By Tewroh-Wehtoe Sungbeh
If I had a political party and ran for president once and lost, and I am thinking about running again in 2017, I most definitely will step up my game to succeed the next time.
To remain competitive, relevant and taken seriously, I will deliver policy papers quite often, and will frame compelling messages about jobs and education, healthcare, environment and security, and other issues that affects the Liberian nation and people.
I will also restructure my political party to be discipline, to focus on winning elections, and not be viewed as a party of intolerant thugs and political opportunists who are interested in serving a singular personality than the nation and the party.
I will try not to confuse or weave my roles as a political party leader and future presidential candidate with anything that questions my credibility and commitment to the Liberian people.
Because my political party is seen as the most popular in the country, I or we will not operate in name only. I will push my legislative members to legislate instead of being benchwarmers and cheerleaders for the administration and our political party.
Since my popularity stems from my exploits as a former football star, and since most Liberians don’t think I am a smart person who understands and knows how to articulate the issues, I will hire and bring onboard individuals whom I will listen to to guide me in these areas.
To be believable and credible as a would-be leader, I will project an image of confidence and competence; and cannot be seen as indecisive and embracing questionable alliances, and meandering all over the place without a clear message that inspires and resonates with the public.
Because politics is about ideas, vision and convincing others to follow, it is advisable not to live on past glories, but to be effective in the present.
George Manneh Oppong Weah, the former football star-turned politician whose Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) political party supposedly is the largest organization in the country, finds himself in that position.
The recent suspension of Youth Chairman, Jefferson Koijee by the CDC political party after he publicly criticized party leader, George Weah during the recent Vision 2030 conference in Gbarnga, for accepting the ceremonial “Peace Ambassador” position from President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, speaks of the disarray and level of intolerance and political immaturity in that group.
Koijee’s suspension is ‘indefinite,’ a statement from the party reads.
The statement also reads: “The party informs the public of the immediate suspension of Mr. Koijee, pending investigation, consistent with Part II Bye Laws: chapter I, Codes of Conduct, Rule 14 of the Bye-Laws and constitution of the CDC.”
Since when is a person suspended without first being investigated and put on trial to prove guilt or innocence for the alleged crime he or she committed? Do you suspend a person indefinitely before investigating them to know what actually took place?
That undemocratic method of operation only exists in oppressive, personality-driven organizations like the CDC, and totalitarian regimes where the worshipping of the individual is paramount to the institution or country.
However, no matter how serious the nature of the crime is as party chair George Solo and the CDC alleged, a person cannot be denied his or her substantive rights such as freedom of speech and religion, because the individual publicly criticized the leader of a political party.
While it is evident that George Solo is shamelessly patronizing George Weah by flexing his muscles to please him, Weah so far hasn’t made any public comment that dissociates him from the mess that seems to put his credibility under the microscope.
So why is Weah, the opposition leader he supposed to be is risking everything – his credibility and his party’s credibility by accepting a ceremonial job from a president whose policies his party opposes on all fronts? Does Weah need the money and the fame, which he already has?
Did Sirleaf copied the playbook of her predecessors, Tubman, Tolbert, Doe and Taylor by offering Weah a ceremonial position to silence him, and weaken his party and his own chances off ever becoming President of Liberia after she departs the political scene?
Weah seems to have self-flagellate and fallen into the trap set by Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and her Unity Party, meant to keep him confused and side tracked. Sirleaf’s trap did not only cause leadership problem for the CDC, it cheapens Weah and undermines his credibility as an opposition leader.
As a political leader, Weah should have consulted with his party members after he was approached by Sirleaf to be her Peace Ambassador (whatever that is), because this is not about Weah, but about the people of Liberia and the future of his CDC political party.
The CDC boss’ undemocratic stance certainly is not a good sign for democracy in Liberia. As big as the CDC is on hyperbole and reckless adventurism, is that political party ready to lead if they are ever given the chance in 2017?
Can the CDC, in the wake of this and previous breaches uphold the little democracy the people of Liberia are now enjoying, especially when the party and its leaders actually failed over the years to be tolerant and democratic?