Monrovia – Neither the rain nor their long distances that they had to cover back to their homes could discourage them from waiting for their political leader who arrived at the party’s headquarters in Congo Town at 11:30 PM Saturday night.
“I would like to make it resoundingly and unequivocally clear that as much as we are going to commit ourselves to a violent free election; make no mistake, we will not sit idly and allow our democratic rights to be infringed upon through the implementation of a electioneering process that will be embroiled with irregularities—which could ultimately produce a leader that wasn’t elected by the people, but selected by a few” – CDC Standard Bearer, George Weah
Weah’s Campaign Team
Meanwhile, Senator Weah has named Dr. Togar McIntosh as his Campaign Chairman; Prof. Wilson Tarpeh, Campaign Manager; Prof. Ansu Dao Sonii, Campaign Spokesman and Gbehzohngar Findley who joined the party less than a week ago as Campaign Supervisor.
The members of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) who had gathered at the party’s headquarters for the launch of the political campaign had come from far and near. Some say they walked from as far as Brewerville, New Kru Town and Diggs Ville which are about three to four hours in walk to Congo Town.
For most of them, the distance, but their support to Weah does.
Mary Toe who lives in Diggsville which is almost two hours’ drive from the party’s headquarters, told FrontPageAfrica she and a group of friends walked the distance as a proof of their loyalty to Senator Weah.
“We can do anything for this man to become President,” she said. Mary continued: “We decided to walk so that the whole country will know that Weah has voters.
“When they see us in our numbers they’ll know that indeed he has the crowd. As for this election, there will no cheating, that’s why we decided to come out to prove our strength.”
Many of Weah’s supporters believe he was cheated in past two presidential elections he participated in; however, they believe that with the numbers that turned out for the launch of campaign, it his victory on October 10 will be glaring.
“Look at the number of people who turned out today, who will say Weah didn’t win? We have locked down the entire city. It’s like a holiday in Monrovia and we’ve set record,” Jacob Davids told FrontPageAfrica.
The Long Wait
Thousands of partisans of the CDC eagerly waited at the party’s headquarters in for Senator Weah’s arrival who is also being escorted in a parade of principal streets in Monrovia and its suburbs by another group in their thousands.
In a minting of a newly formed relationship, Senator Weah has at his right-hand side former Unity Party strong man, former Grand Bassa County Senator Gbehzohngar Findley, who recently left the ruling party citing lack of common interest.
The day started with a scotching sun and the rain followed but the die-hard supporters remained, anticipating that their political leader was going to arrive anytime soon. It was a long wait from 7:00 AM to 11:45 PM.
Eighteen-year-old Marilyn Togba is full of enthusiasm as a first time voter. She was among a group young men and women who singing and dancing, “I was 10 years old I promised Weah oh, if I reach 18 oh I’ll vote for him oh”.
According to the young voter, she could even wait till the following day.
“I’m not leaving from here until Ambassador, Senator George Manneh Weah comes. It is because of him I walked all the way from SD Cooper road to come here just to see him and hear what he has to do. Anything he says is what we’ll do,” she said.
However, among the crowd were several who are obviously below the voting age. Mark Dahn who had come from nearby community Matadi in Sinkor is 16 years of age. He told FrontPageAfrica, “I don’t have voters ID card so I can’t vote, but I support George Weah. I decided to join the rally do because I wanted to stretch my legs.”
We’ll Not Sit Idle
While calling on his supporters to remains peaceful during the campaign period and the election as Liberia is about to make some historical transition, Weah warned that he and his supporters will, however, not allow their democratic rights be trampled upon. As he did in the previous two presidential elections he participated in, Weah cried foul and warned against rigging the election.
“I would like to make it resoundingly and unequivocally clear that as much as we are going to commit ourselves to a violent free election; make no mistake, we will not sit idly and allow our democratic rights to be infringed upon through the implementation of a electioneering process that will be embroiled with irregularities—which could ultimately produce a leader that wasn’t elected by the people, but selected by a few,” he said.
He assured Liberians of his and the CDC’s commitment a peaceful and violent free election.
Weah: “I cannot emphasize enough how deeply inspired I am by your resilience and commitment to the struggle for the emancipation of our people from the shackles of poverty and into a state of abundance. “
“Because of your resolve, I hereby promise to endeavor at all cost to not betray the trust you have placed in me to be your chief pilot surrounded by seasoned and able patriots to lead our political institution to victory come October 10, 2017.
“I want to assure you that your sacrifices will not be in vain as we seek nothing, but a first round victory. As your leader, I am battle tested and adequately prepared to lead our party to victory and our country to higher heights; and into a state of endless opportunities.”
