Editorial: Our Independence, Our 2023 Elections, Our Future

TOMORROW, WEDNESDAY, JULY 26, 2023, Liberia will be celebrating 176 years of independence. In other words, it means that it has been a whopping 176 years since our founding fathers signed the historic declaration of independence, proclaiming to the entire world that having gone through one of the crudest treatment to humanity in the United States of America as slaves and then gotten their freedom through various means, returned home to the land of their nativity and decided to live as a free people bound together by God’s command and vowing to remain so, strong and united in years to come.

OVER THE YEARS this ideal has defined us as a nation and people just as we also spread the good news to our fellow African brothers by bearing the torch for the cause of their freedom and liberation from their previous colonial masters. As the nation celebrates yet another year of nationhood and we have since programmed ourselves to be in the festive mood throughout the day, we look back with mixed feelings how far we have come, where we are and where we hope to be in the future as a nation and as a people.

WE HAVE HAD the glamorous side of history, being the first independent African nation, being a foundation member of many international organizations including the defunct the League of Nations, the United Nations Organization, the then Organization of African Unity(OAU), now the African Union(AU), the Economic Community of West African States(ECOWAS), the Mano River Union(MRU), being a signatory to many treaties and agreements that brought development and to mankind, among others.

AS WE CATALOGUE our moments of glory, we must also remind ourselves of the turbulent times that nearly erupted the foundation of the country. From the clashes between the earlier governments dominated by the settlers and the natives over land issues and unfair tax levies that brought no significant benefits to the majority, to struggle for popular democracy, then the violent military takeover of April 12, 1980 which witnessed the death of President William R. Tolbert Jr along with 13 former government officials accused of corruption and abuse of power and the worst of all, the protracted and unprecedented brutal civil war that nearly took the country into extinction with the death of up to 250,000 persons including President Samuel Kanyon Doe and the mass destruction of the country’s already struggling infrastructure.

OBVIOUSLY THESE ARE sad times and of course should have broken the spirit of the people. However, instead of that, Liberians rose up gallantly and were inspired by the cause of freedom that led the founding fathers to proclaim independence for the country against the advances of the colonial power and the resolve to be free.

THIS WAS DEMONSTRATED how for 14 years, Liberians braved the unbearable conditions to end the civil war in 2003 which culminated in the holding of a free, fair and competitive election in 2005 to finally end the years of hostilities. We have had two other electoral cycles, one in 2011 and another in 2017 which for the time in a competitive multiparty election, the ruling Unity Party(UP) lost to the main opposition party, the Coalition for Democratic Change(CDC). We have also had two midterm senatorial elections as well as a series of bye- elections occasioned by vacancies created due to circumstances such as deaths or representatives elected to the senate.

OVER TIME, WITH support from the international community, Liberians have worked assiduously to consolidate on the gains of the nascent democracy and the peace the country is enjoying.

THIS YEAR’S CELEBRATION of independence coincides with the nation going through a major watershed to entrench and enrich our democracy with the holding of a general election slated to be on October 10, 2023. According to a preliminary report from the National Elections Commission (NEC), there are 20 presidential aspirants, including the incumbent President George Manneh Weah who is seeking re-election and more than 900 other aspirants who have filed their nominations to contests for the national legislature.

AS WE MARCH gallantly towards the ensuing general elections, let us bear in mind that we have a stake in this country and so we have to refrain from engaging in acts that will destroy the fortunes and the prospects of this nation. Rather than taking to violence and other disruptive acts to terrify innocent Liberians, adults in this nation should take up their voters’ cards and go to the polls. We must resist any threat (strong or subtle) in whichever form to stop us from going out to vote on the day of elections. 

WE MUST ALSO shun vote-buying by being conscious of the truth that politicians who present some inducement to voters, especially on the polling day, are not really interested in the welfare of the people. We urge all Liberians to look out for politicians who are genuine and who are sincere to provide the basics that will be the catalyst for economic growth and development.

HONESTLY, WE DO not believe that all Liberian politicians are the same – there are those that still have the interest of the people at heart. They are in our midst, but you must put aside primordial sentiments and be objective to be able to find them.

WE MUST NOT relent in praying for the success of the 2023 elections and supporting NEC to conduct free, fair, and peaceful polls this year.

NO DOUBT THE pending elections have a significant bearing on our future. The past 6 years should be able to provide us ample chance to know whether we are better off during these years and the need to continue with the status quo or no remarkable achievements that can be pointed out as benefits to the citizens, thus the need for a radical change from the past.

BEYOND USING IT as a decisive tool for the citizens to make their choice moving forward, our decisions we make will also impact how the international community will rate the country because if we fail to elect the right leaders who have the capacity and leverage to properly market the country and give her the respect it deserves, we would have succeeded in mortgaging the pride and image of this country.

THIS YEAR’S CELEBRATION of independence must provide the platform for us to make a sober reflection from where we have come as a nation, the fame we have enjoyed among the comity of nations, the toils we have passed through due to the mistakes we have made and the efforts we made to solve some of the most devastating occurrences in our national lives must be enough to give us a lesson to act rightly in these ensuing general elections. No one can advise us other than ourselves.

LASTLY, LET US celebrate our independence, let us act wisely in the pending elections and secure our future.

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