Ending The Leaderless Presidency: A Response By Alexander B. Cummings To The State Of The Republic Address
The head of the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP), and political leader of the Alternative National Congress (ANC), Alexander Benedict Cummings has sharply reacted to Preident George Manneh Weah’s final State of the Nation Address.
Below is the full text of Mr. Cummings’ Reaction:
My Fellow Liberians:
Yesterday, the President delivered the last State of the Republic Address of his failed and leaderless presidency. To borrow from a popular Liberian Musician, the President “lied to us”. The truth is that President Weah has weakened our Republic. He has made Liberians poorer, and continues to internationally embarrass our nation.
For most of the last six years, President Weah was too busy playing, partying and vacationing. It’s ok to play. But when the President plays too much and does not do his job, the people suffer. The President did not know what he was elected to do, and still does not know what the President of our country is supposed to be doing.
Leadership matters. Presidential leadership matters even more in our country. Unfortunately, until we change it, in our country, everything starts and ends with the President. The President leads the government to determine, for example, whether or not people have access to well-paying jobs; children have access to quality education; hospitals have beds and medicines to treat sick people; market women have enough customers to buy their goods and to make profits; and taxi, keh-keh and pehn-pehn drivers have something to take home at the end of the day. This is why, when the President does not know what he is doing, the country falls into serious trouble, and the people suffer.
Because President Weah does not know what he is supposed to be doing, for six years, our country has been running itself. When a country runs itself, the result is that nothing works. Everybody gets to do their own thing, even if it is against the law. Everything breaks down. Dirt piles up in the streets risking people’s health. Prices go up as the hard times keep getting harder. Businesses get harassed with some forced to close down, or forced to sell to the President’s friends.
When the country runs itself, people lose their jobs, and those with jobs can’t take pay on time. Everyday, there is a new protest for something that is wrong because protesting is the only way people believe they can get solutions to their problems. Streets and communities become unsafe. Crime goes up, ghettos open everywhere, the society becomes lawless, and serious investors either run away, or refuse to come to our country.
To put it simply, after six years of Weah’s leaderless presidency, the State of our Republic is weak with no jobs, broken promises, no hope, no change, and no security. We should also add that there is too much suffering, and too much stealing going on. Things are bad, and only getting worse.
In six years, President Weah has dumped our country into a deep hole, and he has no idea how to get us out of the deep hole he has put us in. With nearly 2 Billion dollars they have borrowed, and the way they have spent it mostly on themselves, they are not even ‘digging hole to cover hole’. They are wickedly digging new holes and throwing the dirt away! They are making the Liberian people suffer today, and all this borrowing, stealing and wasteful spending will make our children suffer to pay it back, tomorrow. How can anybody say they love their country and do this kind of wickedness to the people?
As if the hole they have put our country in is not deep enough – as if the suffering the Liberian people are going through is not already too much – the President is again making more promises, and asking us to give him more time. President Weah wants more time so he can dig a bigger hole, and make the Liberian people suffer even more. President Weah actually wants more time so they can steal to make themselves richer while making the Liberian people poorer.
Well, Mr. President, enough is enough. Nobody stupid here! We will end your failed and leaderless presidency in October. Your sacking loading.
My fellow citizens:
The Presidency is not a 419 business. Too many people lives depend on the honesty, integrity, discipline, judgment and decision-making of the President. Scheming everyday to fool people is not what Presidents are supposed to be doing. Faking numbers to tell us that inflation is low while prices are going up everyday will not fool us to believe that the economy is improving. It will not fool us to believe that the hard times are over. Rice, oil, sugar, and even Pepper and bitter balls – the prices of every single basic commodity are higher today than it was when Mr. Weah became President.
Calling Liberia Miami when our streets, schools, hospitals, public utilities and governing systems are all broken down and crumbling, is a childish and offensive joke. President Weah had six years to make Liberia Miami. Instead, he has made Liberia a living hell for Liberians.
Today, no one walking the streets of Monrovia needs to be told that it is unsafe. No Liberian student or teacher needs to be told that the educational system has gone from bad to worse. No parent needs to be told that the cost of living is rising so that caring for children and loved ones is unbearable.
