By Gboko Stewart
When Henry P. Costa, leader of the controversial Council of Patriots, announced on his official Facebook account that he holds a social contract with the people and not the political parties, many did not know it was a thinly veiled reference to the newly minted CPP Framework Agreement.
The permeating thought was Costa was taking a swipe at his benefactor and political leader, Benoni W. Urey, with whom he reportedly has disagreements. Urey, according to news reports, had, in the spirit of patriotism, accepted an invitation from President George Manneh Weah to donate items to residents of Careysburg in the wake of the deadly COVID-19 outbreak.
Costa, according to sources, and a faction of the CoP were insistent that the ALP leader should not accept the offer. But Urey and his daughter, businesswoman Telia Urey, seeing it as an opportunity to make amends for whatever that may have gone wrong between the Ureys and President Weah, jumped at it.
And so, tensions went high and egos were bruised. In the end, Telia resigned from the CoP as one of its vice-chairpersons, much to the consternation of Costa.
But the grumbling of Costa, it seems, was directed at the men and women of the four major opposition political parties seeking to unseat the CDC-led government of President Weah.
The Collaborating Political Parties (CPP) has finally released its framework which, when compacted, will produce a single candidate to launch it to the presidency in 2023.
But for all intents and purposes, and just for the worth of the ink on paper, it appears to be nothing more than the quest and jostle for jobs, power, holding of small beer fest at Mary’s Shop and Hilltop Bar, and the riding of luxurious expensive tinted SUVs through the worn-out streets of Monrovia.
Except for the sketchy plans of how the alliance would work, the CPP, now led by former Coca-Cola executive, Alex B. Cummings for the next eight months, is far from its projected saintly image if the framework agreement is anything to go by.
According to Section 10.11.1 of the agreement, “All constituent political parties shall be represented in the Cabinet. Cabinet positions shall be allocated amongst the constituent political parties and all other qualified Liberians whether or not they are members of the Alliance.”
While section 10.11.12, appears to be going contrary to 10.11.1, states: “Constituent Political Parties shall recommend qualified Members for appointment to Cabinet, junior cabinet, Technical level positions and local government administration subject to all applicable laws.”
However, and from all indications, the CPP framework is a summation of what Nobel Laureate and Archbishop, Desmond Tutu said. “Sometimes we are what we hate in others.”
For example, Section 10.11.14 of the agreement states “Constituent Political Parties shall recommend qualified Members for appointment to Cabinet, junior cabinet, Technical level positions, local government administration subject to all applicable laws.”
But when Vice-President Jewel Howard Taylor, at a program in Gbarnga two years ago, remarked that officials of the local government to be appointed would be only members of the coalition and “it is our time to eat,” the CPP went into overdrive.
Vice President Taylor would go on to take sustained lashes from the CPP uninterruptedly, dragging her through hell and back for the sheepish remark.
Amongst other things, Vice-President Taylor—and by extension, the ruling coalition—were lashed at for being exclusivists and unpatriotic in the division of the noble call to service.
Chiefly cited by the CPP—then still individualistic and trying to find its footing —was the purported violation Article 8 of the 1986 constitution. “The Republic shall direct its policy towards ensuring for all citizens, without discrimination, opportunities for employment and livelihood under just and humane conditions, and towards promoting safety, health and welfare facilities in employment.”
According to the CPP, VP Taylor’s statement was in stark contrast to Article 8. Now, the CPP is preparing to meticulously violate the constitution come hell or highwater. What makes this violation pristine is, it is methodical and has been signed, sealed, and delivered. With the swinging of the pendulum in the direction of the CPP, it is becoming clearer what the objective is.
Even more troubling is Section 10.11.3 which clearly states: “Only known, active and visible members of Constituent Political Parties shall be recommended by the parties.”
In short, it simply means partisans who are endless callers of talk shows and make the loudest noise in one of the many proliferating podcasts on Facebook are the ones for consideration. So now, the race is on for whose voice has the loudest decibel. The recent arrest of Menipakei Dumoe is a perfect example.
Already literally forgotten on the political landscape since parting ways with businessman and politician, Simeon Freeman, his political fortunes were resurrected recently when the government fell for his bait by arresting him over a Facebook post that ‘Liberians needs AK-47 from the government, not rice.’
His picture standing behind the bars would be paraded on social media, and some even thoughtlessly tried to liken him to global icon and Nobel Laureate, Nelson Mandela. He would clarify that he was writing metaphorically.
But it was also the same figure of speech that former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf used to call for the leveling of the Executive Mansion and said it would be rebuilt in three days. Her twelve years in office did not produce the Midas touch she was thought to possess.
In the end, he (Dumoe) was released on Unification Day, though his lawyer, Cllr. Tiawan Gongloe, and the current head of the CPP, Alex Cummings, acknowledged that his statement was far below the belt.
And whoever the would-be winners are, they would most likely come from Monrovia. They would have to call for eternal damnation like Henry Costa and his many talks of protest, echoing rhetorics of our violent past like Menipakei Dumoe, or have a dualist character like Senator Abraham Darius Dillon.
Fame and visibility require extremity. It wouldn’t come from the hinterland because our people up-country are smarter than those jockeying for visibility in Monrovia. For example, they would not call for the literal damaging of the soil because they know everyone feeds from it. In the end, they would be bastardized because their intelligence level is top-notch.
The road to 2023 is still far and the CPP would need more than just its quest for jobs, trappings of power, fame, and visibility to convince Liberians that they are truly the alternative to the ruling party.
At a time when officials of government are being criticized for being less patriotic, they (CPP) have pulled out of the steering committee meant to oversee the distribution of food to the public. But yet still continues to believe that service, vis-à-vis ruling the country, is divine call meant for them alone.
Politics does indeed make strange bedfellows. Rather than availing a platform and roadmap for the country, CPP is interested in the milking of the state cow and the politics of exclusion.
Alexander B. Cummings, current rotational head of the CPP often cites that past performance is the best roadmap to gauge future performance. He is right.
The performance of the CPP is before us now and it is that which will be used to review them for the upcoming midterm election in October and the general and presidential elections in 2023.
So far, it has been nothing but absolute failure. Two of its leading figures, Senators Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence and Senator Abraham Darius Dillon already have a messy report card. The acceptance of the US$6k bribe is a case in point. Senator Varney Sherman breaking from the pact to confirm presidential nominees is another example.
If the CPP should learn from history—as they should—the falling of the colossal True Whip Party, followed by the NDPL, and later the NPP should serve as historical guidance.
Exclusion doesn’t work and never will. It ostracizes the best brains and breeds resentment. This must be so apparent to President Weah and, perhaps not wanting his government to be a failure like those of his predecessors, has reached out and appointed one of his fiercest critics and seasoned professional, Ms. Jeanine Cooper. And plans are underway to reportedly bring on board others as well.
The road to 2023 is also fraught with many heartbreaks and disappointments. Like matters of the heart, there will be many jilted lovers. Whether the coalition will remain cemented till 2023 is still murky to tell.
The rosiness of the Christmas will be determined from preparation on the eve. For now, it seems things are going south. Henry Costa appears to be bolting from the doors, Senator Varney Sherman acts in his own personal pecuniary interests, not the CPP’s and last of all, the holding convention will determine whether the framework isn’t cow dung – hard on top but messy and watery beneath.