Well Said, Mr. Weah, But Why Escape Debate?

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The standard bearer of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC), George Weah, last Saturday made a number of promises to the Liberian people when the party launched its campaign for the 2017 general and presidential elections. Key among his promises were total elimination of bad governance, inclusive government without discrimination, citizen’s equal rights, and fighting corruption to the extent where there will be no reshuffling of corrupt officials. These are cardinal national issues that Liberians yearn to hear in a campaign message from any politician, and we know of no politician in Liberia who has expressed anything negative to what Weah proffered.

Since no politician can divorce himself from such positive ideas, it makes political debate necessary and mandatory. It also makes it binding on all politicians to welcome debates wholeheartedly and willingly, and to actively participate in them. This would give each the opportunity to clarify, explain and give some measure of detail to their ideas. In addition, participating in the debate would allow each candidate to answer the burning question as to how he or she intends to implement his or her ideas and even venture to offer a time frame within which to accomplish the vision s/he has for the country. Appearing for a debate also allows your detractors, opponents and others who don’t understand a candidate’s competence and political ideology to gain knowledge of what a candidate truly stands for.  Undecided voters and even partisans of various political parties use debates to evaluate politicians to build trust in one that they know is honest, realistic and patriotic to his country.

Our concern with George Weah’s appearance for a debate is not because he is the only one who failed to participate in the August 17 debate. No, he is not. Dr. J. Mills Jones of the Movement for Economic Empowerment (MOVEE) did not show up either, on excuse that he was taking his political campaign to Grand Cape Mount County, where he indeed spent three days campaigning. We understand that Mr. Weah, too, was away from the country, and that was the excuse given for his absence from the debate. Our concern is that Mr. Weah is the standard bearer of the main opposition political party in the country, which could take power at any time.

Moving on, the debate will, therefore, enable Liberians of different political and social backgrounds and persuasions to listen keenly to a candidate, in this particular case, George Weah, as he presents his logical analyses on national issues raised. The public would eagerly await an opportunity to see and hear Mr. Weah answer the debating team’s questions and, before a nationwide audience, articulate his vision for Liberia. When the four politicians appeared last week, they explained how they understood security and rule of law, the economy, reconciliation and anti-corruption, the issues which the debating team’s managers challenged them to address. That gave voters an initial opportunity to decide who was clear, sincere and realistic in his approach to these national issues.

Now, that Mr. Weah has told partisans, sympathizers and the general public what he will do, how will Liberians know that he is indeed knowledgeable in what he say he would do if elected? How can Liberians and other stakeholders know Mr. Weah’s level of competence to deliver what he promises, if he does not appear to explain and convince them? Let it not be misconstrued, however, that calling on Weah to appear for debate is meant to test his ability to speak English. Speaking Standard English is just a minor issue to the many national concerns. Remember the late Representative Moses Tandapollie. With all his poor grammar, he was well respected for his knowledge and logical analysis of issues. In fact, international non-governmental organizations and other local observers regarded him as the best lawmaker of the 52nd National Legislature.

So, Ambassador Weah, the Daily Observer pleads that since you did not appear for the August 17 debate, due to whatever reasons, you should make available time for the next debate or even pressurize the Debate Committee to set a time when you can appear to talk to the Liberian people. You could also disabuse the minds of the public by stating the reason why you stayed away. You could be a good leader that people are underestimating, but until you prove them wrong by confidently expressing yourself in a political debate, the rest of the people, except your partisans, will always doubt your ability to lead Liberia. The ball is in your court, and the historic challenge yours to meet.

Authors

8 COMMENTS

  1. Political debate is not mandatory in Liberia and anywhere in the World. Political debate is to convince the public. If it was so Uhuru Kenyatta would not have won election because he refused debates, but won election by 54.27 % in Kenya.

    • Wonokay, you missing the point. Unlike Weah, Kenyatta has a track records of leadership and governance. I was in that country recently and
      saw what is going there. Weah should avoid debates, a good platform
      to prove his understanding of governance and complex issues. He had been
      the senate for 2years but have nothing to show for it.

    • D.W; Thanks! That’s your opinion. You are definitely entitled to it. Liberia is as far from Kenya; as East is from West. Many Liberians and I, would like to hear/see how wannabe President, Hon.George Weah articulates on important issues facing Liberia today. After all, whoever Liberia’s next President shall be, will be involved with many forums, foreign and domestic. It is very important that our Presidential Candidates present themselves; first to the Liberian People. We don’t want to buy our PORK in the BARREL. In Kenya, they do it differently. That’s up to the Kenyans.

  2. I am sorry Daily Observer, with some good points you are misleading many that the only thing worth demonstrating competence is a debate with George Weah. Having you have seen George Weah and the CDC for the past two elections?

    All over the world, people overwhelmingly vote for their president primarily because they like them. All of the other reasons are secondary. This is because there is no guarantee that the sweet talker will perform or do as he/she said. I can make example of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf a dozen time that she has not lived up to majority of what she had said during her second term. In fact, based on her second term performance, we can dub her the most corrupt president morally, financially, economically, legislatively, legally etc..

    Therefore, we need to rally around who the Liberian people elect and don’t attempt to ridicule the person before he/she is elected. We should pray that who so ever wins should be patriotic, discipline, and focus on what is necessary to transform our beloved country.

    I don’t think the next president will be a Cummings, Fahnbulleh, Sawyer, Brumskine, etc.. because these guys are articulate and can satisfy your criteria. However, they have been tested and have massively failed. Is it any wonder why they can never lead in any poll?