Beseiged By Criticisms
Weah acknowledged criticisms over his quest to become Liberia’s President as many believe he is not qualified neither does he have the experience.
The soccer legend’s quest to become President began few years after he left the playing pitch, yet he was a formidable opponent to the former UN and World Bank executive, Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf who won the 2005 election in a runoff after losing to Weah in the first run.
But Weah maintains he wants to become President because he has a vision for Liberia.
Weah: “Fellow partisans, throughout the history of our struggle and my political journey, I have been besieged by criticisms and overwhelmed with the question as to why I am seeking the presidency.
Some have even went further to suggest that I should have stayed in the football sector because that’s my area, but I have always found these things to be a sheer distraction intended to keep me from focusing on my vision for a better Liberia.
Several years ago, when I embarked on my journey as a professional soccer player, I heard the same negativity. Many critics said that I wouldn’t make it.”
“Many suggested that I would be a failure, but I didn’t listen to them.
“I kept pushing and defying all odds until I succeeded as one of the greatest soccer legend the world has ever produced.”
“Today, those that said I was going to be a failure are now calling me ‘Chief.’ I am not saying this to boast, but to make a case that no amount of negativity will distract me from fighting for change and a prosperous Liberia.
“Fellow Liberians, today, I have come to answer those questions as to why I decided to get into politics and run for the presidency instead of staying on the football field.”
Weah went on explaining his humble beginning that led to his rise in football during which he said, in the midst of the criticism, he still became one of the best footballers in the history of the game.
Root Cause of Suffering
According to Weah, the hardships he experienced as a child led to a curiosity in wanting to know the root cause of poverty.
“I had always wondered while growing up as to why many of my counterparts and I were subjected to such an impoverished lifestyle while a selected few lived in abundance.
But little did I know that these things were caused due to an age old problem consisting of corruption, greed and the lack of vision, unpatriotic leaders, and the in-equitable distribution of our national wealth,” he averred.
He said his experience as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador triggered his quest to become President.
Weah: “My experience with UNICEF even spiked my interest in wanting to do more in my capacity from a larger scale, but I soon realized that I could not solve all of the problems on my own as a private citizen.
It was then that I developed the desire to see a better Liberia where the ordinary citizens will be given opportunities to succeed, a Liberia where our national wealth will not just be distributed among a selected few. A Liberia where our people will be liberated from the shackles of poverty, a Liberia where elitism will be abolished and corruption declared a common enemy.
A Liberia where both Muslims and Christians will live together in peace and harmony. A Liberia where you or your relatives will not be left to die at a hospital simply because you couldn’t afford the money for the hospital bill.
A Liberia where our youths and young graduates will not be gallivanting in our society due to lack of jobs, but will be given opportunities to succeed.
These are some of the reasons why I made the transition from the soccer pitch to politics.”
Weah’s Corruption Strategy
“If you elect me as your president, I will fight corruption in the strongest way I know by cutting wasteful spending in government and creating a zero tolerance policy on corruption,” Weah promised.
According to him, he will establish a special court for corruption and make legislations that will curb waste in government.
“There will be no recycling of corrupt officials in my government. If you are found culpable of corruption, you will no longer work in my government. This is a promise to the Liberian people,” he said.
He said his strategy to fight corruption will be based on cutting wasteful spending, creating a special anti-corruption Court and undertaking a robust anti-bribery program that will seek to empower citizens to serve as anti-bribery agents.
“I believe by cutting wasteful spending, my administration will be able to create additional revenues to be able to sponsor tangible developments such as the building of infrastructures, creating programs to empower our youths, improve our health and educational sectors, and create more opportunities for our many underprivileged citizens.
One way I intend to cut wasteful spending is to do a complete overhaul of our national budget, so that it can focus more on developments than recurring expenditures.
If you look at the way our National budget is designed, it does not reflect the change that we desire to improve the life of our citizens. It’s only designed to make a few rich at the expense of the suffering masses,” he added.
As a means of strengthening the economy, Senator Weah said his government will hit the ground running on austerity measures that will bring pride and a sense of nationalism to Liberia, promising that his government will be inclusive.
“My presidency will seek to build a middle class economy so that our citizens can be middle class citizens. Previous governments have failed because they focused on building our economy from the top to the bottom, where rich keeps getting richer and the poor keeps getting poorer.
“My presidency will focus on building an economy that will focused more on empowering the lives of the masses and improving their livelihoods.”
“I want to see a Liberia where our market women and petit traders, too will own cars and be able to drive to their various areas of business, not just those that work in government,” he said.
Sen. Weah promised to go through the National Budget line by line and close every loophole that are recipes for waste; and ensure that more money is allocate to creating programs that will build capacities of youths to prepare them for better opportunities.