Clashes of Ideologies

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Liberians to hand-down verdict on October 10 as Presidential Candidates discuss ‘the pertinent issues’

It can be termed as the most attractive political gathering so far since the National Elections Commission officially pronounced the commencement of campaigning activities, and it didn’t disappoint as four of the leading candidates for the Liberian presidency, with many pertinent national issues considered, took the stand to say why they should be given a shot at the Liberian presidency.

In anticipation of what to hear from their various candidates, Liberians from all walks of life, including partisans of various political parties as well as undecided voters, converge in their numbers at the Paynesville Town Hall, via radio and online on Thursday to listen to their political leaders state their respective positions in their own words.

The high level of anticipation that greeted the debate has indicated that the Liberian society is gradually becoming politically conscious; more issues oriented and less personality driven.

The organizers of the event, the Deepening Democracy Coalition (DDC), had initially invited the six most highly featured candidates to address the debate. However, four candidates – VP Joseph Nyuma Boakai (UP); Cllr. Charles Walker Brumskine (LP); Benoni Urey (ALP); and Alexander Cummings (ANC) – turned up, while the other two, Senator George Manneh Weah (CDC) and Dr. J. Mills Jones (MOVEE), declined the orgnizers’ invitation. Weah was out of the country while Dr. Jones preferred to pursue another engagement in Grand Cape Mount.

The questions for the debate were drawn from six the​m​a​tic areas of focus for the debate which comprises several CSOs. These thematic areas were -Economy, Agriculture, Peace and Reconciliation, Youth Empowerment, and Security and Rule of Law.​

The moderator did not name a clear-cut winner and there were no judges, leaving the verdict in the hearts and minds of each individual who attended or tuned into the debate.

Below are some of the key points at the debate.


Theme 1: The Economy

  1. Many Liberians live below the poverty line. What specific measures will you put in place to address this issue? How will you fund a poverty reduction program?

Boakai: Roads, roads, roads
Roads, roads, roads. Open up this country, and we’ll open up opportunities. Some of my colleagues are talking about a track record. If you have a race car in the garage and you want to see if it can run, then put it on the race track to test it.

Cummings: Privatize infrastructure
Invest in infrastructure. My administration will privatize infrastructure. That is the fastest way to grow our economy. Invest in education, the long-term solution to poverty in Liberia. The way to fight poverty is to go after waste and corruption in government and invest in our natural resources and redirect those monies to areas where they are needed most.

Brumskine: Not poverty reduction, but poverty alleviation
I do not subscribe to poverty reduction, but poverty alleviation. In the short run, we will use public procurement — the lion-share of it going to Liberians, putting Liberians in business. Use the agriculture sector, transition our farmers from subsistence to commercial farming. The current administration has done a lot of talking, but lacked the political will to put it into reality.

Urey: Make economy agro-based
Requires educated, experienced and committed people to address. As an economist, planner and accomplished businessman, I can do it. We must make our economy agro-based; make mini-industries to support the larger ones. We will reopen Agriculture Development Bank and the National Housing Bank; put more money into the people’s pocket to give them purhcasing power. We must never again listen to promises in Liberia, but look at what people have done. We need a new manager.

 

  1. Liberia has a budget deficit of about 8.5 percent of GDP, according to some estimates. This deficit as you know affects operations of government services. What specific plans do you have to address the repeated budget deficit, so that government operates smoothly?

Cummings: Address waste in government
We have to address the waste in government. Look at the procurement process. Revenue side of the equation: can we get more out of our resources? Then reduce the salaries of the people at the top end of government.

Brumskine: Deficit financing, but with financial discipline
A budget deficit is not necessarily a bad thing. There are times when we will need deficit financing, but we need financial discipline. We have to reverse the situation. The top officials take the lion share of the money. Karnwea and I have agreed to reduce our salaries by 30%. We need to expand the tax base: We need to invest in agriculture, diversify our economy and empower Liberians. Compare top level officials’ office appropriations with key indicators such as funding of social services such as hospitals.

Urey: Deficit comes from poor planning
The whole thing of budget is a planning phenomenon. We note the need for a planning ministry. I you don’t have the requisite skills and knowledge to plan, you will have a deficit. I will work with the Legislature to ensure that the Ministry of Planning and Development will be reinstated. As president, I will effect a 50% reduction in my salary. This government has been too business unfriendly. Increasing taxes doesn’t necessarily give you revenue. 80% of our budget is on recurrent expenses. That’s too high.

Follow-up question: Do you think we have had unqualified people managing our budget at the Ministry of Finance?

Answer: Not at all. We have some of the brightest young minds that have served at the Ministry of Finance. However, Planning, coming out a civil war, is the most important ministry. We must also create a ministry of rural development.

Boakai: We need a balanced budget, but we lack fiscal discipline
We are too donor dependent. I have always said, an over protected child cannot be saved. Liberia has the resources. We don’t have to go to people for the money. My counterparts talk about my experience. I have experience. Fiscal discipline to spend the money that we have; the need to be determined to do the right thing. 

