By: Tewroh-Wehtoe Sungbeh
Politics is a tough sport. Just ask Jefferson Koijee.
The young “revolutionary” of the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC), got that message the hard way after he was suspended indefinitely by his party for his public criticism of party founder and “First Partisan” George Weah during the 2012 national Vision 2030 conference in Gbarnga, for accepting the Peace Ambassador position from President Sirleaf.
Koijee captured the moment by his obviously frank and in-your-face public criticism of Weah and Sirleaf, which did not go well with the Monrovia-based hierarchical political establishment whose concerns are only about maintaining the status quo rather than actually running a serious political party that genuinely advocates democracy, free speech and progress in Liberia.
“We cannot be real in our desire to unify Liberians if we name one opposition leader as a peace emissary, no matter how loved he may be, if the public still see one person being named to three prominent governmental positions only because he is the son of the President. We must solve the real problems of Liberia including nepotism and tokenism if any kind of vision is to work for this country,” Koijee said.
The opinion of most people is that potent message of the kind that Koijee gave that railed against “nepotism and tokenism,” and the gullibility of George Weah shouldn’t warrant an indefinite suspension.
That message sounded loud and clear to the party bosses, and it was reported by the media that Koijee finally got his wish for which he shamelessly apologized and the suspension was lifted by the CDC.
As a legitimate grievable outburst that gained national and international attention, local party leaders should have found a way out by honestly listening to Koijee and finding possible solutions to his grievance in an open and honest way to move the party in the right direction.
To their credit, however, US-based party leaders feeling the outpouring of support for Koijee, and criticism for the undemocratic manner in which he was treated by the party, made it clear that CDC-USA does not support or endorse the action taken to suspend Koijee.
“In this formal manner we would like to emphatically state having not been informed of the negative information we have been reviewing in the press, we would like to formally document that the CDC-USA NEC does not in any way, shape or form endorse, condone, or recognize the suspension of Partisan Jefferson Koijee, the CDC’s National Youth League Chairman,” a letter to party chair, George Solo reads.
Certainly, this is a public relations nightmare for a political party that claims to be the potential heir to the presidency that Sirleaf currently occupies, and also poses an image problem for a political party that blindly idolizes its leaders and touts populism as a mantra, even though the CDC continues to fall short on new and original ideas, discipline and tolerance.
With the public overwhelmingly on his side for boldly criticizing the static, visionless and often bombastic power structure of the ‘mighty’ CDC, Koijee should have stood his grounds and not offer any apology to George Weah and the CDC.
Sadly, Koijee capitulated under intense pressure to survive in an economically tough climate such as Liberia; and did not stand up for his convictions, if he had any in the first place.
The problem for Koijee now is that he carried out an ego-driven public crusade for accountability in the CDC and punked out midway through a campaign that was too difficult for him to handle, which demonstrates his youthful inexperience and a knack for running his big mouth before thinking about the consequences.
“Please allow me to seize this moment and opportunity to officially and publicly extend to the executive committee, the standard-bearer Ambassador George Weah and the entire membership my sincere apology for the lack of due consultation before my statement at the 2030 Vision program. I take full responsibility as a person and deeply regret any embarrassment caused our party,” Koijee said.
Poor Koijee! He dropped the ball and caved under pressure. His wretched apology signifies cowardice and a buffoonery nature that reinforced his image as a reckless talking head, whose credibility is as questionable as the people who suspended him in the first place.
Koijee had the perfect opportunity to inspire others had he stuck to his convictions. But again, he has no conviction but will talk tough and passionately about an issue only to disappoint those who believes in him.
The young man is inconsequential in my book, from now on.
Sungbeh is editor of the The Liberian Dialogue