IN MOST CASES, across regions, nations and kindreds, the dawn of a fresh new year is a source of immense joy for everyone. Certainly for Liberians, crossing over from 2023 to 2024 is a memorable journey for which all have reason to celebrate. It was a period many dreamed and prophesized would mark the return to the country’s ugly past of war, carnage and mayhem. In fact, it would not be a mistake to note that there were some citizens, and foreigners within our borders, who had packed their personal effects to depart the nation in case of any eventuality bordering upheaval. Some actually left. Others might have gathered weapons either to unleash their warring natures and some for self-defense in case of conflict. All this because 2023 embodied the holding of crucial general and presidential elections contested by a well-determined incumbent leadership wanting to maintain power on the one hand and a grimly obsessed opposition promising to leave no stone unturned in its quest to cause the de-election of the incumbency on the other.
ELECTIONS ARE GOOD, a fine recipe of democracy and freedom but a very divisive, chaos-prone exercise. Most countries that are torn by crises today–whether they are on edge expecting the outburst of conflict anytime, or already embroiled in civil war, or now presided over by military junta following a coup, found their respective troubles from holding elections. Liberia’s own civil war had its origin in a chain of crises that evolved after the holding of elections in 1985, when opposition charged the ruling party of stealing the elections. Both the egos of the opposition and the ruling establishment clashed, triggering national events that finally matured into the bloody 14 years of war.
THAT IS WHY when the 2023 elections were emerging on the national calendar, fears seethed and soared, prophecy told, and dooms predicted. With Providence’s eyes on the country, and citizens and foreigners alike demonstrating high sense of civility, the clouds of doom dispersed into the generally peaceful and fair elections celebrated by both the ruling administration and its supporters and the opposition community. With isolated cases of violence, the country survived, its fledgling democracy grew new features of maturity, and the people sighed huge relief.
QUIETLY, PEACEFULLY AND celebratorily entering a new year, averting the perceived and/or real horror possibility, Liberians deserve commendation. And the Analyst wants to use this first editorial in 2024 to pay tribute to all segments of the population for their various unique contributions that made it all possible.
TO ORDINARY CITIZENS of Liberia, the impoverished majority of Liberians, fondly called “the masses of our people” by politicians, the Analyst says, “kudos!”. You are often the victim of misrule, but often cited by political activists and “freedom fighters” as the source of their struggles, but often left as jetsam and flotsam. You mustered the courage in 2023 to remain peaceful, thousands of you were led into the streets for campaign purposes to demonstrate the strength of politicians. For surprising the urge to set things on fire, to go awry, during 2023, we salute you. Entering 2024, we look up to you to temper your expectation for “rescue” with a sense of caution, asking the critical questions but mindful that Rome was not built in one day.
TO YOU THE outgoing leadership, all and sundry officials and stalwarts, we commend you so much for being so patriotic and so democratically mature. We largely owe this day of peace and transition to you. With such a slim margin, barely 25 thousand votes difference, between you and the opposition, you could have maneuvered your way around the results. It would not be the first time in this country or any country for that matter. But you beat your swords into ploughshare, thought about the bigger picture, about Mama Liberia, and calmly bowed out of power. You are heroes to celebrate. You are a legacy to preserve.
AS YOU REVERT to opposition life, we urge you to keep on being constructive in your engagements. We have no doubt you will do so because for 12 years, you demonstrated mature opposition status before you were given the chance in 2017 by the Liberian electorate. You would bounce back. But it is only possible in the face of peace and stability, which cannot be obtained and sustained without your direct support as you are possibly the biggest opposition in the next six years. Keep your calm. The best could come your way again.
TO THE INCOMING administration, we salute you on the occasion of your re-ascendency to power. You had 12 years before, drifted to opposition life and now back to ruling establishment status. There are those who say you shot your way back to power on the platter of lies, evil propaganda and deception. For us, we think that that was better than shooting your way back to power with the barrel of a gun. You were peaceful in opposition.
BACK TO POWER, maintain the peace. The CDC unarguably raised the governance bar when it comes to tolerance, media freedom and free speech. You have nothing to lose in laboring to measure up to that bar. There is no better way to sustain the nation’s peace and stability than doing so.
ANOTHER CHALLENGE IS to keep your promise to the people. Keeping your promises is necessary not only to make you keep your jobs; it also helps avert possible national crises in agitation and insurrection from a people who may be tired with lies and cheats. Where there are challenges difficult to surmount, use public engagement tactics via effective communication and public relations to disabuse the people. And don’t forget, you were voted to deliver on promises, and not to make excuses. The problem with this country is that politicians, political regimes, consistently fail to keep their promises. They make elections a vicious cycle whereby one corrupt and non-performing regime is removed for another. We implore you to cut the corner; to break that cycle and end it.
TO OUR INTERNATIONAL partners and foreign friends, we hail you. Some of you have been with us for countless decades and still in-country. We appreciate your support in 2023, and welcome the expressed willingness of some to continue to assist. Our plea to you is this: eschew political interference, and biases in dealing with groups in this country. Some of you are the cause of our domestic disharmony and underdevelopment. You cherry-pick depending on which regime or which face of Liberian is on the presidential throne. You at times become hypocritical. What we ask going forward is for you to leverage your support looking at Liberia and not a particular group of Liberians. Let your target be the ordinary people, their felt needs. Another thing before we forget: reduce your radical austerity regime. Nowadays some of your benchmarks and preconditions for assistance are like asking one to pass a camel through the eye of a needle. We need you all but stop the heaven-must-come-down prescriptions.
INDEED, 2024 WILL be a new beginning if we all play our part sincerely, respecting each other’s roles and moving with a sense of urgency for genuine and thought-through transformation. OUR HEARTFELT SALUTATIONS!!