Liberia: Cummings Describes Pres. Weah As Being Irredeemably Corrupt and Dangerously Incompetent

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MONROVIA – The Standard Bearer of the new Collaborating Political Parties (CPP) Mr. Alexander Benedict Cummings has accused President George Manneh Weah and his officials of showcasing themselves To Be “irredeemably corrupt, dangerously incompetent and unchangeably irresponsible” due to the inadequate manner and form in which they are conducting the ongoing National Population and Housing Census (NPHS).

The census, which is long overdue, is being conducted by the Liberia Institute for Statistic and Geo-Information Services (LISGIS).

It has suffered series of setbacks ranging from reported acts of rampant corruption involving authorities at LISGIS, lack of funding, poor planning over the time frame, methods, poor training of enumerators and supervisors, distrust in the process, among others.

The situation compelled President Weah to fire the Director and Deputy Director for Statistics and Data Processing, Wilmot Smith and Alex Williams respectively.

But addressing a news conference in Monrovia on Thursday, November 16, Mr. Cummings pointed out that LISGIS is presently reflecting the character and failures of the Weah-led government.

He said the inadequate manner and form in which the census is being steered also showcase the incompetence and inadequacies of the CDC led-government and as such, Liberians should not really be surprised.

“This is unacceptable. It cannot be permitted without consequences. Every democratic government is regarded for its commitment to obey the law, the most sacred of which is the Constitution. Every democratic government is measured by how it conducts itself responsibly, credibly and competently. Unfortunately, this is not the case with the administration of President Weah. President Weah and his administration continue to show themselves to be irredeemably corrupt, dangerously incompetent and unchangeably irresponsible.”

““If there is any love of country left in President Weah, he will apologize to the nation for the shameful level of incompetence, ineptitude, dereliction and corruption that he has caused to swallow up his administration. The President must also apologize to the nation for causing a holiday to be declared for the beginning of the conduct of the Census which led to the shutting down of businesses and disruptions to other forms of livelihoods for Liberians, only to see the supposed beginning of the census marred by protests across the country, lack of leadership, poor preparations, scandals and general unreadiness.”

Mr. Cummings said these happenings make citizens and others to reasonably conclude that the conduct of the census is a “fiasco” that has failed disastrously.

He said the President and his officials continue to disappoint, embarrass, disgrace and fail the Liberian nation and its international partners.

He noted that to continue to pretend otherwise, or  falsely hope that President Weah can and will somehow change, is to continue to deny the reality of the increased suffering of Liberians, and risk the peace, security and democracy of the country for which many, including friends of Liberia, voluntarily and involuntarily gave their lives for.

Mr. Cummings stated that the current situation is bad for Liberia because it is a clear constitutional violation that could also affect the legitimacy of the 2023 elections, its impact on deepening Liberia’s cherished democracy, and how effectively citizens may be able to plan for the development of the nation.

Legislature must act

He stressed that concerning the “failed conduct of the Census, it befalls the Legislature to act with the required leadership and courage.

Mr. Cummings pointed out that the Constitution specifically enjoins the Legislature to “cause a census of the Republic to be undertaken every ten years”, and as such, the failure of Senators and Representatives to demand obedience and compliance with the constitutional schedules, as well as their continued silence in the face of the President and his team’s gross ineptitude and scandalous failings, is unreasonable.

He added that this also leaves the Liberian people with the unfortunate impression of their shared breach of, and dangerous collusion with the President to violate the Liberian Constitution.

“These failings are the makings of the dreaded imperial presidency and effectively undermine democratic governance in favor of dictatorships, against which many fought, sacrificed and died to end in our country. We have seen that the failures of branches of the government to faithfully perform their constitutional duties inevitably lead to dangerous breakdowns and unconstitutional consequences. We are wise to avoid this path. It is time legislators strengthen their backbones and do the jobs of the Liberian people.”

Mr. Cummings urged members of the Legislature to act as these difficult conditions and circumstances now demand that they do.

