In the midst of the grinding economic hardship facing the country, the political leader of the Alternative National Congress and member of the opposition Collaborating Political Parties, Mr. Alexander B. Cummings, has declined an invitation from the presidency to attend the 172nd Independence Anniversary program and luncheon slated for July 26, 2019.
According to an ANC press release, Mr. Cummings’ decision to decline the invite stems from the fact that, while the country is experiencing serious economic meltdown, it is not prudent for him to participate in such elaborate celebration which costs not less one million United States Dollars, with executive cars and motorbikes rented from neighboring countries.
Outlining key reasons for the ANC leader declining the government’s invitation, the release stated that the ANC party does not find pleasure in celebrating when civil servants are yet to be paid their salaries for the months of June and July; when government scholarship-students are stranded and homeless in Morocco for failure to pay their fees; when university faculty members are on strike for a 25% cut in salaries they are yet to even receive; when many families cannot find food to eat for the 26th because of rising prices of food and the declining value of the Liberian dollar; when many parents cannot afford fees to send their children to school; when many clinics and hospitals are without drugs; and when the streets of Monrovia and its environs are in filth and stench, among others.
Going further, Mr. Cummings said, while he supports the observation of Liberia’s Independence Day, he cannot in good conscience celebrate in extravagance and opulence, when such excessive amount would be spent on pomp and pageantry or to celebrate lavishly in the faces of the struggling masses.
Concluding, the release stated, “Mr. Cummings says he looks forward to a better economic situation for the remainder of this presidential term, during which time he will celebrate along with all Liberians, if or when he is invited to similar events. It is his hope that the government will become more responsive and sensitive to the welfare of the people, commit to making sound financial decisions and cutting down waste, especially in difficult times. He believes that the only celebration worth having is a celebration that all Liberians can be a part of.
The strong position of the ANC political leader regarding the 2019 Independence Day celebration has set into motion a wave of reactions from Liberians.
This is what Daoud Saba has to say: “Our Home town is screwing up big time! Even if the funds used at the event were stolen or the Liberian people were deprived as alleged, he (apparently meaning Mr. Cummings) should put that aside. He should show some sort of political maturity. It’s Liberia’s independence; it’s not anything about him or the President of Liberia. Such occasion like this symbolizes the presence of the opposition. I really do not know who is advising our home town.”
On the other aisle, in a heated exchange between two ardent supporters of the ruling establishment and the opposition camp, Mr. Pah Karpeh Suku blasted: “Tell Cummings he can stay home and the country will go on celebrating the strides. Your should have advocated to cancel these bi-elections, no money.”
Responding in a peeved but witty retort, Atty Moriah Yeakula stated: “Pah Karpeh Suku Jr., at this point, I am inclined to believe something in that Kru water that’s blinding you. You can’t be serious. 1 million is being spent on this nonsense while NEC is still asking for balance 1 million for elections on Monday and you say advocate to cancel elections? Which should have been cancelled? Kpo!”
Pa Karpeh Suku: “This is sheer hypocrisy. 12 years Liberia celebrated its independence under President Sirleaf with the same dire economic challenges. The challenges won’t go away because Jorweah cancel celebration.”
Moriah Yeakula: “Pah Karpeh Suku Jr., inflation was not 23% under Ellen. Exchange rate wasn’t $205 LD to 1US. Companies were not laying off in droves. Businesses were not shutting down with empty stores all around the city. Civil servants were not experiencing no pay for 2 months and counting. And even in the midst of EJS own challenges, 26 Day celebration did not cost 1 freaking MILLION dollars! That’s insane and insensitive to the plight of the people. You claim to be a pastor. Say the goddamn truth.”
And so it goes.