Anyone but George Weah:
Cummings, Dillon, Boikia-and, other unlikely candidates, inch closer to Liberia’s Presidency
By Alex Chu Chu Jones
The conventional wisdom in Liberia today is that anyone, Joseph Boikia, Alex Cummings, and even Darius Dillon, would make a better president than George Weah. Since the election of the world renounced soccer player George Weah, to the presidency of Liberia in 2017, the requirements of leadership have been lowered. But this has not deterred another newcomer from doing some good. Abraham Darius Dillon, a newly elected senator of Montserrado County, who went rogue on his colleagues for corruption, embezzlement, bribery and financial coverups for having lit the halls of the capitol building that exposed guarded secrets of legislators generous salaries and widespread improprieties have been winning hearts and minds ever since he stepped foot on Capitol Hill. Although, that light has yet to illuminate derelict streets and slums of Monrovia or glow the faces of poverty-stricken Monrovians.
For that to happen, Liberia would need to elect men and women of more economic brilliance, political chastity, and employ better public managers and ministers.
In a few years, Liberians will not only have another opportunity to choose the lesser of two evils in its presidential elections in 2023, but perhaps four or five: candidates who lack public experience and proper management, financial novices, political mudslingers, thoughtless hopefuls, and the many “empty promises.” Once again, anything or anyone would have a chance in Liberian free roulette come elections time: a disc jockey (DJ), philosopher, priest, entertainer, athlete, and even criminal agents of the state; the only ones without a chance are the babies, children and “average Joes.”
Liberia is still avoiding and dismissing political due diligence. Hence, aspirants who possess reasonable economic knowledge and wit (like Benina Urey, Nat Barnes, Mills Jones, and Alex Cummings) are rightfully dismissed for their questionable character, guilt by association, or perceived or real public corruption and scandals in the past. At the other end of the spectrum, popular contenders like Dillon, Weah and “old man” Boikia ( who served 12 years as Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf’s Vice President) lack the expertise to adequately manage Liberia’s economic complexities, which requires someone who could drastically alter that nation’s economy and growth trajectory or the lack thereof. This has made elections in Liberia more of a religious exercise akin to “electing anyone but not a particular person or incumbent” rather than electing the best of the best as is the case in many African countries including Ivory Coast, Gambia, Sierra Leone, and Ethiopia, to name a few.
In Liberian politics, false sentiment, sensibility, and sensation seem to be enough for its desperate electorates who often overlook policy strength, economic shrewdness, and good character.
Because many Liberians have not yet fathom and quantify the extent of the nation’s prevailing economic impracticability and privations, they will sadly look too trivial and apparent figures for their next president, rather than look outside and beyond the current corridors of familiar names and parties. Unfortunately, and this time around, there would be little to no significant international help from development partners as many rich nations struggle with their political instability, unprecedented unemployment, and health challenges brought on by the recent pandemic. Liberia is on its own.
Mistaken political rhetoric, superficial appeals, and egotism must not be confused as patriotism or economic brilliancy this time around; Liberia cannot afford more learn-on-the-job prospects in its Legislature and presidency.
The many run-on-the-mill aspirants, disdained or idolized, must not be taken at their face value. Liberia’s economic backwardation required only trailblazers with both the energy and vigor to supplant and punish bad actors. It would also need the economic brilliance of John Maynard Kayne to rescue its meager $3 billion economies from the robber barons of its Legislature and the “shark tank” bankers of the IMF. Liberia’s next leader should know how to set good policies that would help guide against predatorial foreign business interest in Liberia and protect what little natural resources left after twelve years of Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf’s economic bludgeoning.
Presiding over one of the world’s least developed and most corrupt nations- not to mention the slowest growing and arguably one of the worst economies on God’s Green Earth is not for the faint of hearts. Liberia must borrow tens of millions every year to meet its meager $300 million annual government payroll, or what is equivalent to the net wealth of a single Liberian beauty product entrepreneur, Richelieu Dennis. Most of that payroll is allocated to Liberian senators, representatives, and not to mention its flashy presidency, which costs around $9 million per year to maintain (per the Ministry of State for Presidential Affairs budget). Hence, Liberia’s election must be more than campaign punchlines and slogans, and repairing Liberia’s broken social, political, and economic woes will require the brilliance of Bill Clinton, the fearlessness of Jerry Rawlings, and the ethics of Nelson Mandela.
That next presidential winner must also have the “kahuna” to dismantle Liberia’s dirty and corrupt political enterprises that have long seen themselves as kingmakers and powerbrokers but are in truth, they are nothing more them, state criminals. For this, its next leader must possess some Putin-like characteristics, that is, no sympathy for Liberia’s oligarchs: Jail them, disgrace them, even execute those who embezzle from the state, rape children or pillage what is left of Liberia’s resources.
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