Liberia: Ex-Senator Sando Johnson Calls on Liberians to Make Weah A One-Term President
MONROVIA – Ahead of the 2023 general and presidential elections in Liberia, former Bomi County Senator Sando Dazoe Johnson has called on Liberians, especially opposition politicians, to cement a united force and galvanize support to ensure the rejection of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) of President George Manneh Weah at the polls due to its “don’t care attitude” towards improving the living conditions of citizens and moving the country forward.
Mr. Johnson is the former Chairman of the Senate Committee on Investment and Concessions, a founding member of the ex-ruling National Patriotic Party (NPP) and ex-Spokesperson of the family of former Liberian President Charles Ghankay Taylor.
He is currently a National Executive Committee (NEC) member of the opposition All Liberian Party (ALP) of the businessman turned politician Mr. Benoni Urey.
According to him, the growing wave of alleged rampant corruption, abuse, and misuse of powers among public officials continue to be the order of the day under the Weah led-administration.
He made these comments in an interview with FrontPage Africa via telephone on Monday, June 13.
Mr. Johnson observed that citizens are heavily divided, while witch-hunting and marginalization of qualified and competent Liberians due to their political affiliations.
He said rape, acts of lawlessness, and insecurity are presently on the increase in the post-conflict nation.
Mr. Johnson observed that most of those entrusted with public offices are only concerned about enriching themselves to the detriment of the suffering masses and the nation in general.
“We are hopeful that with the look of things now, we believe that the CDC led-government needs to be replaced democratically. Corruption is wearing a coat suit all over the place; there is no reconciliation-people are being ostracized, marginalized, and killed in cold blood and there is no justice for them. We need to put a new government in place that will be able to deliver and move our country forward. That’s the reason why we as Liberians must come together and remove these people and elect a responsible leadership”.
He said the lack of accountability and transparency in the management of the country’s resources and taxpayers’ monies remain a major reason for Liberians to reject a second term for Weah. He made a specific emphasis on the diversion of US$25M from the National Road Fund (NRF) account, which was intended for road rehabilitation, to the payment of salaries by the government, through the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning.
Mr. Johnson maintained that as a result of this, “the country is not moving forward” under President Weah.
He emphasized that the prices of basic commodities, including rice and gasoline, continue to skyrocket, thereby improving additional hardship on the ordinary citizens in the country.
He observed that despite these visible ills and happenings, the CDC led-government continues to exhibit what he called a ‘don’t care attitude’ towards addressing these ills and challenges.
In Liberia, ‘don’t care attitude’ signifies the showing of little or no interest or actions towards paramount or pertinent issues.
Opposition not weak
For months now, there has been internal fights and wrangling within major opposition political parties in the country ahead of the elections.
The once vibrant Collaborating Political Parties (CPP), which comprised of the All Liberian Party (ALP, Alternative National Congress (ANC), Liberty Party (LP), and the former ruling Unity Party (UP) has short-lived its usefulness.
Claims and counter-claims over the alleged alteration of the framework document which brought the parties together, the ambitious fight for the standard-bearer position, and the instigating of lawsuits against one another shattered the dream of the CPP.
Citizens, particularly less fortunate Liberians, were hoping that leaders of these political parties could hold together and amalgamate forces to defeat the ruling party in 2023.
But according to the former Bomi County Senator, the opposition community is not as “weak” as being perceived by some members of the public and the ruling party in general, but remains a force to reckon with in 2023.
Mr. Johnson noted that opposition leaders have diverse political backgrounds and as such, any collaboration or merger will not be free from disenchantments or internal wrangling.
He stated that the current happenings within the opposition do not in any way imply that opposition politicians or parties are not fully preparing to democratically capture state power.
He said the disarray and hullabaloo among opposition leaders will help strengthen and prepare them ahead of the elections.
“Every opposition political party has responsible leaders and individuals in those groupings. What is happening within the opposition is not unique to the oppositions alone”.
Will not be quiet
Mr. Johnson was one of those who canvassed vigorously to ensure the election of President Weah during the 2017 elections.
He blamed his support to the Liberian Chief Executive at the time to the decision taken by the NPP to form a merger and the high level of respect he has for Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor.
On numerous occasions, he has regretted his decision.
Mr. Johnson vowed to continue to rally citizens and embrace every constitutional means available to ensure the rejection of President Weah at the ballot box come 2023.
He said the manner and form in which the Liberian leader is governing the country is unacceptable.
“We supported the CDC in 2017 because we felt that Mr. Weah, being a young man had vision for this country. And so, we put our lives on the line for him. But it is on the contrary and so, you expect me to continue to do that? No, I will not do that”
He continued: “You are seeing how the country is being run; it is moving backward instead of going forward and it is not a secret. They came to grab and run. We can’t continue to remain mute and see these people running our country like this”.
Mr. Johnson pointed out that though President Weah had a better opportunity to lead and move the country forward due to the entrenched love shown him by the citizens, he allegedly failed to do so.
He added that the legacy of the Liberian leader has been thwarted as a result of the mountainous societal ills and extreme poverty vast majority of Liberians are encountering on a daily basis.
“I do not want to say President Weah squandered the opportunity given him to lead our country; they didn’t properly manage the opportunity given them to lead our country”.
Plan to rig elections?
Meanwhile, Mr. Johnson has warned against the rigging of the pending elections in Liberia in favor of the ruling party.
He said comments made by Nimba County Senator Prince Johnson on plans by the CDC to rig the elections in favor of President Weah should not be taken for granted.
Senator Johnson endorsed President Weah in the runoff of the 2017 elections following a visit at the Synagogue of All Nations Church (SOAN) to fallen clergyman TB Joshua.
“If we go through a free-fair and transparent election in 2023, George Weah will not be President again. For Prince Johnson, who is a staunch supporter of George Weah to come up and say George Weah will rig 2023 elections, I believe in his statement and it should not be swept under the carpet”.
He said opposition leaders should work with international partners to prevent the rigging of the votes next year.
Mr. Johnson reminded the government and others of the “consequences” of rigged elections.
“Rigged elections can bring about unrest and upheaval and we do not want that. The elections should be free, fair and transparent. If it is held under a managed free, fair and transparent atmosphere, George Weah will not win”.
Distance from NPP
Mr. Johnson pointed out that despite being one of the founders of the NPP; he decided to quit the party following a political marriage with the Congress for Democratic Change and the Liberian People Democratic Party (LPDP).
He observed that since the marriage, the NPP has not adequately benefitted.
According to him, the former ruling party is being “overlooked and insulted” within the CDC, and as such, he cannot return to the party or be a part of any process or collaboration that will only benefit a select few.
Mr. Johnson maintained that the true essence for the formation of the NPP has been downplayed within the ruling coalition.
“I am a founding member of the NPP but I will not be a part of any program that wants to undermine the essence of the NPP. The NPP is being sidelined. The NPP has not been respected in this process and that disintegrates the entire NPP; that’s what Mr. Weah and others are doing with the NPP”.
He, however, vowed to follow the political direction of the ALP ahead of the 2023 general and presidential elections.
Mr. Johnson further called on Liberians to continue to remain prayerful in their quest for responsible national leadership in the country.