The front lead story of June 12 edition of the Daily Observer highlighted the view of Alternative National Congress (ANC) political leader, Alexander Cummings about the current administration. Mr. Cummings, in the story, expressed doubts about the ability of the George Weah Administration to succeed. He flagged some developments he believes signal failure for the leadership and the country.
Among other things, Mr. Cummings pointed out appointment of people without qualification, integrity and the lack of a semblance of moral rectitude as a sign of failure. He also mentioned the just-approved US$536 million loan for road construction in south-eastern and western Liberia as one of the bad signs; noting that companies with which the financial deal was initiated have come under the spotlight for derelict performance.
Cummings, quoted by our political reporter, William Q. Harmon, said “The early signs are not good, there seems to be no strategy and a clear vision from the ruling party.” It is not the prayer of the Daily Observer neither is it the prayer of any well-meaning Liberian for this country to fail but, if it did, would Cummings be exempt from blame for its failure?
However, judging from his action and political behavior during the last presidential and legislative elections, in which George Weah emerged victorious, it becomes readily apparent that, should this government fail, Mr. Cummings would not be free of blame.
As things appeared ahead of the 2017 elections, the opposition was intently fixed on voting the Unity Party out of power. Their fixation on the attainment of this singular objective was the main driver of initiatives aimed at forming a common front against the Unity Party during the 2017 elections. They ran a campaign that did all it could to convince voters that the Unity Party’s candidate Joseph Boakai represented everything they hated the about President Sirleaf and her leadership.
And to further advance their cause, they proceeded to Ganta where they emerged with a statement, dubbed the Ganta Declaration, committing themselves to fully cooperate during the elections with the sole objective to remove the Unity Party from power.
Under our Constitution, the winner of Presidential elections, is determined by an absolute majority.
The spirit and intent of this provision is to ensure that whoever wins the elections will have a mandate to rule because such a formula calls for consensus building from across the political spectrum. But because no one party can easily acquire this majority due to the sheer number of political parties and presidential candidates that surface during elections, we have always had a runoff election after the first poll.
After the first poll during the last elections, standard bearers George Weah of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) and Joseph Boakai of the Unity Party were the two remaining in the race. And what was Cummings’ declared position? He said the two candidates did not represent the “Change” the ANC envisioned; therefore, he told his many followers to vote the whichever way they felt appropriate.
The Daily Observer, at the time wrote an editorial urging Mr. Cummings and Cllr. Charles Walker Brumskine to clearly define where they stood as a way of helping their supporters form an informed choice on the candidate to vote for in the runoff but, they resisted the plea and asked the voters to find their own way.
It is generally acknowledged that no matter how identical two persons maybe, they cannot be the same in every aspect. Principles, morals, personal values, etc., differ from person to person. That is why this newspaper had fervently believed Mr. Cummings and his Liberty Party counterpart should have examined and assessed both sides with the view to directing their supporters in the runoff.
But because neither Cummings nor Brumskine was in the race, they may have felt, as it appeared, that neither Boakai nor Weah was better suited than either of themselves so, in their wisdom, it was best to sit on the fence, never perhaps realizing the untold danger and harm that often come to those who sit on the fence.
Talk show host Henry Costa drove the point home at the time with a simple, yet well understood, analogy. He likened the choice voters were faced with (between Boakai and Weah) to a choice between drinking jologbo or poison. In similar vein, our editorial published on October 12, 2017 titled, “Selfishness Spoiled Our Election,” made reference to the repeated failure of politicians to come together in pursuit of clearly defined political objectives.
For them it is “duck or no dinner”, meaning if I cannot have it nobody else should. In this regard, politicians failed to look at the larger picture, the greater good of the country, but were instead seeking self-glory and what would have benefited them individually.
The Ganta Declaration, which brought together leading opposition figures such as Urey, Weah, Prince Johnson and others was attended by much hype. The Declaration however turned out to be as worthless as the paper on which it was written for nobody adhered to it. No sooner had the Declaration been signed, did the mastermind of the gathering, Senator Prince Johnson — himself a candidate for president — went on air somersaulting back and forth between the Weah and Boakai camps.
This newspaper believes that Brumskine and Cummings, who came third and fourth place (respectively) in the first round, had an historic opportunity to influence the outcome of the elections but failed to act decisively. Now Cummings must be prepared to accept the reality of what he is now railing against. And this is the reality he will have live with for the next six years, however discomfiting it may be.
As things currently stand, the Unity Party (UP) has become a companion to the Liberty Party (LP) and the Alternative National Congress (ANC) and they are collaborating to cross-check the ruling party.
As opposition leaders, they have the duty to not only criticize but they have the duty also to help proffer opportunities and solutions to vexing problems confronting the nation. They also have the duty to educate their followers on how to demonstrate love and patriotism for country. Let Cummings and the rest begin now to explain and educate Liberians about the difference between national and individual priorities.
They should also educate the public on what is expected of their elected representatives who, once elected develop the tendency to look after their own personal interests. Lastly, as mentioned earlier, the opposition has a duty to criticize but they also have the duty to be true to their country by advancing ideas, proposals to help enhance the attainment of national development objectives and the improvement of national governance.