Follow-up: On fiscal discipline, are you suggesting that this government has been irresponsible?
Answer: This government has not been only UP, but members of LP, CDC and other parties — all of us. So fiscal indiscipline is all of our problem.

  1. The majority of Liberia’s budget is spent on the recurring costs of running the government, especially as it relates to salary payments. What measures do you propose to reign in the high cost of running government?

Brumskine: Reduce salaries, fringe benefits
On the reduction of salaries of people at the top, we have to be careful about the purchases we make in government. Vehicles, gasoline and fuel… there is no audit; they have been receiving millions and millions of dollars in gas slips. We need to monitor gas mileage and other detailed line items of expenditure.

Cummings: Grow the budget, stimulate growth
The question has been answered as if the budget is static. One way to reduce that percentage is to grow the budget. We do this by stimulating the growth; make the government more business friendly; we tie our hands too much. We will reduce tax rates we’ll make more money, which would reduce corruption and also we’ll make money from our natural resources. I want us to rethink how we think of ourselves. We should think more expansively. We will create wealth by growing the economy.

Urey: Curtail expenditure
It’s a matter of governance. If we don’t have structures to ensure that it does not occur, it will continue to occur. Even if our economy grows to over a billion dollars, it does not change anything unless we curtail unnecessary expenditures. What percentage of our budget will we use to get our country moving forward. Reduce the expenditures of vehicles: instead of US$70K vehicle, how about a US$20K car?

Boakai: Be disciplined but practical with expenditure
Thank God people now know how much people earn in government. Knowing the problem is knowing part of the solution. For the first 6 years, I got half of my allowances. This is part of the discipline we are talking about: What part of the expenditure do we need to cut? (To Urey) A US$20K car will not last on the deplorable up-country roads such as to Lofa or the Southeast. Our solutions have to be more practical.

 

Theme 2: Security and Rule Law

  1. What specific plans do you have to strengthen the justice sector, so that it adequately responds to the high crime rate and the backlog of pre-trial detentions which has led to overflowing prison populations in the country?

Urey: opt for a Minsitry of National Security
This is not just a challenge for the President of Liberia, but for every Liberian. My government will opt for a Minsitry of National Security. We don’t want the executive branch of governemnt to be too involved in the security matters. NSA, LNP, Immigration, all report to the president. In this case, they are not unified in their advice to the President and many times they are dishonest to the President.

Boakai: Security is a holistic concept
Internal and external security. We have done well training our security. For me security is a holistic concept: access to food, safety, etc. Security issues are a result of unresolved crime. If we improve the quality of education of people, we improve the lives of people.
Putting rules are good, but enforcing them is more important.

Cummings: Unemployment our biggest security risk
Our biggest national security risk is the number of unemployed and unemployable Liberians. the percentage is an unsustainable number. Yes, we need to strengthen our police force and soldiers. But unless we fix the economy by providing jobs for our people, we will not solve the national security problems. There must be consequences for crime, no matter who you are.

Brumskine: Ensure Justice Ministry’s independence
We need to have our law enforcement people trained. But the most important thing the LP government will do will be to ensure the independence of the Ministry of Justice. To ensure that the Justice ministry does not have to call the Executive Mansion to get approval as to whether or not a matter should be prosecuted. Not every probable cause should give rise to a jail sentence. I agree with Cummings that the underlying problem is the economy. The Sirleaf economic policy has been based on the Tubman economy policy… which relied on only our natural resources.

  1. What specific plans do you have to protect women and girls from sexual violence, considering that many perpetrators of sex crimes do not serve a day in jail and most victims rarely get justice?

Cummings: sexual violence unacceptable
Sexual violence is completely unacceptable and we will prosecute anyone in our society who commits those crimes. We will commit in my administration that 30% to 50% of our government will be women, because they will add value to development and enforcement of laws.

Brumskine: Rape law needs to be enforced
Let’s start with the young girls in the classroom, where they are taken advantage of by teachers. Predatory teachers should be jailed. Rape law is on the books and simply needs to be enforced. 3 of the people who I love the most happen to be women. My mother, my wife and my daughter Charlene. These 3 women have shaped my life in many ways and the least I can do is to show every woman in this country: I have your back.

Boakai: Teach girls how to protect themselves
I have said of the police quite often that the badges that the police wear are not hunting licenses. They must be people that are trained and honest enough, that love this country, who should be the ones to administer security in this country. Also we must improve ways to teach girls how to protect themselves. Law enforcement, the Courts and self-protection of citizens go hand in hand to make it work.

Urey: Fast track court for rape
I am not a believer in reversed discrimination. Men are also raped, sexually harassed and molested in Liberia. So, this is not only about females. I have 5 women in my family – 4 daughters and one wife. Justice delayed and justice denied must never be tolerated in this country. We must create legislation to ensure that there is a fast-track court for rape. The department in the police responsible for rape need to be trained to handle such cases. We must put the resources to the right thing, with a fast track court exclusively for rape.

