Under the gracious auspices of ECOWAS, I landed in Liberia on, October 6, 2023, as a member of the Observation Mission to play our sub regional role of helping a Member State run a, credible, peaceful and successful general election to elect a, President, 15 Senators and 76 members of the House of Representatives.
Having completed the initial debriefing session at the Mamba Place Hotel, in Monrovia, on October 7, 2023, I was part of a 10-member team that deployed to the Nimba County, in the North-East of Liberia.
Nimba County, which is virtually “owned” by Prince Yormie Johnson (the current Senator who has been re-elected for another nine-year term), shares borders with the Republic of Cote d’Ivoire to the East and the Republic of Guinea to the North-West.
Its capital city is, Sanniquelle and its most populous city is, Ganta – where our Team lodged at the Jackie’s Hotel.
Nimba County is the largest of Liberia’s 15 Counties and within Liberia itself, Nimba County, which is named after Mount Nimba, is bordered by, Bong and Grand Bassa Counties to the West, Rivercess County to the South-West, and Grand Gedeh County to the South-East.
Nimba county is very rich in iron ore and I must admit that it was there that I saw iron ore in its very raw state for the first time in life as we drove into the County.
As is the case with Africa’s raw materials, I saw the iron ore being carted in railway skips to the ports for export – and only a few people benefit from the export earnings while the real owners of the raw material continue to wallow in abject poverty.
Driving into Nimba County certainly had its own ambiance and the optics of the journey was not one that hurt the curiosity of my eyes.
That is to say, there was a lot for the eye to explore driving from Monrovia into Nimba County – a journey of close to four hours.
As mentioned, the drive was not an eyesore, and I really enjoyed the scenic views of vast virgin green forests, vast tracts of rubber plantations (another of the country’s natural resource assets).
Indeed, the Firestone Company that manufactures car tyres, has been rooted in Liberia for decades because it gets its base raw material, rubber, from there.
My driver, Mohammed Kabbah, told me how a plane flies into a particular mining area every Wednesday to carry tons of mined gold out of the country. Oh Africa!!!
When shall we once again get Leaders like the immediate post-independence ones like Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah who were more interested in preserving our resources than the current status-quo of greedily exporting it for personal gain which is shared amongst, cronies, families, concubines, and friends.
As regards the elections itself, though quite a cumbersome process, the system is quite thorough – especially the manual vote counting process which is extremely thorough and makes it difficult for brazen rigging.
The elections took place in the current rainy season which made it extremely difficult to reach outlandish parts of the countries due to bad and non-existent access roads.
The elections run smoothly and per the Country’s Electoral Laws, the National Electoral Commission (NEC), has up to 15 days to announce the official final results but as we know, there has been the official announcing of a second round of voting to be contested by incumbent President, His Excellency George Weah of the, Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC), and former Vice President, Joseph Boakai, of the United Party (UP). President Weah obtained 43.79% and Joseph Boakai obtained 43.49%.
The run-off election is scheduled to take place on November 7, 2023, and anyone who obtains 50%+1, shall be declared winner by the NEC.
For the record, this election was the first time Liberia was running its own elections without the support of the United Nations since the end of the two civil wars and the return to democratic governance in 2005, and per my personal assessment, the nation acquitted itself quite well despite some hitches.
Professor Attahiru Jega, the immediate-past Chairman of Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), was the Head of the ECOWAS Mission and my Kotoka Primary School mate cum University of Ghana mate, Josephine Nkrumah is the ECOWAS Permanent Representative in Liberia. Josephine Nkrumah is the immediate-past Chairperson of Ghana’s, National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE).
Of course, Dr. Abdel Fatau Musah, ECOWAS Commissioner for, Political Affairs Peace and Security (PAPS), was there with his able Team from Abuja to coordinate affairs for the Mission to run successfully – and that is exactly what happened.
As a neutral Observer, I am unable to say anything more about the elections beyond the obvious facts that have been put out as we await the run-off on November 7, 2023.
Upon my return to Monrovia from Nimba County, I had the opportunity to explore the capital city a bit more and I saw the abandoned citadel that was once occupied by President Charles Taylor. Once a no-go area, the place has been left inhabited and it speaks volumes to the fleeting nature of all human power and existence. As it is said; “all shall pass”!
I saw where President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf used to also live as President and I also saw the Ministerial Complex she built for the State.
I saw the country’s supreme court building that they have named, Temple of Justice.
Indeed, ECOWAS held our final press briefing at the main conference room of the Ministerial Complex – very imposing structure.
It was interesting seeing the Providence Island, where the first batch of freed slaves landed via ship in 1820 before the official formation of the Republic of Liberia in 1847.
I am grateful to my driver, Mohammed Kabbah, the Jackie’s Hotel in Nimba County, as well as the Bella Casa Hotel in Monrovia for giving us places to lay our heads comfortably.
The Ghanaland restaurant in Monrovia also allowed Ghanaians on the Mission to satisfy our culinary desires with typical Ghanian food.
Having worked for the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) Office in Ghana in the late 90’s, I worked directly with Liberian refugees across Ghana but especially at the Budumburam Refugee Camp and being in Liberia brought back heavy memories of how our brethren had to navigate the unforgettable bitter years of war, death, destruction and permanent scars.
May Liberia never see war again and I remain most grateful to ECOWAS for the revered opportunity it continues to give me as an International Elections Observer of repute across the sub region.
To God Almighty be all the glory now and always.
Samuel Koku Anyidoho
(Founder and CEO, Atta-Mills Institute)