VP Joseph N. Boakai
In an exclusive interview by the FrontPagenewspaper, Vice President Joseph Boakai left no stone unturned in making clear his personal and official relationship with Mrs. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf as a friend; as President of the Nation; and as Head of their Unity Party, and he, as Deputy President of the Nation (Front Page Africa, March 1, 2017).
This, indeed, is true confession, unique in African politics. A sitting Vice President bares it – his personal and official relationship with the boss, the President, concerning delicate social, economic and, of course, political issues in an election year, where the Vice President is candidate to succeed his boss who, under law, is ineligible to stand for a third term. This candid press interview was motivated by the President’s alleged, reported support, in cash and kind, of the opposition political Party and its Leader, Cllr. Charles Walker Brumskine of the Liberty Party.
The concerns and jitters raised by this allegation, or perception thereof, are that Cllr. Brumskine is not only leader of an opposition political party, but also, that he is of the settler-, Americo-Liberian elitist class; the class which ruled Liberia (single-True Whig Party-state) with an iron hand for 133 years and continuing, while Vice President Boakai and the Unity Party that he now leads are of indigenous, Liberian heritage.
But to the Liberian people desperate for change, a Boakai presidency would mean continuation of President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf’s profoundly failed regime, the administration considered to be arrogant, consciously ignored/ignoring rational advice, but drowned/drowning in the cesspool of public dishonesty and stealing of public resources. The people’s argument had been, and is, that Joseph Boakai has been the nation’s No.2 chief executive for 11 years, but could not, did not address the critical needs of the nation and people.
Thus, during the Liberian people’s rightful demand for change from the avalanche of dishonesty and corruption comes the submerged but burning classic struggle for democratic rule – settler-, Americo-Liberians versus Indigenous “country” Liberians have now become the “gathering storms”, a critical and crucial centrepiece for the up-coming general elections.
This article takes a brief, close look at the issues.
Joe Boakai, the VP is not the President
In response to the argument by the people, although reasonable, Vice President Boakai holds and presents a legal/political counter-argument, a reality:
That a Vice President, as the second-in-command, is objectively limited. “The role of the Vice President”, he said, “is very clear. I am not the President. I do not make appointments. I do not set the rules, the President is the President”.
“Anytime a Vice President competes with the President, you know, there’s going to be problem. My role is to preside over the Senate without taking a vote; my role is to assist the President. Assist the President means that the President has a need and the President recognizes that the Vice President can fill those needs, she’ll ask the Vice President to do that”.
But, according to Vice President Boakai, “since the two elections which brought Unity Party to power, President Sirleaf has never asked me to recommend to her any minister or any ministry. However, I recognized that it is the prerogative of the President and there was no need for me interfering, if not called upon”.
“Do I have the right to go the President to ask that without people saying ‘You trying to fight the woman, that’s the woman’s right? I cannot do it. The President must invite me, she must see the need the same way she felt the need to have a Vice President, that’s my role. I am Vice President; the difference between me and the President may be the way we implement.”
Hand writing on the wall & Spliting Ways?
The Vice President described it as “saddening”, that after 11 years, Liberians are questioning whether he and President Sirleaf are still working together. “Every year up to the 11th year”, he said, “This Vice President has been a good Vice President. I’ve been very supportive. At this moment in time that we are where we are, where people begin to question as to whether we’re working together is saddening”. On this issue of support, the VP said:
“Boakai is uncertain who President Sirleaf supports; it could be that she is keeping her trump card of support to herself as she hasn’t rendered the party any support. I know what she’s not doing for the Unity Party, but the people probably know what she’s doing for other parties”.
“We’re asking her – the Unity Party is her party, it’s the party that would bear her legacy and she ought to be supporting it,” he said. “Beating around the bush in relation who the President might be supporting . . . to listen to what Liberians are saying. . . I am not the one saying that President Sirleaf fully supports Brumskine. The people are reading the signs and they’re saying that . . . We live in a society where everybody supposedly is informed about everything that is happening. So the way we go about things, the people are informed and they interpret your movement, your action, your body language and they say, ‘We see certain things happening. Whether she’s supporting Brumskine wholly and solely I don’t know. The people who are reading the signs are saying ‘This is what we see.’ They have spoken to it publicly, she has heard it. She has given some reactions, but for me what I know is that so far the President is not supporting Unity Party as she should do. Despite realizing the President’s shortfall in supporting the Unity Party’s quest”; the vice president said that he “remains confident that without her support, he can lead the party to victory in October. Maybe she’s waiting for the time, maybe she’s waiting for the occasion, but what I am saying is that I have been elected standard bearer of the party. I’m under obligation to make sure that the party continues whether the president is supporting the party or not."
