Liberia elections 2017: “My vote is power”

Jarwinken Weah is head of EMOL

The most important power one has as a voter is the power of his or her vote. It is the power you have as voters to hold all elected and appointed individuals in various positions of power, including the presidency accountable. This power is guaranteed under the Liberian Constitution. This is your undisputable power and right that allows you to make your government work for you.

To understand the power and value of this vote and how to use it for your government to work for you, is the role of the Emancipation Movement of Liberia, Inc. (EMOL). EMOL is a non-profit civic and advocacy peace promoting organization registered in the United States and Liberia.
EMOL was established February 28, 2015, by Liberians in the United States and at home. It is a part of the Liberian Civil Society Organizations (CSO’s) and recently accredited by the National Elections Commission of Liberia (NEC) to conduct civic and voter’s education during the general and presidential elections slated for October 2017. This piece marks the beginning of the voter’s education process.
EMOL plans to continue its awareness and community engagement campaigns within the 73 electoral districts of Liberia, under the “MY VOTE IS Power” (MYVIP) initiatives after the elections in collaboration with donor agencies and other local and international organizations as well as the government of Liberia , using skit presentations to  create learning and other empowerment opportunities for the  target beneficiaries.
EMOL wants you to know that the people you will elect or elected to positions of power are supposed to serve you. They are caretakers of your power that you will entrust or entrusted to them through the power of your votes as citizens. They are supposed to be accountable and answerable to you the voters. Your rights are violated when it is the other way around.
This means all the people in positions of power in your districts and counties are supposed to tell you about all the resources in your area and the monetary value of such resources.
EMOL also wants you to know that anyone elected or appointed to a position of power is as well required to tell you the voters, how much share of the money the government has set aside for the development of your area each year. This money is called the budget.  You the voters have the right to have a say in how this money is spent for your district or county.
Your representatives or senators are supposed to report to you regularly, particular during recess or when they are on a break. There should  be a  citizens’ meeting that your  representatives or senators  is required to call to report to you the citizens or constituents  things they voted for or against in the interest of the district or county  during sessions of the House of Representatives and the Senate.
During these meetings, you the voters have the right to ask your representative or senator about how you the voters, are going to benefit from the decisions he or she made through voting on issues at the Capitol Building before the break.  You also have the right to ask them about some of the promises they made when they were campaigning for their current positions.
With the power of your vote, you can make all these things to happen as citizens and constituents of your districts and the country.
EMOL wants you the citizens and voters to know and understand how to use the “power of your vote “in this way to compel anyone elected or appointed  to be accountable and answerable to you the voters. He or she will no longer take you and your vote for granted as  they know by then  you  are  “sophisticated and empowered” electorates.
EMOL wants you to know also that everyone in a position of power is supposed to do what you the people want.  It is wrong under the Liberian constitution for any of them to use such power for his or her own benefit to your loss because these positions are yours and those occupying them are custodians.
EMOL’s role is to make you the citizens and voters to know that for anyone to serve in a position of power is an opportunity for him or her to show how much he or she can do for you the voters. The key function or responsibility for each one of them is to figure out how they can use such position of power to create learning and other empowerment opportunities that will allow you the voters to be able to put food on the table for you and your family from earned incomes.
These kinds of voting issues are called “pocket books” issues. Pocket book issues are based on the kind of things that will help to improve the livelihoods of everyone. They have nothing to do with one’s ethic and religion backgrounds. They are issues that are the common needs of everyone. They recognize everyone’s human’s dignity, which is the key in talking about “pocket books issues” that allow one to put food in the kitchen without reliance on others.                                                     
Jarwinken Wiah, Executive Director