When You Get to the Senate, George, What Will You Do?

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One of the popular spirituals sung by the Old BWI Glee Club in the 1950s through the 1970s was entitled, “When You Get to Heaven, Brother, What Will You Do?

We think this question is most appropriate and timely for Ambassador George Weah who is poised to be declared the winner in Montserrado County.

Weah, who handsomely beat Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in the first round of the 2005 presidential elections, though not enough to prevent a run-off, was still a formidable candidate to beat nine years later in senatorial elections.  Also, Weah, though he was number two on the Winston Tubman Presidential ticket in 2011, CDC still carried Montserrado.   

Robert Sirleaf, above all people, should have known that, for he hails from a political family.  His mother is the President.  None of the other Montserrado candidates in the recent senatorial election ever had immediate family members running for the Senate. 

The whole nation listened to the counting on some of the radio stations Saturday night and most people went to bed confident that Weah had captured the Montserrado seat.  Many ordinary Liberians recall that there were moments in the counting when Weah had 300 and Sirleaf had only 20 or less.  Weah even beat him badly in a place Sirleaf thought his stronghold—PHP; but there, too, Weah overwhelmingly won.

The big question on everyone’s mind is, why did Robert Sirleaf attempt such a race—was it to further embarrass his mom?  For how does a sitting President’s son lose an election so badly?  Counselor Pearl Brown Bull said as much from London on LIB 24 Radio Saturday evening.

People recall the most recent embarrassment Robert caused his mom when he sued her at the Supreme Court over her Executive Order #65, then  ducked when it was time to go and defend his lawsuit.  So what was the point in exposing his beloved mother to judicial and public ridicule?

The main question in this Editorial, however, is what will Ambassador Weah do when he takes his seat in the Liberian Senate?  First sub-question: Will he continue to downplay Education, as he and his immense number of fanatical partisans have done since 2005?  Remember his campaign slogan that year?  Your partisans were joyfully singing while running from central Monrovia to the S.K.D. Stadium, “You know book, your country dirty.”  The themes on your partisans’ lips last week and the week before were not different.  Most of the CDC partisans in those demonstrations were even abusive, calling Robert Sirleaf many different uncomplimentary names and abusing even the President herself.  

We have to remind Mr. Weah in this editorial that he did not offer the people of Montserrado a platform announcing what he would do if he won the election and became their Senator.  Also, Mr. Weah was invited along with other candidates in the Montserrado race to a debate, but he, like all the others, failed to show up.  What were these candidates thinking?  They wanted our votes, yet could not bring themselves to be questioned by us as to what their real intentions were for running for the Senate?

If they could not face us during the campaign, then what can we expect from any one of them who gets elected?  She or he would most definitely come to think that we are owed nothing—absolutely nothing.

Rep. Edwin Snowe, a zealous Weah supporter, has already announced him the chair of the Montserrado Legislative Caucus.  But what does Weah bring to the table besides his immense football popularity?

Montserrado has many challenges.  Take the challenges in all of Weah’s strongholds: Clara Town, West Point, New Kru Town, Logan Town, PHP, Peace Island, Douala, Paynesville Red Light, etc.—all of them are slums, without running water, power, proper sanitation and adequate health facilities and housing.  Many of the residents in these slums are jobless and therefore self-supporting peddlers.  Has Weah promised them anything?  What is his vision for their future and the future of their children?  Surely it cannot be a disregard for education.  Every one of these areas needs well-equipped and staffed public elementary and high schools.

We pray that beyond the tumult of the massive demonstrations, Mr. Weah and his supporters will think soberly on these challenges in Montserrado and indeed the whole country, and start strategizing on how, with commitment and  decisiveness to address them.

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