"I have the mandate to take the party and run with it. It is my job to make the UNITY Party continue and make it that party that’s supposed to be until she decides she would come on board. Currently we have received no support so far. And I hope that can change because I don’t think this is the way we want to part. I believe we should continue to work together”.
Ellen Johnson is the product of the City of Monrovia (the 1940s & 1950s) of and dominated by the settler-, Americo-Liberian socio-cultural, economic and political hegemony, although her paternal grandfather was an indigenous Gola tribesman, while her maternal grandmother was, also, an indigenous woman of the Sapo or Kru tribe. Her mother was the daughter of a German businessman; “A fair-skinned child with long wavy hair, she could almost pass for white . . .” .
Ellen’s father, the son of the Gola tribesman and tribal chief, became ward of a prominent settler-, Americo-Liberian family in Monrovia. They changed his Gola first name, Karnley to westernized Carney and gave him the family name of Johnson, after a former president of Liberia. The re-naming process symbolized the socio-cultural baptism for complete transformation. The new Carney Johnson prospered and became member of the Liberian national Legislature. Young, Miss Ellen Johnson married young Doc Sirleaf, a mixed indigenous (Mandingo) and settler, Americo-Liberian (Coopers) heritage (Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, 2010).
Education, life-style, attire, mannerism, deportment and body language convey the reality that Mrs. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf was, and is, socio-culturally European, American, Americo-Liberian, while she is bio-physically indigenous African.
Rise to Political Power
Mrs. Ellen Johnson-Sirleafbegan her political career as Ideological foot-solder of the settler-, Americo-Liberian True Whig Party of Liberia and, eventually, became the nation’s Minister of Finance. The highlight of this position was her prominence as Minister of Finance, when she presided over the massive expenditures of millions of US dollars for the July 15, 1979 hosting of the OAU Conference in Liberia. The planning and preparation for the Conference included purchase of a “floating hotel”, construction of the OAU Village of Hotel Africa, VIP Villas and the Unity Conference Center in Virginia, Liberia. The project was characterized by reported, massive miss-management and dishonesty, such that today, the “OAU Village”, as it was called, is a historic, colossal waste of public funds spent on so-called “sustainable development”, but public resources into private pockets (www.washingtonpost.com/oau/meeting/Liberia).
Style of Management
Management style – political or private corporate – is function of, depends upon or determined by the socio-cultural, economic and political structure of the society in which the Manager was born and raised. We noted, earlier, that not only that Mrs. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf was born and raised in the Monrovia Society dominated by settler-, Americo-Liberian political and socio-cultural structure, but also that she began her political career as ideological foot-soldier of the settler-, Americo-Liberian True Whig Party.
Elsewhere, we observed that the facts of history of Mrs. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf’s rise and use of political power was based on her application and use of “Poli-Tricks” - Half-truths, withholding of information, selective information or miss-information, double-cross, influence-peddling and power-plays, all in the effort to manipulate, control and influence decision-making or its impact, both internal/external, as strategies for the achievement of the desired objective – assumption and hold of political power.
This conclusion follows from detailed reports and analysis by individuals who should know and knew, based on their close association with Mrs. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, including Mr. Thomas Woewiyu, founding Chairman of ACDL and Dr. Patrick L. N. Seyon, former Chairman of ACDL, the premier organization created by Mrs. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf for the removal of the government of Liberia by force of arms and the disastrous war that followed. We noted from reports of their severe criticism of Mrs. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf for what they describe as her “manipulative behavior”. Examples:
Mr. Woewiyu, a dogmatic believer in the basic objective of the ACDL & NPFL – removal of the government of Liberia by force of arms, but believes that, even, among thieves, there is honesty, openness and fair-play. This approach, he argues, is absent in Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf; while Dr. Seyon, an academic/intellectual, criticizes Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf for being manipulative and in support of removal of the government of Liberia by force of arms, an immoral and illegal act.
But Mrs. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, an informed student of Politics and master politician, and Mr. Tom Woewiyu, the tough-talking, acid-tongue, street-smart student of human behavior are, both, committed to the removal of the government of Liberia by force of arms, the achievement for which they were organized, massively, but differed, substantially, on manner of approach.
Mr. Woewiyu holds that truth, fairness, trust and agreed replacement of the removed government should be and is the proper approach, while Mrs. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf held that the application of the Poli-Tricks, as indicated, are strategies for the achievement of this desired objective - armed coup d’état for assumption of political power, proper and reasonable in this context.
