Liberia: A Critique of Cummings' Performance and the Health of Our National Politics

opinion

Our dear country is faced with a dilemma - a weak and uninspiring opposition versus an unimpressive government. Observing the current Liberian political scene is like watching two lazy and poorly-prepared teams take to a field - both having spectacular opportunities to make meaningful gains. Yet, they are screwing up at catastrophic levels to the utmost disappointment of their spectators.

When it was announced that the Current Chairman of the CPP, Mr. Alex Cummings, would be hosted on a popular Talk Show amid the Recast Budget Fiasco, the overwhelming expectation was that the country would have been treated to a time of soul-searching and thoughtful deliberations.

Frustratingly, instead of Cummings focusing attention on the critical question at issue which is the demise of transparency in government, he went on defend Dillon's disrespectful comments against his Senate colleagues; even at that, Cummings' performance was dismally pathetic. He appealed to emotions than to reason, and revealed himself to have been either not so informed, or not so ready for Liberian politics!

Aware that the relevant provisions of Liberian Law (Code of Conduct & Judiciary Law - Title 17 Liberian Code of Laws Revised) and precedent don't support Dillon; I, like many others, expected a skillful leadership maneuver on the part of Cummings, who should have exercised moral courage in the first instance, by chastising Dillon's less than thoughtful comments. And subsequently argue against the disproportionality of the Senate's response. But, Cummings failed, making his presentation on the 50-50 Talk Show to appear as though he was endorsing the use of vulgarity in legislative proceedings as opposed to a commitment to legislative decorum.

The other painful and frustrating thing was that Cummings did not stay on message, neither did he push, with any sense of seriousness or intensity the lack of transparency in Government, especially the broad-day violation of Sections 14 and 18 of the PFM Law, which provides for the Budget being made available to the public immediately following its submission to the Legislature.

The National Budget is the second most important document, next to the Constitution in our country. And so, when budget law is blatantly violated, all Liberians should be up in arms, or the duty of the opposition leader, if he knows, is to ensure the Government's feet are held to the fire in respect of the law.

When Liberia signed onto the OGP, it made a bigger commitment to promoting transparency and accountability in government. The effort was aimed at ensuring that with a click of a mouse, a citizen could locate relevant portions of the Budget he/she was desirous of searching for. How come this is disappearing before our eyes? And an opposition political leader in Cummings cannot forcefully draw attention to this?

It is needless to lament the catastrophic mistake associated with Section 10.11 of the CPP Framework document since it is now an over-flogged issue. But, how could these people not sense that our people would have rightly perceived Section 10.1 of the Framework document as exclusionary?

I have drawn attention to these pitfalls not in any desire to show superior knowledge; far from it. But, it's important to make the point that our national politics is in danger of slipping into mediocrity if those with political dexterity, clout and experience sit idly by for different reasons.

Imagine, what the opposition or the government would have looked like to have the likes of Hon. Lewis Brown; HB; Augustine Ngafuan; Kofi Woods; John Morlu; James Kollie; Amara Konneh, etc. actively on board? It is a crying shame that we are standing on the sidelines, while the country wobbles. We cannot afford to make our children think that politics is for flunkies, charlatans and sycophants.

These individuals are not the only persons. There are many others out there, maybe without money, but certainly the right ideas to turn our country around. Our country is crying out for ideas, knowledge and experience. The current options on display are uninspiring and lack sufficient knowledge of our country to deliver on any meaningful hope for change.

It's time to acknowledge this, and do something about it, even at the risk of the backlash of the noisy Facebook mob!

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