  1. Quite recently, some law makers instituted an impeachment proceeding at the House of Representatives against three justices of the Supreme Court of Liberia? There are many who are of the opinion that this action will affect the peace and security of the country.  What are your views?

Brumskine: House is dead wrong
The members of the House are dead wrong, and the Supreme Court has
If you are not satisfied with the Supreme Court decision, write a new law to address that decision.

Cummings: Out of order
You cannot have one branch of Government questioning the decisions of another branch.

Boakai: We must respect the law
I cannot render judgement on it at this moment. We have to respective the laws of our judgement. Our lawmakers are capable people. We are waiting for the outcome. Whatever is the outcome, that’s the law and we have to respect that.

Urey: Both branches in error
We must all agree there are three separate, distinct and independent branches of government. We also agree that this case: one branch of government does not have the right to interfere in another’s function. But when one branch appears to interfere with the function of another, it becomes questionable. The Supreme Court’s action was tantamount to creating a law. Even though they might have stepped in the prerogative of another branch of government, that other branch also stepped in the prerogative in the previous branch. Both branches were in error.
There is a concerning trend of letting faults slide “in the interest of peace”. We need to decide in the interest of the country.

 

Theme 3: Peace and Reconciliation

  1. The findings and recommendations of the TRC have been lingering for about eight years. Do you have any suggestion for implementing those recommendations?

Brumskine: Start with palava hut approach
My understanding of the report is that it took two parallel approaches: retributive justice and restorative justice. Under my administration, make no mistake, there will be no tolerance for impunity. But we can get perpetrators later. Let’s start with the palava hut approach.

Cummings: Focus on reconciliation
We cannot change the past, but we can influence the now and the future. I believe Liberians should focus on reconciliation. If we focus on retributive, I believe it will consume us and divide us. I want us to build monuments, and conferences through which we can acknowledge the pain and hurt. But by expanding the economy with access for everyone, will make things better for us all.

Boakai: Preferred the South African approach
When the TRC started, I always wanted to see the South African approach. I have the strongest belief that once we open our economy, people will build their lives; the hurt that is there will go after a period of time.

Urey: Perpetrators must get their day in court
The TRC, not only the report, but the whole process continues to haunt us as a people. Why? Because we didn’t do it right. We had actors in our civil war who were members of the TRC; actors who appeared before the TRC and admitted to their crimes and boasted about them. Under a Urey government, the TRC must be revisited. We know who did what in this country, and they all must get their day in court. The ALP has the 15 musts: one of those is to reconcile and unite our country. The most important thing is to reconcile our country and we must love one another.

  1. During the civil war, we lost thousands because of ethnicity. We thought we had moved past that during the post-conflict era. But during these campaigns, the old congau/native divide was reignited. There has been advocacy to declare Liberia a Christian state. Would you clearly condemn tribal and religious bigotry? What are your plans to heal the divide that could threaten the peace that we continue to enjoy?

Cummings: Shame on advocates of divisiveness
It has been very disappointing to hear Liberians advocate such divisive politics. Hunger, joblessness, poverty does not distinguish between different types of Liberians. I want to be a president of all Liberians. We as leaders should be talking about bringing ourselves together and shame on those who are advocating that [divisive] point of view.

Boakai: Committed to an inclusive government
I don’t feel inferior to anyone. For me, tribalism is not part of my blood; I have friends all over. For us, we have already committed ourselves to an inclusive government. On Christian state, proponents should live the Christian life and be an example for others to follow freely.

Urey: We are all indigenous one way or another
Tribalism- A poster that appeared on the internet with Boakai called an indigenous ticket. Boakai has given me no reason to believe he is a tribalist. Nuquay and I are from the same Presbyterian church. But we must be cognizant that this campaign, people would say anything to win! If I told you that I am an indigenous person, you wouldn’t believe it. On Christian State: We never thought anyone would have considered such foolishness. Now even some Muslims are supporting candidates who are proponents of the Christian State, and this is confusing.

Brumskine: We must learn more about ourselves
It is a shame that every elections cycle, the country vs congau divide rears its ugly head. Then after elections, we all become Monrovia people. My government will set up a commission of experts from each of the ethnic groups so that we can trace the contribution of every ethnic group to Liberia. King Bob Gray was referred to by settlers as the Education Chief because he made them sign a document that all Bassa children would be educated. So much information about ourselves, such as this is not widely known.

 

Theme 4: Anti-Corruption

  1. President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has said that her government has fallen short in the fight against corruption. If elected, how do you plan to address the menace?

Boakai: I believe in the enforcement of the Law
President Sirleaf did not say she did not try. I believe in the enforcement of the laws; setting up of a system that would ensure accountability. Our country is where it is because of corruption. Those who gave, those who received of corruption, must be exposed.

