Increasing public criticisms against the governing Coalition for Democratic Change and its standard bearer, President George Manneh Weah about being inept and bankrupt of ideas and leadership strategies come to light here with the leader of a key opposition party accusing the CDC of intellectual theft.
Former corporate executive and political leader of the opposition Alternative National Congress, Mr. Alexander Cummings discloses that the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change stole his idea during campaigns for the 2017 Presidential and Representatives elections.
Addressing the official opening of the Liberia Entrepreneurship Summit 2019at a local hotel in Monrovia, Mr. Cummings, who is also Founder and Chief Executive Officer of the Cummings Africa Foundation, claims the phrase “Liberians will not be spectators to their own economy” that was inserted in President George MannehWeah’s inauguration speech in January 2018 is his (Cummings’) intellectual property.
According to the ANC leader, the phrase was stolen from him and grossly used by the CDC flagbearerin his inaugural address without any attribution or courtesy to him, as original author of the expression.Commenting on the national budget, he says for Liberia to move forward, the national budget should be increased to at least US$2 Billion with emphasis on agriculture.
The House of Representatives on October 1, 2019, passed the national budget at US$526 million, nearly US$7 million less of the US$532.9 million submitted by the Executive for scrutiny.
Despite the approved projection, the administration is unable to pay monthly salary due to a bloated wage bill created by staffing the workforce with partisans and loyalists in clear disregard for competence and professionalism.
Mr. Cummings notes that Liberia faces several national challenges, including failed education, health, infrastructure, unemployment and lack of professionals and trained workforce.
He suggests that to increase the national budget from US$500 million plus, government should prioritize the agriculture sector, pointing that Nigeria generates about US$13 billion from cassava production, while Ivory Coast nets about US$2 billion, and Ghana generates US$8 billion annually, but Liberia, endowed with rain forest is yet to direct its attention to the agro sector.The ANC political leader further emphasizes the Government of Liberia should now start to add value to the country’s agricultural products and develop mechanisms that would increase monetary value of locally-produced crops.
A former executive of Coca Cola Africa, he says the private sector should be driving force of the economy of the state, but regrettably, in Liberia, government is the biggest employer, which is negatively impacting the budget.Mr. Cummings has a long history of philanthropy globally and supporting his native Liberia, including funding water projects and providing scholarships. He has contributed to various educational programs such as funding the African Methodist Episcopal University’s Innovation Center, named in his honor.
He vied for the Presidency in 2017 but lost. Notwithstanding, the ANC is currently member of four collaborating opposition political parties, which include the former ruling Unity Party head by former Vice President Joseph Boakia, the All Liberian Party of businessman Benoni Urey and the Liberty Party of Lawyer Charles Walker Brumskine.During the 2017 campaign, he mingled with ordinary citizens across the country toured the congested Monrovia neighborhood of West Point with his wife, Theresa. West Point was a hotbed for the Ebola outbreak in 2014.
In 2011, former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf conferred on Mr. Cummings the distinction of Knight Great Band – Humane Order of African Redemption; the medal is one of the highest honors in Liberia, which is awarded for humanitarian work.During his stay with Coca-Cola Africa before coming to Liberian politics, he oversaw the creation of the Coca-Cola Africa Foundation in response to the growth and impact of the HIV/AIDS pandemic.By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor–Editing by Jonathan Browne