‘Can Cummings Save Liberia?’ asks Forbes Magazine

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The Collaborating Political Parties (CPP), chaired by Alexander B. Cummings (pictured), believes that the NEC is colluding with the ruling CDC to rig the December 8 senatorial elections.

-I’m entering Liberian politics with clean hands, without political scores to settle, free from any corruption charges or allegations

Alternative National Congress (ANC) standard bearer Alexander Cummings has clarified reports that he has been out of the country for most of his adult life and noted that despite his travels abroad and working for international companies, “I’ve always returned to Liberia, where I managed a series of philanthropic efforts.”

In a FORBES Magazine interview, asking if Cummings can save Liberia, Mr. Cummings said he had always planned on living full time in Liberia after his retirement from Coca-Cola and his decision to run for president came a few years ago when he was discussing with his family and friends the best way he could contribute to Liberia.

“We discussed the challenges facing Liberia, primarily the high level of youth unemployment and underemployment, which I have said is a national security risk. However, with proper investments in things like vocational and technical training, the youth can be transformed into a national asset,” he said.

“Liberia has come a long way in the last 12 years. It has been safe and peaceful over that period of time. Indeed, Liberia has never been as free as it has been over the last decade. On the economic front, however, Liberia still faces many challenges that will only get worse if we continue down the same path.”

He said the upcoming elections are vital and will be the first peaceful transition of power from one democratically elected government to another in nearly 75 years. “It is an opportunity for Liberia to cement its democratic progress. We hope a transition from the Unity Party to the Alternative National Congress will also establish Liberia’s ability to transition from one party to another, peacefully, as we’ve seen in Ghana, Nigeria and elsewhere.”

Cummings said what sets him apart from the other 19 candidates is that “They are all legacy politicians, current and former senators, and government officials. The Vice President has been in his office for 12 years and was in government for many years before that, with few (if any) accomplishments to which he can point. Senator Weah has been in office since 2014 and hasn’t proposed or sponsored any legislation.

“As a presidential candidate in 2005 and vice-presidential candidate in 2011, Mr. Weah hasn’t so much as set up a football academy in Liberia. The other candidates have all been involved in Liberian politics for many years and have had an opportunity to change Liberia. Unfortunately, they have failed. I’m entering Liberian politics with clean hands, without political scores to settle, free from any corruption charges or allegations, and having largely funded my campaign out-of-pocket, free from campaign debts and the patronage system. I have the business experience and know how to jumpstart the Liberian economy. I know how to create jobs and I have managed budgets many times the size of Liberia’s national budget. My sole purpose in running is to bring my experience to transform Liberia.”

He said the Alternative National Congress has a clear agenda for Liberia. “In relation to what the government of President Sirleaf has done, we can do more to jumpstart and grow the economy, to create jobs for our young people, combat corruption, cut down on government waste and address the dire infrastructure deficit in the areas of roads, water, and power and internet connectivity.

“The Sirleaf administration has done a great deal for Liberia in keeping the peace for the past 12 years, establishing strong democratic institutions, freedom of speech, etc. We will reduce the salaries and allowances of senior government officials, use those savings to increase the pay of our civil servants, strengthen the capacity and independence of our anti-corruption institutions, privatize infrastructure development, simplify the tax code and expand the tax base, with the goal of increasing the government budget from around US$600M today to around US$2B at the end of my first term.”

Cummings said the Liberian economy has faced significant challenges in recent years, including the Ebola outbreak and the drop in commodity prices, but if elected, his administration will immediately tackle waste and corruption in government and redeploy those resources into more productive areas.

“We need to approach job creation from a short term and long term perspective. The needs are immediate, so right away we begin putting young Liberians to work in their communities by providing credit to small businesses where private capital isn’t available, and making strategic investments in agriculture and infrastructure to unlock the full potential of the Liberian agriculture sector, which is our largest employer. We can also begin making investments in teacher training, vocational and adult education that will pay dividends in the long term and empower our unemployed, underemployed or unemployable citizens to take advantage of (or create their own) economic opportunities down the road.”

Cummings said some of the wages and allowances for senior government officials and legislators have gotten completely out of control and the allowances for ministers vary by position, but some ministers get US$15,000 a month in salary and allowances. “My administration would cut that salary and allowance in half, and double the pay of a teacher making it US$100 a month. We need to reduce our spending at the top and increase the salaries of teachers, nurses, police officers, and other civil servants. Also, all 69 ANC legislative aspirants have signed a pledge to reduce their salary and wages by 50 percent, as that decision would obviously require legislative action.”

