Cummings Speaks On Wide Range of National Issues -CPP Crises, Litigation, National Security, His Vision for Liberia

The Political Leader and Standard Bearer of the Alternative National Congress (ANC), Mr. Alexander B. Cummings yesterday, Tuesday, April 19, 2022 took some time to address wide range of national issues covering the crises within the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP), the litigation that followed which have seen him and two of his party officials going to court, the worsening state of insecurity, his vision for Liberia if he is elected President in 2023, amongst others.

In an exclusive interview with a group of media executives at his office Congo town yesterday, Mr. Cummings first addressed the crises within the once united Collaborating Political Parties (CPP), indicating that everything was moving on fine with the CPP starting with the euphoria that greeted its formation in 2019 to challenge the ruling establishment, the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC), its official recognition by the National Elections Commission (NEC) in 2020 and crowning of the year with the election  of 6 senators in the Special Senatorial Midterm election, especially defeating CDC in vote rich Montserrado, Grand Bassa , Bong and Lofa Counties.

He said for almost two years the parties were all united for a single purpose to offer the Liberian people the best alternative against what CDC is providing the nation and its people and they worked through the framework document without anyone challenging its authenticity.

Cummings who was the second rotational Chairman under whose leadership the party got registered and recognized by NEC as well as the electoral victories for the six senators said everything was going very fine until it reached the stage where the issue of who heads the sole Presidential ticket of the CPP came in and the unity of purpose in the party went away.

..”And I think it is because there was an expectation that somehow there will be a coronation of the former Vice President and standard bearer of the Unity Party, Mr. Joseph Nyumah Boakai and what we have said consistently is let us followed the agreement we all signed on to, let us follow the pattern and whatever the outcome of the process is, we will support it. The process is to go through the primary. Not necessarily to be Vice President, but to go to convention to talk to our people and whoever wins, wins. The UP wanted block-voting but we opposed it. There was a complete conspiracy”, he said.

Mr. Cummings said it was at that point that those who felt the sense of entitlement because they could not get what they wanted, set the tune for division with the unsubstantiated claims that the framework document that they have worked with for almost 2 years was allegedly forged and altered by him (Cummings) according to Mr. Benoni W. Urey of the All Liberia Party who then took him to court on criminal charges.

He said he has been going to court to clear his name from the charges which has amounted to persecution with the government through its Solicitor General who has been doing everything possible to bring a conviction on him at all cost.

He said he was baffled for the fact that in a country where there are cases of rape of women and girls, people are getting missing and killed, a Solicitor General finds pleasure in scheme to secure a fake conviction by extracting evidences garnered from witnesses.

“We believe all the facts are on our side, this is all being political, the government is using the judiciary to persecute a political opponent. I just hope that the judiciary realizes that the president and members of his government are making the judiciary look bad and judges should be able to stand to this and push back what is being portrayed against them”, he said.

He said at the onset of the trial at the Monrovia City Court Cllr. Cephus said the case was done and that they have preponderance of evidence that will convict him (Cummings) but has been proven wrong, stressing that he was undeterred and determined to see the end of this case, though such exercise was not good for the country.

When asked whether he was discouraged by what has been meted out against him by his colleagues, Cummings said he was not discouraged but was disappointed because they wasted the opportunity to stay together given result of the 2020 Special Senatorial Midterm election where they won six seats especially in vote rich counties at the time he was head of the CPP but does not want to take it as a personal glory because they were working as a team that included people who made invaluable contributions and must be acknowledged.

“Maybe it has to do with the old ways of doing things; the sense of entitlement, the sense that you have to do things one way or you have to settle and that is the problem with Liberia. We settle too quickly and that is why Liberia is where it is. We do not push for higher standard, we compromise a lot, compromising is not a bad thing but we do it at the lowest ebb of everything,

“The thing around it all was this sense of entitlement, someone was expected to get something and they didn’t get it and all the trouble started to come about. We need to have the right leader to drive the change we need to do things differently”, he said.

With what that has happened, the journalists wanted to know what is the present status of CPP from where he responded that the party as is currently constituted comprises the ANC and LP and will evolve and involve other parties.

He said the CPP offers Liberia the best opportunity for real change of good governance, economic growth and prosperity and drew similarities with a journey from Bomi Hills in a car destined for Monrovia but got damaged along the way. He said in order to make it work again and bring in passengers to Monrovia, the car needs to be retooled to get to its final destination. ’

’Other parties will join the CPP and we will get to our destination. That destination is change, that destination is good governance, that destination is the rule of law, that destination is economic prosperity and we are clear on that destination but we will repair the vehicle to get to the destination”, he said.

