SINJE, Grand Cape Mount – As Liberians foresee a runoff election in November between the Coalition for Democratic Change and the ruling Unity Party, citizens of Garwula District in Grand Cape Mount have started listing issues they expect to be addressed immediately by the next regime.
In conversations with farmers across the district, they are pushing to see a prioritization of the agriculture sector to see Liberians grow and produce their staple food, rice.
Speaking to The Bush Chicken recently in Cape Mount, Boima Paasewe, a resident of Sinje, said rice is the staple food in Liberia but is being imported, noting that the high price of rice in his community makes living conditions difficult.
Paasewe said it would be better if Liberians started growing their own food, something he noted, can only be done if the next government invests in the agricultural sector by providing farming materials and connecting farm-to-market roads across the country.
Abraham Sillah, a marketer from Bo Waterside, was another citizen who spoke to say he expected the next government to prioritize the education system.
“Governments learn from the failures of [other] governments, and this government has failed to invest in our education system to make the system more standard like international schools,” he said. “We also need to boast of our facilities and staff in our country.”
Sillah further noted that the county needs vocational training institutes for the young people, as well as well-trained teachers to put the county on the path to development.
According to him, primary teachers in the county are mostly volunteers and recent high school graduates who are yet to enter college.
“They only focus on the high school and forget to know that the foundation of your high school is the best. If you don’t perform well at the low level, how do you expect yourself to perform well at the high level when your foundation is not built?” Sillah said.
“In Cape Mount, when it comes to the new legislature, we the ordinary citizens want county hearings to start from the bottom to the top. We are the only people that know our problems, and only we know how they can be solved. Let our lawmakers engage us on the way forward on problems that will be solved so that everyone will take ownership of the project.”
Meanwhile, Hawa Sonni, a businesswoman, indicated that she expects the next government to have control over prices of commodities and exchange rates, noting that due to the increase in the exchange rate, commodity prices are on the increase in the country.
She said life will only improve in Liberia if the government has control over the economic situation of goods and services.
She added, “We sell in Liberian dollars to go in search of U.S. dollars and in the end, we buy the United States Dollars at very high cost, and when we buy our goods, we definitely need to get all we put in it. So how can’t life be hard when our own country money is being downplayed for other country’s money? Liberians need to grow and open their eyes to the realities.”
Despite the calls from the citizens, the two candidates who advanced to the second round, George Weah and Joseph Boakai, are the candidates who have focused the least on policies. While Boakai has touted his “roads, roads, roads” approach, he has not provided many details in other areas.
For Weah, he has avoided debates in addition to interviews with local media.
Featured photo by Lloyd Massah