    Daily Observer, stop the witchhunt because you are not a better judge than any ordinary Liberian – debate is not a determinant of who will truly perform – let’s work with whom the Liberian people want and hope he/she turns out to be better than expected. We can hold his/her feet to the fire once elected by intensive and extensive advocacy, critical review of the budget and following up and reporting where there is non-performance. exposing corrupt officials and challenging the president when he does not follow the rule of law. This is everybody’s responsibility.

    All of us know what the country is lacking. However, only a patriotic, discipline, and focus individual can bring the necessary reforms we are yearning for.

  3. I JUST READ YOUR POST , MR. J. MIAH GBASON, AND I AM SORRY TO SAY THAT YOU NEED TO READ MORE AND UNDERSTAND ISSUES BEFORE YOU CAN PUT SUCH A “DUMB” STATEMENT OUT THERE IN THE FUTURE. I REALLY DO NOT UNDERSTAND THE LOGIC FOR DEFENDING FOOTBALLER OPPONG WEAH THAT IT IS OKAY FOR HIM TO DODGE/ESCAPE A PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE THAT IS MEANT FOR A CANDIDATE TO TELL HIS FELLOW COUNTRY MEN WHY HE THINKS HE IS THE BEST CANDIDATE TO LEAD THE COUNTRY. DON’T YOU OPPONG FOLLOWERS SEE THESE DEBATES AS AN OPPORTUNITY FOR THE FOOTBALLER TO PROOF HIS CRITICS WRONG, THAT HE IS NOT ONLY GOOD AT PLAYING FOOTBALL, BUT THAT HE IS CAPABLE TO RUN THE COUNTRY AS PRESIDENT. WHY IS HE AFRAID TO TAKE PART IN THESE DEBATES? YOU GUYS SHOULD TAKE THESE DEBATES AS AN OPPORTUNITY FOR YOUR FOOTBALL KING, RATHER THAN PUT SOME DUMB STATEMENT OUT THERE DEFENDING HIM. RUNNING A COUNTRY IS A VERY SERIOUS BUSINESS, NOT “IE & FULANI , OR MIGHTY BAROLLE ” PLAYING AT ATS. PLEASE OPEN YOUR TWO EYES WIDE AND LOOK AROUND YOU, AND SEE WHAT CAN HAPPEN , WHEN PEOPLE THINK RUNNING A COUNTRY IS THE SAME AS RUNNING SOME TELEVISION SHOW. THANKS , A LOT , BROTHER , BUT YOU FOLKS WOULD DO BETTER , I MEAN A WHOLE LOT BETTER IF YOUR CAN ENCOURAGE YOUR FOOTBALLER TO TAKE PART IN THESE DEBATES. TELL THE LIBERIAN PEOPLE WHY THEY SHOULD ENTRUST HIM WITH THE COUNTRY.

  4. CONGRATULATIONS TO THE HARD WORKING MEN AND WOMEN AT THE DAILY OBSERVER NEWS PAPER. KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK THAT YOU HAVE DONE IN THE PAST , AND CONTINUED TO DO UP TO THIS DAY. THE FUTURE OF OUR COUNTRY IS AT A CRUCIAL STAGE. THAT’S WHY WE NEED TO BE VERY CAREFUL AS TO WHERE WE , AS LIBERIANS, WANT TO BE AS A COUNTRY. DO WE REALLY WANT TO SEE THIS COUNTRY SLIDE BACK INTO ANARCHY, OR DO WE WANT TO START TAKING THE “BABY-STEP” FOR THIS COUNTRY TO MOVE FORWARD. I AM VOICING MY OPINION, B/C WE HAVE STARTED TO SEE AGAIN FORMER COMBANTANTS RUNNING UP AND DOWN THE STREETS, LIKE BACK IN THE DAYS….YOU KILL MY “PA” , YOU KILL MY “MA” , WE WILL VOTE FOR YOU. I DON’T THINK LIBERIANS WANT TO BE REMINDED ABOUT THOSE DAYS ANYMORE. AS WE APPROACH ELECTIONS , LIBERIANS SHOULD BE ASKING THEMSELVES SOME QUESTIONS…..THE QUESTION OF CONTINUITY , OR THE UNCERTAINTY/UNKNOWN.

  5. Mr. Editor,

    This editorial of yours is utterly baseless and meaningless, for there has generally been no time in our country and even in many countries when key promises articulated by presidential aspirants whether at debates or elsewhere, have been fulfilled.(Liberia, France, and modern day Rome …the USA to list a few)

    In other wordsi If your insinuation had any basis in truth or logic, the American political establishment would have not been turn on its own head and trashed a few months ago, nor would have been the case in France, or even in our own country where such promises made had only been for the ears!

    So, YOUR CONCLUSION that political debates are necessary, mandatory, and binding” on presidential candidates, “since no politician can divorce himself from such promises as total elimination of bad governance, inclusive government without discrimination, citizen’s equal rights, and fighting corruption to the extent where there will be no reshuffling of corrupt officials”, IS SIMPLY A DISTORTION AND A DECEPTION.

    Secondly, your obsession with why a single presidential candidate did not attend that FANFARE which was attended by just four candidates out of the TWENTY FOUR (24) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES approved by the NEC, evidences your NON-OBJECTIVE EDITORIAL, AND ITS PREJUDICIAL, DISTORTIVE, AND DECEPTIVE NATURE AND CHARACTER!!!

  6. Even if Weah participated in debates, his supporters would still support him regardless.
    In 2005, the young man admitted to being a high school dropout. That didn’t change anything for him and his supporters. He won the first round and almost became president of Liberia.
    Debate or no debate, Weah’s supporters will support him.

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