Cummings Wants CPP, Liberians Embrace Real Change -Rationalizes CPP Meeting Walkout, Boakai Endorsement Abstention
Last week, two interesting events within the opposition bloc set the stage for many to believe that the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP) was about to crumble. The Political Leader of the Alternative National Congress and constituent leader of the CPP, Mr. Alexander B. Cummings had not just walked out of a CPP strategic executive meeting, but he also turned down an invitation to attend an endorsement program of Unity Party political leader Ambassador Joseph Nyuma Boakai where the UP said they had unanimously chosen him (Boakai) as the UP contestant for the CPP standard bearer slot in the upcoming CPP primary processes. In reaction to the growing concerns over what many see as a widening chasm in Liberia’s biggest opposition bloc, Mr. Cummings says his basic concern is for the CPP and Liberians to embrace change, because real change is not just saying the right things but doing the right things the right way.
Addressing the media Monday, Mr. Cummings said although change is hard to come by, real change is even harder to live by, noting, “It will not make everyone happy at the same time because some are too used to the old ways of doing things. Real change is giving the country a new chance to become better. Real change is not just saying the right things but doing the right things the right way.”
“Many of you have heard that I walked out of a meeting with my colleagues at Bella Casa Hotel, and of my refusal to attend a program to “endorse” Amb. Boakai as Standard Bearer of Unity Party. While many have commended my stance on upholding the rules as well as the commitments to democratic tenets we share in the CPP, some have described it as fueling an internal crisis.
“I can only hope that this internal crisis, if it is one, will provide the CPP much-needed space for reflection on how we better position ourselves to respond to the needs of our people for real change. It is not enough that we criticize the government, as we rightly should, but also that we continue to demonstrate that the CPP is a better alternative by holding ourselves to a higher standard of democratic leadership and accountability.
“This is why I walked out. This is why I refused to endorse a wrong. Liberia and Liberians are at stake. The CPP must do better. Liberia deserves better. If CPP cannot be the change the Liberian people seek, then we do not deserve to lead them.
“This clash for change must not just be in the CPP; it must also happen across our country and in all of our political parties, in our schools and hospitals, churches and mosques, offices and communities. Your lives depend on it. Those who desire change – those who know our country must change for the better – must confront and stand up to those resisting change and wanting things to selfishly remain the same,” Cummings stated emphatically.
The ANC political said his political institution was formed to be a viable alternative to the CDC-led government, because since the election of this CDC-led government, Liberia continues to descend into free fall.
“Many of you do not need me to tell you that Liberia is in a really bad place. You are feeling it every day and everywhere in the country. The President does not know what he is doing. Most of the people he employed, like him, don’t know what they are doing. They are managing the economy very poorly. Every day is a new corruption scandal of government officials stealing while people can’t find jobs. The harmonized pay of civil servants cannot even pay the cost of their transportation to work, or pay their children school fees, or put food on their tables for a month because food prices are too high.
“People are suffering. We need to create jobs. We need to grow the economy. We need to fix the schools and improve the hospitals. We need to stop the stealing, obey 1 the laws and hold each other accountable. This is what political leaders should be seriously talking about because these are what are affecting Liberians and are at stake in 2023.
“The membership of the Alternative National Congress (ANC), and my own participation in the CPP, impose an obligation to help to keep the CPP’s actions within the framework of its agreement. Of course, my preference is not to commit a wrong, but where it is brought to my attention, with supporting evidence, that I participated in the commission of violations to the Framework Agreement by our decisions to extend the tenure of the Chair and constitute an investigative Committee, it becomes my duty, as a democratic leader, to ensure the wrong is corrected, and the illegal action reversed,” Cummings lamented, noting that a wrong is a wrong regardless of who commits it, including himself.
“Recognizing and correcting a wrong is not weakness. It is an attribute of leadership, and is honorable. Doubling down on wrongs is dishonorable and a product of undemocratic leadership. Where there is insistence on not correcting our collective mistake, but to continue to proceed wrongly, in spite of clear violations of our laws, I will not be part of it. We owe the Liberian people an obligation to do things differently; to be better than this government. If not, how are we the alternative?
“On the issue of Unity Party, insofar as it risks undermining what we have agreed to collectively, the actions of a constituent-member party cannot be said to be internal. When we agreed to act as one in the CPP, we also agreed to be publicly judged. The undemocratic action of one member-party, in violation of the core values and guiding principles of the CPP, its own constitution and NEC Guidelines casts a broader aspersion on the CPP, and reflects poorly on all of us. Either we believe in what we agree to stand for, or we don’t. We simply cannot have it both ways.
“To change our country, we must choose, as hard as it sometimes will be, not to stand, even with friends, when we know they are wrong. I have made my choice, and it is to stand with anyone who is trying to stand right. I know I will have to stand alone sometimes or anger some friends and allies by doing so. This, too, is a price I am willing to pay for the change I believe we must make to better our country.
“Fellow citizens, Change must begin with us – with me, with you, with my friends in the CPP, with the leaders in the government, and with traditional, community and religious leaders. Change is not about someone else. It is about each of us holding all of us more accountable.
“How can we be trusted to obey the laws of the country when we cannot obey the CPP Framework Agreement? Breaking laws have real consequences just as real change is a deep commitment to be different.
“I have been criticized for not being on the Liberian political scene as long as some of my colleagues and it is true. However, it is not how long but how well. I am by no means a perfect human being, as there is none but I came to politics to make a real difference. I did not come to keep things as they are, or to join in keeping our country stagnant and immovable from its difficult past. I came believing politics is the way to make the future of Liberia brighter and better for all Liberians.
“Those who want real change cannot stand down. You must not give in, nor give up. You must be strong, and brave. When you need to, you must walk out without walking away. Eventually, change will happen.
“Liberia needs to move forward. We need to build a new future for our children. Many of our neighboring countries are speeding ahead changing their societies and their countries while our nation is falling backward. Leadership is not about clinging to the past. It is about moving to the future.
“Liberia is crying out for us to do things differently. The living conditions are worsening for too many Liberians, and they do not need us to play the same old and discredited politics with their lives. Too many of our young people need new opportunities to better their conditions. Too many women are without equal opportunities and legal protections. Too many of our girls need hurdles removed from their paths to realizing the fullness of their God-given potential. Too many children need the chance to grow up to be better than their parents. Too many Liberians need to feel the empowerment in their citizenship and not continue to standby and stand aside in their own country. And yes, no Liberian needs to die because our hospitals lack the basics to treat their illnesses while their government officials embezzle public funds.
“This is really what this is all about – real change versus another chance. We must choose. I choose real change even if it will cost me the opportunity to be President of this great nation. I urge each and every one of you to choose real change, even if it makes you uncomfortable because the ultimate benefit will be a better country for all of us. We can change our country; we must change our country and together, we will.
“If not us, Liberians, then who; if not now, then when? God Bless you and God Bless Liberia!” Mr. Cummings intoned.