Reflection – Part Two
(SAVING LIBERIA MULTI-PARTY SYSTEM)
BY HUN-BU TULAY
Liberia started as a multi-party system when it thought about applying the tenets of the modern form of governance with its accompanying rules and regulations. The two pioneer parties that participated in the first presidential election were the Pro-Administration Party of Joseph Jenkins Robert and Anti-Administration Party of Samuel Benedict. The president was determined by the people through a process called “ELECTION”. This process is called the Democratic Process. Article 1 of the Liberian Constitution reads, “All power is inherent in the people. All free governments are instituted by their authority and for their benefits 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 the right at such a period; and in such a manner as provided for under the constitution, to cause their public servants to leave office and to fill vacancies by regular elections and appointments.” Article 1 of the Liberian Constitution is couched in accordance with the doctrine of the French Philosopher Voltaire, who said the people have the Right to change the leadership of the government if their happiness and safety are threatened, for all good governments are constituted for the happiness and security of the people. That security includes the protection of their properties. If they are not happy with the government’s leadership, they change the leadership at regular elections not by the muzzle of the gun but by their inherent democratic power. However, if they are happy and protected, they have the right to maintain the leadership. Voltaire’s philosophical thoughts about government influenced Thomas Jefferson, the father of American Democracy, and Benjamin Franklin who is another great American scientist and Politician. Voltaire also advocated for Free Speech, separation of state and religion and fought against slavery. Unfortunately, the multi-party system in Liberia was destroyed by our late President William V. S. Tubman after the fake assassination attempt on him in 1955. It took Liberia thirty years to restore the multi-party system after the sacrifices of many lives and properties in 1985. Many past Presidents of Liberia have tried to return the country to a one-party system but have failed and called on all Liberians to continue to resist.
Liberia is a very rich country with vast resources. Geographers, Mining Engineers, and Geologists tell us that Liberia is the fifth richest country on the continent. The countries that are richer than Liberia are South Africa, Namibia, Nigeria, and Guinea Conakry. If any sound-minded Liberian were to be elected as President of this country, this would give that person the right and privilege to manage these colossal resources. It would also give him/her enormous power and glory, as well as access to the country’s financial vault. Certainly, every son and daughter of this country wishes to be the leader of Liberia.
The country’s democratic process for the election of the President takes place every six years. Because of the lack of opportunities in the country, children of Liberia, who dream of a better quality of life and improved conditions, travel to many other countries for greener pastures. Some of these sons and daughters often return to the country to participate in these elections with the hope of strengthening the country’s infrastructure, energy, healthcare, transportation, rule of law, security, education, entertainment, etc. The people of Liberia have suffered too long because of the lack of these facilities and services. The people’s life dangled in the balance, and they are looking for good leadership. Many of their sons and daughters have failed them, including the so-called “Iron Lady”. Even the current boy from Gibraltar has not done enough for them. The roads remain deplorable, the health system remains a mess, educational system at its lowest in the history, energy, water and sanitation, solid waste management poorly managed, and the people live in abject poverty. Drug cartels have taken over the country, all functionaries of the country have become incurably corrupt.
This is not to say that the country never had some good leaders. Take for example, the country’s President called Dr. William Richard Tolbert Jr. He had a positive vision and plan for the country; he was called “SPEEDY” by many Liberians. Under his reign, a lot of good things happened but he came too late; the people wanted a change and it happened with him being a victim of circumstances. Today the country has retrograded 50 years in everything and at every level. Those who came after him were even worse in terms of managing the country’s resources. Many of the country’s leaders mismanaged the country’s resources and squandered many opportunities. As rich as Liberia is, it remains one of the poorest countries in the West African Region. Many of those sons and daughters who were given leadership were carried away by personal glorification and greed. These actions of past leaders caused the civil crisis, which caused the death of 250,000 of the country’s citizens and the destruction of many of the basic services, as well as a massive brain drain. People of the country continue to have faith in their sons and daughters and pray that one day they will elect one that will change their lives for the better.
