By Alex Chu Chu Jones
If the surrogates and political bulldogs of Liberian opposition politician Alexander B. Cummings’ Alternative National Congress (ANC) continue to attack Liberians that do not share their enthusiasm about a man whose millions have come from the sales of high fructose syrup drinks in Africa, which has led to increases in diabetes and other sugar-related illnesses among Africans, then they are no different than George Weah’s CDC cronies – perhaps, much worse.
The Cummings’ cult is getting out of control. It is now stripping away all intellectual poise from the very people who are accusing President George Weah of beholding to an unintelligible and inconsequential following. Truth be told, if we were not bullied by Ellen Johnson – Sirleaf and are not deterred by Weah’s intimidation, we will, for sure, not be bullied by the Coalition of Political Parties (CPP) or the Cummings demagoguery.
Alexander B. Cummings (ABC) would be scrutinized like any other Liberian politician, and we would vigorously expose such nonsense political philosophies that try to usurp the freedom of speech and the press around Africa.
How can Cummings and his ANC stooges be talking about change when they cannot handle critiques and criticism- a tasty and healthy ingredient for democracy? They must. Is this sort of intimidation an effective way to promote and campaign for Cummings or his CPP? We think not. Only young and dispossessed Liberians who are ill-equipped and afraid would succumb to this intimidation.
Madam Johnson-Sirleaf (former President of Liberia from 2006-2018) also possessed similar grandiose business and academic credentials as Cummings, if not more: Harvard educated, Citibank corporate vice president, World Bank senior staff and the bragging rights that come with an international self-made professional woman. With these accolades, many believe she would have championed Liberia from a poverty-stricken society to a middle-income status, but she did not. Instead, she circumnavigated Liberia from poverty to low-income and back to disease, corruption, embezzlement, and hopelessness.
Similarly, the self-made and adoring soccer genius, George Weah, who was elected because he had little to do with Liberia’s ugly past, and who had earned his fame and fortune outside of government, shortly after being elected president demolished his Sinkor 9th street home valued at $150,000 (according to his 2005 filings with the Liberia Elections Commission), and preceded to construct a $4 million hotel-style mansion. During that same time, and within few months of his Presidency, he began construction of his flagship 47-Unit luxury duplex apartment buildings.
All this would not have been so much of a problem had the near-bankrupt soccer star, who retired from professional soccer nearly two decades earlier in 2002, would have publicly disclosed his assets upon his inauguration in 2018, but he did not. Shortly after taking office and around the same time as his ambitious private building undertakings, millions began disappearing from the Liberian Central Bank, and civil-servant salaries went delinquent, prompting massive peaceful protests that called for his removal from office. He survived due to ECCOWAS’ (West African Regional Economic Block) mediation between the protest organizers and the government, but not after deepening the economic wounds of the country.
Liberia has since degenerated and reached the peak of social ills, prompting everyone or anyone to fight for a seat in lucrative Liberia’s legislature, that pays about $15000 per month in salary and other benefits, and the Presidency that has a personal office budget of $3-4 million.
Meanwhile, Liberia is ranked as the fourth most impoverished country in the world, with less than 1% GDP growth and 30% inflation, as of December 2019. Hence, the only game in town is politics, and politicians are the most paid in Liberia by far.
It is in such a context that we much scrutinize each political aspirant regardless of how his or her wealth was accumulated. Liberian journalists, advocates, and civic leaders failed in the past to perform such inquisition of public officials and candidates. And therefore, we must not make that mistake again.
Is this the leadership Cummings bringing: having his supporters and agents attack anyone who so much as to disagree with his campaign and newly formed coalition, even when it includes questionable people like Benoni Urey (who is as feisty and corrupt as Donald Trump’s former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, that was indicted for corruption). Urey was also a key member of former Liberian indicted president, Charles Taylor, inner circle. Joseph N. Boakai, who is as canny and insidious as the republican US Senator Mitch McConnell, and who served for twelve years as Johnson-Sirleaf’s vice president, is also part of the Cummings’ alliance. These are not altruistic men, and they have binged on more than their fair share of Liberia’s public spoils and plunder.