He said his administration will reduce the size of “our bureaucracy and automate some of our government systems, including payroll, so we can operate more efficiently and transparently. We need to strengthen the capacity and independence of our integrity institutions, including the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC), the General Auditing Commission (GAC), Public Procurement and Concessions Commission (PPCC), and the Internal Auditing Agency (IAA). President Sirleaf has also proposed to establish a special court to fast track corruption cases, which is an idea I support.”

Forbes is an American business magazine headquartered in Jersey City, New Jersey. Published bi-weekly, it features original articles on finance, industry, investing, and marketing topics. Forbes also reports on related subjects such as technology, communications, science, politics, and law.

29 COMMENTS

    • Clean man in a corrupt and broken system yields corruption. Democracy is not a one man game. Democracy is a government of th epeople, by the people and for the people. So how about first focusing on a clean system? Conflict of interest is the order of business at the legislature. There are three branches of government-equal but with separate powers. Cummings is not King. Those who focus on only the presidency within a broken and corrupt system of governance where politicians’ platform is the topic of debates instead of the people’s platform miss the point. If you elect a president based on a politician’s platform and agenda you got it wrong because you make the politicians masters and make the citizens slaves.

      • You are right, Torli. If Cummings is elected, he will have to do two things: Either attack Corruption at face value to the chagrin of his old wine supporters or join them. This is what usually happens in Liberia because Corruption is a tradition. Getting rid of a tradition requires talking punitive legal measures. How many people have been really sent to jail? How many ill-gotten properties have ever been seized? Has anyone been banned from working for the government due to corruption yet? These are the kinds of punitive measures I am talking about. Other than these, every other effort will just be window dressing. Check out the measures taken by rich countries. All rich countries are least corrupt because of the measures they take.

  1. Our Liberians voters do not care about the sincerity of people with intergity but rather people that lie and come in sheepskin.Some say he has not been in the country that long.Craziness!

  2. I HAVE NO DOUBT MR. CUMMINGS COULD MAKE A VERY GOOD PRESIDENT, WHO MAY WORK TO IMPROVE THE LIVING CONDITION OF OUR PEOPLE,HE KNOWS THE IMPORTANCE OF HARDWORK. I PRAY AND HOPE THAT LIBERIANS WILL GIVE HIM THE OPPORTUNITY THIS OCTOBER 10TH 2017.GOD BLESS.

  3. To be neutral, I did not search Cummings’s own website because his information made or made not be tainted. Therefore, I went to neutral websites to do my background check of this man.

    For public information, I went to: Wikipedia; BlackEntrepreneurProfile; and the Board of trustees …Clark Atlanta University websites.

    It is amazing how modern technology allows anyone to find a wealth of knowledge on people, or people who are running for political office, or particularly any high position in Liberia.

    After searching so many media outlets, I could not find one professional malpractice on Mr. Cummings after his forty years of international experience, and the time he returned home and worked for two years at the Liberian Development Bank, until the end of the 1970s.

    His positive attributes represent the manner of man he is. He has used his hard-earned wealth and business acumen for philanthropic causes: to support his home country Liberia during the civil war, during the Ebola crisis, and globally towards the fight against HIV/AIDS. He was instrumental in the establishment of Coca-Cola Africa Foundation. His Cummings Foundation has helped many Liberians achieved technical and higher education through his scholarship and human development goals.

    This man has an incredible administrative record……dealing with assets worth $182.9 billion dollars and over 100,000 employees. He serves on the executive board of his alma mater Clark Atlanta University in Atlanta, Georgia where he obtained his MBA degree in Finance in 1982. For the sake of time, his accomplishments are too numerous to list in this comment session.

    However, during the debate, I agree when he said, “The fastest way to fix electricity, roads, water connectivity and cellular and internet connectivity is to attract investors to have the public, private partnership and we believe that by attracting investors we’ll get paid overtime to do what we have to do.”

    One of Liberia’s economic deficiencies is the Government inability to run utility companies. The government should set the rules and regulations for utility companies and let private enterprise compete in the utility sectors…..that is a speedy way and more efficient way to regulate price gouging, prevent monopoly and cater to the supply and demand chain.

