Minority Leadership and Majority Leadership?
Majority Leader (Mr Osei Kyei- Mensah-Bonsu) Mr Speaker, I just want to add a few words.
Mr Speaker, indeed, the election of George Weah should excite and give pride to all of us in Africa.
Mr Speaker, a point was made by the Hon Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs that the success story of President George Weah, in itself, is a pointer to hard work, tenacity of purpose, and indeed, perseverance.
Mr Speaker, when he first contested against the former President who just exited, Helen Sirleaf Johnson, it was said of him at the time that he was not literate enough in spite of his own popularity. He reclined and decided to pursue education in order to enhance his own abilities.
Mr Speaker, the first four years when he was not successful, he decided to pursue a degree course and he had his first degree. After the second attempt
where he again was not successful, he decided to continue his education, and before the recent election, he had been awarded a second degree, which is a Master's Degree -- a footballer who had struggled.
Mr Speaker, here is a person who demonstrated leadership even before he entered the fray of politics. There was an occasion where Ghana had to play Liberia in a qualifying match for the African Cup of Nations, and Liberia, at that time, was engulfed in a civil war.
The team could not be provided with the wherewithal by the country to come and play against Ghana, but single handedly, he purchased the tickets of all the team members and the officials and brought them to Ghana. That was when Ghana recognised the proficiency of President George Weah.
The first leg was played elsewhere and we all thought we would humiliate Liberia. When they could not afford, in the second leg, we airlifted them to the Accra Sports Stadium, and led by Presdient George Weah, they defeated us. That was when George Weah registered strongly on the radar of Ghana -- people then realised that he was a very proficient player.
Mr Speaker, at least, on seven occasions, he had to bear the expenditure of airlifting his team to go elsewhere to train. He had to bear the cost of feeding and hotel accommodation single handedly. What patriotism! Yet when he came into politics, he was found to be wanting. People felt that in spite of enthusiasm, he may not translate into political leadership, which is why he decided on those unsuccessful occasions to help himself.
Mr Speaker, here is somebody who has really put himself up by his own bush traps. As far as football is concerned, one person that he must also be eternally grateful to, is the current coach of Arsenal; Arsene Wenger. He discovered him and had him sent to France for some tutelage for three years before he brought him back.
Mr Speaker, President George Weah has made Africa proud as a footballer; he became the first player to be crowned the best player in Africa, and at the same time, won the European and world's best footballer in the same year.
Indeed, in the previous year, he should have been crowned the world best, but for the fact that his team, AC Milan missed out, that is why he was adjudged the second best. If AC Milan had won, at least, he would have been the first African to have won the world best on two occasions. .
Mr Speaker, into the electioneering campaign, the first time he contested against the woman, the ECOWAS Parliament to which I belonged at the time asked me to lead the delegation from the ECOWAS Parliament to the place.
Mr Speaker, when I went there and witnessed their electioneering campaign -- Three days before the elections, what I witnessed, I realised it could not have happened at that time even in Ghana.
The anti-penultimate day to the elections, he had his own final rally in Monrovia, and the lady also had her final rally in Monrovia. There is just one principal road in Monrovia; it is a dual carriageway. The two parties were using different sides of the road, and when they got together, they were pelting themselves with sachet water, and everybody was laughing.
It could not have happened between the New Patriotic Party, (NPP) and the National Democratic Congress (NDC) in Accra. I am saying so.
Mr Speaker, the police would not even have allowed it in the first place, to have demonstrations leading to the election ground side by side. Weah led his own team, his own party, and when he was taunted as an illiterate footballer, he made a “v” sign, that in spite of that, he was going to win.
Mr Speaker, it was a scene to behold, and I believe all of us should have useful lessons from that.
Mr Speaker, Liberia has a herculean task. One can only hope and pray that he is able to put together a very good team to assist him. What he has achieved, given his own spirit of endurance and perseverance, and of course given the goodwill that he has, I believe he would be able to overcome.
The transition was very smooth, devoid of acrimony, and one can only wish him the best and also wish the people of Liberia success under George Weah.
Mr Speaker, let me say that even though “Oppong” is not part of his official name, he derived the name Oppong from a Ghanaian footballer who migrated to Liberia. He used to be a Kotoko player called Charles Oppong. Weah came under the tutelage of Charles Oppong and that is how he adopted his name and became Oppong Weah.
So, he has learned from Ghana; and Ghana assisting Liberia has been something that perhaps, as sister nations, we have had to live with. It explains why
when they had trouble, they jumped over Cote d'Ivoire and came to Ghana; even though the contiguous country is Cote d'Ivoire, they all came to Ghana and did not stay in Cote d'Ivoire.
Let that good relationship between Ghana and Liberia continue. If there is anything that we can do as a country to assist them, I believe we should make it ready in order for them to be able to bounce back as they used to be in the sixties and seventies.
Mr Speaker, I thank you for the space granted.