Who Won the Debate?

5
4471
Presidential hopefuls Benoni Urey, VP Joseph Boakai, Alexander Cummings and Cllr. Charles Brumskine.

Post-debate survey shows desire for answers that were more concise, decisive, less rhetorical, political.

Political discussions in and around Monrovia, on social media and the various radio stations have been abuzz since the much publicized presidential debate that took place at the Paynesville City Hall, with everyone weighing in on the performance of each candidate at the event.  And while, it was not in the purview of the Deepening Democracy Coalition (DDC), organizers of the debate, to name a winner, the a task has been gladly received by the court of public opinion.

Interestingly, at one point during the debate, the four candidates tried to out-do each other and used the issue of presidential salary to make the point.  While Amb. Boakai noted that he did not get half of his benefits during his first six years as Vice President of Liberia, Cllr. Charles Brumskine of the Liberty Party offered to waive 30 percent of his salary if elected president. To that, Urey at his next opportunity out did Brumskine, offering to waive 50 percent of his presidential salary. Cummings, being the last to answer the wager, dropped the bombshell by offering to waive 100 percent of his salary if elected president of Liberia.

Analyses and opinions of individuals on radio, social media and political centers across the country and in the Diaspora have rated the political leaders of the Alternative National Congress (ANC) and the All Liberian Party (ALP), Alexander B. Cummings and Benoni W. Urey respectively, as the top performers.

In an opinion poll conducted by the Daily Observer outside the hall after the debate last Thursday, the two were also praised by many who attended the debate for their outstanding performances. Cummings, among many other things, was praised for being succinct on how to get the economy running, and how the country can expand its revenue base. He emphasized expanding the national budget, thereby curtailing recurring expenditures, to reducing poverty through infrastructure development, thereby creating wealth for Liberians. Businessman Urey was praised for taking the bull by the horn on many of the sticky issues— decisively weighing in on issues that some of his colleagues tried to play safe. He talked about cutting waste in government and reducing government officials’ salaries to fund critical sectors. He spoke of transforming the country into an agro-based economy.

Robert Gargar, an undecided voter who had come to witness the debate, said, “I’m not surprised by the excellent performance of Mr. Cummings in the debate. He seemed to have a good understanding of the problems of our economy, maybe because of his corporate experience in the United States. I think his western experience gives him a wide advantage over his rivals.” Gargar was, however, frustrated that he could not enter the debate hall because he didn’t have a pass. “I wanted to enter to see their composure and facial expressions. If someone is speaking sincerely you can know from these expressions,” he said.

Gargar, who made his way from Montserrado County District #17 to witness the debate, said Liberia is at a very crucial point in its history and, as such, desperately needs the best decision maker. He indicated that Cummings is 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 based on reality.”

Emmanuel Bordor, attired in his UP T-shirt, said when seeking the presidency, one has to be realistic and practical. “My opinion is that Mr. Cummings struck a chord with the audience. He was very concise, truthful and realistic. In my view, he was my man of the day.”

Said Emmanuel Dorlu: “This debate is a turning point in our country’s history. After being undecided about who to support in the election for a while, I can confidently say that Mr. Alexander B. Cummings is the right man for the job.”

Mercy Jones, however, described the ANC political leader as a visionary and farsighted leader with clear plans for the forward march of Liberia. “Cummings is the only candidate who didn’t just speak the real issues, but fundamentally discussed how he will resolve them,” she said. Unlike his rivals, who were unrealistic, Ms. Jones noted, Mr. Cummings demonstrated a high level of professionalism that a good leader ought to possess. “From expanding the national budget, thereby curtailing recurring expenditures, to reducing poverty through infrastructure development, thereby creating wealth for Liberians, Mr. Cummings is the man that can liberate the masses of our people from abject poverty.”

ALP political leader Benoni Urey was lauded for his uncompromising stance on some tough national issues such as the TRC Report and the Legislative-Judiciary saga. His ideology on improving the economy, the security sector and others were also highly lauded. As a successful businessman, Urey is also the single largest employer in the country. On tough issues raised during the debate, he did not hold back, spoke boldly and was the only candidate who urged people to consider the implications of their decision come October 10. At times he commended his opponents, while other times he sharply rebuked their ideas — a measure of eccentricity that seemed to play out well for him on Thursday.

“He really spoke to the heart of many Liberians today. He didn’t mince his words and he made his stances known. He wasn’t too political or rhetorical. He spoke his true feelings,” Wellington Padmore noted.

“Urey won my heart today for addressing the tough issues. This is a quality of a real leader. We need a war crimes court in this country, and Urey has committed himself to that. Impunity will never heal this country, or develop it; the sooner we realize this, the better it will be for us,” James Urias said.

Tasha Williams, from Johnsonville, said, “Any man who can speak the truth to your face when he is far away from power, is a good leader. Urey won my heart today and my vote is for him. I wish he succeeds at the poll. So far, I think Urey was the best man. This man is what we call ‘talk and do’. This is the only candidate in Liberia that has done something for us to see and to feel.”

It is no secret that the concept of a presidential debate is yet to etch its presence in the democratic process of Liberia, whether by tradition or through legislation. As a result, debates involving those aspiring for the nation’s highest seat are yet to garner the necessary reception that have made them one of the most pivotal ingredients of key democracies across the globe. Whatever the case, the DDC event demonstrated a great thirst among Liberians for the next level of democracy. The debate, which was broadcast nationwide through the state radio, ELBC in partnership with UNMIL Radio, was also televised on the Internet via an independent outlet, KMTV, and attracted thousands of viewers on Facebook live.

