The Out-going Chairman of the Collaborating Political Parties(CPP) and political leader of the Alternative National Congress, Mr. Alexander Benedict Cummings, Jr. has paid glorying tributes to all partisans, supporters, partners and all those who worked with his leadership over the past 8 months to past the test and transform the CPP from the thoughts in their heads and words on pieces of paper, which many did not believe would work , into concerted actions and a new reality that is deeply rooted in a quest to change the country for the better.
Mr. Cummings made the commendation yesterday at the Headquarters of the ANC when he officially turned over the gavel of authority to Senator Nyonblee Karnga Lawrence, political leader of the Liberty Party in keeping with the framework agreement of the CPP for a rotational chairmanship among the leaders of the four constituent parties. Mr. Cummings went down the memory lane to highlight the difficulties the leaders of the various individual parties went through to get the opposition bloc formed owing to the different background each and every political party was coming from, a situation that nearly marred the realization of their dream.
“The task, as can be expected, was tedious. The CPP comprises an extended family of Liberians who cut across some of the largest political parties in the country. Even as we strive to become one, each party is beholden to their known identities, philosophies, and innate perception of leadership. Inevitably, this confounds the process of decision making and limits the time in which the CPP would ideally wish to act”.
He however said that in order to scale through this hurdle, he has to deploy his style of leadership, which was new to some but was beneficial in bringing in all of the constituent parties along and keeping them together. He also said in addition, the consensual nature of their collaboration, which was seemingly slow, deepened their collectivity and therefore their strength.
Mr. Cummings said the biggest challenge of his tenure was the participation of the CPP in the Midterm Senatorial and Referendum Elections, part of that challenge was choosing 15 out of a possible 60 candidates and ensuring adequate female representation. He said with each party having candidates for all 15 seats, which translated to a potential pool of 60 ambitious and qualified persons to choose from and narrowing that pool from 60 to 15 and managing possible fallouts, was one that could not be underrated. He however said in spite of the one fall out in Nimba, the CPP successfully fielded a single slate of candidates in all 15 counties, with 5 female candidates and outperformed the critics. Mr. Cummings said that they now have the building blocks of direct CPP senators, and leaders in the government, to whom the Liberian people can look for the alternative leadership they promised and that the differences that these CPP senators will make going forward, will go a long way in confirming the CPP as the ideal alternative to the current group of leaders in the country.
The ANC Political leader then congratulated all of the elected senators, and urge the NEC to speedily release them to the fullness of their representations of their respective counties. He furthered that once this process is complete, the CPP Legislative Caucus should not just act differently, but raise the standard of leadership, probity, accountability and transparency to which the CPP is committed in the discharge of their various responsibilities. He also challenged the CPP leadership to ensure their senators and representatives are not left alone but build around them the quality of consultations and teamwork to guarantee their success. Noting, “with these favorable results in the elections of CPP senators, there is no reason the CPP cannot invite the Liberian Senate to consider a number of important legislations which the country desperately needs adding that the truth is that since December 8, they ceased to be a CPP without political power”.
Hear Mr. Cummings: “In May of 2020, it was reasonably difficult to truly say we had a CPP Legislative Caucus. The legislators who identified with the CPP were products of the constituent members of the CPP with understandable commitments directly to their individual parties and constituents. Madam Chair, including your good self, I am proud today to present to you a true CPP Legislative Caucus – of members of the Legislature elected on the ticket and back of the CPP”.
Mr. Cummings lauded the nature of robust opposition the CPP offered against the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) which he said made the opposition bloc to become the voice of reason and sanity during the eight months of his leadership. He said CPP did not just condemn travesty to the Constitution and the rule of law, but through the CPP legal team which they collectively formed, the opposition was able to challenge these travesties in the courts, and raised the awareness of the Liberian people. Mr. Cummings said it cannot be ignored that as a result of one such legal action, Liberians came to know the shortcomings of the Referendum process and voted to ensure no change would be made to the Constitution which was not informed by the massive education of the people. To this end, he thanked and congratulated all of the members of the team who volunteered their time in these efforts to include Justice Kabineh Janeh, former Justice Minister Benedict Sannoh, Atty. Kofi Woods, Cllr. Findley Karnga, among others.
