Politics News

What Boakai could not say

Ruling Unity Party (UP) presidential candidate Vice President Joseph Nyumah Boakai did not deliver his well-prepared speech to partisans and supporters trucked from the various counties under the heavy down pour of rain on Saturday September 16 during the launch of the party’s campaign.

To say whether they were disappointed or not is to say the least, after all they were well taken care of for their attendance.

All the ruling party presidential candidate could say was thank you to partisans who had waited under the heavy rain to hear from him. He later referred them to members of the media to whom copies of the long speech were given for broadcast and dissimilation.

The speech mentioned President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf who had something else on her agenda that is to break ground for a clinic in her village just once- that is to say thank you.

However, a review of Mr. Boakai’s undelivered speech that was later shared on social media by his partisans and supporters takes up some time to walk voters through achievements of the UP led- government, while pointing to prospects for increase improvement here depending on Liberians’ choice of picking a “novice or an experienced manager” to lead the country further.

“After just 12 years, the budget today stands at 563 million USD. Liberia has emerged from the ashes of war and the prospects for increased improvement are high depending on whose hands you put the country to lead–a novice or an experienced manager,” Mr. Boakai says.

Outlining his priorities when elected president this October, Mr. Boakai names infrastructure and agriculture sectors as the most crucial aspects of transforming Liberia. According to Mr. Boakai, agriculture will be the primary development goal of the UP led- government, side-by-side with roads because of their capacity to bring about growth and employment.

He says if government is going to change the lives of Liberians dramatically and if one thing will move poor people from poverty to the middle class in large numbers, he believes that it will be investment in these two sectors.

“And let me be specific to emphasize roads. Roads will create access to health, agriculture, and education. I intend to utilize our God-given natural resources to connect the county capitals to major commercial cities, district capitals to chiefdoms, by paved roads and then to clans and then to villages and farms,” says Boakai.

The UP presidential candidate tells Liberians that the economic climate that the country is transitioning to will be different from the immediate post war one, noting that all Liberians must prepare for stringent disciplined processes and austerity measures in his government’s financial management.

“There is no success without sacrifice,” he says, adding that the integrity institutions here will be given teeth to help end the culture of corruption and impunity that are immense constraints on building an enabling investment climate.

While arguing that corruption is due to greed and selfishness and it poisons whatever it touches, Mr. Boakai warns that if people steal government money, they will be punished severely and face restitution.

He also seeks a smaller size of government, and a more transparent, accountable, and efficient governance.

He gives credit to Liberians for the peaceful environment the country enjoys during the 12 years, and further gives them hope that Liberia will get much better because Liberians are all in this together.

According to the UP presidential candidate, much of the nation’s capital has access to electricity and running water today under the UP led – government, and there are more functioning universities and community colleges than ever before.

In addition to the unprecedented grade school enrollment that he says is being experienced here, Mr. Boakai observes that greater numbers of Liberians are today receiving higher education than ever before.

“Besides, this Administration has paved 750 kilometers of roads, more kilometers than any of its predecessors. Today, a journey from Monrovia to Buchanan that took more than 5 hours in 2006 can now take you one hour and half,” he says.

Back in 2006, he recalls that Liberia’s national budget was $86 million USD, noting that it now stands at $563 million USD after just 12 years.

In an effort to persuade voters here to vote him to the presidency after incumbent President Ellen Johnson – Sirleaf, Mr. Boakai tells partisans and supporters that elections are not just about the past or present, but largely about the future.

“My development agenda is driven by how I got here and the empathy that it gives me. I am an ordinary Liberian. When you elect me as your President, I will be the first janitor and rubber tapper to make it to the highest office in the land,” the Vice President says.

Having recounted his life as a schoolboy who worked as janitor at CWA to pay his school fees back in those days, the UP torch bearer says he remained resilient and strong and eventually made it through high school and college.

“These life struggles were God’s way of teaching me the challenges ordinary people face daily. This will certainly make me quite a different President – the standard bearer for the cook, the taxi driver, the babysitter, the janitor, the motorbike rider, the yana boy, rubber tapper, and the farmer,” he promises in the unread speech.

As the Vice President, he says he learned what worked well and what did not work so well, and which steps “took us forward and which ones kept us from moving forward.”

He boasts that it is clear that he will not have a learning curve about how to govern a failed state, rather noting that he will have an execution, and implementation curve.

He touches on manufacturing, imbedded with value-addition, saying it will also be a fundamental part of his vision so that it enables Liberians to benefit from the country’s God-given natural resources including rubber, iron ore, timber, and other products before they are exported from Liberia.

He sees such methods as useful in creating more and better paying jobs for Liberians, in an effort to get citizens own shares in the country’s mineral ventures.

“I will work to ensure that manufacturing becomes a normal part of our development process supported by investment in solar energy and other sustainable production approaches which will make electrical energy available to our people at the village level,” Boakai promises.

He vows to curb drug use in his administration, addiction and teen pregnancy, which he says increase delinquency and crime, using diverse prevention and treatment programs.

“The name “zogos” must disappear from our life. We cherish all of our people and therefore cannot continue to think that some of us are disposable people called zogos. I consider them as potentially productive citizens who stand in need of our help,” Boakai says.

While promising that nurses, doctors, lab technicians, public health professionals and other healthcare workers will receive similar attention and incentives, Mr. Boakai adds that all of “us” will attend the same hospitals, except in cases beyond the capacity of the medical facilities here.

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