There is this proverbial saying that when the lion is not around, the deer runs wide in the pasture. This was exactly the case during the final presidential debate here on Tuesday when former Coco Cola executive Alexander Cummings questions whether Boakai, Brumskine and Dr. Mills Jones can provide Liberians the needed change they’ve desire.
Both the Unity Party Joseph N. Boakai and Liberty Party Charles Brumskine were not present at the final debate unlike Dr. Mills Jones from the Movement of Economic Empowerment or MOVEE, but that did not deter Cummings from taking a suave at them.
“Boakai, whom I respect, have served as vice president for 12 years, can he bring any real change? Brumskine, whom I also have respect, a 1997 former Senate Pro-temp, can he bring about any real change? Dr. Jones, who have served as Central Bank Governor for 10 years, can he bring about any real change?,” Cummings asked rhetorically as he offered himself as the real game changer asking Liberians to make that decision at the ballot box on October 10.
The Alternative National Congress (ANC) party leader clearly outperforms his two rivals at Tuesday’s (26 September) final presidential debate for the October 10 election, succinctly taking on ex-governor Dr. Joseph Mills Jones and Ms MacDella B. Cooper, standard bearer of the Liberia Reformation Party (LRP).
Mr. Cummings’ public rating automatically shoots up after his brilliant performance characterized by detailed explanations of policy actions an ANC-led government would take to revive the economy after the first presidential debate.
Second of a two-part series organized by a local group, Deepening Democracy Coalition (DDC) with support from the Open Society Initiative for West Africa or OSIWA, the debate brought together the three candidates face-to-face at the Paynesville City Hall outside Monrovia.
With a corporate background, wealth of experience from the private sector and involvement in humanitarian work, Mr. Cummings boldly argues that he’s the most qualified candidate to lead Liberia out of its current economic quagmire by creating growth.
Nickname ‘Talk and Do’ or ABC, Mr. Cummings retired as Chief Administrator of Coca-Cola in 2016, after a 20-year service before coming to politics. He currently serves as head of Cummings Africa Foundation, a private organization.
Dr. Jones struggles unsuccessfully to debunk the ANC standard bearer by arguing that being a philanthropist is not a basis for national leadership, but at the same time agrees that the private sector is the engine for economic growth and prosperity.
“Being a philanthropist and being a government leader is not mutually exclusive’, Mr. Cummings reacts, adding that both skills are needed in whatever leadership one ascends to.
He vows to grow the national budget from 500m to one billion thru agriculture, investment, cutting wastes and creating 700,000 jobs across the country under an ANC-led government.
The only female presidential candidate in the race, LRP standard bearer Madam MacDella Cooper says many Liberians are hungry across the country and stresses the need spend more money on education to empower Liberian youth.
Ms Cooper says while Nigeria and Ghana were spending between US100 and $150 to educate one youth, Liberia spends about $50 to $75 in educating a child; an amount which she emphasizes should be increased.
However, both Dr. Jones and Mr. Cummings agreed on getting criminals dubbed here as zogos out of the streets and providing them skills that would make them productive.
All three candidates are unanimous on fighting rape and corruption, promoting right to land ownership, women right and empowerment.
The DDC first debate held in August organized for the six top candidates was attended by Mr. Cummings, Cllr. Charles Brumskine of Liberty Party, businessman-turned politician Benoni Urey of the All Liberian Party, Vice President Joseph Nyumah Boakai of the governing Unity Party.
Dr. Joseph Mills Jones of MOVEE and Coalition standard bearer Senator George Weah did not attend.