Monrovia — Thousands of voters have participated in the long-awaited presidential and legislative elections intended to ship the destiny of the nation, amid reports of irregularities and strange phenomenon which characterized the voting process.
Huge turnouts were recorded at various polling precincts across the country. However, others were denied from voting at few polling precincts on grounds that they have either voted already or arrived at the precincts above the 6PM time set aside by the NEC for the closure of the polls.
The late deployment of polling materials and the commencement of polling prompted the late start of voting in some areas, including Sinoe and Rivercess counties respectively.
This has compelled the NEC to announce an extension of the process.
Electorates, especially older folks had to struggle at some polling precincts in Monrovia and other parts of the country to identify the polling centers which they would vote, due to the lack of adequate information from NEC workers.
At some precincts, representative and senatorial candidates were visibly seen distributing food and cash to electorates, while there were reports of campaigning ongoing during the voting process.
Campaigning on elections day runs contrary to the new elections law of Liberia. Political campaign activities ended on Sunday, October 8, according to a timetable released by the National Elections Commission (NEC).
Several persons were booked and denied for allegedly engaging into double registration. The names and photographs of those individuals were posted by NEC workers at the various polling precincts. This appears to be a new phenomenon in the electoral process of Liberia.
However, no one was arrested for attempting to vote twice during the elections.
Despite these bottlenecks, thousands of eligible voters braved the storm to participate in the process.
They outlined reasons for turning out en masse to cast their votes for the preferred candidates of their choice in the ongoing presidential and legislative elections in Liberia, with many yielding for a change to ensure a better society for all regardless of political affiliation and class.
In an interview with FrontPage Africa at various polling centers at the Mark J. Richards, St. Paul Bridge Elementary and Junior High School and the Emar Care Kingdom School in districts # 16 and 17 respectively on October 10, the voters named job creation, peace and security, combat against rampant corruption and drug trafficking, better education and healthcare delivery as reasons for turning out in their numbers to exercise their constitutional rights
Hawa Johnson, 24, and a first time voter, said a genuine change for Liberia is needed to move the country and its citizens forward in terms of growth and development.
According to her, the increase in bad road conditions remain a major factor she voted to ensure that roads are rehabilitated and constructed, not only in Monrovia but other parts of the country.
She envisaged that her vote would proffer the best person to lead the country and put in place measures to bring down the prices of basic commodities.
“I am voting for my future and the future of my children. I want to see my children going to good schools like other people children and jobs must be created.”
Andrew Fayiah, 43, observed the snail-pace of the process due to the influx of citizens who turned out to vote.
He said the lack of sufficient companies in Liberia is imposing additional hardship on citizens in the country.
According to him, the possibility of more Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and companies returning to Liberia to provide job opportunities for citizens is certain if Liberians vote wisely.
Investment in agriculture
Fayiah maintained that though government cannot provide jobs or put money in the pockets of its citizens directly, investment in agriculture and better roads connectivity will help citizens fetch from themselves and make Liberia a middle income country.
“I am voting for someone who will be the best President that will make people to succeed in this country. If the roads are better, my agriculture that I am doing in my village will help me to get something; I can come in the city and sell and go back quickly to where I came from.”
He continued: “We are trying and asking God to give us the best leader so we can go in front. The life our fathers were living way back, that’s the same life we are living today. But we are trying to get the best President who has feelings for this country and will care about the future of our children and country.”
Opting for prices reduction
John Davies, 53, stated: “I voted for a change and a good leader. We want to build a new nation where the citizens will feel fine and prices will be reasonable.”
He stressed the need for the next government to invest in agriculture to make Liberia sufficient in food production.
He noted that Liberia will be exporting rice and other basic commodities if the new government prioritizes agriculture.
Voting against bad governance
“I came to decide the future of my children and want to give them a better Liberia. I don’t want to see bad governance in Liberia and I know my decision would bring about good governance,” Emmanuel Toby stated.
He called on Liberians not to engage into acts which have the proclivity to stir up conflict or chaos in the society.
Toby cautioned authorities of the National Elections Commission (NEC) against thwarting the results of the elections in the interest of a particular candidate or group of people.
“The NEC and its workers are serving as the referee and VAR in these elections. So, we need transparent counting and credible results for a peaceful Liberia. Liberians are mature now and we are tired with war. Peace should be first and last because, when you have peace, you can have everything.”
Boima Quaye, 52, pointed out that the influx of dangerous substances in Liberia prompted him to vote for a change.
“I have to make a decision for the country and my unborn children and grandchildren to come. After casting my vote today, I want to see a well-defined youth who will not be smoking in the streets. I want to see a youth who when they graduate from high school they will be able to find something better to do then riding motorbikes or kehkehs (tricycles). I have come to vote to see a better Liberia tomorrow.”
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“I will be voting against rampant corruption, nepotism and sectionalism. One set of people think and feel that this country is for them. I stay in Liberia as a child and saw what happened that brought war to this country. After the war, those very things that we saw and went against- we see those same things happening. We want whosoever that will take power to fight against those things.”
Quaye emphasized that Liberia is for all its citizens and as such, the wealth and resources must be equitably distributed regardless of political affiliation or status.
He further warned against imposing unwanted leaders on Liberians after the voting process.
“This time around, we are watching and there will be no selection. We cannot say it had never happened before, but this we are watching with eagle eyes.”
“I am voting for peace and love among Liberians today. After voting, I will love to see jobs for the youth and violence reduced in Liberia. I want the right leader for Liberia and I want him to be able to provide jobs for Liberians,” Nedisa Sayeh stated.
The race for the presidency appears to be a fierce and tight battle between incumbent President George Manneh Weah of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) and his closest political rival Joseph Nyuma Boakai of the opposition Unity Party (UP).