He writes that come October 10, 2017, the day on which Liberia’s General & Presidential Elections will be held, will be “The Day that marks the beginning of the End of our (Liberia’s) political Problems”. Mr. Keita argues, in detail:
a) “That Electoral syndrome (yearning & desire by the citizens to vote) is seen in the bodies of previous . . . and first time voters, it is seen in the slums and ghettoes of our cities, towns and villages . . . on the faces of market women and shoe-shine boys . . . and in the words of the poor and the rich, the strong and week;
b) That “one thing that is inevitable is that this syndrome will, somehow, dwindle on October 10 this year . . .”;
c) “That there has never been a time more crucial in our history than the 2017 elections is crucial . . . because it provides a cutting-edge opportunity for Liberia to prove . . . that . . . the ballots are more powerful than the bullets . . . human society is only helped when people choose their own leaders . . .”;
d) That “the people, too, sometimes, make miss-informed decisions regarding leaders to elect . . . Liberia’s ability to run her own affairs was experimented 12 years ago . . . that brought . . . Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf as Africa’s first female President . . . there evolved a kind of ‘optimistic majority’ soon . . . became the ‘unhappy majority’ and finally entered an era of the ‘noisy minority’”;
e) “The questions are (1), how long will this continue; and (2), are we . . . prepared to move forward? If we are, then October 10 or November 8, 2017 is the only day we have to do so” – make the decision at the ballot box with commitment for action.
Because Mr. Keita did no express, explicitly and pointedly, the apparent conditionality of his conclusion and the audience to which his message is addressed, our comments are of the sort of a “friend of the court of public opinion” in so far as we navigate the relevant, critical issues, including reflections on some of our past, recent past history, and present-prevailing activities.
Mr. Keita says that “October 10, 2017” - this day on which Liberia goes to the polls to elect the next socio-cultural, economic and political leadership of the Nation for 6 or 12 years - “is the Day that Marks the Beginning of the End of Liberia’s or our political Problems”. This is a profound political statement, a powerful message on the critical issues of the day.
But we wonder, as indicated, to whom is this crucial, powerful message is addressed – the Liberian people, the voting-age Body Politic that will elect the nation’s political leadership for the next 6 or 12 years or the very few Political Ruling Class (including the emerged/emerging ethnic-indigenous citizens and dual citizens), but that information is explicitly absent.
The other troubling issue is the apparent conditionality or the basis for this powerful political conclusion that is not clearly, precisely expressed, although Mr. Keita dilly-danced with “syndrome dwindled, ballots are more powerful than the bullets, the people, too, sometimes, make miss-informed decisions regarding leaders to elect, experimented 12 years ago . . . that brought . . . Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf as Africa’s first female President . . . there evolved a kind of ‘optimistic majority’ soon . . . became the ‘unhappy majority’ and finally entered an era of the ‘noisy minority’; and make the decision at the ballot box with commitment for action”.
We pose these questions and raised the related issues because one of Liberia’s major problems is Leadership, Political Leadership, to be precise, and the lack or absence of the “guts”, “political will” or the “courage”, as one of the major obstacles, to describe political problems precisely and fully – names (actors & victims), dates, places, objects of contention, and the political dynamics of who says or does what to whom, where, when, why, how and the context of these dynamics.
The answers to the questions and the precise statement on the related issues are crucially important because they relate to political problem of leadership and inability:
a) “To tell it like it is”, be precise and definitive in describing a given problem, assess blame openly for poor performance - the voters or the elected government - and let the chips fall where they may;
b) Problem-solving, but addicted to blame-games, characterized by ethnic bigotry and ethnic exclusivity, grounded in the historical cesspool of graft, greed, public/private dishonesty and corruption, historically-rampant, but now roaring;
c) Profound, complete and comprehensive lack of professional qualifications/performance or benign neglect to achieve and deliver public services.
For one century and a half or 20 years more than 150 years up to this day, Liberians have gone to the polls at lawfully-regulated periods, as it is now planned for October 10, 2017, and “elected” political leaderships, but there has been, and there is, no socio-economic and political improvement, only worse – hunger, lack of healthcare, poverty, illiteracy, war, mind-boggling human suffering, death, destruction, and ultimate, cruel victimization of the voters, the body politic, in the consciously-planned condition, characterized by public/private dishonesty, lies, deceit, thievery, profound questionable performance and decadent, moral behavior on the part of and by the very few political leaders in the past, recent past times and present-prevailing, latest being the 2014 senatorial elections with continuing, disastrous results.
Given the validated evidence of the foregoing past, recent past and the present-prevailing of no improvement, it is necessary that Mr. Keita cite new evidence (of developed/developing events constituting the), the apparent conditionality in his analysis and prediction that decision at the polls “on October 10, 2017 Marks” or will “mark the Beginning of the End of Liberia’s political Problems.