    Cummings iterated, “My administration would cut that salary (of Ministers) and allowance in half, and double the pay of a teacher making it US$100 a month.” I believe this is a typo error (it). It should be double the pay of a teacher making US$100 a month. This $100 dollar increase brings a teacher making US$100 a month to US$200 a month. I hope this pay raise should include law enforcement, doctors, medical workers, teachers, lower level civil servants and other first responders.

    In this technological era, the Liberian public needs to do a thorough background check on every Liberian running for office; this will indeed reveal the characters of all these people competing for political office.

    No matter who we intend to vote for, let’s all put the love of country first before any individual regardless of whom he/she is. May God bless Liberians as we make this critical decision on October 10, 2017, that could make or break Liberia!!!!

    • Brother I want to say thanks for your comment. Liberian people are not looking at that but they looking at who popular and that’s not good.
      I’m tired living in others people country I prayed for betterment for LIBERIA.

  4. A ploy clearly to deceive people. Cummings can start planning for the next elections. The problem in Liberia is not lack of leadership, but lacks of will of Liberians. Jerome Kokoya, Chairman of NEC wanted to enforce every electoral and constitutional law, but what happened? The Supreme Court undermined the laws to benefit several people including Cummings who admitted carrying an American passport, doesn’t meet the residency clause requirements and his VSB was in breached of the COC. He’s no different than other messiah Liberians who returned from abroad and that’s why he’s been rejected.

    He was in hiding when Liberians were dying and didn’t show up for any of the peace conferences, days of disarmament & dismobilization. He’s an adventurous and ambitious man. Attacking others because of their service in government from the Vice President to Senators is a weak argument and shows his desperation for people. Good try Mr. ALPHA CONNEH, but you didn’t tried hard enough. The verdict is clear, Cummings is a stranger and he can start laying the groundwork for the next elections.

  5. Sometimes, the change we seek, is right before our eyes, but we can’t see it, May God open our eyes and guide us .

  6. My people, we are talking about the public sector here. Running a country is not like running private enterprises. Unlike a private enterprise (call it a corporation or what you will), the primary end of government is not to make profits. The primary end of government is to uphold the social contract with the people: maintenance of law and order, provision of basic social services… No doubt, Alexander Cummings is a well respected, highly rated businessman. He comes across as a good administrator and manager. But one question: where is his public service record? Where is the history of his stints in public service? That you were a successful businessman does not necessarily suggest that you can be a better President. I prefer to have a President who has gone up the public service ladder, one rung at a time. I would love to see Alexander Cummings serve as Finance or Commerce Minister. Given his work in the administration of our economy, how he gets the cabinet to take decisions in cutting fabulous salaries, cutting recurrent expenditures and investing in capital ventures, I would probably be inclined to elect him to the Presidency.

  7. One of the questions asked ” Can Mr. Cummings save Liberia ?” The answer. Yes he can. He comes with the experience and no baggage. Patrick E. Kugmeh. Minnesota. USA>

    • Alex Cummings is saying lot of nice things. However, we Liberians must face the challenging REALITIES. Liberia is broke. Where will the MONEY come from; for a President Cummings to achieve his goals and create a BUDGET of 2billion U.S DOLLARS? Make no mistakes about. Liberia is broke. There are possibilities for RECOVERY of Liberia’s ECONOMY. However, it will not be overnight. It’s not cheap either. No matter who’s the next President, There are very challenging tasks ahead. We must all do our parts; for a prosperous Liberia. Corruption in Liberia is not just “An Administration of Government Issue.” Corruption is a Liberian Problem; “A Big Liberian Problem”. We must all band together and eradicate CORRUPTIONS in every walk of Liberians life. J.Nyumah Boakai’s have been a “Patriotic Liberian for his entire life. Anyone who have served his Country for more than 45years, is a truth “PATRIOT”. Criticizing JNB; for his Patriotic service to Liberia, absolutely makes no sense. He is the one Presidential Candidate with the best experience. None of the other Presidential Candidates have a better understanding of Liberia’s problems than Hon. J.Nyumah Boakai. He is more suitable for the Presidency of Liberia. JNB’S economic proposals, when implemented will pull Liberia out of the current “ECONOMIC RUINS”–caused by the collapse of the prices Iron Ore and Rubber, Liberia’stwo main sources of Foreign Exchange Earners. Couple with that, we had the EBOLA CRISIS that drove Investors and Would be Foreign Investors out of Liberia. Those are circumstances beyond anyone’s control. Put yourself in Liberia’s situation. Imagine losing your source of income. Won’t the going gets ruff/tuff? It is absolutely necessary, to take all the variables into account when being critical of the E.J.S/JNB’S Administration of the Liberian Government. Talk is cheap. Doing the GOOD things a PresidentialCandidate is talking about, is quite another thing.

