‘Govt Makes No Impact’ -Cummings Looks At Weah Govt.’s Performance -Speaks On His Chances in Opposition Bloc
In any national endeavor the media has come a long way to become a viable platform through which information dissemination can get to the wider audience. For Liberia politics has taken the center stage of our daily engagement with the public and the role of the media definitely not being in short supply as we enter in the most decisive epoch for the march to 2023 when the nation will be fielding out there individuals to pick a new Chief Executive of the nation, their vice chief executive, 15 senators and 73 new representatives. This is indeed the time every serious politician should seize every moment with the media to project to the electorate what they have to offer the people and the country. And so it was the case when news went around that Mr. Alexander Benjamin Cummings the Political leader of the Alternative National Congress (ANC) yesterday spoke on wide ranging issues of national concern including the process that will see the standard bearer of the Collaborating Political Party (CPP) and his chance of picking the ticket to contest against the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) in 2023; The Analyst Reports.
Mr. Cummings spoke through an interview that was carried live on six radio stations in Monrovia where he lamented the level of poor development in the country after some 173 years of independence, a situation he attributed to the bad choices made by the people in choosing our leaders.
“Like what I have always said, we cannot be doing the same thing over and over and expect different results. We are not making progress because we continue making the same mistakes electing the same people all the time. In such situation we don’t expect to be where we are supposed to be”, Mr. Cummings said.
The interview began with the journalists asking Mr. Cummings what he had gone to do in Lofa County the last time and what was his impression with the visit to that part of the country?
In response to the question, Mr. Cummings said he had gone to Lofa to participate in the dedication of a mosque that he contributed to during its construction. He said what he saw there was not considerably different from other remote places of the country he had travelled, to meet with people during the election season in 2017 and thereafter. He said the same story of poverty and neglect can be found all over the place, and it was an indictment of the failure of successive governments from the past to the present to address the basic needs of our people.
“Liberian people are worse off today than they were before the coming into power of this dispensation.”
One of the expected questions which was expected came earlier on in the interview when Mr. Cummings was asked to rate the performance of Mr. Weah thus far to which the politician used cleverly pushed the rating he said have all along come from the Liberian people themselves and not necessarily him.
“It is not about Alexander Cummings rating the President; but it is about how the Liberian people themselves are rating [President Weah] and his government because from all indications, the Liberian people are worse off today than they were before the coming into power of this dispensation. He said the high rate of unemployment, poverty, non- payment of salaries of civil servants, rising cost of goods and services, the deplorable state of our health sector, etc. are all indications of how the Liberian people are rating the government”. Mr. Cummings said.
Mr. Cummings further said he cannot see from which angle to really grade the government positively because almost all the completed projects the government has been dedicating are either inherited projects that are at the point of completion or projects negotiated for and funding secured by the past administration.
When pressed further and told about the government free tuition scheme at tertiary level and payment of the WASSCE fees for high school students, Mr. Cummings said all those ones are political showmanship that are even harming the education sector. He said what the sector really needs is the much needed support to provide quality education for the students. He said all over the place our universities and colleges are poorly funded and the same thing applies to our high schools. So the quality that comes out from the system, he noted, is very poor and not encouraging to guarantee the foundation for national development.
The ANC political leader was quick establish that he does not buy into the idea of the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic as the reason for the non-performance of the government as its supporters will want for people to believe.
Cummings, who is quite aware of the dire consequences emanating from the disease globally, said however that far before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the government on its own has been proceeding in the wrong direction thereby bringing untold human sufferings and misery upon the people, saying that it does not therefore add up blaming the pandemic for visionless posturing of the Weah led government.
The businessman cum politician used the occasion to clarify more on why he wrote the Liberian Senate to oppose the printing of a family of new bank notes, a situation which his detractors termed as “unpatriotic” to do. He said his decision was even rooted in the action and inaction of the government that showed it does not have the total understanding and control of the situation it was trying to solve.
“We opposed the printing of new banknotes on principle, and I think it is fair that the government’s own action and inaction gave us more ground to do so. You took $25m to mop excess liquidity in the system, but there is no single report to show you did it; you printed LD$4b but you can’t give adequate account of it; you are yet to address the issue of the missing LD$16b; the CBL said people are not putting money in the bank because people do not have confidence in the system. So with all these things, you expect people to trust you to print new money?” Mr. Cummings questioned.
In responding to the question on the implication of the allegation made by US Congressman Christopher Smith about the level of political corruption and human rights abuse under the Weah administration, Mr. Cummings said the implication was grave and further shows how the government is being perceived out there by the international community. He said that it was sad that instead of the government taking measures to address most of the issues raised by the powerful United States lawmaker, the government is deceiving itself by being mute but using proxies to further aggravate the situation.
