Declare support to Vice President Boakai as the right leader after Ellen
Describing Liberia’s democracy as ‘fragile,’ a spokesman for Unity Party Soccer Legends, Dionysius Sebwe, told journalists yesterday in Monrovia that it is incumbent upon “all of us as citizens to choose the right leader for this country based on qualification, competence, experience, and maturity,” when they declared their support to Vice President Joseph Boakai’s presidential bid.
Sebwe, who played alongside George Manneh Weah, James Salinsa Debbah, among other Liberian soccer professionals, said the decision to vote for a presidential aspirant must not be based on friendship, popularity and certainly not on tribal or ethnic affiliation.
“We must at this juncture of our democracy sustain the gains we’ve made collectively as a people despite our fundamental differences,” he said.
Sebwe, who said he represents former Liberian professional players, including Ben Saydee, Boye Charles, Ezekiel Doe, Papee Sumo, Pewu Bestman, Sam Chebli, among others, said they have decided to declare their support of Vice President Boakai because of their belief that he would develop sports, particularly soccer, in Liberia.
As an example, he said Vice President Boakai continues to support youth empowerment and other youth activities, especially the ongoing historic National High School Football and Kickball Championship.
“This tournament seeks to promote sports and education as an inseparable component of youth development,” Sebwe said. “Due to the inaugural sports tournament, most high schools are experiencing unprecedented enrollment, with the entry of high school drop-outs and new students.”
He said their decision not to declare their support of their former colleague, Senator George Manneh Weah’s presidential bid, “is one of conscience devoid of any prejudice; it’s a decision to support the strong foundation of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s administration.”
He explained that the former professionals overwhelmingly supported the senatorial ambition of Senator Weah because “we believed that the Senator as chairman on sports would have used his tenure at the Legislature to put forward important legislation to strengthen our democracy, impact the lives of those at the bottom of the economic ladder and aggressively support and promote sports development across the country.”
He regretted that Senator Weah demonstrated lack of substantial progress in developing the game that had given him so much prominence on the national and international scene.
“George Weah’s lack of interest in supporting sports, particularly football, has to some extent contributed considerably to the dismal performance of the national teams; no legislation on sports policy or the development of the youth of the country; no strong advocacy or representation for an increase in budgetary allocation for other sporting disciplines; and he has not utilized his huge international football network to benefit the younger generation of football players,” he said. “We continue to uphold, despite our political differences, the undeniable truth that George Manneh Weah is one of the greatest football players Liberia has ever produced.
“We do love him as the great football player; however, equating his popularity or his exceptional athletic ability to political leadership or effective governance of this country is disingenuous to the Liberian people,” he stated, adding that he hopes that at some point in the future, Senator Weah would demonstrate the kind of leadership “we or the country seeks in a future president.”
Sebwe clarified a statement by Ambassador Boakai that Liberians should not turn over the country to a football player, which he said was not in any way directed at all former and current football players, but to a former professional football player; in this case, George Manneh Weah, who has not genuinely achieved the level of experience, education or sound wits associated with occupying the highest office in the country.
He assured Liberians that all former professional players will continue to serve Liberia in the various capacities, including the political process, and support Vice President Boakai as the next President of the Republic of Liberia.