Urey: Bad sore needs bad medicine
When Doe took power, he executed 13 because of rampant corruption. If he saw today, he would execute thousands. When Pres. Sirleaf took office, we believe she really had the desire to tackle corruption. We must treat bad sore with bad medicine. Must have a fast-track court on corruption. We will also set up the mechanism to ensure that there is no corruption.

Brumskine: 3-S Mechanism
If Sirleaf and Boakai couldn’t fight corruption as admitted, I wonder how Joe will fight it alone! The combat against corruption is a war and has a perception factor. We are going to implement a 3-S mechanism: System (of accountability), Shame (the criminals) and Sanctions (which must be imposed indiscriminately).

Cummings: Must tackle corruption on multiple fronts
First, apoint a corruption Tzar, to oversee all anti-corruption institutions. Then prosecute corrupt officials and jail them. Under Cummings government, no one come and beg for corrupt officials. I will not take a salary. I will contribute my entire salary to fighting corruption.

  1. Allegations of nepotism have plagued this government and previous governments. What are your views on nepotism? If elected, would you employ your children, siblings and other relatives in your government?

Urey: Dangerous, hard to avoid
But you cannot impose that as a president completely. We criticized Tolbert for nepotism; we still see it in the current administration. It is dangerous, but we cannot deny family members from serving their country, but

Brumskine: We Have to Be Careful About This
One has to be careful that the children or siblings of a president do not get penalized. I say that none of my children will be employed in any position that Liberian people will say that it’s a “chopping place” (lucrative) job. But I will not stop my children from serving their country in government. For example, I [might] send my daughter to the Gender Ministry.

Cummings: No Immediate Family Will Serve
In a Cummings government, no immediate family members will serve. This is a sacrifice we as a family will have to make.

Boakai: I cannot stop my children from working for their country
If people are qualified to work the condition should not be because they are my children. It is good to be practical and honest with people.

Final question:

Which of these sectors would be a priority for you, if you should be elected: Health, taxation, corruption, education, (especially girl’s education)?

Boakai: Agriculture is Our Best Bet
We must produce food enough to feed ourselves; have good roads to do that. This country must be able to be independent in food production to be able to employ people in the rural areas.

Urey: Health
I would select health because we all have to be alive to do the rest. The danger of not having the requisite healthcare in this country is what we need to address urgently. I will close down JFK hospital and revamp it to make it the referral hospital it was in the 1970s.

Brumskine: Corruption Trumps Everything
We need to deal with corruption to have to resources to deal with everything else. Government has misplaced priority on health care: more emphasis has been put on curative medicine than on preventive medicine.

Cummings: Tackling Corruption is our priority
To generate the funds. Our first priority is infrastructure: electricity, water, roads and internet connectivity. Our second priority is job creation: agriculture… Then education, then health.

 

Closing remarks from candidates

Boakai: Be very practical in word and deed
Liberians will judge us by our track record. If we improve sanitation of our people, we will be able to improve the health and wellbeing of our people. I don’t believe in NATO (No Action, Talk Only)… We need to be very practical in what we say and do. We need to open up this country with roads. Liberians should be empowered. I lived here all my life and have nowhere else to go and will stay here to ensure that Liberia moves forward.

Cummings: Change you can trust, not superficial change
We deserve a better Liberia. The way to get a better Liberia is not by doing the same things the same way. We need change you can trust, not superficial change. the best predictor of future behavior and performance is past behavior and performance. If you elect a Cummings, 6 years from now, if you ask whether we are better off after those 6 years, I am confident the answer will be yes.

Brumskine: I have requisite and relevant experience
[Listing of past experience…] Under my leadership in the Senate we grew the number of business in the Liberianization policy from 16 busineses to 26 businesses. We established a legislative budget office. I come with the requisite and relevant experience to lead this country.

Urey: This election will decide many things for Liberia
I want us all to remember the suffering masses out there in Liberia. Do not forget the hungry, destitute people out there who are craving for a change. Remember that this election will decide a lot of things for us as a people. There’s not much free in the world again. Donald Trump says he does not want to be president of the world, just president of the USA. I am reminded of the position our youth find themselves in — jobless…. Under my administration there is hope for us… If your mother is ill and you take her to JFK and she dies, you killed her. If your brother is unable to stand as a man and take care of his home, you did it. This is how important your vote is this October.

—END OF DEBATE—

38 COMMENTS

  1. I have never heard so much bulls*t before . Boakai says the pain will go away from eh war. it is over 15 years and most of us still have that pain. Rape, Girls should protect themselves. How can they when the raises are in government? Totally useless talk. After 15 years, whee are the roads.

  2. Why was the Samuel Kanyon Doe SKD stadium or the Antoinette Tubman Stadium ATS not used as suitable venues to host the 2017 Presidential debate?

    Are the debates a lodge meeting suitable for the few who could take up seats in Paynesville town hall? Or Would a stadium venue not have created a more inclusive atmosphere conducive for a more diverse cross section of the Liberian society?

