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

Liberia’s Maturing Nascent Democracy Versus The People’s Power…

By Ekena Nyankun Juahgbe-Droh Wesley

When the year 2006 birthed a new political dispensation after nearly 14 years of anarchy, little did we know that the Accra Comprehensive Peace Accord had elevated the quest for lasting peace in the small West African nation. Our conflict did not end on the battlefield. So, retired U.S. Army General Chris Pattern was right! No war has ever ended on the battlefield.

In spite of an aggressively vitriolic opposition that greeted the election of Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, what became self-evident ostensibly, amounted to a litmus test for Liberia’s newfound democracy. In opposition, the recently decimated Congress (Coalition) for Democratic Change (CDC), radically held the Ellen-led Unity Party government’s feet to the fire. Of course, the trimmings of democracy as it were.

The new Johnson Sirleaf-led regime opened the floodgate amid the mushrooming of print and electronic media institutions unheard of in the country’s history. Whatever happened to the once powerful and vociferous civil society voices remains inexplicable to date. Unravelling the mystery would be a welcomed development as it were.

Surely, there were tough cum frosty moments between thee media and the government resulting to court cases let alone the incarceration of FrontPage Africa’s editor, Rodney D. Sieh, the forced closure of the National Chronicle newspaper of Philibert Brown and clampdown on politically disruptive social/political commentator, Henry Costa. But the media failed to wither in its sacred responsibility to educate and inform the population – although its critics believe some elements within had become tools of reckless compromise.

Despite the fierce challenges faced by the Sirleaf-led administration; the media enjoyed greater freedoms and invariably became the vehicles through which the people aired their views and vented their frustrations for greater equality, access and participation. The ambiance for tolerance was not in short supply. 12 years on the throne of the governance pedestal was not rosy.

The somewhat vibrant opposition and proactive media gave President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf the run for the change promised in the bid for the presidency. Whether we all agree or perhaps some would unmistakably disagree, former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf will be remembered for creating the unfettered space to enhance Liberia’s newest democratic configuration.

After two successive terms, the country witnessed a locus shift in political power. A masses-driven movement dubbed as the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC), inherited the mantle of authority. A bunch of political cum leadership neophytes took over the reins of authority. In six years, Liberia witnessed the most unpatriotic political caricature ever. Buffoonery had characterized that national leadership theatre. A so-called populist-led leadership ran the country like an abandoned corn plantation in a free-for-all craze.

As the country descended into abyss of incompetence, lawlessness and misrule compounded by lack of jobs, mysterious uninvestigated murders, clampdown on voices of dissents, proponents of extreme loyalty and inherent sycophancy clapped on in total disbelief to the extent that retired football star, George M. Weah was heralded as Liberia’s best President since 1847. Gosh! The trappings of an insane and politically bereft baptismal stupidity to the highest level ever.

In the midst of hopelessness, the masses remained acutely aware that the ‘day of the Jackal was at hand. Lest the governors forget, the power inherent in the people was unshackled! Weah and his band of thieves were punished for recklessly governing the country amid disgrace and disorderliness in the just concluded November 14, 2023 runoff.

The newest cus supposedly political ‘messiah’ on the block is two-term Vice President under the Sirleaf administration, Ambassador Joseph Nyuma Baokai. While there might seem an aura of respite as perhaps the case when Weah won the 2017 polls, many Liberians hold the truth that Boakai could do things differently owing to successive missteps. Surely, in view of the extent of irreparable damage done to the country; holistically managing the expectations will be key.

Healing divided wounds must be prioritized across the broad spectrum. The country needs unity above every other consideration. If the jobs must come by, agriculture should garner that push. Revamping Liberia’s broken health and educational systems must be energized. A reserved army of unemployed youths cannot continue to be roaming the country as a bundle of frustration. Punishing the corrupt cannot go unnoticed! Liberia deserves better. We eagerly await the dawn of a new day for a better Liberia.

Ekena Wesley
Delaware County, PA
“The revolution is not an apple that falls when it is ripe. You have to make it fall. – Che Guevera

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