By JN Larsah
Collaborating Political Parties [CPP] Chairman and ANC Political Leader Alexander B. Cummings have turned-over of the CPP leadership mantle to Senator and Liberty Party Political Leader Nyongblee Karnga-Lawrence. So, this offers an ideal opportunity to quickly review Mr. Cummings’ performance by taking a glimpse of his leadership ability, in terms of areas in which he made gains and areas where losses were incurred.
There has been more than plenty of talks about what many regard as Mr. Cummings’ excellent leadership profile, specifically given his experience as a former longstanding Vice President of the Coca-Cola company. Admittedly, this is the key trump that has propelled Mr. Cummings’ standing with a segment of the Liberian populace to be viewed as formidable among the top contenders for the Liberian presidency. But his high rating is not only based on his work experience.
Another trump that has tossed Mr. Cummings in the center of things is an image that promotes him as a successful Liberian multimillionaire. This notion has become popular among many and has helped to further project him as an inevitable top-level contender. Certainly, for this reason, there have been overwhelming expectations for Mr. Cummings among his harshest supporters, majority of whom are in the diaspora. That Cummings owns tens of millions can easily be heard among supporters and can also be traced to net worth online sources.
However, these two key political assets have not come to alter or enhance his leadership image either as an experienced and successful leader or as a wealthy politician. Critics are quick to point to Cummings’ steeply dismal performances in the elections as a measure of his leadership inadequacy. For example, they point to his disappointing showing in the 2017 presidential election, in which he could not garner even 8% of the votes in the country and where he also could neither win his home county of Maryland or get 9,000 out of 38,000 votes. In addition, he also could not win any single county out of 15 and did not win a single district/representative seat out of 73 nationwide. Then, the 2020 senatorial election presented another opportunity for him to showcase his political leadership acumen.
Yet, the scoreboard for Cummings for the 2020 election presents a mix bag of good and bad, of course, with the bad easily and extensively outweighing the good scores both for him as CPP Chairman and ANC Political Leader. For example, while the CPP did quite well overall in the election under his chairmanship, he failed to put himself on the senatorial ticket for Maryland in order to prove himself electable for once, and he also failed to secure victory for the candidate he designated in his home county. Moreover, he also failed to secure win for his chosen candidate in the Montserrado District #9 where both he and the ANC/CPP candidate reside, even after heavily campaigning together with him there. And it is needless to mention the blunder committed in Nimba, where his party member did everything to inflict serious damage to an obviously much stronger candidate in Madam Edith Gongloe-Weh.
Mr. Cummings also presided over the emergence and domination in both the CPP and country of very questionable political actors on the scene. For example, an internationally established, well-known criminal outsmarted the opposition and won to become Deputy Speaker for the country. And then, the recent election in Gbarnga led to very serious public outcry on the outcome of election for Liberty Party chairmanship. All of these happened under his watch as CPP Chairman. Certainly, as Trump has demonstrated, many believe that having a top-tier international corporate experience is no guarantee of astute political leadership.
And now finally, another major contention about Cummings is the image built of him as a very wealthy politician, a multimillionaire, for which some view him as the sort of first and last answer to the myriad problems facing Liberia. But evidently, he has done nothing to very little in honoring or proving this mantra of him as the multimillionaire politician who should be able to demonstrate said power to convince others of not only his commitment to serve but also his passion to provide answers. How can a criminal win an election for Deputy Speaker from the minority party in the House because some accuse of him spending a few thousand dollars while Cummings, the multimillionaire, is CPP Chairman? It is fair to conclude that while Cummings did little in the area of success as CPP Chairman, he certainly did incur a lot more losses.
Disclosure: I am a member of the CDC and one who respects Mr. Cummings and has met and interacted with him at least 4 times. I view him as a leader who must prove himself in order to be taken any more seriously for the presidency.
Main Photo: Alternative National Congress Front-man, Alexander Cummings