Having learned a lot about the murky waters of Liberian politics and weathered the storm against his ambition, the Standard Bearer of the Collaborating Political Parties(CPP) , Mr. Alexander B. Cummings said the impression of Liberians about him in the ensuing 2023 elections where he has become “a household name” will not be like how they saw him when some people said he was “new and a stranger” to vast majority of the people just as he gave himself the edge to win the Presidency ahead of the other contenders in the race because “ I have all what it takes to bring real change in the country”.
Speaking to a live phone in interview yesterday morning on the Truth FM/Real TV network and anchored on several radio stations in Monrovia, Cummings said he will agree with the assertion they had about him in 2017 being new and a stranger to a large section of the voting populace because he entered the presidential race 18 months to the election as compared to some others who have being around the race for a longer time, such as some who started making the preparation at the end of the 2011 elections when former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, won her re-election.
“The information that Alexander B. Cummings was new was factually correct because nobody knew Alexander B. Cummings in 18 months to the election in 2017. However, the results put us in 5th position which though was not good enough because we didn’t win. We came third in Montserrado County, the most populated county, the former Vice President came second place and Mr. Weah took first place. So we came in third place ahead of many people who have been around for a long time.
“But in the last 6 years, the statement ‘we don’t know him’ was put to bed. The question of what has he done was also clear because we have a long list of what we have done with our own resources across various sectors, not government money in health care, education and on the question of relationship, we have built a couple of relationships over time and now we are in the stage of building the momentum towards the finish line”, Cummings said confidently.
Besides, Mr. Cummings said what has changed significantly in his favor for which he has become a household name across the country is “we have been engaging the young people, who constitute the vast number of our population, as you know, about 65% of our population is below 35 and these people remain the strong pillar of pursuit”, bringing the women, who constitute half of the total number of voters in the country to the center of his campaign as well as the collaboration the Alternative National Congress (ANC) formed with the Liberty Party(LP) into the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP).
“Again I will also say we have been able to be a leading contender because we have been able to analyze and make the necessary adjustments on what happened in 2017 to reflect the reality of the day in the country and that has been helpful. So, we can be confident that there has been a radical departure from what you saw in 2017. We are going for the presidency with the aim of winning it.
He said his entry into politics has added a new impetus and the direction opposition parties should take even if they lose elections because in the past, when they lose, they leave the stage for the winner to have a field day and return with just a few days to the next election. He said corporate background has taught him some key winnable strategies that “you don’t quit and when you lose because you will even lose more by quitting”.
“We did not leave the country, we remained engaged but what we did was to give President Weah time to put his feet on the ground. But from the first 6 months it was clear that he was going to be a failed President.
“You know historically after elections when you are defeated you leave and return when there is another election but we didn’t do that. We stayed back to keep check on the government and we encouraged others to stay on course. We brought in a new style to politics which is very important and we want to leverage on it as we approach the elections”, Cummings said.
When asked why Liberians should pick him ahead of the other contenders in the race, Mr. Cummings said his quest for the Presidency is to bring to bear his education, vast experience and accomplishments working in a global setting at Coca Cola that made him to live and work in a number of countries around the world and the immense contacts outside that can be explored to bring in investments and opportunities that can change the country and its people for the better.
He said the best predictor of future performance is the past performance and if Liberians will sincerely look at “our track records, our history, our accomplishments then they should not have problem or doubts about our ability to lead the country“
“I went to the world’s most competitive society and became successful. For someone who grew up in Point Four, went to Demonstration School, CWA, Cuttington and competed in corporate America, that person should be respected and taken seriously. The Coca Cola company globally is not the one at Red Light, it is in 200 countries around the world. The market price of the company when we left was around $260bn on the US Stock Exchange
“But the point is a Liberian man who worked in this country at LBDI to ascend to that level, managed budgets bigger than our national budgets, did not steal one cent, being consistently audited, no notice they will show up to make sure the expenditure is properly managed, is the one running for the Presidency.
“And so I tell Liberians for them to trust me because there is a track record of me. This is a person who lived and worked in Nigeria, lived and worked in Kenya, lived and worked in South Africa, lived and worked in the US, lived and worked in the UK with different people and different processes, and successfully rose up to the top of a global institution. I think it is just right that the Liberian people give me the opportunity to fix this country, fix the economy”.
The businessman turned politician said the biggest problem facing the country right now is the economy which, according to him, when fixed will solve all other problems in the country “and that is my area, everyone has their area”.
Mr. Cummings while responding to a question what he would have done differently with the harmonization program executed by President Weah at the beginning of his administration, said the whole exercise a flawed process, adding that Liberians in the first place should ask what experience did Mr. Weah bring to the table for which he will propound sound economic policy.
