Kudos To Lansanah For Simplifying The Interpretation Of The Saying, “What A Man Can Do, A woman Can Do Better”

By Isaac Asabor

In 2015, the Hanns Seidel Foundation, a German non-profit organization that is committed to the promotion of democracy, good governance and the rule of law across the African continent, commissioned a report.

Thus, it is expedient to recall in this context that the report titled, Electoral Integrity In Africa was written by Max Groemping and Ferran Martinez I Coma, while it was launched in Cape Town, South Africa on June 22, 2015.

The Foundation, while welcoming the report, and the PEI index on which the findings were based. Noted that “It is currently the best rating tool available“, and recognizes that it was the first attempt to measure electoral integrity across the African continent, and hoped that it will stimulate the debate on the integrity of elections across Africa.

Expectedly, it was widely acknowledged by democrats across the continent as they unanimously agreed that thereport could not have come at a better time than in 2015unarguably due to the elections that were conducted in Zambia, Nigeria, Togo, Benin, Burundi and Burkina Faso, among others in that year even as it was noted during the official launching of the report that “The integrity of these contests is crucial to meet human rights, and also for the internal stability of the countries, and citizens’ satisfaction with their regimes.

As to the purpose of the report, it was noted that “The purposes of this report are twofold. First, to present the African results of the perceptions of electoral Integrity expert surveys, and then to analyze important elements at play in shaping the integrity of African elections. Much attention has been placed on polling day and the immediate aftermath, but many other elements of the electoral cycle are key to the integrity of the elections.

Regarding the topmost findings of the report, it was equally noted that threats to electoral integrity are more severe in Africa than in the rest of the world. The type of problems in Africa, however, are similar to those found elsewhere; put simply, there is no exception to the electoral trend in Africa.

Furthermore, it was noted that “The elections can fail long before election day, so attention should be paid to the electoral dynamics and institutional quality over the entire election cycle not just election day. Difficulties in regulating campaign finance extend across the continent. By contrast, the vote count is consistently the highest rated part of the election cycle”.

Finally, the report shows two country case studies in Malawi and Mozambique, highlighting how countries with similar levels of economic development can still differ sharply in levels of electoral integrity.

Given the foregoing, it is therefore not surprising that in the face of the last presidential election that was conducted in Nigeria on February 25, 2023 that Prof. Attahiru Jega, the former chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), called on the electoral umpire, INEC, under the leadership of Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, the current chairman of the electoral body to upscale the integrity of Nigeria’s elections to inspire hope among the electorate following the signing of the amended electoral bill by President MuhammaduBuhari.

Jega, who was the keynote speaker at the Rotary Club of Lagos’ World Peace and Understanding Day Symposium 2021 – 2022 tagged, “Promoting Peace Among Ethnic Nationalities in Nigeria” said that one of Nigeria’s electoral challenges have to be with the legal framework, the Electoral Act, as he called for electoral integrity. He said, “As we move towards 2023, we need to upscale the integrity of our elections. We have come a long way and Nigerians need to recognize that elections conducted since 2007 till 2019; as we move to 2023, but it’s not perfect. There are still many challenges and we need to keep improving those challenges”.

However, it is exciting opine in this context that virtually all the elections been conducted across Africa continent for decades were umpired by men, and that a Liberian woman, Madam Davidetta Browne-Lansanah, the Chairperson of the National Elections Commission (NEC), has done what most men couldn’t do electorally in most African countries that have so far adopted democracy as system of government. Thus, brought the idiomatic expression that says, “What a man can do, a woman can do better” to bear as she on Monday, November 20, 2023 officially declared former Vice President Joseph Nyuma Boakai, who served under former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the winner of the November 14, 2023 Presidential Runoff Election.

Announcing the final result, the Chairperson of the NEC, Lansanah, said, “In this connection, the Results of the Presidential Runoff Election indicate that the presidential ticket of candidates Boakai, Joseph N. and Jeremiah K. Koung of UP has the highest number of votes 814,481 constituting 50.64% over Weah, George Manneh and Jewel Howard Taylor of CDC 793,914 votes, constituting 49.36%.

“Hence, the presidential ticket of candidates Joseph N. Boakai and Jeremiah K. Koung of the Unity Party is declared by the Commission as winner of the 14 November 2023 run-off election.”

At this juncture, it is expedient to recall that earlier in the year, ahead of the election, specifically in July 2023, that Browne-Lansanah at a media parley asked, “What does the signing of the Farmington River Declaration mean toyou- and what is its objective?”, and she answered thus: The Farmington River Declaration means a lot to me because it once again proves to the world that Liberia’s political actors understand the consequences of electoral violence. The fact that they committed themselves to a violent-free 2023 election, strengthens the National Election Commission’s (NEC) resolve to ensure upcoming 10 October 2023 elections are carried out with integrity and credibility. The objective of the Farmington River Declaration is to ensure that the 2023 General Elections are free from all forms of violence, including violence against women”. As an amazon of her words, she fulfilled her promise to the people, unlike in Nigeria where the opposite could have been done, particularly as every promises made regarding the last elections, and the recent off-season elections, such as in Imo State, where unfulfilled.

Not only that, she has proven that the hood does not make the monk in the conduct of credible election as she is not a professor. Elsewhere, like in Nigeria, a professor would always be considered to be more honest and truthful to become the boss of the electoral body.

But in Nigeria, it isn’t so. As gathered from the website of the National Elections Commission of Liberia, “Davidetta Browne- Lansanah hails from Maryland County. She holds double Baccalaureate Degrees in Public Administration and Political Science respectively, from the University of Liberia.

“Commissioner Browne-Lansanah holds a Masters of Public Administration Degree in Public Sector Management at the Cuttington University Graduate School.

“She is a veteran Broadcast Journalist and has worked at the Liberia Broadcasting System (LBS), Star Radio and the Talking Drum Studio.

“She worked for many years as National Communications Officer with the United Nations and as Associate Gender Officer with United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL).

“She loves working, singing, dancing and giving care to her two daughters and a host of external relatives”.

At this juncture, it is expedient to ask, “Could the level of credibility, transparency and integrity that characterized the Liberian election have been possible in Nigeria bearing in mind that the outgoing President George Weah proverbially has the knife and yam, and thereby is at liberty to decide who to give the slice or the peel? Again, if it were to be in Nigeria, would the umpire have gotten “the liver”, as they would say in street slangs, to announce the president’s opponent as the winner knowing full well that his job security is tied to the president’s whim and caprice?

Finally, if you ask me, what reward should be given to her by the entire Africans; either through the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) or through the African Union (UN), and even the United Nations (UN), I will recommend that Kudos (Awards) should be given to her for simplifying the interpretation of the saying, “What A Man Can Do, A woman Can Do Better”.