London, UK January 21, 2019 – “The bottomline is that the country is struggling.”
Liberia Opposition ANC Leader Alexander B. Cummings Jr. in London
The charge, made on Saturday, January 21, 2019 by opposition leader Mr. Alexander B. Cummings Jr. of the Alternative National Congress (ANC) in London, England, is in apparent reference to the current economic challenges facing the small West African nation of Liberia.
Cummings was speaking to a group of Diaspora Liberians who gathered to hear first- hand about the current situation in the country and how they could help.
In a four-hour engagement with Liberians in which he gave a candid assessment of the political and economic conditions, Cummings recalled that when President George M. Weah was inaugurated a little over a year, he urged all Liberians to wish the new President and Government well, “because if he does well, that means that the country does well. And if it makes it harder for us to compete with him, then we should work harder because Liberia is in a difficult situation; everybody gotta work hard, if we want to change the country and take it to where it used to be,” Cummings said.
Some Liberian Diaspora Members At London Gathering With Cummings
He told the gathering that Liberia, after a year under the ruling Congress For Democratic Change (CDC) led Administration, “the early signs are not good.”
Cummings characterized the level of corruption as “unprecedented” but was quick to qualify his charge by indicating that the Weah Government is not the first corrupt Liberian Administration.
The ANC leader who is now viewed as the leading opposition voice in Liberia blamed the economic crime of corruption as the major reason for the country’s under development, describing corruption as “the bane of our country.”
The Liberian opposition leader further charged that, “the level of corruption now is just unprecedented; it’s kind of in your face. It’s almost disrespectful to the Liberian people because other Governments at-least would pretend. They would hide what they are trying to do. I think this government is so upfront and aggressive in acquiring properties, building properties…”, Cummings openly asserted.
The gathering of Liberians who traveled to engage politician Cummings heard him sharply contrast the high level of pervasive corruption against the economic struggles of ordinary Liberian. He pointed to country specific economic indicator data released by Liberia’s Ministry of Finance and the World Bank as declining.
“…Inflation is up, the Liberia Dollar is losing value, the current account deficit is expanding, revenue collections are going down…these are the facts,” Cummings, popularly known as ABC, told his compatriots.
He cited the recent designation of Liberia as “the poorest country” in the world” and said all Liberians should concerned.
According to him, although he was calling out the facts of where the country is, it was also important to suggest solutions and potential alternatives, adding that, for him, “it was not just good enough to criticize.”
The opposition ANC leader who joined the local political fray over two and a half years ago from a successful corporate career at one of the world’s most successful beverage conglomerate and Fortune 500 companies Coca Cola, states that the opposition has a responsibility to hold the government in power accountable but will always offer solutions; so as not to be seen as always criticizing.
Although, he said, in his personal assessment, the “state” of the nation Liberia is not that great, President Weah is expected to deliver his constitutionally mandated “State of the Nation” report to the country ‘s National Legislature on January 28th, the opposition is planning to issue a “response”; an alternative point of view to the President’s address.
“And then we should hope that things get better,” Cummings stated. adding that, “as Liberians that should be our hope.”
The Liberian opposition leader, who was visiting London to get acquainted with the local Diaspora community, however, said he was less optimistic that things would improve but he remained hopeful.
Cummings In Middle and Some Liberians in London
The Diaspora community were told that government should create conditions for all Liberians to have equal access to opportunities and not just partisans of the ruling CDC.
Cummings, speaking at the engagement, clarified his recent statement in which he said “leaders should eat last”. He said the statement was being mis-characterized but said his view is that leaders are “servants”.
Alex continued that, “…but somehow, when some Liberians get into government, that servant- leadership characteristic goes missing.”
He emphasized that, “When you go into government, your role is to serve the people; not the other way around. And, somehow, that changes when we get into government. Eating does not mean corruption,” Cummings explained to the audience.
“And the idea of leaders eating last is that as a leader, you serve your people first. You should make sure they are taken care of; all the basic needs as necessities. Then pay yourself fairly for the work that you do. And that’s what we should be thinking about our leaders; they should be servant leaders…”, the ANC leader stated.
Map of Liberia
Cummings told Liberians gathered that as they think about change in the country, there were some fundamental questions that they needed to ask themselves about Liberia’s leadership model; why the country continues to do business the same way since independence in 1847 and expect a different result, and why those from the Diaspora…when they government, adopt corrupt behaviors.
During the Question and Answer period, attendees and Cummings exchanged views and discussed issues around Liberian youth empowerment, Technical, Vocational Education And Training (TVET), building and promoting political alliances and processes, Constitutional Amendments and term limits.
Some Liberians in London and Alex B. Cummings Jr. seated in Middle
They also discussed issues around resolution of war and economic crimes and electoral reforms.
By Our Staff Reporters and Contributing Writer Douglas Farngalo in London
Photos: Courtesy of Douglas Farngalo