No doctor, teacher, nurse or civil servant needs to be told their pay is wickedly “harmonized” so that they cannot even pay their way to work for the month, let alone feed their families. No young man or woman who is frustratingly looking for a job, even after graduation, needs to be told that the promise to create one million jobs is another of the many failed and broken promises President Weah made to our nation.
No traditional chief, elder or tribal governor needs to be told how badly and disrespectfully they have been treated for the last six years. Many were dismissed for political reasons, some have not been placed on payroll, and all of them make next to nothing to care for themselves and their families.
No retiree who served this country is not right to feel that the country they served has abandoned them. This is not because the government does not have money to care about the wellbeing and welfare of the people. Liberia is too rich for Liberians to be so poor. However, the Weah administration does not care that people are suffering. They only care about themselves and how much they and their friends can steal from the country and the people.
In Weah’s Miami, no market woman needs to be told that business is so rough that even sell-pay (seh-pay) can no longer pay. For six years, Liberians and Liberian businesses have been on their own, suffering and struggling. By the way, Liberians and their businesses have not just been spectators to their economy, they have been thrown outside the stadium.
My fellow Liberians:
For the last six years, the Weah administration has not just been bad for Liberia, they have been wicked to the Liberian people. Too many dreams have been unfulfilled. Too many hopes have been dashed. Too many promises have been broken. Too many lives have been lost mysteriously. Too many families continue to grieve and hurt with no hope of closure for the deaths of loved ones, some of whom were the breadwinners of the family.
For six years, too many young people have continued to be at-risk and have their future lost to drugs and crime. Too many Liberian businesses continue to unfairly struggle, and too many Liberians continue to be left out of opportunities, and left behind to suffer.
For six years, too many Liberians have continued to die of preventable and curable illnesses. Babies and pregnant mothers have continued to die at unacceptably high and alarming rates because of the lack of care and reach to medical facilities. Too many children have continued to have poor-quality and substandard education. And yes, too many Liberians continue to be too poor and excluded from the blessings of Liberia’s abundance of natural wealth.
For the next six years, our people do not need jokers. Liberia needs trusted leaders who will know what they are doing. Liberians do not need to be lied to and given more false hopes and wishful thinking. Our people need to share in the wealth of our country, and equally enjoy all of the benefits and rights of their citizenship.
To buy food, pay school fees and rent, or to settle hospital bills, Liberians do not need to wish they had money. They need to have money. Liberians do not need to beg to live. They need jobs – decent paying jobs. We will create decent and high-paying jobs for Liberians. Our people need to take pay on time. We will pay people on time. People salaries that were wickedly cut, we will put it back. We will end the unfair “harmonization”, and increase people’s pay. We will end the wickedness of the Weah administration on the Liberian people.
Our people need investors and companies to come to our country. We will bring serious investors and big companies to our country to create good-paying jobs. Liberian businesses do not only have to be small shops and way-lor (waiter) market. We will provide the means and push Liberians to grow their small businesses into bigger ones. Liberian businesses need to succeed, if Liberians will actually own the building of Liberia’s economy because that is the only way we can develop Liberia. We can not develop Liberia without first developing the capacity of the people.
From arts to music, and from movies to sports; it is a shame that under a football President, Liberian players and artists are not being supported to succeed in their own country. We will prioritize helping Liberians to succeed, as their respective talents, efforts and enterprising spirits deserve. And we will not apologize for doing so.
Rather than continue to abandon our schools and hospitals to the charity and goodwill of private and faith-based institutions, we will provide the much-needed help and support to schools and hospitals so that all of our children can get quality education, and every Liberian can get the quality medical treatment they deserve, right here in Liberia.
Let me also make this promise: We will STOP the stealing and lack of accountability in government. This is one of the important ways we will change the living conditions of our people. In a Cummings Administration, no matter who you are, if you steal from the Liberian people, no place on earth will be safe for you to hide.