“Absent responsive leadership, democracy risks becoming wayward. President Weah is leading our country increasingly toward hopelessness and waywardness. No Branch of the Government, let alone the Legislature, should allow itself to be so used to achieve such dangerous ends for our country and people.”

“Failure to do so, in a timely and reassuring manner, could lead our people to demonstrations and deserved calls for impeachments.”

He said Liberia and its citizens deserve better than to continue to feel embarrassed and disgraced by the lack of leadership of President Weah and this monumental failure to conduct the constitutionally-required census knowing its importance to the continued peace, security, democracy and development of the nation.

He further called on the government to provide protection for whistleblower and former Deputy Director for Statistics and Data Processing Alex Williams and his family.

Mr. Williams recently alarmed that the lives of him and his family are under threat as a result of his decision to unearth barrage of corrupt malpractices and unprofessional acts characterizing the ongoing census.

“This government has a duty to protect all of its citizens. President Weah, inform your goons: Let nothing untoward happen to that family! We have seen enough mysterious deaths and unsolved murders in our country already. We will not permit anymore!”

Uselessly running around

On October 31, President Weah departed the country for Morocco and Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt to attend the MEDays Forum and COP27 respectively.

On November 9, he departed Egypt and arrived in Paris, France to attend the 5th Edition of the Paris Peace Forum which serves as a platform upon which state and non-state actors engage in transnational cooperation for collective action.

He’s currently in Qatar for two weeks to witness his son Timothy Weah, who received a call up to the senior national team of the United States of America, features in the World Cup.

The President has been heavily criticized back home for using tax payers money to travel to the World Cup along with a huge delegation.

Mr. Cummings claimed that the move made by the Liberian leader to stay out of Liberia for over seven weeks clearly demonstrates the truth that his administration does not care about the Liberian people.

He said public officials only cared about illegally enriching themselves by cutting the salaries of civil servants, making life increasingly difficult for them.

He added that citizens are suffering everywhere in the country and in every political party, while the President “uselessly runs around the world at the expense of the people.”

“President Weah is flying about in private jets paid for by the Liberian people while Liberians, including an 8-weeks old baby, are drowning from capsized canoes while traveling to their farms. President Weah is sleeping in the vest of hotels in other countries while many are sleeping in slums and going to bed hungry. President Weah is enjoying while Liberians are suffering, civil servants salaries are harmonized to as low as $40 per month, cost of living is rising, and people are not being paid on time!”

“This is wicked. This is not presidential leadership. It is self-seeking and an abuse of the trust of the Liberian people. We will end this in 2023, and give Liberians a chance to better their lives. Liberia is too rich for Liberians to be so poor!”

Mr. Cummings said although President Weah declared the census holiday, his poor quality of leadership and obvious lack of judgment led him and his officials to be initially excluded from the counting process had it actually started.

He stressed that the “so-called leader of our country and many of his officials would have been out of the country while the people he claims to be leading were being counted.”

“One can conclude that perhaps the President did not wish to be counted with the people he claims to love, and has a sworn duty to lead.”

Demanding info on cost

Mr. Cummings, however, frowned at the Minister of Finance and Development Planning Minister Samuel Tweah for his failure to inform citizens about the total cost of the President’s seven weeks trip away from Liberia.

He noted that President Weah should have been in the country “inspiring, encouraging and finding solutions” to the numerous problems confronting the citizens, including the hike in the price of the nation’s staple food-rice on the local market at this time.

“We need to know how much they are spending and we will keep demanding it because, that money can be used to pay teachers, healthcare workers, and the police. People want to see their leaders sacrificing too; particularly when their leaders are using their monies.”

Stop blaming others

Mr. Cummings stressed the need for officials of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) led-government to desist from consistently casting blames on others for their failures.

He said the census must be carried out with competence and integrity by those responsible to do so.

“The government cannot continue to always try to blame other people for their misdeeds, missteps, ineptitude and incompetence. So trying to blame opposition political parties for politicizing this (census) is nonsense. Let them just do it correctly.”

