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A nation lagging behind the comity of nations needs a physically and mentally fit president

- A response to Martin Kollie’s “Doing the right thing means looking beyond subjectivity – A rejoinder to Nobel Peace Laureate Leymah Gbowee - Part 1”

I am taken aback by the preponderance of attacks and insults from partisans and supporters of the Unity Party and the former VP Boakai against Nobel Laureate Leymah Gbowee for her passionate plea made requesting the former VP to call it a day in his political pursuit of the Liberian presidency. In her lamentation on social media that she has used on several occasions to inspire young women, and push for accountability in Liberia, among others, Madame Gbowee writes, “I WOULD LIKE TO ASK YOU ALL TO KINDLY ALLOW UNCLE JOE BOAKAI TO RETIRE FROM POLITICS AND FOCUS ON HIS HEALTH. HE DESERVES TO SPEND HIS GOLDEN YEARS INTERACTING WITH HIS GRANDKIDS, ENJOYING FAMILY TIME.”

One can understand the dissatisfaction Madame Gbowee’s candid request triggered among diehard supporters of the former vice president – a man they consider a viable alternative to the failed Weah experiment. However, the uncharacteristic display of continuous discourteousness against a respectable Liberian lady for simply speaking her mind is un-Liberian by all stretch of the imagination, and such attitude should be repudiated by all and sundry. Vulgarities and utter disregard for womanhood, something CDCians displayed many times against former President Sirleaf, is among the moral decadence we need to find alternatives to in order to improve the moral standard of our country.

Hence, it beats logic that the Unity Party has not found the courage to immediately demand her partisans and supporters desist from trying to stifle free speech and dissent in our politics with incivility. As I stated earlier, one can respectfully agree or disagree with everything Madam Gbowee has said about VP Boakai retiring from politics. She and VP Boakai may disagree politically, but also remember her relationship with Mr. Boakai is that of a father-daughter one; therefore, insulting her only makes you look uncivilized. I, too, must thank Martin for having the courage in recognizing this immorality and speaking against it.

Adrian Pierce Rogers, an American Southern Baptist pastor and conservative author, stated, “It is better to be divided by truth than to be united in error.” He further explained, “It is better to speak the truth that hurts and then heals than falsehood that comforts and then kills. It is better to be hated for telling the truth than to be loved for telling a lie. It is better to stand alone with the truth than to be wrong with a multitude. It is better to ultimately succeed with the truth than to temporarily succeed with a lie.” The acceptance of these truths is a moral and patriotic duty for all Liberians to rise beyond their parochial view of the politics of the day. It also behooves us to speak the truth to Martin and others with being considerate of the former VP’s health or making any disparaging comment against whatever conditions he may be battling. It would be foolhardy for anyone to make denigrating comments about the former VP during this period. Additionally, it is universal knowledge that sickness can affect anyone, regardless of how rich, poor, young, or old one may be. You cannot hate your fellow citizen and wish him evil in the same vein of politics. This is the highest demonstration of cruelty and heartlessness by anyone!

In Martin’s rejoinder to Madame Gbowee, he attempts to unscientifically downplay the effects any form of physical health issues would have on the performance of a president – especially in Liberia where everything has taken a downward spiral since the inception of Weah’s regime – where he draws a juxtaposition between President Weah’s physical health and his poor performance as president. He writes, “It is assumed/perceived that President George Weah is “healthier” or “physically fit” than VP emeritus Joseph Boakai. How has his “fitness” or “physical strength” increased public sector performance in the best interest of Liberia? I would not attempt to answer Martin’s question because President Weah’s failure has precipitated pandemonium among some Liberians in the opposition community to pick someone or anyone, regardless of his/her role and leadership history to replace the soccer icon. However, Martin’s inference is that because President Weah is presumably “physically fit” and “healthier” than VP Boakai and is doing a terrible job as president, we should equally assume that physical fitness or healthiness of a president is irrelevant to his/her performance which is wholly flawed and should not be given space to dwell.

