As Liberians anxiously set for the holding of a successful presidential election in nine days’ time, one of the leading presidential candidates in the race has been abandoned by his colleagues; given their fullest support to the presidential bid of Vice President Joseph Nyuma Boakai.
Last week a group of Former Liberian footballers under the banner “Unity Party Soccer Legends” surprisingly expressed their support to the Vice President instead of their colleague, Senator George Manneh Weah, Congress for Democratic Change (CDC), presidential candidate, noting that the Unity Party Standard Bearer is the best man for the nation’s top job.
The group comprising Dionysius Sebwe, Boy Charles, Ezekieh Doe, Papee Sumo, Pewu Bestman, Kelvin Sebwe and Ben Saydee said their support to Joseph Boakia is based on his vision for sports and the development of Liberia.
Addressing a news conference in Monrovia, the spokesperson of the former Liberian footballers Dionysius Sebwe said it is incumbent upon all Liberians to choose a leader that is competent, experienced and possesses mature qualities.
According to Mr. Sebwe, they are about 15 former players of Liberia who played alongside the Coalition for Democratic Change Standard Bearer George Weah and James Debbah for a decade but do not supports their former teammate to be the successor to Ellen Johnson Sirleaf because, according to them, Senator Weah has not done much to develop football since his ascendancy as Montserrado County Senator in 2014 and chair on sports at the Liberian Senate.
Sebwe said though they are close friends of Weah, they do not believe the former world footballer of the year is ready for the task.
“We see Liberia football developing under Ambassador Joseph Boakai as President of Liberia judging from his past record and interest in sports, look at the National High School Football and Kickball championship that he initiated, it has given students love for the game and at the same time play football and kick ball,” Dionysius Sebwe said.
He said the issue of electing the next President of Liberia should not be done on friendship, popularity and certainly not on tribal or ethnic affiliation.
“The group wishes to stress that as Liberia sustains its fledgling democracy, it is incumbent upon all of us as citizens to choose the right leader for this country based on qualification, competence, experience and maturity; not on friendship, mere popularity, and certainly not on tribal or ethnic affiliation.”
” We must at this juncture of our democracy sustain the gains we’ve made collectively as a people despite our fundamental differences”, the former Liberian defender said while reading the group’s statement.
Sebwe was quick to clarify that the statement made by Vice President Joseph Boakai regarding not turning the country over to a football player was not in any way directed at all former and current football players, but rather to a former professional football player who has not genuinely achieved the level of experience, education or sound wits associated with occupying the highest office in the country.
They asserted that the Unity Party Standard Bearer has continued to support youth empowerment and other youth activities, especially the ongoing historic National High School Football and Kickball Championship that seeks to promote sports and education as an inseparable component for youth development.
The former players noted that due to the inaugural sports tournament, most high schools across the country are experiencing unprecedented enrollment increment with the entry of high school drop-outs and new students and is optimistic that the initiative by the Vice President will produce athletes or football players that will not only love and play the game but also acquire proper education for their own future.
Dionysius Sebwe who is currently contesting the representative seat in Grand Kru County said – “Moreover, we’re here today to profess to Liberia and the world that our decision regarding our former teammate, Senator George Weah, is one of conscience devoid of any prejudice; it’s a decision that supports the already strong foundation laid by Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s administration.
The former professionals, including Jonathan “Boye Charles” Sogbie, Kelvin Sebwe, Ben Saydee, Ezekieh Doe, Pewu Bestman, Sam Chebli, Dionysius Sebwe, Papee Sumo and others who overwhelmingly supported the senatorial ambition of George Weah because they believed that the Senator or chairman on sports would have used his tenure at the National Legislature to put forward important legislations to strengthen our democracy, impact the lives of those at the bottom of the economic ladder and aggressively support and promote sports development across the country, especially football.”
“Fellow Liberians, unfortunately, we have been deeply disappointed in our colleague’s lack of substantial progress in developing the game that has given him so much prominence on the national and international scenes. George Weah’s lack of interest in supporting sports, particularly football, has to some extent contributed considerably to the dismal performance of national teams; no legislation on sports policy or the development of the youth of this country; no strong advocacy or representation for increase in budgetary allocation for other sporting disciplines; and no utilization of his huge international football network to benefit the younger generation of football players.” he added.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, we continue to uphold despite our political differences the undeniable truth that George Weah is one of the greatest football players Liberia has ever produced. And we all do love him as this great football player, this icon.
However, equating his popularity or exceptional athletic ability to political leadership or effective governance of this country is disingenuous to the Liberian people.
Let us hope that at some point in the future Senator George Weah will demonstrate the kind of leadership we or the country seeks in a future President.” the spokesperson of the former player said in frustration.
They, however, said as former professional players, they have continued to serve Liberia in various capacities and fully participate in the country’s political process and without any influence they pledge to support the Vice President for what they termed as his enviable track record in promoting youth empowerment and football development, pointing fingers to the National High School Football and Kickball Championship across fifteen political sub-divisions as Vice President Boakai’s good work.
The over fifteen football Players are of the Conviction that with their association with the Vice President sport will fully developed in Liberia.