ON THURSDAY, MAY 11, 2023, the second phase of the biometric voter registration in the last nine of the remaining counties came to an end which also marked the end of the entire BVR exercise conducted by the National Elections Commission (NEC) that started on March 20, 2011 to qualify citizens who have reached the age of 18 and above to participate in the ensuing general election.
AS A NEW innovation that is set to add value to our electoral system, the decision of NEC to graduate from the manual voting process to a digital platform did not go down well with some people because principally most ideas that tend to provide changes and progress get vilified and condemned. NEC therefore became a major subject for discussion where the opposition to the BVR was elevated to all kinds of negative narratives that Liberia was not ready and prepared for it; that the BVR will not work; and that it will lead to truncating all the processes put in place for the holding of the ensuing general elections.
WHAT WAS MORE concerning about the adoption of the BVR was the protracted period of the procurement, a process that led to the selection of the eventual winner, the LAXTON Group where some people were even saying the BVR was a distraction and an unnecessary invitation to negatively impact on the ensuing general election, especially in the wake of the NEC being accused of using fronts to secure the contract where some of the top shots at NEC were accused of benefiting from kickbacks.
HOWEVER, AFTER ALL the insinuations to discourage the electoral umpire, NEC has successfully conducted the BVR exercise against all odds, and in the coming days, the final roster of voters will be made public, just as it was done when the first phase was concluded. Of noteworthy mention is that the BVR was conducted in an atmosphere devoid of fear and violence. This is in no small measure a major feat that will go down in history as a beginning of conducting our subsequent elections after the October 10, 2023 democratic process where the country will be choosing a new President, Vice President, 15 senators and 73 representatives.
WE COMMEND NEC for conceiving, undertaking and executing this very important milestone towards enriching our democratic process. Indeed, for the first time we will have a voter’s roster that will command the respect of the citizens, which has been a major source of concern of all stakeholders in our polity especially the opposition political parties and in turn restore confidence in our electoral system.
HONESTLY, THE BVR exercise will definitely signpost a marked departure from previous elections where as important as elections were, the destiny of the nation was not taken seriously with voting being done manually and at the end of the day, we have a lot of controversies and confusion being settled through the court system though not satisfactorily. Also, as the citizens bear witness to the trust-worthiness of biometric technology, it will mark the beginning of a revolution for a deepened democracy with its appurtenances of people-oriented dividends.
WHILE EMPHATICALLY GIVING NEC the flowers it deserves thus far, we will also like to caution the electoral body of the task ahead and urge her to ensure that just as was successfully done with the BVR, all other aspects of the process that will lead to the actual voting and the declaration of the results should be duly followed. If the BVR was well executed but the rest of the other components of the election are faulty, we can safely say the hope and aspiration of the country and its people for a successful holding of a free and fair election might have been dashed.
AS THE NATION gears towards holding a free and fair election in October, 2023, we are of the strongest conviction that NEC has just performed a major task that is key to determining if we will truly have an election whose results we can trust and accept. Though casting of votes by citizens for their preferred candidates is a very important discharge of their fundamental rights guaranteed to them by the constitution, it will not make sense if the process will not produce the desired outcome as is being anticipated by the people. This should not be our portion on October 10, 2023.
WE CELEBRATE WITH all Liberians, NEC and all stakeholders on the successful completion of the BVR. Let us now approach the election in phases and work towards the execution of every phase of the process until the logical conclusion of the journey.
AGAIN, WELL DONE NEC.