By Tewroh-Wehtoe Sungbeh
During the 2005 and 2011 presidential campaign seasons and the national elections that followed, rumors circulated in Liberia about the citizenship of the presidential candidates, and whether they are naturalized citizens of other countries other than Liberia.
Madame Ellen Johnson Sirleaf won both presidential elections, and Mr. George Manneh ‘Oppong’ Weah now (Senator Weah), who came second to Madame Sirleaf were both rumored to be naturalized citizens of the United States and France.
Interestingly, Sirleaf and Weah, the most recognized political personalities of our time in the modern history of the Liberian nation did not deny the rumor, did not own it, or explain whether they are naturalized citizens of other countries.
Instead, the President and the Senator ignored the rumor (as is customary with Liberian politicians who are not accountable to their citizens) and allowed it to just evaporate as if the Liberian people are not suppose to know whether their politicians are also citizens of other countries.
It is the “Liberian way” historically for Liberian politicians and government officials who are green card holders or naturalized citizens of the United States (their country of choice) to run to Liberia to occupy government jobs.
As is well known in Liberian circles, the individuals will travel to Liberia, leave their kids, their wives, girlfriends and homes in the United States to run for elected office or lobby for government jobs.
And when the individuals finally get elected to the House of Representatives or Senate, or are appointed by a President to their dream job, they use whatever money they can get legally or illegally from their employment in Liberia to pay their mortgage and their kid’s school fees in the United States.
Not that Alex Cummings is part of that crowd.
However, the recent revelation by Alexander “Alex” Cummings (who is flirting with the idea of running for President of Liberia in 2017), that he is a naturalized American citizen who carries American passport, is not a surprise to some of us who follow Liberian politics.
Liberian politicians and government officials before Sirleaf and Weah wore their dual citizenship badge quietly and with honor, even as they stole our country’s money and natural resources to support their families in their Victorian homes in America.
As individuals who held naturalized citizenship of another country, they rigged our elections, oppressed us and our people, and subjected us to the most inhumane treatment a human being can ever get from another human who looks just like him or her.
Well, Mr. Cummings is a different Liberian in the sense that he made his millions and built his wealth not in Liberia, but in the private sector; and perhaps is not running for President of Liberia for the money.
My problem with Alex Cummings’ presidential run, however is not about him being a naturalized citizen of the United States. Most Liberian politicians are indeed in the same boat with him, except that they are dishonest and pretend as if they are none of the above.
However, like his out-of-country colleagues who are flirting with the Liberian presidency even as they reside overseas forever, I am absolutely and totally against seasonal presidential candidates or seasonal politicians – the individuals who suddenly get out of hibernation and decide to run for president.
They have no credible and coherent agenda or policies they want to implement once they are elected president. They are arrogant, self-centered and know-it-all individuals who spent their entire lives out of Liberia, yet, claims to have the prescription to transform Liberia into a shining and prosperous nation once they are elected to the highest office of the land.
And once the elections are over and they are defeated, the individuals or seasonal politicians run back to the United States, only to return to Liberia in four or six years during the next elections wanting to be president once again. So how can the nation’s mounting problems be fixed when these people are opportunistic in their politics?
Why wait until you are elected President of Liberia before contributing to the development of Liberia? Where were these Liberians including Alex Cummings all these years when we needed them?
Some Liberians who are prisoners of personality politics (not politics of substance, policy and ideals) are too quick and too good at embracing Liberians who pops out of nowhere wanting to be President of Liberia.
I have nothing against Alex Cummings.
And I think his inspiring success story in the United States must be told and emulated by every Liberian who stepped on these shores of the United States seeking the American dream.
Liberians must embrace Mr. Cummings’ success story as Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer of Coca-Cola. It is inspiring, indeed!
However, we also shouldn’t forget our own country’s story of bad and inept leaders, poverty, lawlessness, corruption, underdevelopment and the lack of opportunity for all.
Is Alex Cummings the man for the Liberian presidency because of his executive stint at Coca-Cola? Can Mr. Cummings contribute to Liberia’s development in another capacity to help rebuild the crumbling institutions in that country, other than the presidency?
Remember also that Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is a Harvard-educated ‘economist’ and former banking executive, who was elected President of Liberia.
Any lesson learned from her tenure as president?
Does he (Alex Cummings) have the temperament, the patience for politics and the maneuverings that is part of that profession? Where does he stand on key policy issues? Do we really know him?
We Liberians are known time and time again to follow and support untested candidates for who they are, and not what they have done for Liberia or what they want to do for Liberia and the Liberian people.
At the end of the day, these untested personalities whom we trust to lead our country digs us deeper into poverty, chaos, underdevelopment and depression.
Have we learned anything from our political mistakes yet?
Alex cummings pic: www.friendsofalexcummings.com