    • Once he gets there, he will get the biggest baggage. Liberians are the same everywhere. Corruption is a tradition in Liberia. He just has not worked in the GOL and this is why you think he has no baggage.

  8. Alexander Cummings promises to create 100,000 jobs during his presidency. That’s empty political talk that amounts to naivety! And yes, without a shred of doubt, Cummings is a neophyte. The Liberian government does not have 100,000 employees on its payroll. Never has the government of Liberia had 100,000 in its worth force. In fact, those who are currently employed by the government of Liberia, sometimes find it difficult to get their paychecks on time. So, that brings me to another issue….money. Where will Cummings get money from in order to pay 100,000 new employees in addition to the present crop of employees?
    Hypothetically, let’s crunch the numbers. If 10,000 (not 100,000) of Cummings’ employees are hired and paid $100 per month, it simply means that $1,000,000 or $12,000,000 yearly must be paid out to employees in order to meet his payroll. Again, the $12,000,000 does not include those who currently receive paychecks from the government yearly. Look at it this way; Everyone will not be paid $100 per month. Is Cummings’ scenario likely? Certainly, this is a hogwash! Guess what? It’s not criminal to bring Liberians into the labor force, but it is disingenuous to play games with people. Cummings is hellbent on playing phony games.

    Cummings brags about his work experience with Coco Cola bottling company. Well, that’s good. Every good individual deserves to have a good job. But, one’s experience with any company does not flash a green light to the presidency. Of course not! In the US, it was taught that Mr. Trump’s business background would radically turn things around politically and economically. It hasn’t worked, there aren’t any positive signs yet. At least 9 months into Trump’s presidency, no legislative agenda has been achieved. In order words, Trump is good at undoing Obama’s legacy, but he cannot do his own job. Yeah, like Trump, Alexander Cummings has no legislative experience. Cummings’ Coco Cola experience is not good enough to create 100,000 jobs.

    • Lets get serious here..First of all when Cummings speaks of creating 100,000 jobs, he is not talking about government jobs per se. In the US when the monthly jobs report is given, it reflects the entirety of all jobs created (public, private). Lets be honest. Can you compare the character and demeanor and the lack of understanding and empathy of Trump to Cummings? I will venture to say that if Trump had the compassion and character of Cummings, America would be in a better place than it is now.

  9. Seek HIM first the Kindow of GOD and HIS righteousness, and ALL these things shall be added to you. (Matthew 6:33)…

    Libraians need to pray!!

  10. It’s time for Liberian voters to vote wisely, not on sentiment! I’m sure that every Liberian that loves Liberia want it to progress in its economic development since this will positively affect the standard of living of the people in mama Liberia. Cummings maybe new to many voters in Liberia, however, it’s time to try him with the presidency. You’ll not regret for this decision!

  11. Right now Liberian needs technocrats and administrators who can put things and process in place to solve problems, not another coat suit and big car riding politicians. Not sure what point Alston C. Armah is trying to make. The Ivorian president is not a politician but a technocrats and administrator which is why he has gotten so much done in such a short time in office then your seasoned politicians keeping you in poverty in Liberia. You act like Cummings decisions in the public sectors doesn’t have to do with the shape of the global economy as well as the African economy where he serve as the head of coca cola Africa. We need someone with the technical and administrative know how to fix things. You acting like there is any other candidate in the race that can do any better or show the signs or capability of doing any better. We need fresh ideas not the old Liberian do nothing and give people cup of rice and keep them poor ideas of the past. Better a technocrat and administrator with vision then a seasoned politician/government worker with no vision and anything significant to show for that so called experience.
    I know of students with no public/private sector experience who comes in those arena and significantly change those landscape then those who been sitting there for 100 yrs.
    South Africa President Zuma a man that has been around politics and government since he was a young man is now destroying he South African economy.
    Adama Barrow no political experience yet elected president because the people want change.
    I endorse Cummings for president. We need change and we need the war people removed from power by all means necessary. Period.

