LIBERIA – Mr. Alexander Cummings, political leader of the opposition Alternative National Congress (ANC) says in 5 years, stealing in the Weah-led Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) government has gotten worse, which he says has caused Liberia’s name is no longer respected – a situation that has scared serious international investor wants to come to Liberia.
The ANC presidential hopeful, Cummings further lamented that due the Weah administration’s stealing, Liberia’s neighbors, including some that were behind Liberia in development, have now actually moved way ahead of Liberia.
“I am running for President to end this bad chapter and change this sad story. Liberia cannot continue to fall behind because it will only lead us into harder times than we are already in, and harder times without solutions will risk our long-term peace and security. We can, and we must do better for our country, our children, and ourselves,” said Cummings.
According to Cummings, the riches of Liberia belong to the people of Liberia, and it does not exclusively belong to the President, lawmakers or Ministers.
“However, for too long in our country, government and governance have been about government officials taking care of themselves by bleeding the country while ordinary people continue to suffer. We have to end this foolishness!”
The ANC political leader noted this is why, he said, for example, it is unacceptable to him that in the 2022 National Budget, the offices of the President, Vice President, Pro-temp, Speaker, and Deputy Speaker allocated US$15,470,394 to themselves, and allocate a little amount to major hospitals including John F. Kennedy Medical Center, Phebe Hospital and School of Nursing, Jackson F. Doe Hospital, Redemption Hospital US$10,731,784, or all teachers training institutes and community colleges combined, US$9,324,454.
The action by senior government officials, Cummings said is irresponsible and an unfair distribution of the country’s wealth; and if elected in 2023, the cornerstone of a ‘Cummings Administration,’ will be that no President, lawmaker, or Minister will ever receive more than what is given to a public hospital or school in the national budget, noting whether such allocations be disguised as “security money”, or “president project money”.
“The national budget is a tool that ought to say, transparently and accountably, what our priorities and values are. It is not an instrument, and should never be used as one, to legalize stealing.”
“At a very early age in Point Four and Fiamah, my mother taught me not to steal other people’s money or to cheat them. The lessons she taught me, as I helped her manage her small dokafleh business, have stayed with me throughout my professional life,” Cummings indicated.
He said it was useful to him when he worked in leading, managing, and accounting for billions of dollars at Coca-Cola, without a single audit report ever accusing him of impropriety, misconduct, or wrongdoing. He said, “This is the level of integrity in leadership I am looking to inspire in our government.”
Cummings continued: “Talking about Coca-Cola, I have heard some of my critics say leading at Coca-Cola is different from leading the Liberian government. They argue that Coca-Cola is more systematic, and organized and that people are better paid.”
“They are right – things are more organized and systematic not just at Coca-Cola, but as any serious business leader will tell you, things are more organized in a well-managed business. But systems do not work themselves – people do. Therefore, from business to government, systems are only as good as people with integrity and responsibility to lead and keep them functional. Without the right leader, ultimately, the best system will break down.”
“The other point is that the Liberian Government does not have to be chaotic, disorganized, erratic, incompetent, and wasteful. Government officials do not have to be self-serving and corrupt. In business or government, people will follow the examples of their leader. A corrupt leader will inevitably create a corrupt business or government.”
“The mindset that we have to continue to keep our government disorganized, incompetent, and corrupt is outdated and wrong. It is this backward mindset that has led us to where we are today so that our country is counted amongst the most corrupt and poorest in the world, although God has blessed us with natural wealth.”
He noted ‘A Cummings Administration’ will build accountable systems in government and will lead by the required good examples so that others will follow, adding, “We will end the stealing in the government.”
“My final point to the critics is that the Liberian government needs to pay decent living wages and salaries. This is not just payments to politicians at the top of the government who in many cases are already making more than they deserve, for their level of performance. Instead, a Cummings Administration will prioritize paying decent living salaries and wages to janitors, drivers, gardeners, messengers, secretaries, teachers, police, and other security officers, as well as doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers.”
Mr. Alexander Cummings made the statements when addressed the media on a wide range of national issues on Monday, June 20, 2022, at his Congo Town office, Monrovia, lamented that 2023 will mark the 20th year since the Accra Comprehensive Peace Agreement was signed to end the civil war – and after 20 years, Liberians have to now stop making excuses for why things are not working as they should, and change the things Liberians are doing wrong so that things can start to work better.
Let no one tell me that we cannot do this – that we cannot pay Liberian civil servants and workers better than is being done today. The truth is that we can pay more. But to pay more, we must first stop the stealing in government and stop the wasteful spending. We must negotiate the right deals for the country, manage our natural resources more transparently and accountably, and invest through the national budget, in those things that will help us grow the economy and fight poverty. Finally, my fellow Liberians:
The Elections in 2023 is critical for our country. In 2023, we will not just be voting for a President, Senator, or Representative, we will be choosing the direction of our country for more than the next 6 years. This is because the deeper the hole President Weah and his government dig the country into, the harder and longer it will take to climb our country out of it after they leave.
Right now, the hole is already very deep. Things are already very bad. The work ahead to take our country out of the Weah government hole is already hard enough. We, therefore, have to stop them, in 2023, from digging any deeper than they already have.
Importantly also for our country, 2023 will mark the 20th year since we signed the Accra Comprehensive Peace Agreement to end our war. After 20 years, we have to now stop making excuses for why things are not working as they should, and change the things we are doing wrong so that things can start to work better.
20 years later, rather than continuing to repeat the marginalization, corruption, exclusion, disunity, and division that caused us to fight each other and destroy our country, we must now come together knowing that really and truly Liberia belongs to all Liberians. We must begin to walk a new road to a better future for our country.
This is why 2023 is not just another election year for Liberia. It is really a turning point year for our country. The elections in 2023 will define our country for generations to come. Such defining elections cannot just be about the parties we like, the friendships we have, the desires of our tribes, or the aspirations of our religions. The 2023 Election is really about the country we love, a country that desperately needs all of us to rescue it and turn things around for the better.
Liberia is hurting. Our country is bleeding. As Liberians, it is our duty to rescue Liberia from the failures and broken promises of President Weah and his government.
2023 is the time to rescue our country. 2023 is the time for Real Change.
Liberia deserves better. Liberians deserve better.
God bless you. I thank you.