An Opinion by Jacob N.B. Parley
Liberians at home and in the diaspora continue to take tangible and practical actions aimed at elevating their country’s democratic credentials since the end of a brutal civil war that claimed an estimated 250,000 innocent lives.
In this context, the author is making reference to the country’s 4th running peaceful and transparent elections; 2005, 2011, 2017 and the most recent (2023). As we all may know, the first two post war elections (2005 and 2011) were won by Madam Ellen Johnson- Sirleaf, 2017 by ex- international football icon, George Manneh Weah, while the most recent (2023) was won by an astute Liberian statesman and cultured politician, Ambassador Joseph Nyumah Boakai on 14th November.
The January 22, 2024 Inaugural Ceremony, where Ambassador Boakai is expected to formally take over from outgoing President George Manneh Weah will proudly be reflected in history as the second time for a democratic transfer power in Liberia since 1944.
Still providing a condensation about how far we have come in terms of ongoing efforts to cultivate the seeds of democracy, it means the 2018 inaugural ceremony marked 74 years for this glorious land of liberty by God’s command to have witnessed a democratic transfer of power.
As those who have been following these positive developments in Liberia’s democratic history may know, the first was in 2018, when President Weah took over from Madam Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf at an elaborate program at the Samuel Kanyan Doe Sports Complex, Paynesville, Monrovia, Liberia.
Putting it in another perspective, these constructive efforts are meant to sustain the gains made since the country and its people started testing the political waters through the ballot box instead of the years of wanton destruction, when, peharps, the only available theater where the popularity of those vying for state power could be tested was the force of the gun.
On the basis of these notable developments, I would once more like to say thanks to God, our Creator, in the first place for His grace and protection upon us as a country, the international community for its active support in helping to restore peace to a land that was once torn apart as a result of civil war. It will be a miscarriage of justice if I do not also commend all of us (Liberians) for embracing peace and development over continued destruction, disunity, exclusion, etc., as clearly demonstrated since the 2005 electoral process.
Taking a rational flight to the days when this glorious land of ours was like a problem child in the West African Sub-region and beyond, it is fair enough to indicate that we are ready and determined more than ever before to sustain the gains made as Liberia graciously looks forward to celebrating 21 years of uninterrupted peace in August this year.
Now the Mean Issue
President-elect, Joseph N. Boakai ran his campaign on the mantra of rescuing the country and its entire citizenry from what he keeps describing as bad governance.
Prior to being elected in 2023, Ambassador Boakai served as Vice President to Madam Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf on the ticket of the Unity Party for twelve organizing years.
During the campaign, he repeatedly said and continues to assure Liberians of running a government of inclusion. “I am aware that it is impossible to find all the best minds and talents within a single party to build and develop Liberia, “President-elect Boakai acknowledged in one of his public statements.
However, the key reason for this opinion is to undertake a liberal analysis of the apparent emergence of two schools of thought about how the President-elect goes about in tackling the daunting challenges confronting Liberians. Reading through the pages of several local dailies, key supporters of Ambassador Boakai are said to be propounding different approaches about how the incoming government responds to the needs and aspirations of the Liberian people who felt disappointed by the outgoing CDC-led government, thereby voting it out on 14th November, 2023 during a runoff process after the first phase of voting on 10th October, 2023 failed to produce a winner.
As mentioned in one of my previous paragraphs, President-elect Boakai’s administration, though still in its formative stages appears to be facing a challenge about how to proceed with conducting the affairs of the state as some staunch supporters the incoming administration are said to be divided over the process, with one group embarking on what seems to be an early awareness on encouraging Liberians to manage their expectations, considering the huge challenges ahead of the incoming administration, while the other side is believed to be calling for the institution of contingent measures directed toward delivery of campaign promises.
Media and political analysts strongly believe that the situation at bar is a serious one, the fact that those who are said to be leading these two opposing debates are very close to President-elect. Also taking into account that each side of the current political debate has a lot of flowers, there is fear that the matter could lead to some distraction for an incoming government that is anxiously being looked up to for adequate, effective and judicious delivery of basic social services, especially in the context of the Rescue Mission.
Since the two schools of thought emerged, some have described them as a division among some key members of the incoming government. Those who are referring to the situation as a form of division may be right as they are entitled to their right to comment on the ongoing national discourse.
For some of us, we do not see the ongoing debate as a complete division, but the clash of ideas, a prodigy that plays a pivotal role in solidifying the culture of divergence in politics or democracy.
In my candid opinion, the ongoing clash of ideas could put the incoming administration out of focus in adopting a straight-forward approach to address the startling challenges confronting the Liberian people.
Considering what is being heard that those who are pushing these two political arguments have close proximity to President-elect Boakai, there is a need for urgent action to calm the political storm, especially for an incoming leadership that must put in ample time and concentration on delivery of campaign promises rather than the ongoing clash over political platitudes.
The author wishes not to insinuate that the incoming government does not have any spelt-out agenda that will be used to conduct the affairs of the state.
However, taking into account the song that was sung by Liberians during the 2023 electoral process, as elevated on the various airwaves, the pages of local dailies, discussions from street shoulders, etc., the expectations of the Liberian people are very high. I am therefore afraid that the call for managing expectations may be an uphill task.
I wish to therefore admonish the incoming government not to treat the issue of urgent, adequate and effective delivery of campaign promises with less attention as doing so could lead to early disappointment and frustration among the citizenry.
The concept of managing expectations uninterruptedly may hit against a political sedimentary rock. In this case, appointment of people who are well-schooled in the virous areas, as repeatedly mentioned by President-elect Boakai, among others, will help in producing tangible results than those who will take longer time to learn on the job.
In the author’s opinion, any failure to adopt an immediate and workable approach directed toward addressing these challenges could lead to early rise of political temperature, especially among an already impatient population.
About the author:
Jacob Parley is a Liberian media professional, with over twenty-five years of extensive practice, both print and electronic. He is a Former Vice President of the Press Union of Liberia, Former News Director; Editor-in-Chief, Executive Mansion Correspondent, etc. (Liberia Broadcasting System). He earned a Post Graduate Diploma in Modern Development Diplomacy from the Gabriel L. Dennis Foreign Service Institute, carries over ten journalism certificates, two of which were earned from the People’s Republic of China, etc.
He’s reachable through: email@example.comfirstname.lastname@example.orgContacts: +231777604576/886560455 WhatsApp: +231881336137