In the 2011, General and Presidential Elections, one of the country’s sons, Rev. Kennedy Gbleyah Sandy returned and participated in the Democratic Process for the second time. The first time, he got 13, 611 votes or a mere 1.13%, and the second time, he got 5, 343 votes or 0.34%. The Revered retired from the country’s politics. Many years later another son, Mr. Alexander Benedict Cummings after spending over 30 years in well-developed kingdoms, returned and participated in two of the country’s elections. During the first election he received a little over 100,000 votes amounting to 7.2%. Six years later, he participated again and this time, received less than 30,000 votes amounting to 1.62%. This son and his supporters believed their votes were not counted because they spent a lot of resources and time for Mr. Cummings to be so massively rejected. He and his supporters forgot to understand that when he contested for the first time, the second face on the ballot contesting with him was a popular individual from a vote rich county, someone who was a former instructor at Cuttington University College in Suacoco, Bong County, one of country prestigious universities of the country. He also served as Minister and Ambassador in government. He had a base, unlike the second face with him on the ballot for the 2023 election.
The faces of individuals on the ballots matter. In its recent history, two faces from a minority group on the same ticket could never win an election in the country for a very long time to come, no matter how competent they are and how much money they spend. Just look at the performance of the banker’s (Mill Jones) ticket in 2017 (Jones & Reeves). The banker provided Micro-Loan to nearly all market women and the Liberia Business Association. The banker’s ticket was rejected because of the faces. This is something that future political aspirant should take note of. The political advisers of Cummings ill-advised him on the selection of a Brumskine.
It seems the people of the country are getting wiser. They are angry and now understand that many of those who were returning from the advanced country and wanting leadership are children or grandchildren of those who looted the country’s resources during an earlier era in the country. They have the economic power, but they need the political power to protect their economic interest. One good example is the case of Nigeria. To win a presidential election in Nigeria now-a-days, the tickets must carry a Christian- Muslim or Muslim -Christian composition.
With reference to this October 10, 2023, presidential elections, no candidate received the required votes to be elected as leader of the country and there will be a RUN-OFF because the law requires that to be elected requires 50% plus one vote. The issues on the ballots are many and history is about to repeat itself in Liberia. It is not new. All historical events repeat themselves. This is just a prologue of the feature “REFLECTION – PART TWO (A KINGDOM AT A CROSSROAD).
In 1943 the country went to a very important election, one political leader (Edwin J. Barclay) made a very fundamental blunder by supporting the candidacy of (William V. S. Tubman Sr.) a 48-year-old candidate for the leadership because he did not want to manipulate the constitution. He supported him despite his obvious acute qualification deficit for leadership. He felt that the 48-year-old candidate would not do as much as he did as a leader and therefore created an appetite for the return of the politician to the leadership. This leader underestimated the 48-year-old candidate. Academically, he was no match to the other candidates (Coleman, Simpson, Dennis, and the list goes on) but he was ‘STREET SMART’. Because of his intent to come back, he recommended the amendment of the requirements for the leaders in the constitution. During the elections, the proposition for the amendment was on the ballot. The election results indicated that the 48-year-old young candidate won the election and the REFERENDUM passed, giving the leader an opportunity to contest for additional four years. Meaning, the leader would be elected for the first term and would contest for another term. When he was elected and began to experience the glamour, power, luxury, and associated benefits enjoyed by the leader, he found it difficult to leave power. He used the country’s resources to buy over the security, lawmakers, and the judiciary. When contested for the third term on the True Whig Party Ticket, there were two other candidates for the presidency (Edwin James Barclay of the Independent True Whig Party, former president and the man that sponsored Tubman presidency and William O. Davis Bright, an Independent Candidate. Tubman saw this as a big threat. And by the end of the second term, all potential sons and daughters were either in jail or became his supporters. He established and ran a TOTALITARIAN REGIME. He became a Tyrant. He could not see himself living in the country as an ordinary citizen. He held on to power up to his demise. To hold on to power, he became corrupt, nepotistic, imperialistic, and a demi-god in the country. Anyone that questioned his authority was arrested and later jailed or killed. Many good sons and daughters of the country were victims of his autocratic rule. Even three sons, who were appointed as regional heads from the Northern, Central and Western Regions were arrested and jailed including Liberia’s Ambassador to Kenya.
As Liberians prepare for the RUN-OFF, they should be mindful of whom they elect. Should they elect a young man or an older man? This is the million-dollar question for all Liberians. If you re-elect someone who has realized the personal benefits associated with the position of President, will this person leave easily if defeated? Our answer is a big NO. He will find it difficult to leave these personal GLORIFICATIONS characterized in the ill-gotten properties and vaunting fame. Would he maintain the lifestyle he has been used to? For example, travelling on a chartered plane or spending 48 days in a five-star hotel, and wasting money while the country’s pending and looming issues such as the Security, Rule of Law, Corruption, Extra Judicial Killing, Bad Roads, Poor Healthcare, Poor Education, High Unemployment, Food insecurity, Energy, Water and Sanitation, Solid Waste Collection (Environment), Wasteful Spending, and other troubling matters are negatively impacting the lives of the people. All of the above are very critical for their survival as a people and country. Liberians should be mindful that there are people who rather see the country in FLAME than honor the democratic process. It is alleged that such people have started looting public offices, and the recent fire incident at the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning is a case in point. Liberians should prepare for the worse in the next few weeks.
