By Eric Elezuo
As the build up to the October 10 Liberian presidential election gathers momentum, two names that can never be taken for granted are George Opong Weah and Senator Jewel Taylor of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC). These are names have undergone time tested career progress and came out unscathed. While Weah is running for the presidency, Taylor is the running mate. The profile of both achievers speaks volumes, portraying them as the candidates to beat.
George Weah, who is not a new comer in presidential contest, announced his second attempt to become President of Liberia in 2016 having lost out to the incumbent, Ellen Sirleaf in his first attempt. The 1995 World Player of The Year confirmed he was formally standing as a candidate in the 2017 election to the applause of not a few Liberians.
Weah, whose clubs during his playing days included Milan, Monaco, Paris Saint-Germain, Chelsea and Manchester City in a glittering career, disclosed in the capital, Monrovia, while declaring his ambition that he had the vision to transform the country as Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s final term ends. The administrator who is in his golden age also pledged to increase the national budget, work towards religious harmony, and support vocational education.
“Our gathering here today is about the future of our country and our people. In the last 10 years our people have continued to live in abject poverty, education a mess, health delivery system a disaster, electricity and pipe-borne water elusive.
“Like many of you, I have been a victim of poverty. There were times I didn’t have school fees,” Weah said.
Currently a senator, Weah lost to Ms Sirleaf in the 2005 election, and like the legendary Abraham Lincoln failed again in a bid to be vice-president in 2011. History is sure to be on his side this time as it was for Abraham Lincoln.
George Weah is not alone in his quest to change the fortunes of the once war torn nation, he had chosen as worthy deputy, another tested hand, the former wife of ex-president, Charles Taylor, Mrs. Jewel Taylor. Mrs. Taylor is also a senator of the Liberian nation.
The duo is pitched against the current Vice President, Ambassador Joseph Nyumah Boakai of the ruling Unity Party (UP).
The Taylor family without doubt openly supported Jewel Howard Taylor in 2005 and in 2014 during her senatorial bid in the votes-rich Bounty County, and is sure to continue to give support despite Zoe Taylor’s distractions.
According to Ms. Taylor, former wife of Representative Edwin Snowe, the vice president is best seated to complete developmental projects that President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf led Unity Party has not been able to complete, and further indicated that the vice president has the leadership experience and ability to replace President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
Stressing, “Our father told us to forgive all those who went against us, something we have done”, Ms. Taylor speaking said. She has however made it clear that she in constant contact with her father, Former President Taylor who is serving a 50-year jail sentence in the United Kingdom.
Some Liberians have however, expressed displeasure in her discretion, describing her as an ‘Ingrate’, who has refused to appreciate her former mother.
George Weah is heavily favoured to succeed Africa’s first female head of state in the October’s election.
The Nobel Prize-winning Sirleaf was elected to run in 2005 following a long civil war which left deep scars on Liberia’s economy and social fabric.
The elections for the presidency and House of Representatives, the first since the end of the conflict in 2003 that the country to hold without UN peacekeepers providing security.
Ahead of candidates opening their campaigns, the UN appealed for the ballot to go ahead smoothly, urging all “to spare no effort in their pursuit of peaceful elections.”
Weah’s candidacy and emergence after the October 10 elections is better hinged on the fact that most of his rivals had little or no pedigree compared to him.
Among the final president/vice-president tickets published by the National Elections Commission (NEC) recently, Senator Prince Johnson — a onetime rebel fighter filmed drinking beer during the notorious murder of former president Samuel Doe in 1990 — is one of them under the umbrella of the Movement for Democracy and Reconstruction (MDR).
Weah told AFP he was “fully ready to take the presidency this time,” and from indications, he meant. This is because he, with the 54 years prolific senator, have put every mechanism in place to bring about a desired change the former war torn enclave really needs.
Other contestants of less value to the duo of Weah and Taylor include prominent businessmen, Coca-Cola executive Alexander Cummings and telecoms tycoon Benoni Urey.
The only female presidential candidate is MacDella Cooper, a fashion model turned philanthropist who is promising “hope and reform” for the poor, largely rural nation.
It is worthy of note that George Weah and Jewel Howard-Taylor would head a coalition of three parties for the October election; another strength as other contestants.