  3. WITH SUCH KEY NATIONAL SECURITY, PEACE, JUSTICE, SAFETY, AND THE ULTIMATE RULE OF LAW SUBJECT MATTER OF TRC RECOMMENDATION OR THE ESTABLISHMENT OF A WAR CRIMES TRIBUNAL FOR LIBERIA NOT INCLUDED ON THE SO CALLED DEBATE AGENDA, NOT TO TALK ABOUT THE FACT THAT OVER 90 PERCENT OF VOTERS CAN NEVER HEAR, WATCH, NOR READ, WHAT WAS UTTERED FROM THESE CANDIDATES, IT IS FAIR TO SAY THAT EXERCISE WAS A MERE BLUFF AND A WASTE OF TIME.

  4. I think VP Boakai was the least performing candidate at the debate. Brumskine and Cummings performed better. Urey came third.

  5. I’m not surprise of the excellence performance of Mr. Cummings in the first presidential debate. His Corporate experience in the United States gave him wide advantage over his rivals. He’s the most important asset Liberians have for the October presidential election. He has economic skills that will help grow the Liberian economy, create jobs, and make it more sustainable unlike other candidates whose economic policies are not measurable, but more political than reality. Thanks to the organizers of this important debate. Please have all debates on TV channels in Liberia.

    • Eric; thanks! I fully agree with you. The V.P made a very important point. One of Liberia’s biggest problem is roads. To open up opportunities you must have GOOD roads. No matter what, for the Liberian Economy to boom, we must be able to get from point A to B with ease.

  6. I edge everyone to read each candidate closing remark. Thanks to the organizers. With no further due, could we have another debate and please try to persuade the other candidates to show up.

  7. HONESTY, CONSISTENCY, AND ARTICULATIVE EXCELLENCE in response to the questions viz the given themes during a debate ARE THE SINE QUA NON for rating or grading a debatee a winner or a loser.

    Accordingly, BOAKAI AND UREY WERE THE WINNERS for their individual honesty, consistency, and articulative excellence; while Brumskine and Cummings were the loosers as the consequence of their dishonesty, inconsistency, and very poor articulations.

    FOR EXAMPLE: While Brumskine had to mislead himself about been able to “alleviate poverty”, and not even reduce such natural phenomennon, and his LIES that his “children will not hold lucrative positions” Boakai was honest to face reality that he cannot stop his children from working for their country. Boakai focused on ROADS, ROADS, ROADS, …SO MUCH NEEDED IF LIBERIA MUST BENEFIT FROM ITS MAJOR SOURCES OF THE ECONOMY. A factor tallying WELL WITH UREY´S AGRO-BASED ECONOMY, and his Urey´s honesty that while it is dangerous and hard to avoid, you cannot deny family members from serving their country!

    Like Boakai, Urey is an honest man. Brumskine LYING, LYING, LYING shocks the conscience! AGAIN, in the final question the responses from Urey and Boakai are sacrosanct to the needs of Liberia —Boakai´s argriculture is our best bet, and Urey´s emphasis on HEALTH. MORE SOON!

    Congratulation Boakai and Urey! You won the debate as a result of your individual HONESTY, CONSISTENCY, AND ARTICULATIVE EXCELLENCE, in response to the questions viz the given themes during a debate ARE THE SINE QUA NON for rating or grading a debatee a winner or a loser.

    Cummings and Brumskine the both of you lost as a ressult of your individual dishonesty, inconsistency, and very poor articulations.

  8. The headline should have been clashes of the policies, not ideologies. Ideology is a system of both political and economic, perhaps, a so-called theoretical science. The candidates were not debating on the system of ideology for which that country runs under. They were debating on ideas that they will put in as to grease the system so it can operate properly in serving the general welfare of the citizens . They were not debating on ideologies and their theories.

    • To designate something as a policy implies that a formal decision has been made, giving official sanction to a particular course of action. And this is not the case here. Hence, THE HEADLINE IS CORRECT.

      For ideology, in a social/scientiic or political sense, refers to a more or less coherent set of ideas(Boaki=s roads, roads, roads, and respect for the rule of law with Urey=s “Perpetrators must get their day in court, etc., etc.) that provide the basis for some kind of organized political action….which are precisely the individual intentions of the candidates.

      These set of coherent ideas known as ideologies offer an account or critique of the existing order, and provide THE MODEL (eg. Boakai=s Agriculture is our best bet or Urey=s Make economy agro based) of a desired future, A VISION OF A GOOD SOCIETY, outlining how political change or social transformation can and should be brought about ( Urey=s “Must have a fast-track court on corruption”, BOAKAI=S “Be very practical in word and deed, AND Committed to an inclusive government”)!!!
      .

  9. Thank God Liberians are hearing it. VP Boakai is leading head-on and for those of us who heard politicians in the 80s’ now know how they deceived us. There is no JESUS among all the presidential candidates who will perform that miracle they are promising. Youth, old, young, women, girls & boys, belief in yourself and vote your vote base on your best judgment and not sentiment or crow carrier politician.