We’re tired

He said the CPP is tired oftelling this President what to do”, adding that, “we will not waste our time and that of our fellow citizens to call on President Weah to immediately suspend, if not dismiss, and investigate, his friends and colleagues, including his Minister of Finance and all others involved in the looting and mismanagement of the country’s resources.

Mr. Cummings specified that the Liberian leader cannot and will not fight the rampant stealing in his administration.

“We are therefore left to reasonable conclude that this is because the President is either involved in it, or benefits from the runaway stealing and looting of the country, led by members of his inner circles and closest friends.”

Mr. Cummings indicated that the failure of President Weah to combat against corruption for his entire first term in office, does not in any way excuse the CPP from acting against the menace when it democratically captures state in 2024.

We will audit

He, however, vowed to thoroughly audit and forcefully prosecute all ongoing scandals of financial dealings and stealing in the Weah led-administration.

“We are determined to fight corruption wherever, and by whomever, without exception, fear or favor. And we are determined to do so to the fullest extent of the law. Hear me now: No one will get away with the stealing and looting of our country!”

Mr. Cummings maintained that seeing the pains and neglect of Liberians everyday by President Weah and his government in a country God has blessed with so much natural wealth, compels the CPP to fight corruption and serve Liberians with honesty and diligence.

He observed that Liberians will continue to see their country sliding backward toward chaos because of the lack of leadership of President Weah.

“We cannot continue to see our citizens suffering while their officials, including the President, are conniving to bleed the country with their shameless stealing, wasteful spending and looting. We cannot continue to have the President and his administration demonstrate gross incompetence to the point of dangerously threatening our hard-won peace, security and democracy.”

Form a united front

Mr. Cummings used the occasion to renew calls to all leaders of the opposition to join in a united effort to hold President Weah duly accountable to his sworn oath of office.

“We, too, have that solemn duty to our people which we must meet, and for which, we cannot fail. To achieve this purpose for our country and people, my team and I are ready to meet with the opposition wherever and whenever. Enough is enough!”

He, however, cautioned against the politicizing of the ongoing census.

 “My statement has nothing to do with politics or politicizing the census. This is about conducting the census in a credible way-with integrity so that the outcome of the census reflects the true reality on the ground and he true population of Liberia. This is not criticizing for criticizing sake; this is simply calling on the government to conduct the census properly and with integrity.”

Mr. Cummings stressed that the census, which would be used to set new constituencies ahead of the 2023 elections, will also impact development decisions and help direct would-be investors contemplating on investing in the country’s economy.

He observed that though it is imperative that the national exercise, which is about four years late be conducted as per the 1986 constitution, it should be conducted correctly.

Meanwhile, Mr Cummings has disclosed that opposition political parties will compete with one another on who will become President, Vice President as well as Representatives and Senators during the 2023 elections.

He said the opposition community will give the “Liberian people a choice”, but those choices must be a true reflection of the outcome of the elections.

He stated that all opposition political parties, including the former ruling Unity Party (UP), Rainbow Alliance, civil society and religious organizations, among others should ensure that the census and the ensuing voter registration exercise are done correctly.

“It’s in our interest to make sure the National Elections Commission (NEC) performs competently with integrity. That’s the common ground we should all work on because; we all want the outcome of the elections to reflect the will of the Liberian people.”

Mr. Cummings emphasized that opposition politicians should not be competing on fighting one another on issues surrounding the ongoing census, but should collaborate or work together for the success of the exercise.

“We should work together not just as opposition political institutions but with all well-meaning Liberians and we are very open to those conversations to working together to hold this government accountable to do the right thing.”

He said if the CDC government intends to hold free, fair and credible elections come 2023; the ongoing census must be done properly.

Mr. Cummings added that the current poor conduct of the census is not about party or tribe or even counties and regions, but the bad leadership of President Weah which continues to affect all Liberians.

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