Liberia is essentially a bankrupted nation, once again! The bulk of its tiny $500 million budget goes to payroll, financial debt, and servicing recurring government operations- of course, after corruption from top to bottom is deducted. What’s left is used for feel-good political projects like road construction and market buildings. A small housing project here-and-there, a clinic or two and few schools around the country are maintained at bare minimum capacity leaving hardly anything left to cover the cost of running the nation’s leading public hospital at about $6 million. The JFK Hospital, located in the Sinkor district, is so underfunded and ill-equipped that not even the poorest government employee desires its treatment- even at little to no cost.
There are two reasons for this public nothingness and political theater in Liberia. The first is that almost all Liberian elected officials, and especially those vying in presidential elections, have little to no economic and public track record of success.
Anyone but George Weah: Part II
Cummings, Dillon, Boikia-and, other unlikely candidates, inch closer to Liberia’s Presidency
The second reason is they also have no real social and economic plan or solution to give to the public, should that document be required for public validation.
They rather talk about their conceived virtuosity, as though talking about solutions to the real problems in Liberia (lack of investment, jobs, healthcare, and education inadequacy) is a taboo. These candidates will not magically transform themselves into public mavericks once elected into public offices, even if their intentions are excellent and their hearts in the right place. Public leadership requires a written understanding of the social and economic issues and thoughts. But for Liberia, “trust me when I get there” seems to be the perfect platform for which they offer as the assurance to voters and supporters.
If we fail to vet, vent, and demand better and more prepared candidates in Liberia, we would have ourselves to blame. The notion of the “lesser of two evils” or the slogan of “anyone but Weah” must not substitute the candidate proposal and defended economic roadmap. It should also be required, for example, that each candidate platform ensures that at least 10 percent of underemployed Liberians would progress from the inhumane state of living on less than $2 per day to gainful employment.
While Dillon, Cummings, Boikia, and Weah all have a slight edge over their opponents in one way or another, they each lack a complete description of what an economically desperate country like Liberia should personify: knowledge, brilliance, and integrity. This requirement would be vital in elevating Liberia from its underperforming fiscal and social state, and its rapidly declining currency and living standards.
Darius Dillon has the passion and courage, which neither Weah nor Cummings can match. However, he lacks depth, knowledge, and intellectual capacity and possesses limited economic knowledge, even as a senator. His work ethic and connection with clear-headed Liberians is unparalleled to that of anyone currently in Liberian politics, and arguably most in the nation’s history. Alex Cummings, on the other hand, possesses the financial and managerial style, credibility, and organization to lead Liberia out of its economic despair.
He also has the right temperament and possesses 21st century head of state’s résumé and qualities (wealthy, business savvy, well connected but out-of-touch).
Moreover, cummings also lacks the eloquence, the details, and entrepreneurial breadth and fluency of a true entrepreneur; and, the passion, relatedness of George Weah. He has not garnered the reputation, honesty, believability, and sincerity of Darius Dillon’s thus far. He is adorned with the elegance and grace of former presidential hopefuls Mitt Romney and Howard D. Schultz (Starbucks Founder and CEO), and less of the aura and swagger of that of Barrack Obama and Jimmy Carter.
Like a boy whose fingers have been burnt, George Weah has lost the confidence and passion he once possessed as a rising star and crafty politician-perhaps, this is due to his many embarrassing missteps and public gaffes.
What he still has is an unprecedented calmness that is necessary for a people as rowdy as Liberians. He speaks softly or not at all; nonetheless, he still carries a proverbial big stick, and even more significant influence and likability around the world, and surprisingly still in hidden-corners and corridor of Liberia. Still, many are hoping and praying for his breakthrough, but hope can sometimes be the enemy of time.
He has a vision but lacks the means and mental capacity to express that vision or to identify the right lieutenants within his firm ranks and files to execute it on his behalf. Therefore, he is like a misguided sailor who misjudges the earth’s curvature as landmass, until he has drifted, hopelessly, too far from land and reality.
Like George Weah, Joseph Boikia also has immense likability and respect in and out of Liberia. He would be horribly wrong or incredibly right when it is all said and done. He is perhaps the most brilliant and experienced of all of them, and he dances to his tone. In any other nation or world, Boikia would be the undisputed champion of this race-but again, Liberia is not like any other place. His managerial résumé and character, a greater extent, is more vibrant and more implacable than all of his counterpart combined- spanning from 1973 and when he first became a resident manager at Marketing Corporation. His rise to power and position in Libera has been nothing short of flawless and meteoritic. If Joseph Boikia had the resources (human and financial), as do Weah and Cummings, he could become the Bernie Sanders of Liberia and singlehanded and with the CPP dominate the election.
Like Alex Cummings, his abilities, experiences, and expressions come out dull and unexciting-almost to the point of unprepossessing to the average Liberia voters.
Both he and Cummings are like to good guys who always finish second- somewhat like Al Gore. Once again, they stand to prove that right since they both cannot be president, at least not at the same time.
The market-building and bag-of-rice politicking that has permanently placed Liberia at the bottom of the human index must end, come to these elections.
Good character and great economic minds are the missing links amongst these candidates, and that which would give each a real edge over the others and convince the undecided voters of Liberia-which is key to winning. Empty political talks without evidence would be a fatal mistake since Liberians have already seen and heard it all. The reality is that if Liberia fails to elect the best candidate in 2023, Liberia would be a colossal failure like the nation of Niue.
About the Author
Chu-Chu (Alex) Jones is the business and economic editor at Globe Afrique. He has worked as a finance and technology (FinTech) analyst and consultant at leading banks and global financial institutions, including JP Morgan, Bank of New York Mellon, and Citibank. Alex is also a social and economic activist and an independent investor. He lives in Florida and enjoys tennis, golf, and chess. For leisure, Alex reads western history, religion, and literature. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org