Liberia’s Vice President Adds Insult to Injury

From Bad to Worse: By His Own Choice, Liberia’s Vice President Adds Insult to Injury

When bad decisions are made by good people, it is very difficult to put it into any perspective. Liberia’s Vice President Joseph N. Boakai has been personally regarded as a good man who is said to have had bad experiences under President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf as her vice president––by reason that he has been marginalized in the governance and real policy decision-making process of the country. For these reasons, many Liberians don’t tend to fault the Vice President for the misrule, poverty and extreme hardship the country and people of Liberia have endured for the past 12 years under the Unity Party’s administration.

Despite the abject failure of the Unity Party’s administration led both by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Vice President Joseph Boakai, Liberians across all spectrums were betting on giving the Vice President a chance as their presidential candidate for the October 10, 2017 election on grounds that he would not allow a bad experience under President Sirleaf to paralyze him with fear. That became quite the opposite by the selection of his running-mate. The Vice President on Monday chose House Speaker James Emmanuel Nuquay (UP-District #5Margibi County) as his running-mate. This decision does not seem to be the independent decision of the Vice President Joseph Boakai that Liberians were trying to repose their trust and confidence in. This does not seem to be the decision of the Ambassador Joseph Boakai whose slogan is: “Think Liberia, Build Liberia and Love Liberia.” By this choice of running-mate, the Vice President has reneged on his own slogan of “Think Liberia, Build Liberia and Love Liberia.”

While the Vice President is free to select whoever he wants and feels comfortable with as a running-mate, the positions of president and vice president are public responsibilities that impact the lives of people and nations, and therefore Liberians have the right, especially after a decade of failure, to reject the status quo. Why does Vice President Boakai’s choice of running-mate matters to Liberia?

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s attempt to have a hand in Liberia’s future takes root with the choice of the Unity Party’s running-mate

Like most advanced democracies with presidential system of government, the only duty the Constitution assigns the Vice President is to act as presiding officer of the Senate and as ceremonial assistant to the President. But more than that, the Constitution of Liberia, as is that of the United States, limits the formal powers and role of vice president to becoming president, should the president become unable to serve, prompting the well-known expression “only a heartbeat away from the presidency.”

Speaker Nuquay certainly seems to be a nice young man, but he would never had been a speaker in a more functioning legislature nevertheless in a country where detached credibility, trust, experience and innovation count. From all indications, his election as speaker is largely based on chance and the nature of the Liberian legislature––an unprepared and unserious body.

First and foremost, the preferred running-mate, contrary to the Vice President’s assertion, lacks the requisite skills and experience to serve the Liberian people as a potential president should the president becomes unable to serve. Second, he has no international experience and is not known outside of Liberia and perhaps Margibi County. Third, he is from, serving in, and leading an institution that is not only despised by the Liberian people but equally condemned by all meaningful stakeholders with interest in Liberia. Fourth, he once chaired and/or served on a legislative committee that gave Liberia bad concession agreements because of, as former House Speaker Alex Tyler put it, “Inexperienced.” Fifth, Vice President Boakai is currently 76 years old, his running-mate is just 48 years old with no real experience in domestic and foreign policy as well as exposure. Sixth, we live in a fast-paced changing world compressed with various political, social, economic and international variables that require minimum understanding and exposure, something the current running-mate falls short of.

This is a bad decision and choice for an expected retiring and distinguished national leader with years of faithful and dedicated service to make at this time. Liberian are basically appalled by this selection and preference.

The Vice President is simply giving Liberia’s fate away from what is already bad to worse. Apart from that, the running-mate is from an institution that is engrained in a culture of immaturity; is unserious, and extremely corrupt. Besides, this selection proves that the same people serving in the Sirelaf’s administration will continue in a Boakai’s presidency, offering no hope for Liberians that want change. This is certainly not a decision that Liberia would and can accept. This is also a personal preference that would take Liberia from a bad to worse, and add insult to injury in a country that has so much but great human needs, a country that is internationally discounted because of the bad decisions and judgments of its past and present leaders.

President Sirleaf and Vice President Boakai

Pres. Sirleaf with VP Boakai

Vice President Boakai, this is a bad choice––one that undermines the wishes of the Liberian people who desire real and substantive change. This terrible selection also underscores the deep-seated fear and concerns that the Unity Party administration under a President Boakai is going to be no different from the current Unity Party’s administration under Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. This is a clear sign that the very people who ruined the Liberian economy and socio-cultural system will continue to lead and serve Liberia in the next decades to come, and more Liberians will continue to live in excruciating hardship and poverty.

Evaluating how Vice President Boakai’s thinking has evolved on his choice for running-mate requires considerably less sleuthing and speculation. This bad decision seems to be the work of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. But it is up to the Vice President if he truly believes that this choice of running-mate reflects the slogan: “Think Liberia, Build Liberia and Love Liberia” or otherwise. This is an indefensible ticket. It is never too late to make a change. Revisit your decision Mr. Vice President. Remember! It is better to get it right by trying many times and reconsideration than to get it wrong by refusing to change or try again. This ticket, while serves those who want to protect their interest and others who want to advance their personal agendas and egos, it does not serve the interest of the Liberian people neither does it serve you and your desire and commitment to lead Liberia.
—By Globe Afrique

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