The CPP Alliance
The longstanding political service or self-indulgence of these men in government has kept them coming back for more. Former Liberia’s Vice President Joseph Boakai, a slick political navigator and under whose nose corruption, nepotism, and other types of government abuses went unchecked during Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf’s tumultuous administration will most likely head the CPP ticket. Boakai, who is also believed to be the most senior among them, at age 75, and who won the second-highest percentage of votes in 2017- winning 28% behind George Weah’s 38%. Alexander Cummings won a paltry 7.2%. The Liberty Party, one of the four political parties that make up the CPP Alliance won 9.6% in the 2017 presidential election.
Former Liberian warlord, Senator Prince Y. Johnson, the man who caught and decapitated former president Samuel K. Doe in 1990, won 8.2% in that election- however, he is not a part of this newly formed CPP Alliance.
Benoni Urey, on the other hand, won less than 2% vote in the 2017 elections and is the least likely to head the CPP ticket in 2023. Despite the scores of beratement and public antipathy toward him and his politically ambitious daughter, Telia Urey, they have somehow managed to stay in the game. Like her politically defamed father, Telia ran and lost a seat in the house of Representatives in 2019. Many pundits expect her to run again, this time on the CPP ticket.
Thanks to Alexander B. Cummings and his CPP Alliance, Liberia has lent herself back to the old powerbrokers. Cummings, who now chairs the CPP coalition, appears to be the most credible within the alliance, and perhaps the best manager provided he can control and manage his own well-intended but gutsy surrogates. Unfortunately, there is little evidence that he is doing that.
The Surrogates of Cummings (AKA) “ANC Facebook Squad” are notorious for surreptitiously berating and repudiating anyone posting unfavorable comments about Cummings or predicting his loss in 2023.
Should anyone commit this grave transgression (critique or criticize Cummings), a legion of ANC counter-attackers zoomed in and besieged the subject to hell’s contentment. Their illusion of his infallibility is striking. They are not only convinced of Cummings’ inevitable 2023 election victory but that his critics are insane and intellectually inferior for not acquiescing and condemned as George Weah’s “deplorable.”
This is madness. It is as if Liberians are not already experiencing the tyranny going on within George Weah’s circles resulting from the false adulation of the defamed president. Regrettably, these surrogates have not even proven to constructively articulate whatever policies or platform Cummings’ had or has; then again, I beg your forgiveness, we have yet to see anything substantive.
“CUMMING IS A GOOD MAN, OR HE WAS AN EXCEPTIONAL EXECUTIVE AT COCA COLA CORPORATION FOR 18 YEARS IS NOT A POLICY OR PLATFORM, NEITHER IS INVESTING IN AGRICULTURE (RICE & CASSAVA, etc.) OR HIRING QUALIFIED PEOPLE ARE”
Moreover, what kind of leadership is ANC displaying? They recently attacked Emmanuel Savice, a Liberian-born activist living in Canada. He risked his life on Liberia streets fighting for The War and Economic Crimes Court that was to be established by the Liberia Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) under Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. At the same time, Cummings receives platitude and awards (Knight Great Band – Humane Order of African Redemption) for himself from the very Johnson-Sirleaf Government. And, who wrote a letter singing praises to President George Weah during a COVID 19 State of Emergency, after several Liberians had been beaten and bruised by Weah’s ruthless militias.
What justice has Cumming brought to Liberia? Perhaps, Cummings cronies, as do George Weah, are desperate and vain, seeing the press, justice, and human rights advocates as fair game in this dirty and ruthless African saga, misinterpreted as democracy, as the hopes and ambition of many of these surrogates are hinged on their leaders’ Presidential bid.
Be not mistaken; not all Liberians bow to this throne of greed, power, arrogance, and personality cult.
Emmanuel Savice, on the other hand, and many would agree, has given more to Liberian than Cummings, and perhaps Weah would ever give, he has risked his life for freedom and justice, for which he is deserving of a Nobel.
Bob Marley ones said, “Some people are so poor, all they have is money.” I believe Alexander B. Cummings has more to offer Liberia than his wealth and corporate experience, which are not the only things needed in Liberia. What is also really needed is a healthy dose of social and political dialogue, frank assessment of Liberia’s condition, and objective evaluation of the social, political, and economic disposition. Cummings could also use more professional and charismatic political messengers and fewer unskilled and inexperienced surrogates. Ultimately, he needs something for which money cannot buy- sound judgment in these matters.
About the author:
Alex Chu-Chu Jones is the business and economic editor of 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 derivative and equity trader and analyst. He lives in Florida and enjoys tennis, golf, chess, reading, and writing western literature, religion, and global economic development