Mr. Cummings said the indictment of the Weah government by Congressman Smith is an indication that the central administration in the United States will want to listen to because most of the foreign policy issues that affect developing countries like Liberia start from the House Foreign committees where Mr. Smith is an active member. Over the years, Cummings disclosed, the opinions of Congressman Smith on African leaders like it was in the case of former President Charles G. Taylor is keenly considered, especially when most matter.
He cited the instances of the arrest of Mr. Mo Ali, Secretary General of the Unity Party and the delay in certifying Mr. Brownie Samukai as clear examples of the political corruption and the flagrant abuse of human rights under this administration. Cummings also said that the CPP as a law abiding mass driven institution will continue to legally challenge the excesses of the government.
“We should not choose leaders based on popularity or on sympathy because ‘it is their time’”
The second most question popped up where he was asked why he can’t settle down as a running mate to former Vice President Joseph Nyuma Boakai since the elderly man has got some experience in the public sector or what will he do if he was not elected as standard bearer of the CPP?
Responding, Mr. Cummings apparently feeling a bit slighted by the question said categorically that settling to go as vice president out rightly is ruled out because it does not show any seriousness in choosing leaders of the country.
He said he was committed to the framework of the CPP that spells out how the standard bearer of the opposition bloc will be selected. Mr. Cummings said the CPP should not make the mistake of allotting political tickets to individuals on feeble reasons that will not be able to address the many challenges facing the country.
“We should choose our leaders based on the track records of people, their integrity and the capacity to deliver good governance for our people to see the genuine transformation they crave to see. We should not choose leaders based on popularity or on sympathy because “it is their time”. We have been doing this and that is why this country cannot change”, Mr. Cummings said.
When asked why he and not the others – or what will he do differently that others have not done, the suave talking politician said what differentiate him from other politicians is the understanding of power and what gets them attracted to it.
He said while others are looking at the personal benefits that are attached to political offices, he is looking at providing a selfless leadership that will bring true change and transformation of the country. He said he will produce a leadership based on team work, the attribute he has come to associate with from the corporate world where he served the global company, Coca Cola Worldwide as Vice President.
He also said he will set a high standard for his government to and the ordinary citizens to subscribe to because every citizen must work together, putting in their own quota for the good of the country.
“Focus will shift to growing the revenue, plugging out the leakages and properly managing what has been generated”
In a rather relaxed mind, Mr. Cummings took time to provide insight in his policy thrust if elected president so as to fast track development for the people which he said will be premised on sound and prudent use of resources and the rule of law. He said there is a huge possibility of growing the budget to $1b from its usual cap of some $600m it has never crossed since 1847. He said focus will shift to growing the revenue, plugging out the leakages and properly managing what has been generated.
He narrated further by saying that to begin with, his government will look at the main sources of revenue which include custom duties, income tax, royalties from the mining and forestry sectors, etc. and see how best to improve upon them so as to impact on the people.
“We will have to look at the critical sectors of the economy like agriculture and the untapped tourism sector. Put more concentration and money there so as to make them viable. This is what serious governments do to bring meaningful economic development to the people,” he asserted.
Mr. Cummings further stated that he will see the organized private sector as a strategic partner to drive home his economic policy that will ensure that businesses are supported to start up, grow and prosper the economy.
He said priority will be given to every sector of the economy, especially the productive or manufacturing sector, which will serve as an engine of growth of the economy. He spoke of encouraging the small and medium enterprises to play its role in creating jobs and wealth for the people.
Mr. Cummings told his audience that he will insist not to compromise his integrity by defending someone because they have given him support. His assertion was in reference to a question asked regarding what the guarantee he will give to President Weah if he decides not to re-contest and gives him support in exchange for protection.
“In the first place, it is going to be the Liberian people that are going to decide who becomes President in 2023, not President Weah or any other person. So our stand remains to defend the constitution and not to compromise on anything that will further destroy this country”.
The ANC political leader sees his chances of picking the CPP ticket and eventually being elected in 2023 very bright because he has the pedigree of performance, passion to serve the people and vision to bring perfect change in the country. He cautioned the Liberian people not to choose leaders based on popularity, sympathy for people because it is “their time” or from the same region, all of which will further plunge the country into a nightmare.
He said he will respect the will of the people if he is not chosen to lead the CPP ticket, but the process must be free and fair. His parting words dwelled on his call on the Liberian people to continue trusting in the CPP, though not perfect, but provides the best alternative to the present ruling establishment.