From all indications - socio-cultural, economic and political – preoccupations, now prevailing, show no positive expectations that are likely for the future from the forthcoming “democratic” general and presidential elections come 2017. Today’s “preoccupations” are many and compelling, characterized, mainly, by inordinate desire for political power perceived to be associated with wealth, etc., achieved by selective obedience-disobedience to Law, deceit, falsehood, and, “above all else”, dishonesty & thievery.
The Year, 2017 Destination
Elsewhere, we noted that the Year 2017, the “Destination Finale” of Liberia’s forthcoming, “democratic”, general and presidential elections, marks celebration of Liberian “political/economic democracy” from 1847 to the present elections which have become the nation’s intriguing, political phenomenon, the perception of wallowing deeply in the glory of the “feel-good”, of “I chop, you chop, they chop”; the dee-deebas & mango-mangos; issues of “cold water”, the “kola” and consummation of it all.
The Road, Politics or “Poli-tricks”, to 2017 destination, incorporates notions of some of the expected “feel-goods”, although it (the road) is loaded with real, devastating challenges of sorts - laterite, unpaved, potholes, dusty during the dry seasons and muddy during the rainy seasons, with driving lanes not only unclear and undefined, but also appropriated by several, road impediments, including multitude of street merchants. Also the Road (Politics or Poli-tricks) has its share of unexpected curves - uncontrolled, no police-traffic patrol, dangerous and deadly, although this Road to the 2017 is the popular choice of the high & mighty, leaders and members of the increasing, multiplicity of undistinguished “political” parties, undistinguished in political and philosophical terms; ethnic/tribal “political” parties organized and managed along ethnic/tribal lines, presently, twenty-two and counting, in the small country of less than 4 million people and 16 ethnic/tribal groups, or 1.4 political parties per tribe, a joke in international, political comparative terms!!
The major travelers-users of this Road to 2017 are the declared and undeclared candidates for president or “presidential hopefuls” who, at this 11th hour of the elections, are all unknown quantities, because none of them has, yet, published or presented a comprehensive, descriptive, political party literature or policy document - the traditional campaign Manifesto – of party plans and programs, indicating the social contract with the people, so to speak. In a representative democracy, such as ours, the Right-to-vote, particularly, in the selection of important public officials - mayors, town, clan, paramount chiefs and superintendents of counties, for example - is not a privilege, but an inalienable right that inheres to adult citizens by virtue of their citizenship.
Since 1847, that right has been and is denied citizens of the counties. Federalized Decentralization seeks to make that right available to the overwhelming majority of Liberian voters. But we have heard nothing in support/denial from the 2017 presidential hopefuls.
Some of these announced “presidential candidates” are known citizens or permanent residents of foreign countries who bought and maintain homes and families, permanently, in those foreign countries. They do not, even, live here, but earn fabulous incomes and pay rent here. That says volumes about allegiance, loyalty and patriotism of these “politicians” to the Republic - the basic criteria-requirement by which political solidarity of the state with citizen and the citizen with state, is judged. For any political “animal”, this solidarity is crucial. The “presidential hopefuls” talk, talk and talk about “fight corruption”, but do not say how, because they are all corrupt.
These and many others are the reasons why it is necessary, indeed mandatory, that Mr. Keita provide direct, explicit, concrete, validated evidence in his analysis and prediction for the future which, incidentally, rests in the hands of the young people, including himself (just 18 years old or there about), in the light of the prevailing socio-economic and political realities in our country.
Now get this: It is very important that we note that, almost, all “announced candidates”, for president of Liberia, premised their future governments, if elected, on 1847 or 170-year old assumptions - outdated, obsolete unitary structure of government, a structure that is not, any longer, valid or relevant to the socio-cultural, economic and political realities of the Liberia of today’s 21st century, pro-democracy, world culture, world-wide.
For no other reason, for crying out loud, one would think, that any reasonable public administrator or democratic politician, answerable to the citizens, would seek to implement change, with reforms, in the light of doing the same thing for a century with disastrous results. For, throughout 170 years, successive, Liberian, political leaderships and derivatives, held on to the unitary structure, while the nation becomes a “failed State”.
Now, we are told by the national, public policy theorists & counselors, the powerful Governance Commission, that “Liberia shall remain a unitary state with a system of local government and administration which shall be decentralized with the county as the principal focus of the devolution of power and authority (Section 1.0, page 2, National Policy on Decentralization & Local Governance, January 2011)”. Arguably, perhaps, the Governance Commission is holding back some critical reasoning that we and the public should know.