Retrospection by Smart News Liberia Political Editor
Liberia situated on the west coast of Africa is the oldest independent state on the continent. It has transformed from one stage to another from a one party to a multi-party nation. It’s very rich in natural resources, yet, one of the poorest and backward in the world.
Its multi-party nature gives the citizens their choices in selecting who must lead their country. Since 1847, the year of independence Liberia has had 24 presidents, yet, the country’s economic state and infrastructures are in ruins.
In the 2017 presidential election which was won by former soccer star, George Weah, there were other contenders that included the Liberty Party’s Standard Bearer, Cllr. Charles Walker Brumskine, who had lined up amongst a list of candidates to succeed Africa’s first female elected president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
Cllr. Brumskine now deceased, ran in the 2005 and 2011 presidential elections and lost. He said he failed because he did not effectively communicate his vision for the country and that this time around in the 2017 election, Brumskine said he was running to bring about reconciliation, reform, rebuilding and recovery.
He urged other opposition candidates to unite and stop what he called the “hegemony” of the ruling Unity Party from wining its third consecutive presidential election.
In unveiling his vision, Brumskine said: “I am running because we do have a vision to lead our country and a commitment to serve our people. Our vision is based on what we call the 4Rs – reconciliation, reform, rebuild, and recovery.”
These are the four pillars of our platform that will take us into the next stage that Liberia should be in for its development,” he added.
Brumskine took responsibility for why his party did not do well in the last two presidential elections.
“As the leader of my party and a candidate myself, I take responsibility for the lack of success in our first two attempts. And I believe it basically had to do with not having communicated effectively our vision for the country of Liberia,” he said.
He indicated that by announcing his candidacy almost a year and a half before the next election, Liberians will know about his party’s platform and gravitate towards it.
There have been speculations that Brumskine was considering teaming up with Liberian football legend George Weah’s Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) party.
Weah had taken second place in the last two presidential elections.
Brumskine said he would have been willing to let go his own presidential aspiration to join with other opposition parties and come up with a single candidate.
But he said it is a decision that must be made by all parties, and that whoever is chosen as the candidate must be able to win the respect and trust of the Liberian electorates.
“It is our desire to work with every opposition political party and opposition politician to ensure that we together can succeed in 2017,” he noted.
“The Unity Party has won two consecutive elections. We must make sure they do not win a third election. Otherwise, the opposition in Liberia could crumble and then we will become a one-party state again, something that no one wants,” Brumskine told supporters at the time.
Liberia’s economy is still struggling to rebound years after the end of the country’s civil war. It struggles with a high unemployment rate. And the Ebola epidemic had also effectively slowed economic growth.
Brumskine said he will leave it up to Vice President Boakai to defend the record of President Sirleaf’s government, which has been in power nearly 10 years.
Nevertheless, he said the vision and programs of a Brumskine government will be different from the Sirleaf government.
“For example, our philosophy of government, we do not believe that government is the solution for everything. We believe that the private sector is the driving force for growth and development in any economy,” Brumskine said.
“We want to make sure that education is dealt with differently by having teachers trained, by creating incentives for qualified people to get into the classrooms for our children and creating a learning environment for them,” he added.
Brumskine stated his government’s health policy would have focused on the clinical aspect as opposed to what it is today.
The former Liberty Party’s standard bearer had a vision for the Liberia constitution, at the time the nation had begun debating amendments to the country’s constitution.
For example, a constitutional convention held in April in central Liberia endorsed an amendment to make Liberia a Christian country.
The delegates approved an amendment limiting terms: presidential office, from six to four years; senators, from nine to six years, and representatives, from six to four years.
They also said the superintendents of the 15 counties or political subdivisions should be elected by the people as opposed to be being appointed by the president.
Brumskine said he supports the de-concentration of power to give the average Liberia a chance to have a say in the running of his or her government.
But he said those who support the idea of having superintendents elected by the people should take into consideration the impact it could have on the country’s economy.
“A consideration should be given to whether or not we elect our superintendents because if we were to elect superintendents that would mean the superintendent will not be reporting to the president,” he said.
“If you have superintendents elected, you have to have 15 county legislatures to whom the superintendents will have to report. We may not be able to afford that economically, at least for now,” he added.
However, Brumskine said decentralization can come about if Liberia reinstates the election of city mayors and tribal chiefs.
Cllr. Brumskine also had a vision to combat corruption. A vision that he said would have robustly dealt with it in a form and manner that would have discouraged its practice in the country.
He said his zero tolerant on corruption would have been a disincentive for the menace. But he got defeated in the hands of Weah in his third race for the highest office of the nation.
The Liberty founder unfortunately died of illness with his vision for Liberia after a third defeat in seeking Liberia’s top post. The questions remains: Could Cllr. Charles Walter Brumskine’s Dream change anything in Liberia?