The ongoing row and wrangling amongst members of the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP) have been a hot topic of discussion in the media recently, particularly in the electronic media. According to some callers on local radio talk-shows, the wrangling portends danger for the survivability of the coalition up to the elections in 2023.
Most callers tend to agree that if the CPP does not get its act together soon enough, the likelihood of losing the elections to the incumbent ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) will become imminent. And this is a real concern generally shared by those in the opposition, according to a number of opposition figures this newspaper has spoken to.
According to a political analyst (name withheld), with just about 2 years left until the elections, the CPP appears to be more focused on the grab for political power rather than addressing critical issues facing the country. So far, according to the analyst, none of the constituent members of the CPP are discussing issues of the economy and other critical issues facing the nation.
The national discourse, he said, is personality focused, which should not be the case for an opposition group desirous of attaining political power to effect real change that would make a difference in the lives of the ordinary Liberian. The Daily Observer could not agree more with this observation.
Assuming argumentum, the CPP wins the elections in 2023, what program or platform has it developed on which basis it proposes to change things around? Is theirs going to be a rehash of the Pro Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (PAPD)?
On closer scrutiny, the PAPD appears to differ very little from former President Sirleaf’s Poverty Reduction Strategy (PRS). On reflection, there is very little if any at all real development achieved under the PRS, aside from debt forgiveness.
Even that achievement appears to have been undermined by runaway public sector corruption. The passage into law, for example, of 64 bogus predatory concession agreements, bore no substantial economic dividends for the country.
And neither did the attraction of US$16 billion in direct foreign investments bear anything substantial for the country. These developments, especially the illegal passage of 64 predatory concession agreements into law, served to a very large extent to undermine the rule of law.
Currently, the national economy is still caught in a tailspin. Prices of local commodities on the market are rising by the day. Local businessmen complain that the heavy tax burden imposed by the LRA is making it extremely difficult for them to import goods/commodities into the country.
They complain also about the increasing tax rates imposed by the APM Terminals, the Cargo Tracking Note (CTN) fees paid to a private outfit with alleged links to top government officials. Hospitals around the country are reported to be critically short of essential drugs and medicines.
Public schools are generally in deplorable conditions with most lacking libraries, modern science laboratories, adequate furniture and teaching materials. Public education is being outsourced to private business interests.
Only recently a group composed of the National Teachers Association and other concerned organizations made an open call to the government to stop the outsourcing of public education to the private investor, Bridge International Academies.
Ordinary people are complaining daily about rising crime and insecurity, as well as the high cost of living. These are just about a few of the pressing issues on the minds of the public, but to which the political opposition appears to be unresponsive and rather disaffected.
In view of this, questions are being asked just when the CPP will sort out its internal issues and begin to focus on the pressing issues. Make no mistake about it, no single Liberian or party has the answers to the nation’s problems but, collectively working together, they can at least address some of those issues in a meaningful way.
This is why the public appears to be desperately wishing and hoping the CPP would find its footing and begin to address critical national issues. Whether or not the CPP is going to weather the current storm remains unclear at this moment.
But the signs for a rapprochement, according to a supporter of the Unity Party (UP), name withheld, generally do not look good. Further, according to him, former President Sirleaf still wields enormous influence over decision making in the UP and her alleged support or preference for the Alternative National Congress (ANC) leader, Alexander Cummings, to head the CPP ticket could prove decisive in determining the ultimate fate of the CPP as a unified body going into the elections come 2023.
But according to analysts, a solo quest by Cummings for the Presidency on an ANC ticket minus UP current Standard Bearer, Joseph Boakai, will be a recipe for disaster because it would mean an automatic loss of the Lofa vote and, this is what perhaps has kept Cummings tethered to the CPP.
On the other hand Benoni Urey, standard bearer of the All Liberian Party (ALP) who has been a steadfast supporter of former Vice President Boakai, appears to maintain his position that Joseph Boakai heads the CPP ticket.
His recent complaint about alteration in the CPP documents is said to arise from his unease over what some of his supporters say is former President Sirleaf’s tacit support for Musa Bility’s alleged quest for the political leadership of the Liberty Party in order to push her agenda.
Perhaps, according to analysts, if they could stop the recriminations and begin to dialogue and speak with one voice on burning issues of the economy and national governance, they could in this way refocus attention on the issues rather than on personalities and thereby, reduce chances for a split in ranks.
Through such dialogue, they could also rekindle fast fading hopes of a unified ticket in 2023. But time, according to a UP supporter, is not on their side and, by the way, the possible emergence of a dark horse to challenge both the incumbent and the ruling CDC cannot be ruled out, he maintains.