Mismanagement of Public Expectations (Part 1)

Having said this, it behooves upon a responsible and government that really intends to stay in power to be serviceable by ensuring that it meets public expectations. Trying to always maintain a high approval rating must be a government’s topmost priority. Even though a nation’s politics may be delineated along ethnic and regional lines as is notoriously characteristic of Sierra Leone, where a government may seem to easily get approval from its 'own' people from the same tribe or region where some of those in government come from, yet the people themselves expect that government to really meet their expectations; they want to see their circumstances improved. They want to live a better life. They want to see a well-managed economy. They want to see a relatively low cost of living. They want to see safe and decent public transportation system. They want to see an improved healthcare system. They want to see an affordable and quality education system. They want to live in decent dwellings. They want to see the political will to combat corruption head on. They want to see a fair justice system for all. They want to get themselves out of poverty. They want to see the enabling environment created by those in power for them to realize their potential. These are not ‘’missions impossible’’ on the part of those in government if only they care about those that they govern, if only the political will is there. Amartya Sen, a world renowned economist, argues that every human being desires a better life. This assertion always holds true.

So, whereby a government does not seem to have the moral burden of managing the electorate's expectations in the best way possible, that system has a high probability of losing an election, which indicates that it is being rejected and disowned by even its own people. Evidences of such a situation abound the world over, especially in most developing countries where governments are made of up individuals who see themselves as lords and not as servants of the people, and that they are not in any way accountable to the people. These individuals are most times oblivious of the fact that their being in governance is contingent upon the people’s approval, and that such an approval to govern the people will surely expire like a can of baked beans. So whenever they fail to meet the people’s expectations, they are sure to be thrown out of office during elections even by their own ‘people’ of the same ethnic or regional backgrounds. So, the thinking that a set of individuals have the monopoly to rule unduly devoid of serving the people in the best way people, or because of certain centrifugal considerations, is downrightly erroneous, fallacious and shortsighted. Consciousness creeps in when even the man in the streets, as ignorant and illiterate as he may be, sees that he has been notoriously deprived by those in power to an extent that he sees life as meaningless, and that he has been placed on a plane of insignificance-thrashed, tossed and turned like an upturned canoe.  

Technically, a party that loses an election has literally not won the hearts of the people. It may stem from insensitivity of the people’s concerns and failure to gauge public perception. Of course, when trust is lost, all aspects of our relationships come to nought. I want to believe that was what really created the demise of the APC government in the last presidential polls--complacency and lack of responsiveness in managing public expectations. That was also the case of the SLPP government in the 2007 polls. And as if the SLPP did not learn any lesson from that period, I see them preparing for another monumental fall come 2023. Therefore, the SLPP must brace up to ensure that they win the trust of the people if only they want to emerge victorious. And this to me is a herculean task as I am not seeing them ready to do that soon. They seem to be in a vortex of confusion as the APC are still licking their wounds.

Approval rating is bound to haemorrhage whenever a government proves notoriously complacent, and when it thinks that it has already gotten the institutional strength to ward off opposition, and therefore no need to manage public perception and expectations. It is true that money plays a strategically important role in election victory. However, a wise government always ensures that it tries its level best to win public support and approval well before the next election, rather than throwing money around few weeks to elections when it has already lost public trust. Even the most effective marketing strategies employed by a failed government that has not met public expectations are sure to prove ineffective all the way during election campaigns.

A government that concerns itself of not taking for granted how its people think about its activities and in its discharge of responsibilities will always win public support and approval.


ALPHEUS ROGERS is a journalism lecturer at Limkokwing University of Creative Technology at Hill Station, Freetown. +23288436967. The FrontPage05032020.