The “Book Doctors” and her Ministers of State in government and associates outside – academics/intellectuals, rationalists – Sawyer, Seyon, Tarr, Clinton, McIntosh etc. - were and are mere facilitators, recruited to provide academic/intellectual rationalizations for “democratic face” to the outside world community; to manipulate and placate Liberian public, political opinion. Hence, the compartmentalization of information-giving and related, carefully-designed recruitment/placement policy, in her quest for political power - to become, and she became President of Liberia.
Mr. Woewiyu reports that “from and because of your (Ellen Johnson’s, EJS’) personal ambition to directly assume power when the (Doe) regime has been removed. Following that meeting at the home of Taylor Major in Virginia, USA, you (EJS) invited me to another meeting with Clarence Simpson and Taylor Major in the home of the late Mr. Chris Maxwell. We spent the whole night with the four of you trying to convince me to agree that we should forget about the Alliance idea and let the government be given to the Liberian Action Party because the party won the 1985 elections. I said it was a very bad idea . . .”.
“Your (EJS’) break from the NPFL . . . was about your determination to take power directly from the war front. By late 1990, the NPFL controlled 90% of Liberia . . . it was agreed . . . that the NPFL should form an Interim Government and call for elections as soon as possible . . . Taylor asked me to go to Washington and convince you (EJS) for us to convene an All Liberian Conference in Greater Liberia to determine the issue of who should head the next government . . . You invited several persons to that meeting . . . including Dr. Gaywhea Macintosh, Dr. Edward Clinton, and Dr. Byron Tarr . . . Doctors Clinton and Macintosh and I made it to the Ivory Coast in anticipation of your arrival for us to proceed to Liberia”.
“While waiting for your arrival . . . you (EJS) called to say that the venue of the meeting (which meeting?) had been changed to Banjul (and by who?) The Gambia. I found out later that . . . you (EJS) had another meeting with some people, including Randall Cooper, who . . . represented the NPFL in the U.S., at the home of Ethelbert Cooper. At that gathering, you (EJS) masterminded a petition (on behalf the NPFL) to President Jawara of The Gambia to host the meeting. Randall cooper, not realizing that this was a double-cross, signed the document on behalf of the NPFL”.
“Dr. Gaywhea, Clinton and I advised that you to come with us to meet with Taylor and the men so that we could convince them to move the meeting to Banjul, since you (EJS) said this was what the African Leaders wanted. You (EJS) refused. In anger, Dr. Gaywhea continued his journey to Greater Liberia and helped to form the National Patriotic Reconstruction Government, and Clinton returned to Ethiopia. You (EJS) thought that the Banjul meeting would have given the government to you as the sole heir of Liberian Action Party. When it did not appear likely, you . . . skipped the meeting. From . . . Washington, D.C., you . . . maneuvered to give the interim leadership to Dr. Amos Sawyer. Liberians say, ‘You scratch my back I will scratch your back’. It should not be a surprise that Amos Sawyer is scratching your back today with his support for your presidency despite your history”.
Why did our founding fathers, dominated by the settler-, Americo-Liberians, banished the Vice President, the lawful Assistant President, to faraway Capitol Building as Presiding Officer of the Senate without a vote? Whereas, the Senate has lawful, presiding officer, the President Protemp.
The Vice President, as the lawful Assistant President to the President, should and must be located closed to the President at the seat of government, the Executive Mansion, where he/she will assist the President in carrying out the affairs of state, according to law. But, for 170 years, this had not been the case. According to the current Vice President, the current President ran the affairs of state as if the state were her personal, private organization. The President did not, does not inform, consult, cooperate or coordinate, although the current Vice President performed, performs, strictly, in conformity with law.
Elsewhere, we coined the term imperial president in re-introduction of the notion of decentralization.
The UNITY Party
The Political Party, UNITY, under whose banner Mrs. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf stood and became President was used only as a political vehicle to realize her political ambition, but with profound, disastrous results; therefore, the party should not, must not be blamed for her miserable failures; they must be placed on the negative performance of Mrs. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and company. She acquired the UNITY Party by alleged purchase from the-then chairman of the party (for reported US $25, 000) motivated by:
The death or murder of Mr. Jackson Doe, reportedly, by the Sirleaf/Taylor NPFL, was the result of this reality, dawned on the imprisoned, Mr. Charles Taylor and Mrs. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf to be answered for posterity.
The Liberian people must, now, set the record straight by affirming the claim of indigenous UNITY Party and its leadership from Mrs. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and company, giving it back to its original, indigenous founders.
As Flag Bearer, leader of Unity Party and candidate for President of Liberia, Vice President Boakai must, now, be mindful to avoid the shackles of corruption, lies, deceit, thievery, disloyalty and ineptitude; and be true to the Mandate by the Gbarnga Convention.
Reference: Sirleaf, Ellen Johnson-, This Child will be Great, HarperCollins, 2010.