With debate surrounding dual citizenship in Liberia and the level of impact it might have in the ensuing 2017 general and presidential elections, one of the most formidable and potential presidential aspirants, Alexander Cummings, has made his case clear, declaring that he is, indeed, a Liberian citizen.
Cummings is the political leader of the Alternative National Congress (ANC).
The Liberian constitution does not allow dual citizenship and those who find themselves in this situation are not permitted to contest or hold any elected position in the country.
Many have argued that the citizenship law is being enforced with a degree of flexibility, pointing fingers at President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) political leader, George Weah, along with others, as politicians allegedly holding foreign passports.
In an exclusive interview at the offices of the Daily Observer on Wednesday, Cummings said he went to school and worked in corporate America for decades, “I tell people I’m a Liberian – always have been, always will be. I need to start carrying my Liberian passport with me now when I go around so that people can actually see it.
“I’m a Liberian. The question of dual citizenship, I can’t make a decision on it on my own because it is something that the Liberian people need to decide, though it is a good thing for Liberians to do.”
He said, “If you look around the world today, including in Africa, especially in our West African region, almost every country allows dual citizenship. They let their citizens come from around the world,” mentioning Ghana, Nigeria Kenya as countries who are reaping the dividends in that respect, “but again I think Liberians need to decide that for themselves.”
The ANC political leader also noted that there are those huge cynicisms and skepticisms around the dual citizenship issue because the country’s economy is static and shrinking, therefore people are afraid to lose the little opportunities that they have.
The other side of the argument, he said, could be “if the economic pie was growing where there is enough for all of us to benefit from, I think the argument would be a little easier to make.
“If the economy is growing, people have jobs and things are booming it would be much easier than when the pie is static and shrinking.”
He said Liberians are apprehensive about the dual citizenship because of events in the past where “people can come and do bad things and run to the other country of the eligibility. That is a legitimate concern. So I fully understand why this cynicism and skepticism surround this very debatable issue.”
The bigger picture, however, he said is that dual citizenship is actually helpful because such people have expertise and want to come home but feel there is a threat and they think they have a lot that they can do for the country.
“I also say this to Liberians in the United States that being a dual citizen should not be the reason why they shouldn’t come back. That should not be an excuse if they are serious about coming back home to help. So let’s not use that as an excuse,” he said.
Cummings also noted that he does not know yet how to combat these huge cynicisms and skepticisms. “I have not actually thought about how to combat these cynicisms, but I should start thinking about that.”
He believes that “We just have to make the case about how it could be helpful to have all Liberians, regardless of their passports, participate in the development of their country. And I think those who support the idea have to make the case so that people understand the benefits that come with it.”
Meanwhile, Cummings noted that he will support whoever wins the upcoming elections. “We will support the choice of the Liberian people, but we will make our own impact in the Liberian society from a different angle—from the private sector and from the philanthropic angle.”