Enumerating more on his score card, Mr. Cummings said in May 2020, he received the CPP as a living document but on the occasion of turning over to Senator Lawrence, he was presenting more than what he met on the ground because he took concrete steps to establish CPP structures including the Legislative Caucus and Legal team and county structures in 8 of the 15 political subdivisions including but not limited to River Gee, Grand Gedeh, Grand Cape Mount, Bong, Grand Bassa, Margibi and Montserrado counties. According to him those local structures were established to inform the local politics and have provided the CPP needed footholds in far-to-reach parts of the counties and pointed out that five of CPP 6 seats were won in counties where the CPP County structures worked well together. He named other CPP Structures formed under his tenure as the CPP Youth, CPP Women and CPP Auxiliaries and called on the coming leadership to consider investing in these structures as they form the bedrock of their collaboration.
Mr. Cummings also spoke highly of the emphasis his leadership placed on women representation and participation in politics which he described as something that gratified him most that under his watch, CPP met and exceeded the recommended 30% threshold for women representation on the tickets of political parties. He said this achievement signifies that CPP is not different because they say it is different but different because they act differently stressing that women should not just cheer on men, but women can and have a right to lead as will be exemplified by the incoming Chair of the CPP.
The outgoing Chairman also used the occasion to report to the partisans of the radical decision the party took to withdraw from the National Food Distribution Committee because of the irregularities associated with the program which according to him ended in shambles. He said this was acknowledged at the State of the Nation Address when President George Manneh Weah could not even boldly talk about the effectiveness and efficiency of the scheme and reduced the constitutional report to laughter and challenged the CPP legislators to demand for more serious accounting and report on the use of the funds because the money came in as loan that Liberians will have to pay for.
He said as an alternative a CPP Food Distribution Committee was formed under the chairmanship of Martin Kollah during the early months of the COVID 19 pandemic and a nationwide food distribution effort was embarked upon intended to identify with the people challenged with the existential threats posed by COVID-19. This was made possible through an anonymous donation and the collaboration of members and substructures of the CPP.
On ensuring transparency in the Liberian process, especially in the situation where the votes from the electorates will be counted, Mr. Cummings said that it held several meetings with local and international partners as well as filing a writ of mandamus against the National Elections Commission(NEC) and said that consequently a technical team was sent by ECOWAS on request by the President and that team was able to substantially clean the Voters Roll in time for the Special senatorial midterm elections which were held on December 8, 2020. He however said this is not enough nor is it sustainable and the CPP needs to begin to advocate for the voting process to be biometric by 2023.
Mr. Cummings also used the occasion to task to get prepared to face the challenges ahead by learning from the lessons in the past and building on what he has done to place where CPP is today. “Madam Incoming Chair, there is a lot left on the plate which I pass on to you today. The CPP must expand. We must explore ways to solidify our relationships with other opposition parties and groups as we did with the Rainbow Alliance and if needed, bring others under one umbrella. We must develop the CPP manifesto and communicate our Plans for the Liberian People. Under your tenure, we must begin the process of our candidate selection for 2023 as laid out in the Framework agreement. This I believe will be your herculean task but I trust your ability to take us through”, he added.
The Former Vice President of Coca Cola Worldwide turned politician seriously stress the issue of finance to the incoming chair and made it vividly clear that politics is very expensive and that with what the CPP wants to achieve must be taken serious, her leadership must strive to take steps to make sure that there will be money to execute all their plans going forward.
“It is also true, Madam Incoming Chair and distinguished colleagues that politics is expensive. The present economic conditions offer a big challenge to all of us. The truth also is that unless we support our ideas with the financial resources needed to realize them, they will prove to be meaningless. I cannot turnover without urging all of us to do better with payments of our just, assessed and agreed upon dues and fees. Needless to remind you all that dues are enhancers and fund the day-to-day activities of our Collaboration. We must all commit to doing better in meeting our financial obligations to the CPP.
The rotational leadership arrangement within the CPP is done through alphabetically order that saw the All Liberia Party (ALP) taking the first shot with its political leader Benoni Urey as its maiden Chairman, followed by the Alternative National Congress through the outgoing Alexander Cummings and now the Liberty Party with Senator Nyonblee Karga Lawrence as political leader coming in as Chair while Former Vice President Joseph Nyumah Boakai as leader of the Unity Party being the last to lead the CPP.