  12. Hopefully Liberians will go to the polls on October 10th to elect a new slate of leaderships from the legislatures to the presidency for the good of the country. The time to make informed decisions not based on empty rhetorical political platitudes which has never helped Liberia, is now. We must put our candidates under the radar for proper scrutiny so that we look back with no regret. For those of you that are opportune to be Liberia for this historic event, please take a wise decision as we are counting on you. God bless Liberia.

  13. One cannot be perfect but this is what I called, Leadership Vision. I am reading lot of comments on here about how this brother, will implement his social contract ( vision), with the Liberian people, if he was to win the Presidency. His visions, may be questionable by many but, you can’t be a real leader who people want to follow without vision. Thank God, Liberia, is now seeing such candidate, like others in these elections who are saying you can hold me to account for the contract, I signed with you before the elections. The very essence of leadership is that you have to have a vision. It’s got to be a vision you articulate clearly and forcefully on every occasion. Cummings, and few of them, are doing just that. Others may say he’s only a business leader and a first time politician but a good business leader create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision, and relentlessly drive it to completion.Leaders have vision. I think this brother, share a dream and direction that other people want to share and follow. I am not in Liberia, but seeing a first time politician, who comes with clean hands and out of pocket campaign without patronage, he has scored a high mark. Besides, his followers could do him more good if and only if, they knew how best to sell him to the electorates. What really goose me up about his talk is his “invested interests in students, simplification of the tax code, increase pay for all civil servants,by providing credit to small businesses where private capital isn’t available, and making strategic investments in agriculture and infrastructure to unlock the full potential of the Liberian agriculture sector.” etc, etc… Good and peaceful elections to all my country men and women

  14. Liberian voters say they don’t know him enough, but know Urey, Brunskine, Boakai, Amos Sayers, Bacchus Matthews(the late), etc, who have kept the country down for 170 years. Pathetic! I wonder if they know every Liberian who’s living on this planet? Illiteracy and tribalism are our big problems.

  15. Wonderful and intelligent MR Cummings is, I think its unfair for me to expect the Liberian people to give him power straight away after been out of the country for so long, I admire his platform which is very good but my personal advice is that he stick around after the election and continue to lay the groundwork for next elections, please train the youth about good governance so that they can be good representatives of the people and your party. Thank you Mr Cummings and all the other candidates, please let all of us keep the peace, God Bless Liberia and all of us.

  16. Native Son of Liberia,
    I think it is fair to call for a change. Liberia really, really needs a change. So, let’s grant you that. But realistically, Cummings is not an agent of change. You need a seasoned experienced politician in order to change Liberia. Cummings is bright, but a bulk of his work experience is private sector experience.
    Work experience should not be confused with governmental experience.

    Cummings’ resume is embellised. Whereas he was employed by Coco Cola, Cummings was not the nominated COO or the CEO. And yet he is usually referred to as a former Coco-Cola Exec. Neither was he given full control of an 80 billion-dollar business. How do you slice the ice?

  17. Sometimes it is the stranger who can see the rotteness in the system. The people living inside have gotten use to the rotteness. Go Cummings.

  18. Comment: If a man went to a woman for love, especially the one he aims dearly, what would he say to win her? No doubt he would make promises(more empty ones) and even spend the last of his cents. Like such one, people who are greedy for power will do just so. Liberians are fed up with platforms that are far from fulfillment, like that of cummings’. We need a person who honest in admitting her/his weakness, working on criticism and showing patriotism. Know One? It’s Ambassador George Weah!!

  19. Mr Davis,
    The Liberian election is almost over with. Sadly, Cummings did not come close to being considered seriously by the Liberian people.
    Sometimes in politics, some politicians lose because of premature statements they make. In this particular case, Cummings became a casualty of his own making!

    The US Labor Department announces the number of jobs that are created at the end of the month. I know this darn well. Realistically, Cummings’ statement of creating 100,000 jobs is incompatible with what’s done in the US. Also, if Cummings weren’t talking about government-created jobs, why wasn’t he explicit? Finally, how on earth would he force companies to create jobs? The idea of his was was naive.

    Maybe next time around, Cummings will be careful. I am sure he will.

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