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Weah and the opposition politician’s perpetual pursuit of the Liberian presidency

By Tewroh-Wehtoe Sungbeh

Liberian opposition leaders are hard to find this time of year.

Some are right there in Liberia living quietly as presidential overreach reaches the stratosphere, while others are somewhere living the dream of returning to Liberia in 2017, to contest the presidential elections.

As if they are hogtied from head to toe to do nothing but run for president, the opposition politicians want nothing else, and nothing less than being president, in a country where everybody wants to be president.

For sure, there are lots of things that need to be done in all of Liberia besides running for president. Strangely, the opposition does not see those things, anyway.

So why are these people not volunteering their time to teach a class – to mentor or teach a young child or adult how to understand a math problem; or volunteer to clean a section of the beach, volunteer to clean a place of worship; feed the homeless and hungry; visit the sick, the prisons; help an elderly person with his or her groceries and medications?

Why not even start a small business and create jobs?

That’s another way of doing something positive for Liberia and the Liberian people, other than a perpetual run for the presidency.

The idea that grown men and women are waiting for 2017 to run for president while the country falls apart is not only bad politics, it is egomaniacal, uninspiring and delusional.

However, it is a tragedy when these individuals see themselves only as presidential materials, and bad enough for the country when they disappear after the elections.

As seasonal politicians who seemed to relish the limelight and pretend to be in the opposition, these individuals are dangerously true to themselves as convenient torchbearers of the status quo they always claimed to oppose.

Quite often, these wannabe presidential candidates run around during the presidential campaign not having a clear and resounding message about how they will create jobs, how they will improve the economy, and how they will improve education and the broken healthcare system.

Their collective pretensions pose a greater threat to a population craving for jobs, a better way of life and a visionary leader.

The Liberian people, incapable of understanding politics and making the right decision, are painfully exposed to a bunch of overly ambitious and phony individuals who believes the only way they can help their people and contribute to the development of their country is to be President of Liberia.

Unfortunately, the Liberian people go through this tragedy every election cycle, with the results remaining the same; even as these same deadbeats masquerades as caring and patriotic Liberians who will bring prosperity and sound leadership to the people.

However, the one and only one – the expediently visible opposition politician, George Manneh “Oppong” Weah, whose name seemed to be on the lips of every Liberian, not for his political savvy but for his soccer exploits, has embraced the trappings of celebrity than actually carrying out his celebrated role as an opposition politician.

Like the rest of the future presidential candidates, Weah is in and out of the country being spotted here and there without making a statement, or not making any sense about topical policy issues confronting the country.

As if partial visibility means reticence, the former football star has perfected reticence as an art – the same artistry prowess he displayed during his stint as an international soccer star.

Weah’s celebrity is a plus for him and a curse for the nation. The danger is, his celebrity tends to translate into his enormous popularity with football fans in that football-crazed country, which often insulates him from discussing serious national policy issues.

That popularity – a looming danger, could also produce victory for him in the 2017 presidential race, even though his shallow understanding of the country’s mounting social, political and economic problems, a negative, has made it extremely difficult for him to understand and discuss those issues.

Another dangerous aspects of Weah, the opposition leader/party leader and potential presidential candidate and ‘president,’ are his lack of judgment and decision-making skills.

Some obvious flaws in his decision-making are his frequent run for political office, no matter what the office is.

First, he ran for president in 2005 when he was a political newcomer. Then he ran for vice president six years later. Now there is talk that Mr. Weah wants to run for the senate seat held by his party member and incumbent Joyce Musu Freeman-Sumo.

As an ‘opposition leader,’ the politically confused Weah, was appointed by President Sirleaf (the lady he supposedly opposes) to sit on the board of NOCAL, the nation’s oil company, which the president’s son Robert Sirleaf once headed as chairman.

Weah gladly accepted the salaried position and had no problem with his decision at a time when Liberian activist groups were accusing the president of nepotism.

Madam Sirleaf also appointed Weah to the salaried Peace Ambassador’s post, which he also gladly accepted.

George Weah’s conflicted political mindset is not about opposition politics, but is clearly another wise way to make money while pretending to be an opposition politician.

Interestingly, his diehard supporters don’t seem to care about this ethical dilemma. Weah’s supporters also are not concerned with his latest push to unseat Joyce Musu Freeman-Sumo – the incumbent senator who is a member of his CDC political party.

If senator Joyce Musu Freeman-Sumo violated (CDC) party policies and refuses to tote her party line, the politically prudent thing for Weah, the party leader, to do is find a primary challenge for Ms. Freeman-Sumo.

The decision to run against the incumbent senator is not a wise political strategy. It is desperation.


Sungbeh is editor of the

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