The great American poet Robert Frost’s poem, “The Road Not Taken”, is all about what did not happen: According to Andrew Spacey’s interpretive analysis, an individual “faced with an important conscious decision, chose the least popular, the path of most resistance. He was destined to go down one, regretted not being able to take both, so he sacrificed one for the other”.
Such moments of truth come naturally to every man and one is often left torn between decisions, one of which he ultimately takes. And often in retrospect, such decisions taken make easy cause for regrets. This is especially true of politics, Liberian politics being no different. In a “Winner takes all” political culture such as ours, the road not taken can prove costly.
It is within this context that the recent outpourings of ANC leader Alexander Cummings against the George Weah government can be measured. That some officials of this government are engaged in what appears indistinguishable from and analogous to daylight robbery is commonly acknowledged and is nothing new. That some officials of this government are by and large incompetent and inept is something that has been on the lips of many Liberians and is also not new.
Political observers point out that Cummings should have known from the onset of his campaign that he stood poised to inherit a very corrupt government apparatus from President Sirleaf had he won the elections. And he would have most probably been faced with the same issues of runaway corruption now confronting President Weah.
Observers also point out that Cummings, though aware of corruption under President Sirleaf, preferred instead to remain quiet and uncritical of the wheeling and dealing that occurred under her watch. The bust of NOCAL, for example, which resulted in the loss of over US$50 million, happened under the watch of her son Robert Sirleaf and, although she took responsibility, the money has not since been refunded. Cummings, observers point out, has not once ever called for the Sirleaf government to account for its stewardship but is now venting his ire on the Weah administration.
Hindsight, it is said, is always better than foresight and this aptly applies to the elections that brought George Weah to power. When it became clear to all and sundry that the political contest had narrowed down to George Weah and Joseph Boakai, the ANC political leader, rather than urging or encouraging his supporters to vote Boakai, instead urged them to vote wherever of their choosing. And so did Brumskine who urged his followers to do likewise. Radio talk show host Henry Costa, comparing the choices, likened same to that of a choice between drinking jologbo or poison.
But his pleas fell on deaf ears and the rest is now history. Brumskine, it can be recalled, made such a mistake in the 2011 elections, which proved costly for him. Yet, he went on to repeat the very mistake and so did Cummings. Perhaps and only perhaps, had they taken the other road, he would probably not be complaining as he is now doing. Political observers point out that it was clear to all and sundry that Joseph Boakai was by far more experienced, qualified and prepared for national leadership than his counterpart yet, he (Cummings) opted to take the other road.
As our people say, “monkey see, monkey do”. President Sirleaf and her officials ate theirs and got away scot-free. Senator Weah, as he was then, must have been aware that money (banknotes) was being printed and brought into the country and was apparently being used by officials of the past government without accountability. So just why would others not do the same, especially when others before have done the same and gotten away with it.
In the final analysis, lamentations will not cut it as it is all now water under the bridge and much too late for regrets. It comes right back to Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken”:
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.