Since a little over a week now, the name of Liberia’s Vice President Joseph N. Boakai continues to be at the center of radio talk shows and discussions in other quarters of the Liberian society. The front pages of the major newspapers and their and websites are also pre-occupied with the Boakai decision to contest the 2o17 Presidential election as recently announced in Voinjama, Lofa County after being petitioned by the districts of the county during a post-Ebola tour.
Of course, the Joe Boakai debate is characterized huge criticisms – constructive and negative, as well as sentiments supportive of his presidential bid.
While those expressing anti-Boakai sentiments may have the Constitutional right to expressed themselves freely, even though they are responsible for they say, Vice President Boakai is also empowered by the same 1986 Liberian Constitution to contest any public office provided he meets the requirement(s).
Speculations in certain quarters of the Liberian society are that the conspicuous silence of President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf suggests that she is not supportive of Boakai’s new political ambition because she already has someone else in mind – how is such possible when those harboring this belief are yet to really know or understand what she thinks . One justification characterizing these speculations is that President Sirleaf had, in 2011, said that she and Vice President Boakai would leave together at the end of her second term – whether or not such attribution is the fact remains to be seen.
But the issue currently dominating the debate regarding VP Boakai’s Presidential dream come 2017 is whether it is actually possible for him “judging from his association with President Sirleaf and the integrated Unity Party for about a decade”. On the side of the anti-Boakai sentiments, the general belief is that he’s wholly and solely part of a group, they say, have created more problems than solutions for Liberia amid all of the huge international financial, material and moral support since its incumbent in 2005. If the foregoing belief is anything to go by, then, there are many “Joe Boakais” in the present government of President Sirleaf, who shouldn’t equally benefit from the people’s trusteeship come 2017- be it the presidency or other public offices. Even in the opposition community, it is further difficult to understand the positive impact(s) made on the socio-economic lives of the Liberian people for the last decade, other than waiting for elections to present to the electorates, inflated impressions about themselves as a way a convincing voters .
While this article doesn’t, in any way, attempt to favor or support VP Boakai, President Sirleaf or the Unity Party, it would be foolhardy for anyone in his or her sound mind to suggest that the current government has “done nothing” since coming to power- where the hell in the world anyone would even chose to think so in the first place? While this article will not go into the integrity of this argument, there are some visible or tangible things the Sirleaf Administration has achieved- whether with UN, World, EU, ADP or IMF assistance, these achievements were/are all under the auspices of the administration’s initiatives.
And let it be made emphatically clear, Joe Boakai is a formidable force, and that will manifest itself , if the Liberian opposition remains disintegrated and very selfish. If even the Vice President does not receive the support of President Sirleaf or the Unity Party, he remains a bone with which one must contend.
To prevent Boakai or the Unity Party for a third term and possibly a fourth, the likes of Senator George M. Weah of the Congress for Democratic Change, Cllr. Charles W. Brumskine of the Liberty Party and a few other formidable political forces must do away with their selfish presidential ambitions for a unified political force with a single presidential candidate to really do the trick against the Unity Party or Boakai. Other than that, it would be the same old complaints about “cheating”- and they will have themselves to blame.
Vice President Boakai could count on the experience of the Late Dr. William Richard Tolbert, Jr., former Vice President (19 years) and President of Liberia for nearly ten years. As Vice President to the Late Liberian President, William V.S. Tubman, Tolbert’s role was dictated by the President, and that he could have done nothing without his the acquiescence and instruction.
But when Dr. Tolbert assumed the Presidency from 1871 to 1980, we saw the practical difference so much so that up to present, Tolbert remains Liberia’s most progressive and development-oriented Leader our dear country has ever had.
And so, let not be fooled into believing that nothing is possible with Joe Boakai even without Unity Party- he may be a force to watch amid a disintegrated opposition come 2017.