MONROVIA – A day after the President George Manneh Weah delivered his final State of the Nation Address (SONA) for his 6-year tenure in which he heaped praises on his administration for its achievements in various sectors, the opposition Collaborating Political Parties (CPP) has swiftly reacted to the address, saying “in six years, President Weah has dumped our country into a deep hole, and he has no idea how to get us out of the deep hole he has put us in.”
Addressing a major media conference yesterday, Tuesday, January 31, 2023 at the National Headquarters of the CPP, Standard Bearer Alexander B. Cummings said with nearly USD 2bn the Coalition for Democratic Congress (CDC)-led government has borrowed and spent mostly on themselves, they are not even “digging hole to cover hole”.
“They are wickedly digging new holes and throwing the dirt away! They are making the Liberian people suffer today, and all this borrowing, stealing and wasteful spending will make our children suffer to pay it back tomorrow. How can anybody say they love their country and do this kind of wickedness to the people?
“As if the hole they have put our country in is not deep enough; as if the suffering the Liberian people are going through is not already too much, the President is again making more promises, and asking us to give him more time. President Weah wants more time so he can dig a bigger hole, and make the Liberian people suffer even more. President Weah actually wants more time so they can steal to make themselves richer while making the Liberian people poorer”, Cummings said.
Setting the basis of the party’s reaction, Mr. Cummings said President Weah for the past six years has led a “failed and leaderless presidency” that has weakened the country, made Liberians poorer and continues to “internationally embarrass our nation”; quoting from a hit song of a Liberian musician to describe the President as the one who “lied to us”.
“For most of the last six years, President Weah was too busy playing, partying and vacationing. It’s ok to play. But when the President plays too much and does not do his job, the people suffer. The President did not know what he was elected to do, and still does not know what the President of our country is supposed to be doing.
“Leadership matters. Presidential leadership matters even more in our country. Unfortunately, until we change it, in our country, everything starts and ends with the President. The President leads the government to determine, for example, whether or not people have access to well-paying jobs; children have access to quality education; hospitals have beds and medicines to treat sick people; market women have enough customers to buy their goods and to make profits; and taxi, keh-keh and pehn-pehn drivers have something to take home at the end of the day. This is why, when the President does not know what he is doing, the country falls into serious trouble, and the people suffer”, he said.
Speaking further, Cummings who has been consistently speaking out against some of the policies of the government said because President Weah does not know what he is supposed to be doing, for six years, “our country has been running itself.” He noted that when a country runs itself, the result is that nothing works.
“Everybody gets to do their own thing, even if it is against the law. Everything breaks down. Dirt piles up in the streets risking people’s health. Prices go up as the hard times keep getting harder. Businesses get harassed with some forced to close down, or forced to sell to the President’s friends.
“When the country runs itself, people lose their jobs, and those with jobs can’t take pay on time. Every day, there is a new protest for something that is wrong because protesting is the only way people believe they can get solutions to their problems. Streets and communities become unsafe. Crime goes up, ghettos open everywhere, the society becomes lawless, and serious investors either run away, or refuse to come to our country.
“To put it simply, after six years of Weah’s leaderless presidency, the State of our Republic is weak with no jobs, broken promises, no hope, no change, and no security. We should also add that there is too much suffering, and too much stealing going on. Things are bad, and only getting worse”, he said.
Against what he said about the stewardship of the President, Cummings said Liberians will react when the nation goes to the polls on October 10, 2023, by rejecting him. “Well, Mr. President, enough is enough. Nobody stupid here! We will end your failed and leaderless presidency in October. Your sacking loading”, he said.
“The Presidency is not a 419 business. Too many people’s lives depend on the honesty, integrity, discipline, judgment and decision-making of the President. Scheming every day to fool people is not what Presidents are supposed to be doing. Faking numbers to tell us that inflation is low while prices are going up every day will not fool us to believe that the economy is improving. It will not fool us to believe that the hard times are over. Rice, oil, sugar, and even pepper and bitter balls – the prices of every single basic commodity are higher today than it was when Mr. Weah became President.
“Calling Liberia Miami when our streets, schools, hospitals, public utilities and governing systems are all broken down and crumbling, is a childish and offensive joke. President Weah had six years to make Liberia Miami. Instead, he has made Liberia a living hell for Liberians.
“Today, no one walking the streets of Monrovia needs to be told that it is unsafe. No Liberian student or teacher needs to be told that the educational system has gone from bad to worse. No parent needs to be told that the cost of living is rising so that caring for children and loved ones is unbearable.
“No doctor, teacher, nurse or civil servant needs to be told their pay is wickedly “harmonized” so that they cannot even pay their way to work for the month, let alone feed their families. No young man or woman who is frustratingly looking for a job, even after graduation, needs to be told that the promise to create one million jobs is another of the many failed and broken promises President Weah made to our nation.
“No traditional chief, elder or tribal governor needs to be told how badly and disrespectfully they have been treated for the last six years. Many were dismissed for political reasons, some have not been placed on payroll, and all of them make next to nothing to care for themselves and their families.
“No retiree who served this country is not right to feel that the country they served has abandoned them. This is not because the government does not have money to care about the wellbeing and welfare of the people. Liberia is too rich for Liberians to be so poor. However, the Weah administration does not care that people are suffering. They only care about themselves and how much they and their friends can steal from the country and the people.
