Alexander Cummings Urges Pres. Weah to Include Political Stakeholders on National COVID-19 Taskforce
Dear President Weah:
Our country is faced with the greatest threat to our growth, development and stability since the civil crises and the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in 2014. The Coronavirus pandemic (COVID19) which has ravaged the world and left several thousand persons dead, with over 1.2 million infected, is here and spreading. Liberia has recorded 14 cases and 3 deaths as the government under your leadership institutes measures to strengthen the fight against this disease. These measures include a ban on public gatherings, closure of schools and churches, restrictions on public transports carriage, among others. Today,
you went further by acting on the recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO) by constituting the Executive Committee on Coronavirus (ECOC) and appointing its National Coordinator and National Compliance Manager. These actions have shown your willingness and readiness for the fight against COVID19 and we acknowledge them.
However, our attention is drawn to the mandates of the ECOC’s Coordinator and Compliance Manager which reference a National COVID19 Multi-Sectorial Response Plan. According to the press statement released on the Executive Mansion’s website, the Coordinator is responsible:
“to supervise a single set of national strategic objectives for defeating the Coronavirus disease and coordinate the National COVID-19 multi-sectorial response plan, in coordination with the United Nations (UN), donor partners, Ministry of Health and National Public Health Institute of Liberia (NPHIL); while the Compliance Manager will monitor the overall allocation and disbursement of the response logistics and resources and ensure timely delivery and accounting for supplies directed to the fight against Coronavirus in the country”.
Mr. President, the exclusion of political stakeholders from this very crucial national effort is concerning as any national plan that is not inclusive but intended to address a national crisis, will not be effective. It is important you seize this opportunity to ensure that the fight against COVID 19 is a non-political national collective effort that includes all persons irrespective of political affiliation or alliances. This is the moment to engage the opposition as other nations have done, rally the nation and institute an inclusive, all-on-board policy in this fight. As such, I urge you to expand the ECOC to include opposition political parties that also represent the vast majority of our people whose lives and health are at stake.
It is prudent to note that a few days ago, our regional friend and your Ghanaian counterpart, President Nana Kuffour Addo, held a meeting with members of the Ghanaian opposition to discuss ways in which their country could collectively fight the virus. At that meeting which was attended by all major opposition political parties, President Addo is quoted to have said “The disease does not have a political color, it does not know Democrats or Republicans, NDC or NPP, it is attacking human beings and that should drive our desire to unite and fight it. We are not doctors to find a cure but we are political leaders and we have our community at heart, we need to find ways of helping to curb the spread and to a large extent find a way of wiping out the virus”.
This singular act propelled Ghana’s COVID 19 Response by ensuring compliance, cooperation and collaboration as one people. Mr. President, we can do the same if you took the lead. As one of the political leaders in this country, I am reaching out to you but it is you who have the mandate of our people to unite the country and bring us together, especially during these difficult times. We owe it to our people to put our political differences aside and work to defeat this virus. Working together will also improve information dissemination and address the disbelief and mistrusts our people have of this government. Hence, I am proposing that you:
a. Consult with opposition leaders on how to expand the ECOC and the IMT to make it more inclusive;
b. Seek divergent views or input from the opposition, civil society and religious community on the National COVID19 Multi-Sectorial Response Plan, as mentioned hereinabove.
c. Expand the mandate of the ECOC to include working with the Economic Management Team to develop a post-COVID National Economic Recovery Plan.
Mr. President, if you do this, you can be assured of my assistance in any reasonable means to ensure the health and wellbeing of our country and people. As we all know the Coronavirus does not discriminate. It does not know opposition from ruling position or no-position, as aptly coined by Nobel Laureate Leymah Gbowee. It doesn’t know tribe, religion, age, gender or ability. It has no cure and no friends. However, it can be defeated but only when fought united. There is no better time to unite this country than now.
Please do not hesitate to contact me or have your office contact mine with any questions, comments or concerns you may have.
Alexander B. Cummings