  10. The first presidential debates in the US on September 26, 1960 between Vice President Nixon & Senator Kennedy were of entertainment and commercial value respectively to a captivated audience and a television station which saw its ratings jumped. Any political value was minimal. In the 2016 US presidential debates, performance had no effect on the outcome, and the winner who promised to “Making America Great Again” is making minor missteps many of us are praying he corrects in the interest of national cohesion and global security.

    So now that the organizers of our presidential debates have had their fifteen minutes of fame during which they asked candidates their opinions on a slew of issues to which they got ready responses, when would the public read their written and verifiable political platforms, or manifestos.

    Thankfully, together all four candidates were concerned and correct on national security and rule of law. It should give one hope of a common determination to prioritize a matter of existential primacy; a commitment, if you will, to make Liberians safe and secure under the law. And by implication disavowing a police state which uses threat of force or reckless force to persuade the ruled whose votes the rulers wooed with unfulfilled promises.

    The question then is, where are their elections’ manifestos which flesh out those great intentions in detail; how would they be paid for, and when will they be implemented? These are almost the same points Education Minister Wisner raised on his Facebook page for which some assailed him. That’s what deplorable about us, we attack character rather the merit or demerit of the position taken. (Condemn, but learn to commend too is a worthy advice).

    Lastly, like the last American presidential debates, ours don’t mean anything without documents as evidence with which to hold the next president or administration accountable. Talk is cheap, and debating skills don’t translate to effective, ethical, responsive, responsible, and accountable political leadership: Another elitist jamboree, indeed.

  11. Sylvester Gbayahforh Moses,
    Correction,my understanding is that there was no television station during that 1960 debate between Vice President Nixon & Senator Kennedy it was heard on radio station., I could be wrong.

  12. Location: CBS’s WBBM – TV in Chicago.

    Some viewers gave Kennedy the edge because reportedly a quick – thinking aide game him powder for his face, which added to his youthful look while sweat made the older Nixon’s face a little pudgy…

    Don’t make me laugh, Ernest B. Johnson. This would suggest that the debates were decided on the criteria of a beauty contest whIle US and Soviet nuclear arms posed “mutually assured destruction” (MAD) to planet earth!

    The world has been a crazy place since Satan convinced humans that they too were God, if you ask me.

  13. To designate something as a policy implies that a formal decision has been made, giving official sanction to a particular course of action. And this is not the case here. Hence, THE HEADLINE IS CORRECT.

    For ideology, in a social/scientiic or political sense, refers to a more or less coherent set of ideas(Boaki=s roads, roads, roads, and respect for the rule of law with Urey=s “Perpetrators must get their day in court, etc., etc.) that provide the basis for some kind of organized political action….which are precisely the individual intentions of the candidates.

    These set of coherent ideas known as ideologies offer an account or critique of the existing order, and provide THE MODEL (eg. Boakai=s Agriculture is our best bet or Urey=s Make economy agro based) of a desired future, A VISION OF A GOOD SOCIETY, outlining how political change or social transformation can and should be brought about ( Urey=s “Must have a fast-track court on corruption”, BOAKAI=S “Be very practical in word and deed, AND Committed to an inclusive government”)!!!
    .

  14. CUMMINGS IS UNFIT FOR THE PRESIDENCY! READ INFRA (BELOW)

    Quite recently, some law makers instituted an impeachment proceeding at the House of Representatives against three justices of the Supreme Court of Liberia? There are many who are of the opinion that this action will affect the peace and security of the country.  What are your views?

    Cummings: Out of order
    “You cannot have one branch of Government questioning the decisions of another branch.”

    MY GOD!!! THIS IS A GUY WHO WANTS TO BE PRESIDENT OF A COUNTRY, HEAD OF GOVERNMENT, AND COMMANDER IN CHIEF, AND IS SO IGNORANT TO THE CONSTITUTIONAL DOCTRINES AND PRINCIPLES OF CHECKS AND BALANCES! NO WONDER WHY HE WANTS TO TACITLY SELL THE COUNTRY!

    MY FRIEND, IF WHAT YOU ARE SAYING THAT “You cannot have one branch of Government questioning the decisions of another branch,” THEN THERE WOULD BE NOTHING ABOUT CHECKS AND BALANCES NOT TO TALK ABOUT THE JUDICIAL POWER OF IMPEACHMENT GIVEN TO THE LEGISLATURE!!!

    Cummings, the Constitution DOES NOT call for a rigid separation of powers among the three branches. Instead it requires each branch to share key parts of the others= powers making it easier FOR EACH BRANCH TO CHECK THE OTHER TWO.

    This design is known as the system of checks and balances. For example, submit laws to the president for approval, and if the president finds it QUESTIONABLE, he or she can veto (REJECT) THAT LAW, and the Legislature can question her action or decision by overriding the president=s veto by a two thirds of the House.

