Trucking and Busing: Undermine Free Government in Liberia

first_imgSince the inception of the voter registration exercise on February 1, 2017, there have been multiple complaints from applicants attending the process ranging from inadequate logistics, defective cameras; complaints of insufficient voter registration centers (VRCs) thereby causing potentials registrants to walk long distances to register; attempts by non-Liberians to register; busing and trucking of people from one district or county to another; incompetent registration personnel and poor contractual arrangements with registration workers; absence of security officers (LNP & BIN) at VRCs; alleged tribal and religious discrimination against certain applicants, etc.As a former chair of the National Elections Commission (NEC), who presided over the 2005 general elections, the above-listed complaints and/or issues raised are not strange to me, as we were similarly confronted with nearly all of them. The difference, however, between the 2005 process and the current process is in the handling and resolution of the misunderstanding or concerns. Considering that the nature of elections is adversarial and extremely competitive, the commission must exert every effort to address concerns of participants in a timely manner and in accordance with the relevant guidelines, regulations and laws. Election staff must apply the rules and laws neutrally in order to avoid the imputation of corrupt motives to them. The allegation of tribal and religious bias, for instance could have been obviated by posting at each VRC the criteria for eligibility to register. Beyond all the issues and concerns raised, however, the phenomenon which is of paramount concern to me is the trucking and busing of people from one locality to another which I called “contract voters”. This practice is becoming or has become a part of the Liberian electoral culture. The practice does not only distort true democratic elections, the essence of which is the expression of the free will of the electorate in choosing their leaders, but the practice also constrains an impoverished and vulnerable people to surrender their free will to the richest or wealthiest politicians in exchange of a bag of rice, US$5.00, US$10.00 or US$20.00. Thus, the realization of the promise contained in Article I of the Liberian Constitution which states, inter alia, ‘All free governments are instituted by their authority and for their benefit and they have the right to alter and reform the same when their safety and happiness so require,” shall remain a mirage for a long time to come, because there can be no free government without a free people.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Lack of Teachers Crippling Public Schools

first_imgThe campus of New Yourpea Public School where there are reports of a shortage of teachers in spite of enrolment soaring from 315 to 500.Many public schools in Nimba County are reportedly short of teachers to meet the demands of ever increasing student population in the country spurred by government’s compulsory primary education policy.It is reported that in Buuyao Electoral District #5, school age children often loiter during class hours because, according to some of the parents, “the children do not have teachers and so they are free to roam about.”“We do not have teachers to teach us, this is why you see us outside of the classrooms,” some of the students attending the Teahplay Public School told the Daily Observer during a recent tour.“We have four teachers assigned to this school, but only two of them are on government payroll. Sometimes we sit in the class the whole day without any of them around,” a student claimed.Most of the schools the Daily Observer visited were crowded, but lacked enough teachers to keep the pupils busy with schoolwork.At Gblarlay Public School, for example, student enrolment is about 400, but with just one government paid teacher. The five volunteers are not regular because they are not given any incentive, they said.“The L$1,000 the community promised to give us is not forthcoming since the first period. It has caused most of the volunteers to stop coming to school,” said Napoleon Brewer, a student-volunteer at Gblarlay.In Beo Bleemieplay Town, parents are complaining of the limited number of teachers which they said is hampering the children’s learning process.“The government makes us force our children to attend school under the compulsory primary education policy but there are no teachers assigned to instruct them,” said Ma Nancy, one of the parents.“Most of the government assigned teachers are from the communities where they teach, a situation that makes it very hard to get the kind of cooperation the residents will need from them,” one of the teachers from New Yourpea Public School observed.When contacted, Nimba County Education Chief Officer (CEO) Moses Dologbay said the government is not recruiting teachers, but is rather updating its payroll system to absorb the qualified volunteered teachers.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more