Liberia has two (2) recognized stadia/stadiums. Both were built by non-footballers. Thumps up to ex-President W. V. S. Tubman and ex-President Samuel K. Doe. The Antoinette Tubman Stadium (ATS) was built in 1952 by William V. S. Tubman and it has a capacity of 10,000 while the Samuel Kanyon Doe Sports Stadium (SKD) was built in 1986 by Samuel K. Doe and it has a capacity of 35,000. The football legend turned President George Manneh Oppong Weah promised to build 7 stadiums in 7 counties in his first term. There is no sign of even one (1) being built up to date. The 7 stadiums/stadia remain invisible. Is this another LIE? CDCians along with their political leader gathered on ATS this gone Saturday for a political rally. Sadly, they could not muster the courage like me to ask their political leader about those 7 stadiums he promised to build. When will this project begin?
It was just another “perditio tempus” (waste of time) only intended to show strength and flex political muscles. The “crowd contest” now is over but those harsh economic realities preceding this vague and vain contest still remain even more crushing. Liberians are more miserable than ever before. Their lives are in a deplorable state. There seems to be no hope.
What did the CDC achieve from this much-publicized rally? What incentives/dividends have Liberians gotten from this rally? The nation incurred more losses than gains. I hope they could hold rally(ies) to urgently address hunger, unemployment, inflation, rape, poverty, illiteracy, maternal and infant mortality, and the ongoing State plunder (looting).
These are 10 plain truths or hard facts about CDC rally:
- The gathering was never a RETREAT as CDC claimed. It was a political rally primarily intended to test CDC’s diminishing popularity ahead of 2020 and 2023 elections. A Retreat encompasses sober reflection, critical introspection, and an honest/bold reassessment of failures, successes, and prospects (forecasts). None of these was done or considered during “CDC Retreat”. Political Sensationalism and Populist Pageantry are far from the meaning a Retreat;
- The gathering was never policy-driven, solution-based, issue-focused, agenda-sensitive, vision-prone, and people-centered. It was all about wearing paraphernalia (T-shirts and Caps) with images of Pres. George M. Weah. It was all about merriment, chanting slogans, and showing off;
- The “Retreat” did not seek to reconcile and unite the CDC and our nation. The photo of VP Jewel Howard-Taylor was never on CDC’s official T-shirts and Caps. VP Taylor too did not wear anything with Pres. Weah’s image on it. The impasse within the CDC still remains unhealed. The President used his lackluster speech to make wild claims and spew out tantrums/jibes at opposition political parties instead of telling our nation his new strategy to address prevailing crises head-on;
- The “CDC Crowd” could not even fill a small stadium like ATS. Over 90% of the stadium seats were unoccupied whilst free spaces were also on the main pitch. ATS has a capacity of just 10,000 maximum. Hence, this rally really didn’t deliver after 2 months of mass publicity. Rallies in 2005, 2011, and 2017 are an attestation to this fact. The CDC and GMW were even afraid to use SKD Stadium (with a capacity of 35,000). They would have been consumed or swallowed unremorsefully.
- Initially, the core message of this “Retreat” was about reconciliation, peace, and solidifying the “gains” made under GMW. But the message changed so fast to “unseating opposition candidate Abraham Darius Dillon” in this year’s 2020 Midterm Senatorial Election for Montserrado County. The ‘Blue Day’ became ‘ADD Day’ and a ‘Noisy Day’ as well. The CDC could not even announce or introduce her senatorial candidate to supporters;
- If CDC still has the numbers to reclaim Montserrado County as they are deceptively claiming, why didn’t they use SKD Stadium for this much-publicized “Blue Saturday” Rally? ATS can only host 10,000 people at a time. Montserrado County has 777,503 eligible voters/registrants. Even if CDCians had filled the entire ATS, which they couldn’t even do, this means that they would have accounted for just 1.28% of the total voting population in Montserrado County. They are still far from winning Montserrado County because Senator Darius Dillon won them with a margin of 38,578 votes (CPP Dillon had 102,549 votes while CDC Paulita Wie had 63,971 votes). The “crowd” we saw on ATS didn’t even reach 8,000;
- CDC trucked a lot of people from nearby counties and even paid non-CDCians just to attend their rally. A good number of civil servants were politically conscripted and coerced. This is a glaring violation of Article 18 of the 1986 Constitution of Liberia. These are links to prove this point of coercion and conscription: (https://web.facebook.com/100021908932263/videos/672346910172267/?t=10 and https://frontpageafricaonline.com/politics/liberia-party-politics-taking-over-at-natl-port-authority-workers-urged-to-ensure-sen-dillon-is-unseated-in-midterm-election/?fbclid=IwAR1GycemE9m4G0Hl9w1K-Y0heaXuiPlGmQ1QrMbFq_aiqfQfPqUN2P9PFns);
- The Speech of President George Weah at this rally did not renew or inspire any HOPE. As usual, he just had to read a text that was prepared to be read. He did not speak those words out of conviction, honesty, and willpower. His speech was characterized by diatribes, false hope, half-truths/zero-truths, and repetition of unfulfilled promises. This was why they intentionally blocked traffic, caused the country to lose millions, violated the 2014 Code of Conduct Law by using public assets (vehicles, fuel, logistics, etc.) at their political rally, hindered the free movement of peaceful citizens, and spent over US$108,000 of tax-dollars just to host this meaningless political jamboree;
- The CDC was insensitive to the safety, survival, security, and general welfare of the Liberian people amidst the raging coronavirus epidemic. Against the stern alert and advice of the World Health Organization (WHO) for all nations to curtail mass gatherings in an effort to prevent this killer disease, the CDC willfully went ahead with its rally amidst this global health emergency. Such intransigent and arrogant precedent posed a severe risk to national security;
- The “Retreat” has not changed the tragic and hostile realities. There is still gasoline shortage, water scarcity, very high inflation, hike in rice price and scratch card, hike in tuition, high unemployment, snail-paced growth, delay and cut in salaries, no fuel at various hospitals, zero foreign direct investment, fall in inward remittances, budgetary shortfall, the decline in foreign currencies, rampant corruption, increased hardship, etc. The “Retreat” does not change the fact that the startling revelations made by Chairman Mulbah K. Morlu in leaked audio against Pres. George Weah are damaging truths. It does that change the fact that Weah along with his cronies is corrupt and building giant-sized properties at the expense of the ordinary masses. It does not change the fact that there are more disenchanted/jobless CDCians and miserable Liberians after 2 years of misrule under GMW.
It really does not change the fact that the people will still protest through their ballots in October of this year if there is no concrete solution to prevailing socio-economic and political quagmires. While President Maada Bio of Sierra Leone is creating 16,000 new jobs just in the mining sector alone this year, President George M. Weah is on “crowd contest”. This “Retreat” hasn’t changed anything in West Point, Soniwein, Bussy Quarter, Plumcor, Clara Town, Doe Community, and other shantytowns. Our people in slum and rural communities still remain poor and even more vulnerable to socio-economic peril.
This is the current tragedy confronting Liberia. These are tragic and troubling times. The CDC-led government is massively failing. This is what happens when the incompetent and arrogant illiterates lead. No matter what, CDC will still be politically flogged in any given election as a result of greed, corruption, and the abuse of power. They must not use this failed “Retreat” as a pretext and a ‘show of strength’. How I hope President Weah could join this “job contest” or “empowerment contest” with President Maada Bio. Political strength is not shown through “crowd contest” or “rallies” but through “performance” and “development”.
About The Author: Martin K. N. Kollie is an exiled Liberian activist, columnist, and emerging economist.
Main Photo: George Weah, DW