Let me be even clearer: The harshest punishment for corruption in a Cummings Administration will be given to those who will be deemed to be closest to me. I will not, and do not need to steal one cent from the Liberian people. And so, if anyone who will be in my administration and think they need to steal, we will deal with you drastically, so everybody will know that public service is to serve the public and not to steal from the public. Liberia will not develop until we are serious about stopping corruption.
My fellow Liberians:
The riches of Liberia is for the people of Liberia. This business of dividing the national budget so that schools and hospitals, and all the things that the Liberian people need to improve their lives, are cut down and given to the President, Vice President, Speaker, Pro-Temp and Deputy Speaker, is another wickedness we will end in a Cummings-led Government.
Our ongoing review of the national budget is showing monies being hidden under certain ministries and agencies for unspecified work and overestimated work. This is a foolish attempt to legalize stealing. Hear me today, and hear me well: There will be consequences for this stealing.
No one who steals from the Liberian people should think they will be get away with it. We will thoroughly investigate and audit public expenditures to include but not limited to missing millions, the $25 Million U.S. Dollar Mop-up, the COVID Relief Fund, and the National Road Fund. Anyone involved in stealing will be prosecuted in keeping with law. I mean what I say and only say what I mean.
Let me also be clear about all of these mysterious deaths: In the first six months of a Cummings Presidency, we will commission a team of professionals to investigate. Wherever foul play is discovered, we will deal with the situation as law-abiding societies should.
The life of every Liberian is precious and important. Plus, we must live in a society that values human life. These grieving families deserve to know what happened so they can bring much-needed closure to the loss of their parents and loved ones.
My fellow citizens:
Keeping my word means everything to me. Today, I give you my word: We will lead differently. We will lead honestly, diligently, honorably, and with integrity. Our administration will not need to spend our country’s money on me, or any member of my family. Liberia’s money belongs to the Liberian people. We will spend it on them so they have a chance to better their lives.
We will unite our people. Everybody deserves a chance to make it, if they are willing to work hard and obey the laws. We will take responsibility for successes and failures, and stop blaming others for our shortcomings. We will lead by good examples and higher standards, and we will demand higher standards from everyone else in national leadership. This is why we will regularly declare our assets and demand the same regular declaration from all officials.
Where we fail, we will honestly admit it. We will always try first to do what we can do for ourselves, before looking for help from international partners and friends. This is because nobody will do for us what we should do for ourselves. We must be in charge of our destiny. We must lead ourselves to where we want to go.
Finally, my fellow citizens: Our country needs fixing. For more than 40 years of my professional life, I have worked on fixing things and making them better. Today, I promise you that together, we will fix our country and make it better for all Liberians, because Liberians deserve better. Yes, the living conditions of people need to be improved. It will take hard work and a bit of time. But I promise you that together, we will improve the living conditions of Liberians.
It breaks my heart to admit that our country has lost its way. Today, I promise you that together, we will find our way again. We have fallen, but we will rise up. We will renew our faith in our national creed of “one nation, indivisible, with liberty, and justice for all”. We will reach for the skies of our dreams. We will restore hope in a better, united, more prosperous and brighter future for all Liberians, and for all Liberian children.
Together, we will recreate a new State of our Republic – a stronger, more democratic, secured, just, peaceful and prosperous nation, which will be the envy of the region, and the world.
Liberia is not blessed to be cursed. Our people are not cursed to remain poor, or to be hopeless, and divided. Our government is not cursed to be corrupt, uncaring and distrusting. Our hopes and dreams may, as yet, be unfulfilled, but our future can be better than our past. We can change the conditions of today so our glorious destiny of tomorrow can be achieved.
I know that together, we can write a new story – one to be told across generations. The story of a new beginning – the beginning of a new and united Liberia rising majestically and prosperously. The story of a new and just Liberia reconciling its past, and forging ahead to embrace a new future of peace, democracy, human decency and equality.
Our new story will be one of togetherness in overcoming our difficulties. The new story of a stronger bond of citizenship over partisanship – where the good of the country is always the highest priority. A new Liberia in which everyone will thrive if they are willing to try. In a few months, we must make this new Liberia our new reality.
If not us, then who? If not now, then when?
God bless you. God bless Liberia. May God continue to bless and save our Republic. I thank you.