Forum For Societal Change

Organization for Impact in Electoral Districts

Strengthening the National Legislature: A call to action: To improve the voting process through organized voters education.

If there is to be any significant accelerated change in Liberia our three branches of Government must function independently as co-equals as envisioned by the founding fathers of our country, in order to achieve the necessary checks and balances. Presently, none of the three branches is functioning as envisioned. If anything, the Executive Branch functions in a more powerful manner than the other two branches and manipulates them at will. If needed changes are to occur, it must begin with the first branch of government, the National Legislature. We have seen what strong and well- meaning Legislatures can accomplish as was done in the case of Brazil and South Korea recently. Liberia could have a legislature with similar power! But in order to achieve this, we must replace the men and women who are not up to the task. It is not enough to talk- we must act! We must help build a legislature that is prepared to place the interest of Liberia first! This calls for action; more action and less talk!

In view of the above, we are proposing the following steps for organization and action in the various districts:

  1. Conduct pre- visit assessment of electoral districts
    - Identify various organizations/ groups and leadership - Schools- Teachers, principals, youth groups, sporting groups, religious institutions, churches, mosques, social and women groups, market women groups, business people etc.
  2. Get the names and contact numbers of community or district leaders
  3. Arrange a meeting with them to introduce the Forum and its objectives and secure their commitment to work along with us.
  4. Obtain the names of candidates and their dossiers or particulars which should be but are not limited to the following:
    A. Incoming aspirants:
    a) What is their Educational or Training level?
    b) What is their professional background or work experience?
    c) What is their present area of employment?
    d) What impact have they made in their Community?
    e) What is the extent to which they have demonstrated interest and participated or contributed to community affairs?
    f) What is the extent to which candidates can be trusted to put the national, the people and community’s interest first above personal or other interest?
    g) Does the candidates have the character that will bring respect to the District and the Nation?
    h) Is he or she known for getting on well with others? Building coalitions or building bridges between individuals or groups of individuals?
    i) Is he/she susceptible to manipulation or has he/ she exhibited behavior of independent-mindedness in his/her interaction with people?
    j) Is he/ she self-reliant or is he/she likely to rely on income from membership in the legislature as his/her sole means of survival.
    k) Do they have the experience and responsibility of a family man/ woman?

    B. Incumbents
    a) What is their attendance records at Legislative sessions?
    b) How many bills did they initiate or propose?
    c) What is their voting record?
    d) How did they impact their district? Projects, contributions or otherwise
    e) Did they remain in contact with their district? Visits, meetings, etc.?
    f) Did they bring pride to the district in handling national issues?
    g) Were they easily assessable to the constituents?
    h) Were they self-centered or people centered: concerned mostly what they could get for themselves rather than others?
    i) Were they prepared to put the interest of Liberia first and last or theirs?
    j) Are they likely to continue to request for additional compensation to perform the functions for which they were elected inspite of the handsome salary and benefits they receive?
    k) Do they have the experience and responsibility of a family man/ woman?
  5. Arrange a meeting with community leaders to identify and discuss issues- (community and National) and strategize to inform or educate voters including the organization of debates.
  6. Educate voters about each candidates and urge them not to be influenced by little things such as rice, T-shirts, few dollars etc. but to look for the attributes as indicated above to guide their decisions about each candidate.
  7. After which, a CAC/DAC must be established headed by a reputable or highly respected and experienced individual to serve as the organizational or committee head. This CAC/DAC will then organize and engage incoming aspirants and the incumbents to discuss district and national issues and participate in debates etc. Use the town hall meeting format.

My fellow compatriots, the time to act for change in our National Legislature is now. We cannot afford to let things remain as they are. This will impact governance negatively and delay the delivery of badly needed benefits and service to the people and further delay the pursuit of our development agenda. Therefore, let us follow the steps outlined above so as to make a difference.

Finally, we urge all heads of the following organizations in each electoral district to form a district electoral committee to promote voters education so as to facilitate informed decision-making during the legislative elections.

  1. Religious institutions - churches and mosques
  2. Educational institutions- schools, universities, etc.
  3. Local Business leaders
  4. Youth groups
  5. Women groups- market women, social groups etc.
  6. Sporting groups
  7. Other organizations not herein listed.

Fellow Liberians, we must not miss this opportunity. The alternative is to perpetuate a situation that is not conducive to accelerating our pace of development. We cannot continue to waste valuable time. Let some individuals or heads of organizations in each electoral district step forward and provide the leadership to organize in this endeavor. The Forum is available to provide you technical advice free of charge. Let us elect the best this time around. This is our patriotic duty.

Prepared By: The Forum for Societal Change

To Be Used By: District and Community leads for Voters education during the 2017 legislative elections