... "Too often in our country, we settle and compromise."
The Standard Bearer of the Alternative National Congress, Alexander Cummings, has rubbished suggestions from some supporters of the opposition community to suspend his quest to be the presidential candidate of the Collaborating Political Parties and settle for Vice President to his counterpart, Joseph N. Boakai of the Unity Party.
The ANC political leader insisted that the reality of Liberia's situation is in such a way that no Office in the land can bring the desired change he seeks than the office of President.
Cummings added that his vision would challenge the nation to own and be responsible for the future; open new doors of opportunities for ourselves, and do things differently - and not to complain that the changes we promised cannot be achieved because we were second or parked."
The latter part of his statement is a jab at former Vice President Boakai who, during the 2017 election campaign, tried to distance himself from the shortcomings of the UP government is under the leadership of his boss, then-President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, by presenting himself analogous to a race car parked in a garage for 12 years.
By his analogy, Boakai implied that he was given little opportunity for his voice to be heard, or for his leadership ability to be felt.
Now, however, Boakai seems to have ditched the "parked car" image of himself, which has continued to haunt him.
For Cummings, who is competing with Boakai for the CPP Standard Bearer position -- his vision primarily aims to change the lives of all five million Liberians who have heard enough excuses and have endured enough broken promises.
"When we began this journey, we told ourselves that it would be for real change -- change in mindsets and not only in individuals," Cummings told the Daily Observer in an exclusive interview last week. "We told ourselves that we would strive to be different. 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."
"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 Liberian 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," he said.
For the above reasons, Cummings vowed not to relinquish his quest of improving the lives of Liberians but to run -- to be the real change President, and the one responsible to lead the changes "our country so desperately needs."
He added that if he compromised and went for the second-in-command position, he would not be in a position to convince anyone to embrace a new mindset when "I cannot do so myself."
"Too often in our country, we settle and compromise too easily. We lower our expectations and get trapped by naysayers about what we cannot do over what we can do," the ANC standard bearer argued. "Too often we want the results but we want to take the shortcuts and easy road to get it. Well, there are no shortcuts to success. I want to show all Liberians that hard work is the path to success, even when others doubt your ability to do the hard work."
Cummings added: "It is this new mindset that will change our country for the better -- not compromising what we know to be wrong only to see us temporarily get by. Real change is not about just trying to get by. It is about trying to finally get it right."
Asked whether he was prepared to go as Vice President in case he doesn't get all the votes to head the CPP presidential ticket, Cummings remains confident in winning such a position -- believing that the numbers are in his favor.
He added he is of no doubt going to win the CPP primary and that real change is coming.
"We know we are winning not just by the efforts we are making on the ground and across the country, but also by the reactions of our opponents and critics," he said confidently. "We will win the CPP nomination, and we will lead the CPP against President Weah. In 2023, Liberians will have the clearest choice possible between real change and a second chance of failure, corruption, incompetence, wastefulness, and thievery. And we will win overwhelmingly in 2023."
Pressed on his thoughts about his colleagues in the CPP who accused him of having "altered and tampered with" their framework document, he once again denied the allegations and considered it as a plot to discredit him.
"I believe given the preponderance and easy availability of the facts. One can be excused for assigning such intentions to the allegations that were shockingly grounded in hearsay and gossip. But let there be no mistake," he added. "Each day that this has gone on, as regretful as we are about the misdirection of our focus, I and the ANC have felt incredibly stronger and more confident that our country needs to be changed, our politics can do with a double dose of fresh ideas, and the choice of change is real for many Liberians.
"I always knew I and the ANC would be ranked underdogs in this CPP primary struggle. Many institutionalists and some of our friends have grown to accept things as they are. Growing frustrated with the possibility and readiness for real change in our country, they have been understandably wary about believing in our chances. But we have always believed in the Liberian people. We have always believed that we are not cursed to not change. Some of our leaders have instead cursed their leadership with promises of change only to break those promises. These have left many of our people suspicious of change agents and doubtful of their commitments to real change. The more we have shown our people that we are truly committed, the more they have continued to believe," the ANC leader said.
However, he said that he regrets, being pulled into such divisive bickering, which "is reasonable to say, the CPP lost focus," and has become distracted and all of this public posturing and bickering can only benefit President Weah, who "we must make a one-term to change the direction of Liberia."
Cummings' remarks on the issue of the CPP framework document comes as the political leader of the Liberty Party, Senator Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence, has directly accused him of illegally modifying the framework that brought them together.
Sen. Karnga-Lawrence’s allegations against Cummings come in the wake of a CPP investigative report that stemmed from an allegation by Benoni Urey that the CPP Framework document, filed at the National Election Commission (NEC), was tampered with.
According to her, the investigative report shows that while Cummings chaired the CPP, which was also the time frame in which the framework document was signed and submitted to the National Elections Commission, the document was altered.
The allegations reinforce the Senator's earlier statement on the matter as CPP chairperson, which was made without the public release of the report, rather through a press statement citing findings from the report.
"I can only hope it will end up becoming one all of us can look back on with respect and admiration. So far, it has unfortunately seen too many rancors, discords, leaks, acrimonies, recriminations, distrusts, and disunity. Maybe there are enough blames to be shared all around. But the unvarnished truth is that all of these are occurring on her watch, many of which would have been avoided. I am tempted to perhaps chalk it all up to the developmental phases of the CPP, hoping that it changes for the better," he said.
In a related development, Cummings has called on Mr. Boakai to take his rightful place as Chairman of the CPP now that the tenure of Sen. Karnga-Lawrence has come to an end.
"In the end, all of these violations test our commitment to obey and adhere to the laws of our country when allowed to serve," he said.