On the flip side, it also demonstrates Mr. Weah’s misunderstanding of his role in the democratic order. No other politician, who has not had the opportunity to taste the presidency, has had as much sway over the Liberian body polity as Mr. Weah. He is as indispensable to current Liberian politics as water is to fish for survival. In most instances, Weah determines whether we have peace or an uneasy existence in a country still reeling from 14 years of bloody civil war.. Yet, to his credit, this world-acclaimed sports figure, who leapt into the political bandwagon mostly by peradventure, has constructively engaged the power elite, seemingly with the realization that without the existence of the power elite, his exalted position in Liberian politics would be greatly eroded. George Weah needs the political elites just as they need him.
But Weah is not a politician. He is an iconic figure that is mostly used by politicians and his own friends to advance their political agenda. In the beginning, he was naïve and allowed himself to be used by many, including the presidency and other powerful politicians. Now, he has grown up, estimated his political capital and recognized that he can literally cash in on his brand name. It’s a smart move, but one that can boomerang any time. In any case, politicians who continue to believe in the naivety of George Weah may get a nasty shock of their lives in the coming days and months as we move closer to the 2017 general and Presidential elections. Those that are smart enough to know that Weah holds an ace in the current Liberian political setting, trooped recently to Central Liberia, where the stage was set for the meeting of the “Rainbow Coalition” in Gbarnga, Bong County.
On Friday, May 8, 2015, many of Liberia’s leading politicians trekked to Gbarnga in what was considered an opportunity to craft a coalition that would take state power in 2017. Among the list of luminaries were Senator Armah Jallah (NPP), Pro-Temp of the Liberian Senate; House Speaker Alex Tyler (Unity Party); Deputy Speaker Hans Barchue (Independent); Senator Prince Y. Johnson (Independent); Emmanuel Nuquay (Unity Party), and Senator Henry Yallah (New Deal). Also in attendance were Representatives Henry Fahnbulleh (Unity Party); Mariama Fofana (Unity Party); Bill Twehway (UP), and Moses Kollie (Unity Party). With such broad array of political luminaries gathering to construct a 2017 agenda, it seemed at the time that a powerful force was about to emerge in Liberian politics.
During the meeting, Senator George Weah (CDC) spoke through his political sidekick, Mulbah Morlu, who called himself the Public Relations Officer of the “rainbow meeting”. According to published reports from journalists chronicling the event, Mr. Morlu was quoted as saying, “The rainbow meeting is the first of a series of meetings and any decision from the outcome of these meetings will protect the mass driven interests of the citizenry.” Morlu also said the meeting was aimed at driving a collaborative agenda determined to bring about a successive governance process that will lead Liberia’s economic revitalization process. The CDC stalwart further indicated that the ‘rainbow meeting’ was to respond to the growing perceptions about the CDC’s incapability to provide leadership for Liberia in 2017.
Despite the expectation that the meeting of the “Rainbow Coalition” would be the first in a series of collaborative steps to bring about a formidable coalition, few days after the meeting, Senator Prince Johnson made it clear through his spokesperson Wilfred Bangura that “what we know is that the meeting was meant for a discussion on the possibility of forming a merger; it was not meant for finding a standard bearer. They are prejudging the outcome of the meeting and we are becoming increasingly disturbed by that. If that was the reason why Weah called us, then, there was no need for a meeting”. The Prince Johnson statement was seemingly a nail in the coffin of the nascent coalition, and it may have brought to an end any serious collaboration between the Weah and Prince Johnson groups. This is reminiscent of several attempts in advance of the 2011 elections to pair the CDC and George Weah as political partners.
In 2011, George Weah reportedly pulled wool over the eyes of the Liberty Party, by feigning efforts at collaboration, when in fact, according to insiders, the move was intended to filch money from the Grand Bassa County stronghold party. Israel Akinsaya, then a principal financier of the Liberty Party, reportedly made several advances to George Weah and the CDC as upfront payments to put together a winning combination of Ambassador George Weah and Charles Brumskine. According to some political observers, that ticket, if it had held together would have sounded the death knell for the Sirleaf-Boakai collaboration. As a result of the perceived dangers of the collaboration to the Unity Party, it is alleged that other members of the CDC were paid to dismantle the efforts. I know in one instance where a young CDcian was reportedly flown from Philadelphia to Monrovia to help with the dismantling of the coalition.
Several other attempts at coalition with George Weah and the CDC have failed miserably. How the Winston Tubman-George Weah ticket was created is a mystery, but soon after the controversial elections, Counsellor Tubman was booted out of the party and has been nursing his wounds ever since.
It is alleged that significant amounts of money may have changed hands in producing the Tubman-Weah ticket.
Is George Weah a political commodity to be traded or is he a serious candidate for the presidency of Liberia? To many people, the CDC has not yet demonstrated that, indeed, their ultimate objective is to advance Mr. Weah to the presidency in order to use his ascendancy to promote the interests of Liberians. Party stalwarts are mostly seen as using the CDC to become rich overnight during the heat of politicking.
To Weah’s credit, I believe he wants political power to improve the lives of ordinary Liberians, but he has not created a team that is willing to build a genuine coalition to make that happen. As a result any time there is talk of collaborative efforts between the CDC and any persons or party, it always appears as a hustle for pecuniary gains. It doesn’t have to be that way. Weah’s image as an icon must be protected. The CDC must go beyond the perception as the party that cannot be trusted.
Mr. Weah is Liberia’s only standing iconic figure and his charisma and popularity should be used to advance the long-term socio-economic conditions of Liberians by social cohesion through the democratic process. As a senator, he can change the political landscape. Mr. Weah also has the ability and obligation to transform the lives of Liberians. Too many young people look up to him for that purpose. They are advancing in age, with spouses and families to support. He cannot miss scoring at an empty goal. He must lead. The fact that Weah is not your typical hardcore Darwinian political beast is a HUGE plus to his credit. And maybe, just maybe, if he works hard enough, Weah could change our negative worldview of Liberian politicians. That is, if he plays his cards right.
Culled from The Capitol Insider Magazine