Unless otherwise, there will surely be a political level-playing field in the General and Presidential elections in 2017.
The fact that the 1986 Constitution of Liberia prevents incumbent President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf from further contesting; it is a full-gone conclusion that the field will be level. However, her support and/or sponsorship of any candidate of her choice would mean a different political ball-game.
Depending on what many political pundits would consider the socio-economic impact of her 12-year presidency on the lives and well-being of the people of Liberia, the success of her favored candidate may be very possible. No doubt, Liberian electorate would prefer the continuation of such legacy. But on the contrary, there may truly be some hurdles.
At the moment, there are speculations in certain quarters of President Sirleaf’s support for certain political leaders, but such speculations are yet to prove the realities or whatsoever.
Political Leaders such as Cllr. Winston A. Tubman, Senator George M. Weah, Cllr. Charles W. Brumskine, Mr. Benoni A. Urey, Central Bank Governor J. Mills Jones, as well as current Vice President Joseph N. Boakai, among others, have either announced or shown their interests in vying for President of Liberia come 2017.
Sincerely and true to the reality, the likes of Senator George M. Weah, Cllr. Charles W. Brumskine and Vice President Joseph N. Boakai are the real contenders for the nation’s highest seat, considering their popularity, wealth of experience in politics and governance.
Let us not even get it wrong that the preceding indications prejudice the political ambitions of Governor Jones, Mr. Urey, Cllr. Tubman and others. The fact remains that these politicians do not really have political cloud despite being financially capacitated. Their Pre-2017 activities across the country in recent months and now may be encouraging as they think and in the minds of non-realists because everyone gracing their activities is hustling for something to reduce the level of poverty. Moreover, individuals at the head of the activities of these politicians may have financial gains and other wealth as their objective and not to actualize their political dreams.
For main contenders Cllr. Brumskine and Senator Weah, who will be contesting for the third time in 2017, extra time and energies at all levels would be required this time to turn the page over. They must rise beyond their current political levels, including changes in their political behaviors and immediate environs, as well as reassessing and transforming previous strategies to suit the realities of the day in Liberia. Other than that, Brumskine and Weah would just be repeating all that they told Liberian voters in 2005 and 2011.
But one possible political strategy that would change the face of things in terms of the 2017 general and Presidential elections is a sincere merger occasioning a single candidate. Any attempt away from the foregoing may be politically unfortunate and such may again send Cllr. Brumskine into another retirement as he announced following the 2011 Presidential race.
In view of the above, let no one underestimate the capacity of Vice President Joseph N. Boakai. Since his public declaration to contest, the issue against him may be his present status in the administration of President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. In certain quarters, some hold the view that because he’s “part of the current problems of the Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf Administration”, his chances may be slime for ascendancy.
Whatever we all may think of Mr. Boakai, one thing that must be understood is the role of the Vice President of Liberia as enshrined in the 1986 Constitution of Liberia. According to the Constitution, the power of the Vice President is dictated by the President of Liberia; in other words, the Vice President only operates as assigned by the President.
The political behavior and capacity of VP Boakai will only be known upon his ascendancy as observed in the situation of the man considered Liberia’s most progressive President, the late Dr. William R. Tolbert, Jr.
Very little was known about him until when he became President in 1971 following the death of President William V. S. Tubman.
There are many in Liberia today who would attest to the achievements of the late President Tolbert in the areas of education, infrastructure, commercial and industry, health and so forth – so much so that he won the name: Speedy.