“In Weah’s Miami, no market woman needs to be told that business is so rough that even sell-pay (seh-pay) can no longer pay. For six years, Liberians and Liberian businesses have been on their own, suffering and struggling. By the way, Liberians and their businesses have not just been spectators to their economy, they have been thrown outside the stadium”, the businessman turned politician said.
Recounting the experience Liberians have had under President Weah, Cummings said for the last six years, the Weah administration has not just been bad for Liberia, they have been wicked to the Liberian people, wherein too many dreams have been unfulfilled, too many hopes have been dashed, too many promises have been broken, too many lives have been lost mysteriously, too many families continue to grieve and hurt with no hope of closure for the deaths of loved ones, some of whom were the breadwinners of the family.
“For six years, too many young people have continued to be at-risk and have their future lost to drugs and crime. Too many Liberian businesses continue to unfairly struggle, and too many Liberians continue to be left out of opportunities, and left behind to suffer.
“For six years, too many Liberians have continued to die of preventable and curable illnesses. Babies and pregnant mothers have continued to die at unacceptably high and alarming rates because of the lack of care and reach to medical facilities. Too many children have continued to have poor-quality and substandard education. And yes, too many Liberians continue to be too poor and excluded from the blessings of Liberia’s abundance of natural wealth.
“For the next six years, our people do not need jokers. Liberia needs trusted leaders who will know what they are doing. Liberians do not need to be lied to and given more false hopes and wishful thinking. Our people need to share in the wealth of our country, and equally enjoy all of the benefits and rights of their citizenship.
“To buy food, pay school fees and rent, or to settle hospital bills, Liberians do not need to wish they had money. They need to have money. Liberians do not need to beg to live. They need jobs – decent paying jobs. We will create decent and high-paying jobs for Liberians. Our people need to be paid on time. We will pay people on time. People’s salaries that were wickedly cut, we will put it back. We will end the unfair “harmonization”, and increase people’s pay. We will end the wickedness of the Weah administration on the Liberian people”, Cummings further stated.
The former boardroom guru said the Liberian people need investors and companies to come to the country, promising to bring serious investors and big companies to Liberia to create good-paying jobs, adding that Liberian businesses do not only have to be small shops and way-lor (waiter) markets. “We will provide the means and push Liberians to grow their small businesses into bigger ones. Liberian businesses need to succeed, if Liberians will actually own the building of Liberia’s economy because that is the only way we can develop Liberia. We cannot develop Liberia without first developing the capacity of the people”, he said.
“From arts to music, and from movies to sports; it is a shame that under a football President, Liberian players and artists are not being supported to succeed in their own country. We will prioritize helping Liberians to succeed, as their respective talents, efforts and enterprising spirits deserve. And we will not apologize for doing so.
“Rather than continue to abandon our schools and hospitals to the charity and goodwill of private and faith-based institutions, we will provide the much-needed help and support to schools and hospitals so that all of our children can get quality education, and every Liberian can get the quality medical treatment they deserve, right here in Liberia”, he said.
As an alternative government, Cummings promised that the CPP will stop the stealing and the lack of accountability in government, stressing that this is one of the important ways Liberians will change the living conditions of the citizens. He further said that in a Cummings Administration, no matter who you are, if you steal from the Liberian people, no place on earth will be safe for you to hide.
“Let me be even clearer: The harshest punishment for corruption in a Cummings Administration will be given to those who will be deemed to be closest to me. I will not, and do not need to steal one cent from the Liberian people. And so, if anyone in my administration thinks they need to steal, we will deal with you drastically, so everybody will know that public service is to serve the public and not to steal from the public. Liberia will not develop until we are serious about stopping corruption”, Cumming said.
“The riches of Liberia are for the people of Liberia. This business of dividing the national budget so that schools and hospitals, and all the things that the Liberian people need to improve their lives, are cut down and given to the President, Vice President, Speaker, Pro-Temp and Deputy Speaker, is another wickedness we will end in a Cummings-led Government.
“Our ongoing review of the national budget is showing monies being hidden under certain ministries and agencies for unspecified work and overestimated work. This is a foolish attempt to legalize stealing. Hear me today, and hear me well: There will be consequences for this stealing.
“No one who steals from the Liberian people should think they will get away with it. We will thoroughly investigate and audit public expenditures to include but not limited to missing millions, the $25 Million U.S. Dollar Mop-up, the COVID Relief Fund, and the National Road Fund. Anyone involved in stealing will be prosecuted in keeping with law. I mean what I say and only say what I mean.
“Let me also be clear about all of these mysterious deaths: In the first six months of a Cummings Presidency, we will commission a team of professionals to investigate. Wherever foul play is discovered, we will deal with the situation as law-abiding societies should.
“Finally, my fellow citizens: Our country needs fixing. For more than 40 years of my professional life, I have worked on fixing things and making them better. Today, I promise you that together, we will fix our country and make it better for all Liberians, because Liberians deserve better. Yes, the living conditions of people need to be improved. It will take hard work and a bit of time. But I promise you that together, we will improve the living conditions of Liberians”, Cummings concluded.
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