5 COMMENTS

  1. THIS IS THE WHOLE TRUTH AND NOTHING ELSE BUT THE TRUTH AS COURAGEOUSLY ELUCIDATED BY THE MINISTER OF EDUCATION MR. GEORGE WERNER! AND THE PROOF IS A PRESDENTIAL CANDIDATE PROMISING TO WAVE HIS SALARY OR REDUCE HIS SALARY BY 50 %.

    WHO WOULD NOT SAY SUCH WHEN YOU HAVE THE POWER AND MEANS TO STEAL BILLIONS OF DOLLARS, AND COMMAND THE GOVERNOR OF THE CENTRAL BANK TO GIVE HIM ANY AMOUNT ANYTIME. OR CUMMINGS TALKING ABOUT PRIVITIZING INFRASTRUCTURES! PRIVITIZING STATE INFRASTRUCTURES IS ABSOLUTELY IN THE INTEREST OF THE ELITE AND FOREIGN COMPANIES AT THE DETRIMENT OF THE MAJORITY …THE POOR PEOPLE! PERIOD!

    “THEY LIKE HIDING BEHIND books to lie to the people.” George Werner

    “What’s the purpose of political debates in Liberia, and who are the debates for? Where’s the evidence that a candidate became president in Liberia because s/he was a great debater? Let those who manage the candidates advise them to campaign to their strengths. Don’t debate if it isn’t your strength. There are many other ways to articulate your platform or vision for the country. The debates could be a setup by the meritocratic elite (for the elite) to show how educated and knowledgeable they are. It’s been an essential part of Liberian history, of exclusion even, to eliminate the perceived uneducated through “book” talk. Read between the lines and see the edited videos of Weah’s speeches on social media. Da book talk we’ll eat? For those who are surprised by this post, I haven’t changed my views since 2004.
    “THEY LIKE HIDING BEHIND books to lie to the people. How does a debate, an intellectual exercise, help you to “live Liberia, think Liberia, and love Liberia”? By the way, who won the debates in 2005 and 2011? Where are they now?”
     “TO THE BOOK PEOPLE, education does not promote equality and shared prosperity. Education alone is not enough to make anyone a “good” leader. The suggestion that all must participate in debates to justify their quest for leadership and their ‘educatedness” is tabata (origin in Kru, anything that does not make sense), to say the least. How about meeting voters in the palava huts, under the trees, in their communities and homes. By the way, don’t use the schools and break the desks and chairs. Advice to all candidates: campaign to your strengths. Don’t follow the meritocratic elites’ intellectual stagecraft. They set it up to their advantage with their unscrupulous recorders and editors.”

    “THEY LIKE HIDING BEHIND books to lie to the people.”

  2. How credible are those referenced here to grade politicians? Is social media, as far as its uses are concerned, a platform to evaluate candidates? What was the bench mark set to evaluate and story is made here? Why can’t a man roaming from party to party have more T-shirts and uses one to present himself as a partisan? Are those mentioned here not the same partisans expressing interest in their political candidates and campaigning using the media? Is the reporter judgmental in his report that others were unrealistic? How did he arrive at that conclusion? How many views have media set to constitute victory for a candidate in an opinion poll? I hope media practitioners will not be driving their own ego and framing it to be views of people.

  3. Kou Gontee, I respect your opinion a lot but I think in my view you are not looking at the potential and endowment of Liberia. Born 1971, I managed to see the water fall at JFK hospital,this scene brought physical and psychological relief when ever I got sick. This in my childhood memory have being denied every Liberian Child. I am of the prospective that nation-building is very technical and dynamic, In MY OPINION, George Weah does not have the technical and critical skills require for the continuity of THE LEADERHIP OF PRESIDENT ELLEN JOHNSON SIRLEAF.Health,Education, and agriculture need to have every Liberian participation, no matter your location. Thanks for the ECOWAS and MRU project that is bringing basic services to our rural people,this we need to enhance to bring about empowerment through infrastructure development and job creation. This needs the consideration and participation of all Liberians and not getting a lot of youths running about without skills. I stop here and lets vote our conscience that create room to have Liberians HAVING DOCTORS,TEACHERS,NURSES,AGRICULTURE WORKERS and ALL THE HUMAN RESOURCE TO COMPLEMENT OUR NATURAL RESOURCE TO improve the lives of our people for better health care,good housing and all life’s essentials.

  4. Langley Nya Kialain, which continuity of the leadership(IF ANY) of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf that not only George Weah but even ANYONE cannot handle! As the records make evident….and replete in the media> Is it “Madam Sirleaf in 2005 PROMISING the nation that she would electrify Monrovia in 6 months, after 12 years of her administration, 70 percent of Monrovia–not to mention the entire country–is still in the dark!!”

    Leadership comes from the heart! George Weah shall build Liberians a GREAT NATION, which shall restore its respect and trust within the comity and community of nations!

  5. I always say that, in the past, Liberians did not have any other alternative when it
    comes to the question of whom to vote for. But now, there is a very clean and
    undented presidential candidate- the Standard Bearer Alexander B. Cummings. He
    will develop the country to the amazement of the Liberian people. Not because he
    promised to waive his 100% salary but see what he had and is doing since his
    arrival.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here