‘Liberia Too Old To Be Poor,’ Says Cummings

The Standard Bearer of the CPP, Alexander Cummings

The Standard Bearer of the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP), Mr. Alexander Cummings, has said that despite Liberia’s vast natural resources, it is too old to rank amongst the poorest nations in Africa and the world. 

While countries that Liberia previously inspired and is far older than, are making significant advancements, the country remains grounded and stagnated, a visibly frustrated Cummings said on July 25, in an address to the nation, marking Liberia's 176th Independence Day celebration.

And fair to the CPP political leader’s assertions, Liberia at 176 years and the oldest independent state in Africa, Liberia practically leads the continent in all of the wrong metrics—pervasiveness of poverty, unemployment, and underemployment. The country is among the world’s ten poorest countries, 51% of the population lives below the poverty line. While education is expected to last 10 years, most Liberians only complete 4.7 years of schooling. 

42.5% of Liberians are without access to protected wells, nutritional programs to offset one or three children under the age of 5 who are stunted, and initiatives against malaria and gender-based violence.

Making some comparative analyses, Cummings pointed out in his address that “Liberia is 118 years older than Singapore, 101 years older than Israel and 110 years older than Ghana, countries, Liberia inspired and assisted to gain independence, yet as we celebrate 176 years, we are ranked amongst the poorest and most corrupt nations on earth.” 

While Liberia's decline did not begin with President George Weah, Cummings said, “Every good thing his administration ever inherited including corruption has historically been made worse.”

He expressed frustration that poverty and suffering are so widespread, and how many Liberians continue to die from preventable and curable diseases, amidst the rich fertile soil and good weather conditions of Liberia.

"The educational system is a shameful mess, health system a disgrace, justice system a joke. We cannot even trust the government to fairly investigate and impartially interpret our laws," Cummings said.

President Weah’s six years rule, the CPP leader added, has become increasingly lawless, posing serious threats to the country's democracy, peace and stability. “things are worsening, with many Liberians living in great apprehension and fear, without jobs and employable skills.”

"Homes are breaking down, families falling apart, children now breadwinners, women and girls struggling for protection against rape, while drugs and crimes take over the streets and communities," Cummings said.

He said Liberia is currently on international economic life-support, with no serious foreign direct investments, due to corruption, wasteful spending, and lack of trust in the leadership of President Weah.

He described the current state of the country under Weah and his Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) as a gangsters’ paradise and a drug haven, “with the country’s passports in the hands of international criminals and drugs barons.” 

"Our democracy is under threat, lawlessness abounds, and our governance is overtaken by cronyism, incompetence stalking dictatorship," Cummings said.

The President’s critics accused him of mismanaging the economy, and he has failed to tackle corruption. They say he has also been unable to revise the health, educational, agriculture, and security sectors as well as build sustainable infrastructures within the country. 

They say government corruption – in the form of bribery, waste, and siphoning off contracts is rampant. According to the Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index 2021, Liberia ranked 136 out of 180 countries. On August 15, 2022, The US’s Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated Weah top officials Nathaniel McGill, Sayma Syrenius Cephus, and Bill Twehway for their involvement in public corruption. 

While in all fairness to the current regime, former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf bequeathed unto Weah an economy in a nosedive, critics say he has worsen it rather than fixing as promised.

Not In It For Riches 

The CPP Standard Bearer also stated during his address that his quest to lead Liberia is not to enrich himself, but rather to join the honest efforts of others to change Liberia for the betterment of all Liberians.

To change the country's direction and alleviate the extreme suffering and poverty, it will require a leader that is physically ready and mentally strong—feats that only he and his CPP possess.

Cummings said after a successful career in the private sector, it will be a disservice for honest Liberians to just sit aside and leave the country to politicians who are only interested in themselves and their families, adding that nothing will ever change in Liberia with such a mindset.

“My commitment to real change is not a mere political slogan, but rather a sincere commitment to break away from the centuries old ways of bad governance including corruption, mediocrity, underdevelopment, without first class schools, hospitals and unpaved and impassable roads,” he said. “We want to halt the gross mismanagement of the country’s resources, and change the selfish, greedy, corrupt and exclusionary mindset that continues to keep the vast majority poor, retard progress and keep the people divided.”

He said “all Liberians own Liberia. All Liberians deserve to benefit from the riches,” he said, “This is the mindset that we will use as a guidepost for all public policies and actions of the Cummings-led government.”

He said fixing the economy means growing small businesses and allowing the Liberian entrepreneurial spirit to soar. “Under a Cummings leadership, Liberian business women don’t have to worry about loans to grow their businesses," he said.

Priority will be placed on innovation and other critical sector, especially for young people, be it in sports to business, to science and arts, he said, adding that success in Liberia will not be a privilege for few, but rather it will be real possibility for all who are willing to venture.

He noted that his administration will provide Liberians with the requisite mentorship and financial support to turn ideas and dreams of Liberians into reality and will foster technological advancement to bridge the digital gap into the the 21st century.

"We will challenge the universities and higher learning institutions to undertake research, expand the creativity, imagination and innovations of professors and students aimed at finding home-grown and sustainable solutions to challenges in areas of medicine, manufacturing, nutrition and food security," Cummings said.