Liberia Is Not A Football Field


By Albert Andrews

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

November 4, 2004

George Weah
A friend called the other day to express concern about the silence of political commentators on the issue of George Weah’s presidential ambitions. He was surprised that there have only been write-ups from the former footballer’s propaganda machine and that just one effort has been made to balance the debate and bring into the fore issues that the propagandists will normally avoid.

I told him that it could be due to the fact that Weah is politically immaterial; and should therefore not be taken seriously. It could also be that they (commentators) are aware that Liberian politics is not a football field, an arena in which Oppong would undoubtedly dominate.

I reminded him that Weah’s credentials truly make him an exemplary citizen but fell way short of sticking his claim for the presidency and that those who are promoting such a misadventure are only selfish. It is no secret that Weah dishes out favors to those who sing his praises. There is nothing in Weah’s past that suggests that he has had a fruitful leadership role in any enterprise. He served as captain of Manchester City when his career was taking a nosedive and he and the club’s management were always at loggerheads. His leadership was constantly questioned and he was forced to leave England for a club in Dubai, a footballing backwater.

Let me add quickly that one of the chief reasons why we have so much misery in African countries is bad leadership. This curse is responsible to a great deal for some of the senseless wars that we have fought and are still fighting.

After a senseless civil war, Liberia has reached a unique position to leave this club of bad leadership by electing leaders with the capability to understand the intricacies of running a modern democratic nation, uniting the people and promoting reconciliation and development.

Toward this end all kinds of names have popped out. I heard that old Shad Tubman who has been ”dead” to the country for over three decades has suddenly resurrected and is in the race. When I read The Analyst the other day I laughed my heart out when I saw that one “Forum” a ”mentally deranged” man is also eyeing the highest office. Imaging a crazy man wanting to be president of Liberia.

Forum’s announcement however presents some food for thought: the presidency has become a joke. The country’s highest office, which should be filled with the best the country can offer, has been reduced to ridicule. I blame the politicians for this acute downslide, their ineptitude driven by selfishness and greed has made many people to lose faith in that office.

Which then brings me back to the new hysteria: the firm yet laughable fact that George Weah will be contesting the presidency. For weeks, I have read and read only praises for the former world footballer.

George Weah cannot honor the rigors of the presidency. He does not posses the educational and intellectual faculties for this office. His record shows that he does not posses the intelligence and educational strength to meet this huge challenge at this time in the history of Liberia. He could do himself a lot of good by completing high school, enrolling at a college to education if he wants to at least be taken seriously. Why some Liberians will be content to promoting a high school dropout, who to my understanding cannot compose a letter independently, to the country’s highest office is beyond my understanding. Take away his money and fame and Weah would not even qualify to be an office assistant. Remember that when he signed his first contract in Cameroon, he lost thousands of dollars because he signed a document which he did not understand. Is this the kind of person some people are convinced can lead Liberia?

I am convinced that those who are writing those promotional pieces will not hire a person with Weah’s education to even serve as clerks in any ministry. Weah dominated the football pitch but his abilities clearly cannot satisfy the demands of the presidency.
We need leaders who can make sound decisions based on their understanding of pressing realities, not someone who will wait for others to make such decisions for him.

Let us take a look at some other reasons why Weah is not just the man for the job. He thrives on rumors. He promotes backbiting among his followers to the point that they are also taking aim at each other. While serving as the ”boss” of the Liberian national team, he engineered its downfall when he set into motion a bad blood between himself and Jonathan Sogbie who at the time he saw as his rival. Reliable sources said Weah saw the more educated and intelligent Sogbie’s successes in Ivory Coast and Switerzerland as a threat to him. Because of this, the team was divided in two camps. This caused the team a place in the second rounds of the African Cup of Nations finals in South Africa. When the story broke in the media the emotionally immature Weah offered no credible explanation for the situation remarking only that people were jealous of his accomplishments and wealth. He does not encourage the honest appraisal of his actions . He thus resigned from the team (something he usually does when his judgment is called into question). The man is so quick to lose his rag.

Borrowing a term from the American election, I would like to believe that Weah is a flip-flopper . Remember when he converted to Islam and took the name Ousman because his then manager was a Muslim. Years later he came back to Christianity.

By promoting a potential mediocre leadership, Weah’s hired guns are clearly following the footsteps of those much-hated politicians. They are only thinking about themselves.
Having contacts with Silvio Berlucsoni because one played for his club doesn’t qualify one to be president. Being called a true son of Africa by Nelson Mandela does not guarantee sound leadership. We cannot afford to place another misfit in the mansion.

Liberians must resist at every level the attempts by some within their midst to institute a government of playboys. There are bright young Liberians who can steer the affairs of state at this crucial time. I know a few who are in the same age group as Weah , who are well educated and have documented evidence of leadership and who cannot fall under the influence or control of the recycled politicians. And who do not surround themselves with freeloading playboys.