Opinion

Liberia Elections 2017: “Liberia is like elephant meat and everyone wants a piece of it”

Liberia Elections 2017

There is a saying that says, “Liberia is like elephant meat, everyone wants a piece of it”.

By everyone, it means politicians. That is why you have a field of more than 20 of probably the most diverse group of qualified and mostly unqualified presidential aspirants ever assembled in the world.

Ranging from a former footballer, a beauty queen, warlords, to businessmen, corporate executives, to career presidential candidates, a bunch of nobodies, and the sitting vice president.

When you have such an arrangement of candidates and ‘gravy seekers’ combined with a young, unemployed and uneducated population, there is cause for worry among the educated ones who think they know better (up for debate).

For example, I recently talked to a Liberian who worked on policy for one of the major political parties. He expressed how disappointed he is because none of the presidential candidates have an interest in policies. Unfortunately, everyday Liberians do not care either.

Liberia is such a complex case to unpack (I’m not going try) and as people go to the polls today I have no interest in influencing their decisions towards one politician or the other (not that I can). And there are already enough articles detailing under-development, corruption, predictions and political analyses.

I believe that regardless of how many unrealistic promises these politicians make, the only votes that really matter are the ones no one is talking about.

My opinion is that, on Election Day, each Liberian should cast one vote that is more important than one for any politician or any religious or tribal affiliation, and that is a vote for himself/herself. If these elections were to have any impact at all, it wouldn’t come from a politician or president.

I acknowledge that the economic state is dire and people have settled for hopelessness because politicians have long failed to deliver.

However, it is time for Liberians to stop selling themselves short, stop falling for the free bag of rice tricks and the promises to lower the prices of food.

It is time for Liberians to place a vote to tackle issues that are a central theme in these elections. Take the issue of corruption as an example.

We are a corrupt country because we have corrupt politicians who are voted in by a corrupt population. The first step towards recovery is admitting that we have a problem.

Politicians always promise to fight corruption, as the outgoing president tried and failed. However, politicians cannot and will not end corruption for the simple reasons that they either benefit from it, are surrounded by people who do, or have to work with the creators and enforcers of the law who are beneficiaries of the status quo.

However, if individual Liberians commit to fighting everyday corruption, things will change overnight.

We are a corrupt country because we have corrupt politicians who are voted in by a corrupt population. The first step towards recovery is admitting that we have a problem.

I believe that Liberians will vote for whom they deserve and that is the beauty of democracy. After 12 years of sustained peace under Ma Ellen and the little but significant progress we’ve made, my hope is that Liberia is elephant meat but one that is enough for everyone to have and enjoy a stake (or steak) in it.

Author: Jaydee Tarpeh is the Host of Ten Thousand Africans podcast.

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