Asked why after the exit of ALP and UP the renunciation of their membership, the ANC and LP who now constitute the CPP, are still behind the two opposition parties, Mr. Cummings said though the parties left the CPP publicly, but  they are bound by the framework document because there are processes that lead to exiting the CPP. However, beyond that, Cummings said they have not followed the process but even if they have left, the framework document says if you leave the CPP you cannot field a candidate and that is why ANC and LP are at NEC to enforce it, so our claims at NEC is valid no matter how you want to interpret it.

Speaking on the objection filed with NEC against UP fielding a candidate in the Lofa County Senatorial bye-election. Cummings said that their decision has the legal backing in Article 25 that talks about the freedom of association and article 17 which speaks about honoring of binding contracts, stressing that UP exercised its rights in the two articles in that it exercised Article 25 by agreeing to join the CPP willingly and for Article 17, the two parties had binding contracts they signed with the parties and as such it must be respected.

 “So we have been saying it is about the rule of law, it is about signing a contract and living by what you signed on in the contract. We are saying they signed a contract and if you are leaving the contract, you will not field a candidate in the election. It is about integrity, it is about honesty, it is about living with what the law says”, he said.

Cummings spoke the mind of CPP when he said the party will not feature any candidate in the bye- election in Lofa county because according to him, the party participated in the 2020 election and won the seat through Brownie J. Samukai but the government deliberately refused to allow him to serve and found an excuse in the mismanagement of AFL funds that led him to be convicted.

Responding to a question on the pending memorandum of understanding that was to be signed between the ANC and the Liberty but the MOU has not been consummated, Mr. said among the elements of the MOU, the issue of the possibility of LP presenting a running mate to Cummings and composition of cabinet positions should he win the Presidency were discussed but decided to tread the line of caution so that the discussion will not only be between the two parties because efforts are being made to bring in some other parties. Therefore there was a need to have a wider discussion.

Touching on insecurity in the country, especially the mysterious deaths of Princess Cooper and Melvin Togba recently in which the government’s autopsy report has it that Princess died of TB, while Melvin died of natural causes, Mr. Cummings said the issue has to do with the fear people are forced to live in and the government’s apparent unwillingness to make sure that the law enforcement agencies going to work are given the right tools to work with.

He said it was sad that the government was not taking in consideration the importance of being able to protect her citizens against fear and threats to lives and properties.

The businessman-turned politician, when asked what his presidency will mean for Liberia, properly laid down his summary of his blueprint to develop the country beginning with the Economy which he said will be top priority because according to him it is the economy where everything intercepts.

He said that security remains a major precondition in order to have a better economy because you need to have a secured environment first before everything can fall in place. The former Coca Cola boardroom guru said another area to address is the rule of law which includes an independent judiciary with courts adjudicating cases impartially and without favor and interpreting contracts and agreements between businesses, people and businesses and between businesses and governments.

“The regulatory environment has to be put in place, stop corruption, plug the leakages and stop stealing then begin to do the followings: Invest in agriculture, to start making the people to feed themselves, invest in value addition to products we grow, Invest in ecotourism, we will work on the regulatory environment for the private sector to thrive, and make Liberians to benefit, the government’s decision to give money to Liberian businesses is good but if they do not do it, we will do it because this is how you create jobs.

“Invest in the young people through a youth service program, create a youth brigade, like the agriculture brigade, change from dependency, that is depending on donors and be independent”, he said.

Discussing his economic blueprint further, Cummings identified good roads and electricity as key areas that can jump start any economy and said that the first thing to do in tackling power shortage in the country is to seek to know why Liberia cannot generate power sufficient to power the economy and once the answer is known, he will be able to mobilize resources to address the electricity needs of the country.

The ANC leader further said in addition to leverage on the West African Power Pool, he will be looking in the direction of privatizing the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity in the country to ensure effectiveness and efficiency in service delivery. He said he will also be looking at getting the requisite technical manpower made up of Liberians who are spirited enough to help the country.

Mr. Cummings who found time also to explain his background to drive home some points against the insinuation that “I just dropped from the sky”. He said he was born at the Old Maternity Center in Monrovia, grew up in Fiamah, attended the Government Demonstration School, College of West Africa (CWA) and to the then Cuttington University College in Suacoco, Bong County and got employed with the Liberia Bank for Development and Investment (LBDI).

He also threw light on his family life where he mentioned that his mother was a nurse whose highest academic attainment was being a high school graduate and his father was an old teacher who taught for many years before becoming a priest.

Among other things, Mr. Cummings also responding to a question on the status of the Arcerlormittal Mineral Development Agreement that was recently sent back recently by the House of Representatives to the executive for renegotiation, he said extending the deal will not be a bad decision, but it it is important that ArcelorMittal fulfils all the agreements it reached with the government and the host communities because according to his information, the concessionaire has not been fulfilling those obligations.

He also cautioned the government to be fair and transparent on present transactions being pursued with respect to the use of the rail line which has become a sticky issue the government is battling to address especially so where ArcelorMittal and the High Power Exploration (HPX) are involved.

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