    CONFIRMATION HEARINGS OF PRESIDENTIAL APPOINTEES! LAWS PASSED BY THE LEGISLATURE CAN BE STRUCK DOWN AS UNCONSTITUTIONAL BY THE SUPREME COURT, BUT THE LEGISLATURE CAN INITIATE THE PROCESS OF CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT TO OVERRIDE THE COURT!

    SO YOU BETTER TRY AND GO BACK TO A CLASS ON THE CONSTITUTION BEFORE WANTING TO BE OVERNIGHT PRESIDENT!

    “You cannot have one branch of Government questioning the decisions of another branch.” MY GOD!!! NO WONDER!!!

  15. Although a good starter, it is not too farfetched to call the Debate an ‘elitist exercise’ as millions of Liberians who lacked access to television, radio, or smartphone did not get to see this, except for a few of our fellow Liberians in Monrovia. Hence, the impact on how this shapes the electorate opinions about the candidates may well be minimal. Nonetheless, the debate organizers would do well to strengthen the process by improving on their missteps: Finding avenues to make the process more accessible to as many Liberians;tightening the process of questioning by developing questions more specific to the candidates by zeroing in on their written Platforms,etc. No candidate won this debate in my opinion!

  16. We still don’t know the true identity of Alex Cummings, where he went to school, actual place of birth, job experience besides the cocola factory job.

    Unconfirm info has it that he is a high school dropout who was hired and trained on the job by cocola in Nigeria.

    His performance in the debate was very poor that requires us to demand more info.

    • Bill Nagbe, you don’t have the information because you refuse to even Google for it, and the “unconfirmed info” you mention are actually lies you have made up.

  17. Mr. Nagbe, it is not an academic debate but a political debate. Has Cummings not being
    prolific, holding the grammatic orders in sequence and display in public, we would have
    doubt his educational capability. You owe Mr. Cummings an apology!

  18. Excellent format and a very good start for Liberia politics and future candidates; the questions were intelligent, practical and allowed each candidate the opportunity to explain their position. I am certainly clear who will provide sincere leadership- at least attempt to do so. Lastly, it is sad that the other candidates did not participate. They should have.

  19. @ Bill Nagbe

    Regardless of your political affiliation, innuendos and propaganda are disingenuous to any presidential candidate or a politician running for office. It would be appropriate if your allegations were based on facts and not hearsay.

    Why assassinate Mr. Cummings’ character when you explicitly said, ” We still don’t know the true identity of Alex Cummings, where he went to school, his actual place of birth, job experience besides the Coca-cola factory job. Unconfirmed info has it that he is a high school dropout who was hired and trained on the job by Coca-cola in Nigeria.” These allegations are totally unfounded.

    In this modern era of technology and social media, if one is in doubt of a presidential candidate’s background or work history, simply Google his/her name or do a relevant search of any subject matter to ascertain a better understanding of whom the person is. It is sometimes comical how some Liberians relied solely on “hearsay” as evidence! It is sad how some Liberians tarnished the characters of people they barely know.

    This election is very crucial in determining the future destiny of Liberia. Few debates should not be the only markers by which voters judge these presidential candidates and politicians running for political office. Although the debates help individuals with good communication skills in articulating their political agendas; nevertheless, there are more qualities needed to make a person ready to handle Liberia’s complicated problem.

    I think it would be wise for Liberians to study each candidate very carefully: know his/her past performances, character, and action plan (manifesto).

    Leadership traits entail someone who is focus, who has confidence, who is trasparent, who is innovative, who is inspirational, who is workaholic, who is passionate, who exudes positivity, who is decisive, who is insightful, who is persistent, who is generous, who is personable, who is open-minded, who is empowering, who is authentic, who is patient, who has integrity, who is fiscally responsible, and last but not least who is a problem-solver. We have yet to discover this individual for the Liberian Presidency.

    However, You (Nagbe) can find Alex B. Cummings Bio on his website: https://alexanderbcummings.com/
    and on:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_B_Cummings_Jr.

    Full Disclosure: By the way, I’m not affiliated with any political party. My loyalty is to MAMA LIBERIA!!

  20. P. Allison Tarlue Sr.,

    There is no where in any of our comments in which we have asserted that Alexander Benedict Cummings has ever been “implicated in corruption.” Our indictment must be preceded By a forensic investigation. And we have not made any such investigation on Cummings.

    The fact that Cummings is unfit to become President of Liberia or any other country for that matter, is based on the proof that he Alexander Benedict Cummings HAS NO IDEA ABOUT THE CONSTITUTIONAL DOCTRINES AND PRINCIPLES OF CHECKS AND BALANCES! And here is the proof from Cummings himself: “You cannot have one branch of Government questioning the decisions of another branch.” WHAT?!

    This is very shameful, and makes one to believe what Bill Nagbe is saying that CUMMINGS may actually be “a high school dropout who was hired and trained on the job by cocola in Nigeria.”

