Who's In Control of CDC?
By Mohamed Sherif
Liberia's major opposition party, the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) is in major political disarray and a public relations nightmare to say the least. The CDC is in dire need of political and PR makeover to salvage its dented image in the wake of George Weah's troubles on Thursday June 4. On the aforementioned date, according to several media reports which have so far been corroborated by Weah and the CDC, Mr. Weah's close friend and confidante, James Bestman, was arrested in a drug raid by the FBI. But what followed thereafter remains shrouded and heavily mired in contradictions and controversies. All the while the CDC has gone from disseminating conflicting and competing information to playing victim and now sadly some alleged supporters have resorted to issuing death threats to Front-Page Newspaper editor, Rodney Sieh. In the midst of this controversy, no one seems to be in real control of the CDC. Is this the beginning of the end or can the CDC learn from this difficult experience and forge ahead?
After news emanated of Mr. Weah's alleged arrest, CDC secretary-general Eugene Nagbe, who was recently treated to a luxurious USA tour by the UP-led government, denied that Mr. Weah was ever in the vicinity of the drug raid. But Mr. Weah apparently not in close coordination with his political troops on the ground issued another statement confirming that he was indeed on the scene when Bestman was arrested at Bestman's $450,000 Baltimore, MD home. The Daily Observer quotes Mr. Weah as telling a Liberian radio station that the FBI took his (Weah's) ID and returned it to him within 45 seconds during Bestman's arrest. Weah is emphatic that he was never arrested and or handcuffed.
The initial concerns many are raising is Mr. Weah's associations and the inner circle of friends he keeps. The old adage is still well in place: show me your friends and I will tell you who you are. Right now, there is a lingering debate about the Weah - Bestman relationship. The fact that Mr. Bestman is an unemployed man residing in a half a million dollar residence should have raised a red flag. It is alleged that Mr. Bestman has had some previous run-ins with the law. Was Mr. Weah aware of this or did he just simply ignore an important character information? I do not believe for one second that Mr. Weah is ever engaged in drug trade or any other illicit activities in Liberia or outside of Liberia. Weah is also not responsible for Bestman's behavior; but there is a caveat.
While I don't think anyone should be held responsible for the behavior of their friends but not when you are George Weah. Let's keep in mind; it was Mr. Weah who almost became Liberia's democratically- elected president five years ago. The fact that Mr. Weah spends time at his friend's house whenever he's in the area begs the question what did he know and when did he know it? Won't you instinctively query your friend's source of subsistence if you are a major opposition leader like Mr. Weah and that friend is Bestman, unemployed, but yet rides around in luxurious vehicles and lives in an almost half a million dollar home?
All of this once again brings into perspective Mr. Weah's decision-making processes. If he's President of Liberia, are these the kinds of friends who will occupy strategic public positions and make crucial decisions? This is scary because a president must be able to make wise choices. A President must be able to discern what is right and what is wrong. The Bestman fiasco again exposes Mr. Weah's inability to make the right decision at the right time. Why would he choose to visit a shady character in Baltimore at a time President Johnson-Sirleaf just recently visited the area? Why would he associate with a shady character at a time the President's son is helping the FBI in its anti-drug campaign? Is Weah not reading local and national papers? Is he not at least occasionally watching the news?
All politicians and political institutions go through some kind of crisis in some way, shape or form. When that happens, they must have the mechanism in place to swiftly and adequately deal with such crisis. The Party must offer an effective, coherent and disciplined response being mindful of attempts to win hearts and souls during the next elections. In this case, the CDC did neither. The USA-CDC branch instead deferred to no other than Chorphie Charlie, whose subject is profanity and his verb is profanity. So it was disastrous from that angle. Moreover, three days following the incident, four different CDC Party officials including Mr. Weah had given contradictory statements to the media. This created more confusion and utter embarrassment. And now there is news that Front-Page Managing Editor, Rodney Sieh is receiving text messages with graphic threats to his life and his offices. In the face of this very serious and ugly situation, George Weah and the CDC remain mum. At a time the Party must show leadership and condemn these thugs’ activities, no one is standing up. Will the true leaders of the CDC please stand up? Is there anyone in control right now? If that person is George Weah, then by all means, he needs to stand up.