank institution, the Naymote Partners for Democratic Development is pleased to release its 3-year monitoring report on President George Weah’s performance against promises made during and after the 2017 elections. The report covers the period January 2018 to December 2020. With three years in power, the findings from the President Meter Project indicate that the Weah-led administration needs to do more, increase the speed of implementation, and promote smart budgeting to meet targets if they are to live up to the promises made during the campaign, inauguration, and other public events. Based on available data and records, out of 113 promises tracked, 9 promises were completed constituting 8%, 54 promises constituting 48% are ongoing, and 50 promises constituting 44% have not started or not rated due to limited or lack of available data to assess progress made towards implementation.
Governance and Transparency, the fourth pillar of the party’s manifesto, remains the weakest pillar. Twenty-three (23) promises were tracked, and none completed, 12 promises are ongoing, 11 not started or not rated due to lack of available information. There is no available data on action taken towards five (5) promises made on physically challenged and senior citizens.
There was no available information on actions taken on the following promises:
- Provision of adequate and special attention to vulnerable students with a history of misconduct, learning and physical disabilities.
- Submission for passage of the Liberia Technical Vocational Education and Training Commission Act.
- Establish in communities within various counties a viable adult literacy program for rural farming and market women.
- Construction of 7 modernize mini soccer stadiums across 7 counties, capitals,
- Infrastructural development remains a major development priority for the CDC-led government. Out of 20 promises tracked, 3 promises have been completed, 10 are ongoing and 7 have not started or not rated due to the lack available date.
- 5. Ensure the provision of free medical service and recreation centers for senior citizens beyond the age of 70 years etc.
Election promises made during political campaign period form the basis for a social contract between the voters and aspirants. This contract, wherein candidates promise to perform certain actions in return for the votes of citizens always needs to be respected and adhered to. The votes that George Weah received place an obligation on him to deliver on those things that he promised. Political accountability is an essential element in ensuring that politicians are held to account for promises that they make during campaign period and those they make when elected.
Liberians, like others across the globe, are used to seeing political promises broken. Since the end of the civil war in 2003, Liberia has held three presidential and legislative elections, which have produced two presidents – Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and George Manneh Weah. In each of their inaugural speeches, there were common threads: ending Liberia’s long crisis; fighting corruption, increasing access to social services, ending poverty, improving the economy, increasing food production, and fostering national reconciliation and healing – building a framework of a solid social contract between the electorate and their elected officials. Most of their speeches, campaigns and inaugural messages equally had common themes as well. However, many of the pledges were broken – either actions taken were not enough or in extreme cases, no actions were taken at all.
The aim of the President Meter Project is to inform citizens on the performance of President Weah against promises made and to improve communication between the governed and the government in a sustained manner. This is intended to mainstream the voices of citizens in how the country is being governed against the background that most governments come to power on the rhetoric of change. In many instances, voters believe that change will take place.
Eddie D. Jarwolo, the Executive Director of Naymote Partners for Democratic Development believes the “norm” where campaign and post-election promises continue to be broken increases the risk of voters’ apathy about politics and trust in their elected officials. For decades, Liberians have, by-and-large, put up placidly with the status quo as they struggle with limited access to quality social services, poor road infrastructures, unemployment, and varying forms of inequalities.
The dramatic victory of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) in the 2017 presidential election suggested that the tide may finally be turning. At least, for the first time ever, presidential power was wrested from a ruling party, overturning the prevailing mindset that an incumbent government never loses power during an election. To secure that win, however, President Weah made a lot of promises to Liberians, which were promptly, and accurately documented by the Naymote Partners for Democratic Development and other Liberians. To ensure that he keeps to them, NAYMOTE, with support from the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) launched the President Meter in 2018 to track the progress made by the new government on its promises and policies.
This report tracks and document campaign promises and policies and to use the outcomes to stimulate public discourse This discussion is part of ensuring that voters have a voice in reviewing the social contract keeping the attention of citizens fixed on the cycle of governance from election to end-of-tenure. Ongoing citizens engagement delve to suggest that the Liberian democracy is pointing in the direction that Liberians want a president who either meets his or her promises or is honest and forthcoming about any challenges he or she encounters as he or she battles to do so. The previous norm where anybody can break the social contract and live happily with it is no longer an option.
Link to full report https://bit.ly/39A7m7d
Eddie D. Jarwolo