  21. Folks, head – splitting over who was more voluble at the debates serves no valuable purpose, and only plays to the vanity of the person praised. Most likely, among English – speaking West Africans, regardless of level of education, Liberians are the best communicators. So let’s pipe down on debating skills. That’s not what will transform our people and country.

    What has been lacking in governance for a long time is integrity, honesty, trustworthiness, and the other essential character traits for effective political leadership. That’s why political platforms are needed to hold any new leadership accountable.

    For example, President Sirleaf can swoon any audience in the world with her oratory skills, but she unconscionably betrayed the trust of a postwar nation. One more leader like her, “lord have mercy”, will lead our country to another conflict. If that’s not scary enough, continue singing praises about speechifying.

  22. Lest I forget, contrast EJS with Dr Mill Jones who for good reasons boycotted the talking – head symposium called “presidential debates”. He saw the suffering of the marginalized; went, spoke, and they responded like never seen before.

    So whereas EJS allowed the Finance Ministry to arrange loans for rich friends, and pretended to not know that a state corporation( NASCORP) loaned LP’s Brumskine & Karnweay a whopping $USD 1.5 million to finance their own rubber business, the CBL governor empathized, and identified with the need for entrepreneurs among the downtrodden: equality of opportunities. And if alarmed politicians had not sabotaged the efforts, it would have worked swimmingly with no financial loss to the bank.

    Dr. Mill Jones has not been in the Liberian “pollytrick” for long, hence has no chance in a 2017 race of identity politics, but is a compassionate caliber any new administration would want to have abroad.
    Talking about leadership, not all leaders are talking heads, the successful ones are known by their deeds!

  23. Mr. Moses, we do not think the “hair splitting” or if we quote you the “head splitting” is about which candidate should be considered as the one chracterized by a ready and continuous flow of words, fluent, glib, or the most talkative.

    Rather, the obvious “hair splitting” or “head splitting” is about which of the candidates= IDEA, MODEL, OR VISION, shared sends a message that he is the brand of political leader the nation needs at this time, or he even qualifies for the position of Chief Executive.

    For example, I in particular would have never known Alexander Benedict Cummings had only an elementary “civics for Liberian schools” knowledge of the three branches of the Liberian Government, and how he is a danger by virtue of HIS IDEA TO ENRICH THE ELITE AND FOREIGN COMPANIES AT THE DETRIMENT OF THE MASSES VIA HIS IDEA OF “PRIVITIZING INFRASTRUCTURES” in such as Liberia=s economy!

    Or, in furtherance, how my personal disdain for a “political Brumskine” is justified via what I gathered from his ideas shared that he is simply a power seeking hypocrite who conceals his personal selfish ambition behind his “crocodile” rhetoric of the common good.

    And the most annoying aspect of this Cummings privitizing infrastructure idea is that research has shown that in especially third world countries, the very funds given for the privitization of national infrastrucure are state funds loaned to the elite who in turn become mighty sharehilders and owners of the national privitized infrastructures.

  24. Brother ZoedJallah,

    I see where you’re coming from, but for what purpose? In furtherance of my original position, neither the presidential debates nor the reviews about them are going to impact the decisions of the majority marginalized voters. Decades of unfulfilled promises and unconscionable betrayals have immunized them against cheap talk.

    By the way, my use of “head – splitting” was deliberate and apt in that context; it suggests that contending commenters are causing themselves unnecessary headaches. Whereas the idiom “splitting hairs” indicates arguing about petty things. And I’m the last person to trivialize matters of national security import such as, for example, reforming a governing ethos that has kept our country backward and we dangerously divided.

  25. Brother Moses,

    We meant no harm. As legal experts, we have a particularly hair-splitting mentality. In other words, the spirit of my comment is that in as much as “neither the presidential debates nor the reviews about them are going to impact the decisions of the majority marginalized voters”, it is also cool to “hair-split” what these candidates have said, since, in fact the debate itself is a mere strife of interests been masqueraded as a contest of principles!

    Notwithstanding the fact that by “hair-splitting,” commenters have been able to see through the duplicity of the likes of Brumskine, and the utter ignorance of Cummings viz the constitutional doctrine and political principle of checks and balances amongst the three branches of our government.

    As a matter of fact, Brother Moses, where we agree with your view that that “contending commenters are causing themselves unnecessary headaches” IS THE FACT THAT IT IS A FOREGONE CONCLUSION THAT THE MAN OF THE PEOPLE THE AMBASSADOR SENATOR GEORGE MANNEH WEAH SHALL WIN THE ELECTION IN OCTOBER AND BE INAUGURATED IN JANUARY 2018 AS A NEW DAWN AND A NEW POLITICAL DISPENSATION OF THE REPUBLIC OF LIBERIA!!!

  26. Well, Brother ZoedJallah, whomsoever the majority of Liberian voters elect will be our president. That’s why free fair and credible elections reflecting the their true will are so significant for reconciliation and lasting peace. Thank you.

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