The Inquirer is a leading independent daily newspaper published in Liberia, based in Monrovia. It is privately owned with a "good reputation".

Commentary: On County Tours

When I served as Chairperson of National Vision 2030, I had the privilege of touring Liberia with Former President of Liberia Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. As we could not cover each County, the Counties were arranged into five sets: North, South, East, West and Central. Representatives from each sector of society were invited by the President to come to the County Palaver Hut Sittings. So, we toured the Country through five County Capital Cities: Tubmanburg, Bentol, Gbarnga, Zwedru and Barclayville.

As the purpose of the Tour was to understand better the demands of the people of Liberia, especially the poor, for sustainable better living conditions, the Civil Society, including religious bodies, private business, non-governmental and governmental entities were invited by the President to participate in the discussions. Most unfortunately. legislative officials marginalized the poor people, whose voices were not heard.

These are the same officials who say that they abide by the Constitution of Liberia, especially Chapter 1 Article 1 that gives All Power to the People of Liberia, but who want to chair and direct the County Decision-Making Body, the County Council. At one Sitting, the Chairperson of the County Council of Chiefs called for not changing the Superintendent of the County. At other Sittings, government officials called for better Presidential Residences and Town Halls. There were calls for schools but hey showed no concern for the western and irrelevant content of the schools, as education in Liberia was not based on Liberian culture.

A National Conference was held in Gbarnga, Bong County, to coordinate the concerns expressed at the County Sittings and come up with a National Plan. The non-ruling Political Parties at the Conference said that they did not know anything about what was going on there. This was not surprising because these Parties had opportunities in the various Sittings to raise their concerns and they did not do so. Their coming to the National Conference with the “we do not know” posture is typical of them, as seen in their frequent criticisms of the State of the Nation without their exhibiting any records of work done to make the societal situation better.

They are in fact ‘Talking Shops” rather than “Walking Shops” because they do not Walk the People’s Talk. The People continue to talk Poverty Alleviation rather than Poverty Generation!! This is not to say that the State of the Nation is alright. The State of the Nation is not alright because Poverty Generation rather than Poverty Alleviation is the Order of the Day.

This Order of the Day is seen in the Legislators who have access to at least USD1,000 a day and their foreign friends/partners, in the commercial sector alone, who have access to at least USD2 million a day while more than 80 per cent of the people of Liberia, who remain in poverty, have access to at most less than USD2 a day. What Poverty Alleviation record do the Political Parties seeking State power have to show?

With no Poverty Alleviation records to show, these Political Parties do not work to make Liberia better by working to change the electoral system from UNFAIR to FAIR. None of the national leaders, be they religious, economic, social, political or business, supported the Tipoteh versus Korkoya Case, at the Supreme Court of Liberia, which was directed at getting the National Election Commission (NEC) of Liberia to operate according to the Constitution of Liberia.

No wonder when Former President Sirleaf made her last State of the Nation Address, she said that she was leaving the longstanding and widespread problems of corruption and reconciliation with the incoming government to handle because they continued to exist despite efforts to eradicate them. Clearly, the Liberian experience shows that as the House called Liberia remains of Fire, we must not expect the persons who benefit from the fire, as seen in corruption, to bring water to put out the fire. The successful struggle against ebola has shown us that when the Community takes Ownership of the people-oriented process, then we can see the light at the end of the tunnel, meaning that we are moving in the direction of solving the vexing problem.

Therefore, in the face of the masses of the people being marginalized, Community Leaders have to take charge of putting out the fire through awareness raising in ways that motivate people to work together and take non-violent actions to change the electoral system from an UNFAIR one to a FAIR one for persons with good records to be elected to take good actions, actions that will improve the living conditions of the people, especially the poor, sustainably. The Community Action to change the electoral system is urgently needed because the 2023 General and Presidential Election is just around the corner.

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