“The whole exercise was flawed because he does not know anything about economic policies that can solve problems. We know him as an outstanding footballer then and we respect him for that, no one takes that from him, he brought pride to us but we should ask ourselves what did he bring to the table.
“He was in the Senate and I doubt if he proposed any legislation for better policies. They went and cut people’s salaries, reduced their purchasing power , plunged them into hardship and they thought they were solving the problem.
“The truth is they thought you could create more jobs through the public sector. No, you can’t do that. You can create employment in the private sector by growing the sectors through policies and keeping the public sector lean”, he said.
Speaking further to thousands of listeners around the world who were glued to the stations via several platforms, Cummings was able to lay down his vision and explained how he will achieved it for a better Liberia “unlike other people who can only say what they want to achieve but can address the question of how”
“I went to Maryland County and I have to pass through the CIV , CIV is like 100 younger than Liberia
“My vision? We have a lot of priorities and not in particular order, we want to prioritize job creation so as to address the alarming rate of unemployment especially among our young people so as to put money in the pockets of our people to reduce poverty in the land. And we will be able to achieve that by investing in infrastructure such as our roads, provision of safe drinking water, electricity and technology.
“We will also fix our education system starting with training more teachers because if we don’t have trained teachers our institutions will not produce the right products, we will focus on Technical and Vocational Education (TVET) so our young people will acquire employable skills as well as adult education to increase the rate of literacy in the country.
“We will focus on our health sector with emphasis on primary health care and preventive health care. We realize that most of the ailments that can easily take away life in Liberia are treatable diseases like malaria, typhoid, etc. We will supply medical equipment, enough drugs and accessories to combat these ailments and other life threatening diseases”, he said.
Mr. Cummings further said he will also prioritize agriculture and promote what he called “Agro-based economy” to make the country self-sufficient and export cash crops such as Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana that are producers of 60% of the world’s cocoa as well as promote ecotourism, asserting “Liberian has almost 350 miles of coastline that can attract tourists around the world for us to generate the more income and employment.
The CPP leader said other measures he will use to generate more money for the country are to revisit the current tax regime of the country with the hope of expanding the tax base, getting the full value of the country resources, not necessarily looking at the agreements signed by previous governments but ensuring that the country’s resources are bought at the right prices and finding the money by cutting down waste as well as stopping the stealing of government’s assets.
Cummings told the audience when asked how he got to use the name “Fixer”, he said almost everything in the country has broken down and to get the country back on its feet, “they have to be repaired or fixed”. He said the state of infrastructure in the country was so deplorable that on his last visit to Maryland, he has to travel through Cote d’Ivoire to get there because the road going to Maryland was damaged beyond being used at the time, terming it “very embarrassing
“Virtually everything is down in the country and that has affected the development of the country. Our hospitals and other health facilities cannot get drugs and other supplies, our schools are not equipped, our roads are bad, just everything needs to be fixed and that is why we are coming in to fix everything, thus the name “The Fixers”.
Among other things Cummings took time to speak on his decision to remain in the CPP despite other parties pulling out and what it means to the Liberian people, and said he believes Liberians struggle to work with each other in a single group and that has also affected the urge to bring meaningful changes in the country
He said for his own case, when he returned to Liberia to join active national politics, he would have as well gone ahead to form his own party but decided to opt for one of the already existing political parties, the Alternative National Congress (ANC) where he became the political leader and on which platform he contested the Presidency in 2017.
He said his belief in working together in order to bring genuine change to the country made him to commit to a collaboration with three other parties to form the CPP but other people had different thought of it and worked towards dismantling the CPP after its outstanding performances during the 2020 Midterm Senatorial race when the party won overwhelmingly in strongholds of the ruling establishment, like Montserrado County .
“All I did was we should follow the process, we should not ordain anybody, this is not a monarchy, this is a democratic process. And because I insisted on the process, I was maligned, I was taken to court, I was testified against, they lied against me. But you know God works in a mysterious way and wants us to perform. They thought they would have buried my ambition, to throw my hands up , to make me give up, but I struck with my resolve, we went to the process and at the end of the day, there was no basis for it.
“We committed to the Liberian people that we wanted to collaborate, we committed to the Liberian people that we wanted to remain in the CPP. I wanted Liberian people to know that I stick to my words, I don’t pretend. When I promise you something, if I cannot do it, I tell you from the onset that I will not do it”, he said.
He said what he was able to do to remain committed to the CPP despite all the blackmail is something that he could teach the polity that it is good to be truthful and reliable to a cause no matter how conditions are bent against you but what matters is not to compromise and remain focused.