In the wake of growling reactions from the Liberian Legislature which took personal affront at what they termed a mischaracterization of government functions and functionaries by Alternative National Congress (ANC) political leader and opposition Collaborating Political Parties (CPP) frontrunner for the 2023 presidential elections, Mr. Alexander Cummings, the man at the helm of the call for legislators to return the $15,000 budgeted under “legislative engagements” says the august body must have misread the intent for which he expressed his concerns, and therefore, they might have misconstrued his motive.
“The issue is not to question the legality of the funds, to “intentionally bring the legislature to public disrepute,” or to sow “seeds of discord among our people,” Mr. Cummings said in a statement released June 20, 2021.
Clarifying further, Mr. Cummings said those who know him and his record will agree that he has always been unrelenting when it comes to promoting peace and unity among all Liberians.
“I demonstrated my very strong desire for peace and unity among our people when I assumed leadership of the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP) in those rocky and formative days. Many times, members of my own party grumbled vociferously when I took decisions against the party’s interest just to preserve the cohesion of the CPP. Many of the senators are members of the CPP and are great friends and supporters of mine, for whom I have the highest respect,” Cummings said.
Cummings furthered that the rationale behind his stern position to describe the dishing of the controversial $15,000 at a time of a national health crisis while the citizens are deprived of basic amenities derived from a national standpoint.
“At a time of increasing economic hardship being inflicted upon our people and the renewed surge of Covid-19 in the country which has taken the lives of many of our citizens, it becomes imperative for national leaders, and especially lawmakers, to exercise utmost prudence and moral judgment on expenditure of our scarce financial resources. The return of the money at this time by the legislators is a conscionable and moral requirement, previous budgetary allocation notwithstanding,” the ANC political leader stated.
Yet, in the face of the current economic and health crisis, Cummings said he was taken aback that the legislators ironically passed the law for themselves as discretionary spending without putting in place firm measures for accountability.
“It is the duty of lawmakers to keep track of accountability of public funds and discretionary expenditure. The Liberian Senate should not cast itself as powerless victim of a law it passed, benefits from, and has the power to change,” said Cummings.
Liberia, he said remains counted amongst the most corrupt and the poorest in the world primarily because mismanagement and lack of accountability of public resources are among the contributing factors for the country’s poverty and backwardness, adding, it should be the duty of every citizen to demand course correction.
Cummings said, because the Senate is perceived as a more deliberative and judicious body, it should not be the one to appeal to the worst of Liberians’ instincts nor should it stoke tribal fears and divisions, as such would only serve to deepen distrust and pull the nation apart.
“In a few weeks, Liberia will celebrate the 174th year of its independence. But look at us. Look at our country. What has our continuous appeal to division, marginalization, exclusion, and tribalism done for us? Rather than striving for true independence, we are becoming increasingly dependent on begging other nations to help pay the salaries of our president, lawmakers, judges, other government officials and civil servants with requests for budget support,” Cummings lamented, adding, while national leaders and lawmakers may be attempting to hide individual shortcomings and indiscretions behind tribal animosity, the reality is that across every tribe, region, religion and political party, people are suffering in this country.