MONROVIA – In what could be described as a radical departure from the usual way of politicians focusing on their outreach and campaign activities in urban areas believed to be inhabited by “sophisticated” citizens, the Standard Bearer and Political leader of the Collaborating Political Parties, on Wednesday, November 2, 2022, went the other way round by commencing his citizen engagement activities in rural communities of the country with focus in District #1, Montserrado County, where an unbelievable crowd came up to welcome him in their communities and pledged their support to his presidential bid come 2023.
The well-planned tour picked up as early as 7:30 in the morning from the National Headquarters of the Liberty Party and the CPP, with the delegation leaving town in a long convoy headed by Cummings and other CPP heavyweights.
The first major stop by the entourage was in Louisiana, where Cummings and party were greeted by an enthusiastic crowd who were excited to have a physical look at the politician and to hear the message he had brought to deliver to the people. Some of the citizens who had turned out on a busy market day for the community, especially the women, abandoned what they were doing and thronged into a hall to listen to Cummings.
“I am happy to be here today to speak to our people. I want to thank you for the warm welcome, and to bring a message of hope. We are not all happy with how the country is being run. It has brought hardship on the people that our citizens have to beg for everything they want while a very small group of people are enjoying what should be for all of us.
“We have to change the system and find a better one to serve our people. We have to put a stop to all the stealing so that our children will have better education, our youth will have jobs, so that we have the right health care for our system. We must end the corruption and so for this visit, we are beginning the process to end Mr. Weah’s incompetent and corrupt leadership. Our people deserve better, Liberia deserves better”, Cummings said among other things and received standing ovations and cheers from the people.
Cummings made it a point to stop at every village where citizens had come out to receive him, especially where school kids lined up along the road to give him a rousing welcome. Few meters away from the first stop In Louisiana, he stopped at the Peace and Light Academy where he had offered a brief talk to the students after a student spoke in an emotional tone, praising Cummings for the person he is and what he needs to do for the children of Liberia, especially when it comes to the provision of quality education.
A major endorsement program took place in Harrisburg Township where Cummings and District #1 Representative aspirant Rugie Barry got overwhelming support from the socio-political group called the Friends of Destiny, an institution founded in 2014 with membership of about 7,000 persons spread throughout Harrisburg Township, and which has also campaigned and voted for prominent politicians in various elections over the years.
After the performance of the traditional welcome ceremony which consisted of presentation of kolanuts, the group read out their endorsement statement explaining why they decided to throw their weight behind the CPP candidate.
“We have taken this decision to endorse you and to support you, Mr. Alexander B. Cummings, for the 2023 Presidential election for your sincerity, honesty and the development agenda you have for this country. Your promise for change is genuine that we can trust and believe in. We have seen other politicians making promises that they don’t have the capacity to fulfill but you are promising us a new Liberia that will end corruption and usher in real change. So, we are going to campaign for you to victory in 2023.
For Madam Rugie Barry, our mother, our iron lady, we are fully behind you. You have provided empowerment to our young women with vocational training. You have always been with us and for us. You have given us hope that you can be the right representative that can bring development to our people. You can count on us when the time comes in 2023”, the statement read.
Miss Diamond Harris, leader and founder of the group, who described herself as a former CDCian, said she and her group were convinced that Cummings is the real deal for the race in 2023, and that they will work towards the realization of his ambition.
Mr. Cummings, seemingly moved by the overwhelming endorsement, said he wholeheartedly appreciated the gesture and told the citizens he was not strange to the deplorable conditions the country has been plunged into because of the inability of President George Manneh Weah to lead the country in the right path. He urged the citizens to take action towards ending the tenure of the president by first registering during the voters’ registration exercise and then using their votes in 2023 to enthrone good leadership.
“We the Liberian People have to retrieve our country. We have to replace our President because he cannot do the job. The job is big for him. It is like you want for someone to drive a car and he has not done it before. So, we have to change the country, we have to register to vote. The voter registration is starting December 15, 2022 so we have to go out there to register to vote. You should go out to vote for the right people to change Liberia.
“Also, I am inviting you to come up on November 26, we will be having a rally. That is the time I will be telling the Liberian people that I want to be President of Liberia. And do you know why I am running? I am running so that I will change the country so that we all will live better in the country”, he said, amid jubilation.
The convoy then departed for Todee District with brief stops in Crozerville, Sackie Town, and other villages along the road, with Cummings speaking to jubilant crowd who had turned out to receive him.
In Koon town where a massive program was held, the citizens, speaking through elders, women groups, the youths, and students, expressed frustration with the state of the nation which has negatively impacted on their conditions in the rural areas. They complained about the lack of roads, health centers, schools and other infrastructure to bring them to the fore of national development.
The citizens had earlier presented Mr. Cummings with a white chicken and kola nut as sign of appreciation to their visit, while a splendid performance of traditional dancers thrilled the occasion.
Cummings assured the citizens of a better Liberia under the CPP leadership, vowing to fight corruption, impunity and misrule which he believed were causes of poverty and backwardness in the country. He however told the citizens that they owe it to the country as well to vote for the right people that can better perform on the job for which they were elected. He stressed the importance of voter registration, which the citizens should prioritize, “because to have good leaders that will change the country, you have to first register to vote, else you will not be able to exercise the rights to do so”, he told the citizens.
He presented sets of jerseys to the various towns that came around for a mini-tournament in his honor and chipped in a point to take a swipe at President Weah who came to prominence through football but has not given back to the sector.
“Ehn you know our President was a great footballer right? But he has not done anything in the area but under my leadership, I will do something for sports in the country”, he said and received loud cheers from the youth.
The final lap of the visitation tour was held in Bensonville, the capital city of Montserrado County which witnessed the largest gathering of supporters and other citizens from nearby communities.
Traditional dancers, including the ubiquitous “country devil”, graced the occasion, heralding the entry of Mr. Cummings and entourage into the Bensonville City Hall, venue of the citizen engagement meeting. Cummings was afforded the opportunity to listen to the people as well, following which he proffered insight as to how he intends to run the country if elected president.
In what was regarded as a summary of some of the major policy statements in the past, the CPP standard bearer said the whole issue of poverty and the lack of opportunities for the citizens has to do with the corruption and stealing that have taken the center stage of governance in the country under the watch of President Weah, and vowed to correct the deficiency through concrete actions to encourage deterrence.
“We will invest in the judiciary system so that our courts will be independent and investigate cases of corruption and stealing. We will strengthen our integrity institutions to do their jobs and adequately fund our security agencies to be able to provide security and safety for lives and properties.
He spoke on the greater unity among the opposition political parties, urging them to embrace unity in diversity because it is about Liberia and its future, noting that unity will be needed to govern the country if the CDC is ousted from power.
He also reiterated the essence of voter registration which must be taken seriously because that was the surest way the citizens can exercise the right to vote for the right person.
Meanwhile, the businessman-turned-politician, still basking in the positive outcome of the tour, took to his social media page to extend thanks and appreciation to the people of District #1 for the reception accorded him and his delegation and the opportunity given him to deliver his message of hope to them.
“In spite of the extreme hardships and challenges, may we all find a reason to thank God for taking us through and for the gift of life and family.
“I am grateful for my family, and for every single one of you who continue to support us on this journey for a better Liberia. Many thanks to the people of District 1, Montserrado County for the massive support and the exciting, joyous welcome yesterday.
“I trust that your District will also make Madam Rugie Barry of the CPP, the next Representative of District 1, Montserrado. We will continue our visits to other Districts in Montserrado and across the country. I look forward to meeting you all in your Districts. Thank you! Have a restful and peaceful Thanksgiving”, he said.