With Nahdee Droh-Juu
When veteran conservative Liberian journalist, Dr. Abdoulaye Dukule wrote analytically in 2018, titled – “Why UP ‘We’ Lost?” – he was reminiscing the lows, highs and missteps of the main opposition Unity Party in the 2017 general and presidential elections. As though that didactically constructed article was not a sufficient reminder for the UP to put its house in order – complacency, the entitlement mindset and refusal to put its act together occasioned the former ruling party.
When deceased and highly revered Biafra ideologue, Chukuwuemeka ‘Emeka’ Odumegwu Ojukwu wrote in his famous book entitled: “Because I am Involved…” – he dedicated a subsection titled “The President Who Never Was” to analytically critiquing Obafemi Jeremiah Oyenini Awolo of the Unity Party of Nigeria dismal defeat to Shehu Shagari in Africa’s most popular nation’s 1983 general and presidential elections.
Awolo was consumed by the baseless illusion that he was the favorite in the 1983 elections and failed to run his campaign strategically in order to win. Arrogance for the most part, inundated Obafemi Awolo’s quest for the presidency to the extent that he turned out to be another Julius Caesar who blatantly refused to listen to any other advisory other than his parochial inner being. Awolo appeared at rallies amid scorching sun and crudely addressed crowds that had been awaiting him for several hours. Winning elections in any part of the world are about strategies, effective mobilization across the broad spectrum, reaching out to just everyone, focusing on non-supporters and not those already won over and forging strategic alliances where necessary.
Thinking about Liberia’s Unity Party, one can conspicuously draw a parallel between Ojukwu’s solid analysis about the President who never was in Obafemi Awolo’s Unity Party of Nigeria. The Unity Party went to the 2017 elections ill-prepared strategically. After 12 years of Unity Party’s reign, the direction of the party’s militant cum revolutionary arsenal at outgoing President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was misguided and untenable as it were. Like her or hate her, it took Madam Sirleaf’s commitment and courage to resuscitate a nearly dying Unity Party. Her expulsion was unwise and ill-conceived.
Liberians for whatever the reason sought to experiment with power by electing the George Weah-led Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) in 2017 following a run-off. The attendant consequences of varied predictions that preceded the 2017 elections regarding Weah’s ill-preparedness to govern – soon became obvious. Weah and his CDC gang’s question to lead an administration thrust on so-called “Change for Hope” turned out to be occasioned by rampant corruption, state-sponsored reign of terror, extra-judicial killings and lawlessness.
With barely three months to crucial October polls, the Unity party has not learned from the reeling defeat of 2017. All they seem preoccupied with are huge crowds assemblies at rallies and purported numbers. We saw those crowds in 2017 just as we did with preposterous numbers theories. Credible reports from the ground tend to suggest that very little is happening in terms of reaching where the votes actually are. If the opposition is serious about unseating Weah, it cannot happen through laissez-faire chicanery.
In elections, you don’t take anything for granted. Every precinct counts; every district matters and every ally and alliance must be forged. You don’t stop winning hearts and minds until elections are over. Don’t waste valuable time with Facebook posts when the vast majority of our people have no access to the internet. Boots must be in every hamlet, village, township, district and county. There isn’t enough time to keep unnecessarily sitting in Monrovia – when the electorates across the country cannot feel your presence. Endorsements are not gate passes to winning elections. The work that must be done must happen in the war rooms and felt on the ground – where the foot soldiers ought to be.