As the 2017 presidential race draws closer, the ruling Unity Party is to decide the fate of Vice President Joseph Boakai, following his petitioning ceremony in his home county, Lofa by his kinsmen at their upcoming national convention in May.
Information received by this paper says, the ruling establishment is expected to conduct its convention not later than May of this year, at which time party executives and stalwarts will elect new officers, including members of the Executive Committee and standard bearer lead the party for another six years.
The convention is expected to endorse the vice president as the next standard bearer succeeding President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. The would-be standard bearer of the UP will then seek the nation´s highest seat. Boakai – also President of the Liberian Senate, enjoys very strong relationship with Unity Party’s National Chairman Varney Sherman of Grand Cape Mount County, but his relationships with other officials, including current Secretary General Wilmot Paye, executive committee member Madina Wesseh, and national youth chairman Amos Tweah are not very favorable.
Already eyeing the chairmanship at the up-coming convention, according to insiders within the party, are current Secretary General Wilmot Paye, Party stalwart Madina Wesseh, Montserrado County Representative Henry B. Fahnbulleh, Forestry Development Managing Director Harrison Kanwea and Gender Minister Julia Duncan Cassell, while Labour Minister Neto Zarzar Lighe is the sole aspirant for the vice chairman for political affairs post.
According to source within, both Chairman Sherman and Vice President Boakai are the most influential figures in the party, and that anyone favored by both men will definitely become chairman. When Secretary General Paye was contacted via SMS message, he confirmed the information, as well as deciding the political fate of the vice president.
Since the VP Boakai was petitioned, there have being mix reactions among officials of political parties, including the ruling party. A day after the declaration by Boakai that he would be a presidential candidate in 2017, an official of the opposition Congress for Democratic Change said the Vice President was not a strong political force. Jefferson Koijee of the CDC’s Youth League told the media at the time that Vice President Boakai had no history of political success as part of his attachment with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
“Boakai is no threat; he cannot even defeat Representative Eugene Fallah Kparkar in his home Foyah. So, we are not even bothered by him. He has not been able to get a victory for the Unity party in Foyah District on more than three occasions; so where is his popularity?” Koijee said. According to Koijee, in 2005, Kparkar defeated the Unity Party in Foyah despite with VP Boakai campaigning for the UP candidate; while again in 2011, similar history repeated itself.
“Look at the just ended 2014 Senatorial election; Boakai campaigned for Francis Carbah, but still Eugene delivered Foyah to Steve Zargo- so where is Boakai stronghold?”, the CDC Youth League Chair said, claiming that Vice President Boakai came to prominence because President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf wanted a diplomatic face.
One of the latest group to question Boakai’s leadership ability is the opposition People’s Unification Party or PUP. According to the PUP, Boakai, will make no difference when he ascends to the highest office. PUP chairman Isobe Gbokorkollie, who has described the Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf government as a ‘failed one’, said Boakai’s ascension to the presidency will not change anything. He told a local radio talk show Monday that Vice President Boakai, while touring his native Lofa County, accepted petitions from his kinsmen requesting him to contest the already crowded 2017 presidential field.
By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor-Edited by George Barpeen