Recent statements by Alternative National Congress (ANC) leader Alexander Cummings declaring in effect that the change he seeks to make can only be done from the Office of the President have made it clear that the issue of a compromise between him and Joseph Boakai to settle for the post of Vice President is clearly out of the question.
Speaking to the Daily Observer last week on reasons for seeking to lead the 2023 ticket of the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP), Mr. Cummings, amongst other things, said: “When we began this journey, we told ourselves that it would be for real change -- change in mindsets and not only in individuals. The reality of our situation is that no office in our country can seriously do all of these things for all Liberians other than the Office of President.”
He further added, "We are not running only to get a political job. We are running to work -- to work for the country and to change the way we think about ourselves, account for our natural wealth, and to change the way we distribute the nation’s wealth so much so that, as rich as we are, too many Liberians are shamefully too poor, with too many being made beggars in their own country. Only a serious commitment to real change by a President, the first in command, on whose desk, the buck stops, can seriously lead these changes."
Cummings’ statements come in the wake of a press statement by Liberty Party leader Grand Bassa Senator, Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence, openly accusing Mr. Cummings of altering the original framework document spelling out the terms of engagement/reference of the CPP.
For a protracted period, this organization (CPP) has been torn apart by internal squabbles over leadership, as to who heads the ticket of the CPP in the ensuing 2023 Presidential elections.
During the 2017 elections, both individuals were contestants in the race. Joseph Boakai, representing the Unity Party, placed second, next to George Weah, according to the final vote count results. Mr. Cummings, on the other hand, claimed 5th place.
Those elections were, however, marred by allegations of fraud. However, the Supreme Court in its ruling affirmed charges of fraud filed by the opposition Liberty Party leader Charles Walker Brumskine but declared that the occurrence of fraud was not widespread or significant enough to affect the outcomes to warrant an upending of the results of the election.
But those election results left supporters of Joseph Boakai, especially those of his home county, Lofa, with a strong feeling that Boakai had been let down and shortchanged by his boss of twelve (12) unbroken years, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. In their opinion then, Lofa had been denied the opportunity to produce a president of Liberia for the first time.
To a large extent, according to political analysts, that feeling still resonates strongly today, considering recent developments in the CPP, whose 2023 ticket former Vice President Joseph Boakai hopes to head. According to them, Joseph Boakai enjoys solid support in Lofa.
This support, according to them, has of late become more solid, owing to the widespread perception amongst citizens of that county that Lofa County Senator elects Brownie Samukai is being unjustly treated and that attempts to deny his being seated are politically motivated and inspired by the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC).
Boakai, for his part, strongly defends his quest to lead the CPP ticket, brushing aside concerns about his perceived ailing health and his ability to lead. And he has also made it clear that he is not prepared to be second to anyone let alone his partner in the collaboration, Alexander Cummings, who he considers as a political upstart with zero years of experience in public service in contrast to him.
It is about time Cummings or any other person come to terms with the reality. “It’s not my calling to be second anymore. I have served as VP. I have served in several other capacities. It’s about time that I excel."
Many supporters of Joseph Boakai have told this newspaper that they suspect what they claim to be the hidden hands of former President Sirleaf in the CPP imbroglio. They maintain that she does not trust Joseph Boakai as a gatekeeper as much as she trusts George Weah who has in their view stood by his commitment to protect her interests.
Further, according to them, the former President is throwing her support to Cummings to lead the CPP, largely out of embarrassment for the failures of the leadership she ushered into office. But should Cummings fail to clinch the top spot, she is likely to return to the fold of Boakai however bitter a pill such may prove to swallow.
But they sounded a word of caution, adding that since their fallout, Boakai and his former boss have mended fences.
He had accused her of throwing her support to George Weah in 2017 instead. At one point, she and others were expelled from the Unity Party.
But being the wily politician she is, President Sirleaf moved quickly to rescue her image and standing in the Unity Party. According to analysts following several low-key visits to the home of former Vice President Joseph Boakai, it was announced that President Sirleaf had been reaccepted into the fold of the Unity Party.
For his part, former Vice President Boakai, speaking to the press, said, “Former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and I were good friends and we are still good friends, I believe. I can’t recall when we had a conflict and could not work together. I understood her and so I worked with her accordingly. She’s a good woman and she has been good to me."
The outlook certainly does not look good for the survival of the Collaboration. It is said two (2) Captains cannot captain a ship at the same time and it appears that such is the dilemma in which the CPP finds itself with Captains Joseph Boakai and Alexander Cummings tussling over the ship’s helm.
Indications suggest they are both losers, for the CPP is now left to die, having self-administered a fatal dose.