One of the interesting things about Liberia’s multi-party democracy is the political cross-carpeting that takes place, especially at election time. It may be recalled that in the 2011 presidential and legislative elections, many people left their parties for the ruling Unity Party when the green light unveiled that the possibility was high for President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to win the election. At that time, you could see many groups formed to support Ellen’s reelection. Some legislative candidates left their parties in support of Ellen’s second term for a publicized reason that “she was the best choice for Liberia at the time.” Support of Ellen, it was deemed, would lead voters closer to her. But unfortunately, many of these cross-carpeters did not make it to the legislature. However, some of the unfortunate candidates were able to end up in prominent government positions by presidential appointment, bringing into play the true intent of defection, crystallized by the saying, “Politics is interest.”
A similar situation is unfolding today as the October 10 election fast approaches. There have been many instances of cross-carpeting, the latest being Unity Party stalwart and former Grand Bassa Senator Gbehzohngar Milton Findley, who rose to the dignified position of Senate President Pro Tempore. Senator Findley later lost his Senate seat and his high-profile position. Findley then defected from the UP right after the new UP standard bearer, Vice President Joseph Nyuma Boakai, picked Speaker Emmanuel J. Nuquay as his running mate. In his resignation statement, Findley told the public that his political ideology and that of the Unity Party “were no longer in consonance.” Moreover, he said politics is interest, and that the Constitution gives everyone the right to associate or disassociate with any group or union.
We challenged Mr. Findley in our editorial following his resignation to clarify how different was his political ideology vis-a-vis that of the Unity Party, but he did not respond. Now he has joined the opposition Congress for Democratic Change (otherwise Coalition for Democratic Change) and the political leader, George Weah, has welcomed and given him all of the positive adjectives. But long before joining CDC, Findley, like other ruling party stalwarts, had campaigned for his beloved UP and described CDC as a “party of immature members and an immature political leader.” Senator Findley and other UP partisans had campaigned against George Weah, saying that he was politically incompetent, lacked education and public speaking skills. Findley and company branded CDC partisans as a bunch of hooligans with no agenda but only troublemakers.
In response, George Weah and his CDC members had described Findley and the ruling Unity Party members as a “bunch of rogues who have squandered the country’s money and diverted it to their own use, leaving Liberians in abject poverty.” Even though George Weah and some members of his CDC work in the first branch of government as Senators and Representatives, they have always distanced themselves from anything that has to do with failure of the government; referring to the rest of government officials only as “rogues”, of which Findley had been a part, even though he, too, like Weah and others, was also in the first branch of government.
Now that Findley has joined CDC, Weah in his welcoming statement described Findley as “an astute leader with an impeccable record of service to our noble country. He has contributed immensely to the governance process of our country and I believe he will be a great asset to our movement.” Weah continued: “Findley’s move to our political institution is a testament that Liberians from all sectors of our society are yearning for change and see the CDC as the best political institution and only option to effectively bring about the change that Liberians truly desire. As he officially joins our movement for change today, I have no doubt in his ability to work assiduously and passionately to ensure that we realize our quest for a prosperous Liberia. I ask that you all embrace him with open arms and join me in giving him a rousing welcome to our great institution, CDC—the party of the people and for the people.”
As these praises go out to Findley from Weah, how can both of them reconcile the earlier descriptions they gave each other? Has Findley now been baptized in a fountain of the good? And have CDC partisans and George Weah suddenly become academically, morally and politically refined? This is not only unique to the CDC and Gbehzohngar Findley. There have been many instances of political cross-overs since politics began to heat up for the pending election. From research, decisions leading to political cross-carpeting in Liberia have been based more on superficial interest than principles or state interest. This is why in our editorials, we have always advised Liberian voters to be careful in making decisions; for our decision may come back to haunt us—and make us end up looking ridiculous and opportunistic, plain and simple.