Once again, Liberia finds itself at an extremely critical crossroad. We can either move forward as a nation towards a better future, or we can remain exactly where we are currently and continue to do the very same things that have us in a complete state of the downward economic spiral. The choice is entirely ours to make and could not be clearer. This time around, I for one have absolutely no intentions of sitting quietly on the fence, so let the chips fall where they may. From amongst the current pool of likely candidates, Liberia must elect Alex Cummings as our President in 2023!
By: Henrique Caine, [email protected]
There are those who say Mr. Cummings “should wait his turn” and go as Vice President to their preferred choice within the opposition bloc. Why should he? Who in the world aspires for second place in any contest? A political election is a competition of ideas and the person who believes they have the best ideas and proposals to implement has every right to present him or herself to the voters to make their choice. Obviously, those asking him to go second place must also think his ideas are good or else they would reject him outright.
Some also argue that he lacks political experience in Liberia because he has never held elected office and therefore “has not paid his dues.” What in the world does that mean? Liberia for a long time has had a failing and extremely corrupt political system. To suggest that our leaders should only be elected because they emerge through that very corrupt and dysfunctional system is a joke on us. Perhaps it is time we do elect one from outside the system in order to shake up and transform the system for the better. I for one see it as a good thing that he has a wealth of executive leadership and private sector experience in international business to bring to the fold.
Anyone who thinks that an experienced senior level international business Executive, who has spent years mitigating the intricacies of complex cross-border business operations lacks “political experience,” then you are short sighted at best. Managing massive debt and equity capital far above Liberia’s national budget, structuring trade finance transactions, sitting on corporate boards, managing people, systems, and processes, making real time decisions impacting local consumer markets and managing risks are all note worthy abilities. Likewise, creating investment and job opportunities, managing agribusiness supply chains for food and beverage products, interfacing with oversight regulators, maneuvering local laws and various cultural environments requires one who has strong business acumen that is also “politically astute.” He is clearly a manager who understands the importance of achieving results.
The only experience Alex Cummings lacks when compared to other likely competitors is that he has not been elected to any public office in Liberia–yet. And if that is the only disadvantage to the rest, then he is far ahead of the pack as far as I am concerned. One good advantage this time around is that he has clearly learned from his first run for President in 2017. He has stayed the course, remained politically engaged, build a viable campaign operation, increased the membership base of his political party, and forged more linkages across the country with many support groups while becoming more relatable.
The Alex Cummings of 2017 is clearly not the same Alex Cummings heading into 2023. The fact that he has emerged as the most talked about opposition politician speaks to his perseverance and tenacity—a remarkable leadership trait by any account. Most politicians will say what people want to hear during elections, but the one thing that we must examine is the past record of that individual as the basis as to whether we should believe what they say or not.
So, when I examine his past, I believe him for these reasons:
• He is prepared for leadership and ready to be President. Listening to him speak, with his vast management experience, technical knowledge and skills, you immediately hear that he fully understands and has a real grasp of the challenges we are faced with economically, and our social and human development deficiencies. For which he has clearly and on multiple occasions outlined strategies to fully address. He is not the typical Liberian politician.
• He is solutions based. His proposals to grow the budget while at the same time cutting wasteful and unnecessary spending, tackle corruption, expand our economy into new areas for investment, including fully leveraging technologies, leading to job creation are sound proposals. His proposals to ensure that concessionaires are paying what is due makes sense. His ideas around agricultural financing to expand into mechanized farming at scale makes all the sense in the world, and given his understanding of supply chains, I must believe him. His plans for less dependence on donors and for more effectively harnessing our natural resources for the betterment of Liberia would be transformational and to a more productive nation. It takes an outsider to see things from an entirely different perspective and not continue to repeat past mistakes!
• He is credible. Perhaps it is a blessing in disguise that Alex Cummings spent the bulk of his professional life away from elected Liberian politics. His critics say that he lacks knowledge of how the “system’ works. I doubt that. He knows exactly what we need to change and is someone who will not just join and maintain status quo, but will introduce innovative ideas, and new solutions to help address our mounting socio-economic problems.
• His personal life— We should always evaluate the personal lives or our leaders in the same ways we examine their public life if they seek to rule us. Yes, he has a lot of wealth and that is a good thing especially when it is NOT ill gotten. What critics do not know is that with all his wealth, Alex Cummings is a self-made multi-millionaire that every young Liberian should emulate. He came from very humble beginnings and worked his way up through merit and opportunities. Like many others, he was just an “everyday round town boy” who grew up in Point Four and Fiamah, attended schools in Liberia before going abroad for higher education. He is married to his wife of nearly four decades and has stated publicly that if he was elected President, none of his two adult children will ever work in his government—addressing upfront historical and justifiable concerns that Liberians often have about nepotism. He is charitable and giving and has personally along with his wife through their Foundation mobilized and invested millions in supporting programs and projects in Liberia in education, entrepreneurship, health, anti-rape and sexual and gender-based violence and other areas.
For these and other reasons, I support Alexander B. Cummings, Jr., and believe he would make a great transformational President of Liberia!