By Lincoln G. Peters
Outgoing Liberian Vice President, Jewel Howard-Taylor is disappointed in the governance style of the Coalition for Democratic Change that brought her to the Presidency for the second time, saying that she was blocked in many ways from having access that she thought she could had, and her value that she brought was never considered.
Ms. Taylor served as First Lady of Liberia from 1997 to 2003, when her husband jailed former President Charles Ghankay Taylor resigned and went in exile in Nigeria, as combined rebel forces besieged his administration.
Speaking on a live online talk show “Closing Argument”, here on Wednesday, January 10, 2023, VP Howard-Taylor alleged that she was blocked in many ways from speaking and accessing the Presidency.
“I was blocked in many ways, not having that kind of access that I thought I could have. But, I don’t think that the value that I brought to table was a value that was highly considered, and I think that is my disappointment”, she expresses.
According to the first female Vice President of Liberia, she tried her very best in getting involved and engaged in some of the things she wanted to do to move on.
She explains that when they got closer to the electoral process, they had agreed to come together to work and they went on the campaign trail with President George M. Weah, and she had the opportunity to say what she thought.
“Certain point in time I was blocked; I was no longer part of the team. In 2016-2017, I was part of the team; we sat at the round table to talk and he (President Weah) will ask me at the end of everybody’s conversations to talk, ‘Deputy SB, what you say’ and I always had the chance to speak my mind.”
The outgoing VP said she believes that if people still look across the table of political parties, in the CDC that they set up, she still remains the most experienced person, coming from 1997 to where they were.
“That disunity of not communicating and consulting actually ate into the fabric of me. If I could look back, I will say that was the hardest part for me. As a woman, you know, we like to talk. And so, I always wanted the opportunity to talk about some of the things that were happening. And I always wanted to say that President Weah and I had never had an argument, a face-to-face argument; never.”
Responding to a question what could be some of the things that she could change, if given the opportunity as President, she notes that her father always used to say if you had never walked a mile in someone’s shoes, you can never criticize.
Jewel says that she doesn’t want to criticize decisions that were made because she may have had just a glance into some of the deep issues that were obtaining under the Presidency.
“Maybe the question could have been what I wanted to see. And it’s close collaboration. Because I think there is much more you get from everyone working together in a sink than in the side look that we found ourselves. And early on, side looks came into place that brought a lot of the inner wrangling that attended our government.”
According to her, those inner wranglings went into the electoral process and at that point, it was little over to stop, because some people could say let’s move forward, while others held onto it.
VP Howard-Taylor further explains that if she was asked what she thinks caused them to lose the election, she would say it’s because people didn’t see the Unity that they had in 2017.
She notes that in 2017, they moved as an opposition with one voice, where President Weah could sit for hours, listening to everyone, and most importantly, they didn’t vote on any issue without a consensus.
“For me, that was my belief that when we went into it consulting, everyone could have helped. That was one thing that was missing in the governance process. There were side looks around the President. People had their own reasons; the Minister of State, US-sanctioned Nathaniel McGill, he is my friend and brother, and we have gone beyond that, but we speak of it as lesson learned, because a whole different story. People were dealt with by the decision he (McGill) took”, she notes.
At some point, VP Howard-Taylor discloses, McGill became the Prime Minister of the Country, because he could decide who’s to be in and out of the government.
“But, when we came together in 2017, everyone formed a part of that team. Mind you, there were only two political parties until the second round in 2017 when others came. And we worked, keeping in touch, listening to the voices and advices of others. But, by the time we got into the Presidency, some voices were most important than the others. Like I said, I was not at the highest seat, but I think if we had kept united and consulted more, we probably couldn’t have been where we are today” she concludes.
Ms Taylor led her husband’s former ruling National Patriotic Party (NPP) into a political marriage with President Weah’s Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) earning her a place as running mate on the ticket that won the Presidency in 2017. Editing by Jonathan Browne