As a member of the Liberian opposition community, I agree that President Weah has failed miserably; therefore, there is an urgent need to have him replaced by another Liberian. Notwithstanding, downplaying the significance of physical fitness to the role of president is akin to President Weah’s claim that “if book and education could build a nation, Liberia would be the most developed country in the world.” How can one be successful as president in Liberia if he/she is incapacitated to leave from one place to another? This is heresy at best! President Weah is “physically fit” and “healthier” than VP Boakai, but is Weah the best among all the physically fit and healthy Liberians to become president? How can one physically fit and healthy man’s incompetence and poor leadership generally reflect on all physically fit and healthy citizens in a country? I hope Martin can find an answer to this and other questions contained in this response.

Let’s take Punch, a Nigerian news entity, December 4, 2022, publication, headlines, Buhari spends 225 days on medical trips, and visits 40 countries, as a case study.

The news agency reported that “The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), has spent at least 225 days away from the country on medical trips since assuming office in 2015, Sunday PUNCH investigation has uncovered.” Martin, kindly take into consideration that the Nigerian President was 73 years old when he was inaugurated as President of Nigeria in 2015. Are you assuming that Mr. Buhari’s health did not take a toll on him and hampered his performance as President of Nigeria? We could go deeper into the impact poor health has had on Mr. Buhari’s presidency; however, it cost the Nigerian government a fortune to sponsor all the president’s medical trips, pay for his treatment, etc. Is Liberia in the position to take care of a sick and absentee president, Martin? Click the link for full access to the publication: https://punchng.com/buhari-spends-225-days-on-medical-trips-visits-40-countries/

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When President Weah recently spent 48 days out of Liberia gallivanting and merrymaking, Liberians from many quarters frowned at him for his prolonged stay out of the country. The costs attached to his long time out of Liberia predominantly on nonprofitable adventures are incomprehensible for a nation whining from a terrible economy. Think about the daily subsistence allowance (DSA) and incidental; and hotel bills for the delegation, security, foreign services, etc. Is the Liberian state capable of taking care of an ailing president in this terrible economy, Martin?

One can reasonably assume Martin knows a thing or two about Mr. Boakai’s medical condition because Martin is a Unity Party and VP Boakai propagandist. Therefore, Martin’s inference that physical fitness and healthiness are irrelevant to a president’s ability to perform the duties and responsibilities of the office is an admittance without stating that JNB is physically exhausted or physically unfit to serve as president. Martin labors to a great extent to dissuade the reading public from rejecting Mr. Boakai because, according to Martin’s admittance, VP Boakai is not physically fit and healthy, but the former VP is mentally fit. Martin must be adjudged guilty of the charges he levied against Madam Gbowee if he fails to provide a shred of credible medical evidence that shows that Mr. Boakai is mentally fit but physically unfit.

Let me close by asking Martin a simple question. How can a physically unfit person meet the demands of campaigning along the terrible roads in Liberia to convince Liberians that he is fit to run the affairs of a struggling country?

Mulbah Kesselly.

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The New Dawn is Liberia’s Truly Independent Newspaper Published by Searchlight Communications Inc. Established on November 16, 2009, with its first hard copy publication on January 22, 2010. The office is located on UN Drive in Monrovia Liberia. The New Dawn is bilingual (both English & French).

One Comment

  1. It’s easy to come out take a few pictures and throw jabs. For a man who will “assume” power at 83/84 years old and and turn over @ “90 years”, what is not so easy is for him to stay healthy and energetic for ANOTHER 6 years. Liberians are a completely different breed of people. For the record, It’s not just Leymah Gbowee that thinks Boakai is too old. It’s the majority of Liberians, and explains part of the reason he lost the first time. Not many young people were enthusiastic about an 80 year-old man becoming president. Liberia has a very youthful population and they definitely will not fall in line with this UP people/Urey/Costa conspiracy. Right now, it’s the senility of old age has clouded Boakai’s wisdom and patriotism. But the voters will have the last say, eventually.

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