Considering what has been happening, do you think the current leader can provide or deliver on all that is required to stabilize the socio-economic status of the country? Is there a possibility that an amendment to the constitution of the country would be made to enable him to continue though he cunningly espoused on many occasions at many international conferences that this should not be the case in Africa? Historical events can repeat themselves; and we would be surprised if they do not because the young leader in question cannot maintain the current lifestyle on his pension and savings from loots. Following his records, no cabinet members dare say the truth to him. In fact, he tells them what to do. We saw this from the Executive Governor of the Central Bank of Liberia many years ago when the governor said, “I will follow the leader’s directive, even if it means putting aside the Act of the Central Bank and doing his will. This is the only opportunity we have to prevent another leader to rule us for 27 years. We cannot miss this opportunity. We need to rally all the registered votes to turn out for the RUN-OFF in order to avoid a repeat of what happened in the country 68 years ago. Political Historians are fully aware of what happened 68 years ago.
We were once in conversation with a friend who wanted to be leader of this kingdom. We asked him why he wanted to be in Liberia. He said to us “IN THIS COUNTRY, THE LEADER CAN MAKE THE COUNTRY PAY FOR THE OXYGEN THE LEADER BREATHES.” The leader controls everything, He is a demi-god”.
We have spoken to some friends; they are worried about the influence of one individual, who they think might influence many decisions. We agreed with them, but that individual will not be the leader of the county. The individual of concern will not control the security and the judiciary and the legislature. He can easily be put to check. It is easier to check-mate one individual than to check-mate a leader that controls the security and has established a private militia with manpower of 1,500 men and his militia is better equipped. A monster is growing under our noses and expanding its tentacles in the country. Currently, the monster’s tentacles were felt in three regions where citizens were injured and some killed. Right now, we the people and our functionaries are more powerful than the monster and his tentacles and we should be ready to act now without asking questions for a peaceful and DEMOCRATIC SOCIETY. We cannot afford to be ruled by an autocratic government. The country has a leader, who sees himself as an EMPEROR of the country. Nobody says no to him. He gets what he wants (any amount of money, women, any car, etc.). This RUN-OFF is about protecting DEMOCRACY or electing an individual that will be Emperor-TYRANT; the CHOICE IS YOURS.
The master plan of the government and its agents if they observe that they are losing are as follow:
- Thwart the democratic process by preventing the announcing of the winner after the Run-off.
- Ask the supporters to go on the streets of cities crying about a stolen election as was done in America.
- Hijacking the process
If they can achieve one of the above plans and ensure that NO ANNOUNCEMENT IS MADE up to three weeks in January of 2024, they will ask for an INTERIM GOVERNMENT. Some social media political pundits are already propagating this idea.
We would like to close with a verse from the Holy Book – the Bible, Mathew 6:33: “BUT SEEK YE FIRST THE KINGDOM OF GOD AND HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS, AND ALL THESE THINGS WILL BE ADDED UNTO YOU.” As we go to the Run-Off, we would equally say to you, you will be voting for your future and those of your children and grandchildren. You will be voting for security, good governance, good education, good healthcare, good roads, tourism, corruption-free society, clean environment, employment, energy, water and sanitation, food security, rule of law and transparent justice system. But if these are not possible, if the MONSTER AND ITS tentacles ARE NOT VOTED OUT. YOU ALREADY VOTED OUT SOME OF THE TENTACLES OF THE MONSTER. THIS RUN-OFF IS ABOUT VOTING HIM OUT.
IF THE OPPOSITION GROUP DO NOT JOIN FORCES THERE WILL NO FUTURE FOR THEM IN 2029 BECAUSE BY THAN THE MONSTER AND ITS TENTACLES WOULD HAVE SPREADED IN ALL POLITICAL SUBDIVISIONS OF THE COUNTRY. UNITE NOW OR SAY GOODBYE TO MULTI-PARTY SYSTEM.
A WORD TO THE WISE IS QUITE SUFFICIENT!!!