Ambassador  Joseph Nyumah Boakai’s Attributes And How He Intends To Govern Liberia

By Phillip Saa Tali, Jr.

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia
September 30, 2017


Vice President Boakai

By now we assume that many of us must have taken a course called Boakaism. That is, the history of Joseph Nyumah Boakai. This course teaches the history of the man name Joseph Nyumah Boakai, his early childhood, struggle in life, his political life, etc. Based upon this, I will waste not your time as it relates to his life sketch, how his mother had to go the extra mile by cutting greens and making gardens in order to make this boy become one of the best patriots of our time. We will therefore touch on the qualities of this man Boakai and how he is expected govern this country upon ascending the presidency.  
Who is Joseph Nyumah Boakai?

•           A man with astute discipline who listens to all Liberians and makes himself available for discussion on any issue.

•           An accomplished man who has lived and worked all his lives in Liberia.

•           A man of humble background. Yes a true leader must be HUMBLE. In our today’s world, we tend to think of a leader as a person who is well-connected, who is powerful or charismatic or wealthy. We judge our leaders by what they have and what we perceive them to know. But a true leader should be judged by what he does NOT have — ego, arrogance, and self-interest. And that leader is Joseph Nyumah Boakai. Over the years, the Ambassador has seen his work as selfless service toward his people and nation. As the sages say, “Leadership is not power and dominance; it is servitude”. This does not mean that he is weak; rather, he derives great strength from his dedication to a purpose that is greater than himself. Yes after witnessing so many deceits and such frequent abuse of power, many Liberians may have resolved to stop trusting their leaders. But, no matter how cynical we may grow, we must resign ourselves to the fact that we need someone to keep our hopes alive, our dreams come true and to manage the affairs of this great land call Liberia. And that person is no other person but Vice President Joseph Nyumah Boakai.

  • Honesty: Being honest can sometimes be difficult because it makes individuals vulnerable. It reveals who we really are and discloses our mistakes, which gives others the opportunity to criticize or reject openly. But at the same time, honesty develops character and builds credibility and trust, which are the foundation to evoke confidence and respect from those around you. And this is the character we discovered in the chromosomes of Ambassador Boakai. Many the world over was shocked when the vice president revealed to the world that this government had enormous supports and opportunities from the international community but was squandered. Politically speaking, this was a suicide, especially revealing your failures during election. But this is what makes Ambassador Nyumah Boakai a true leader. Though it might be unpleasing to the ears of your citizens, but speaking the truth to them, and letting them know about your challenges and weakness brings out the best in you.

  • Integrity: The word integrity is defined as ‘the adherence to moral and ethical principles; the soundness of moral character.’ It is a synonym for honesty and uprightness, and is a major pillar for those of us in political leadership. Political leaders who possess integrity can be trusted because they never veers from inner values, even when it might benefit them to do so. A leader must have the trust of followers. This requires the highest standard of integrity. This is true of the vice president. In all of his political sojourns, there has NEVER been a point where Boakai’s name was linked in financial, morale or inhumane scandals. Everywhere this great son of the soil has worked, traveled or associated himself, there has always been a high level of respect for him. Even his representation of his country around the world, his name has always come out clean.

  • Confidence: A good political leader needs to be both confident in himself or herself as well in their ability to lead. Leaders who possess this quality inspire others, drawing on a level of trust which sparks the motivation to get others on board and get the job done. This is one quality that Mr. Boakai defeats all candidates in this year presidential elections. With all the speculations and the perceived ill treatments on his office, the Ambassador remains focus, confidence and resilience in serving his boss and making sure that the responsibilities given him as vice president are wisely executed.

  • Flexibility for a political leader is about understanding the give-and-take aspects of politics, and the ability to find the common ground. Good politicians listen carefully to all sides, to not only hear their arguments but to especially learn what it will take on behalf of all parties involved to reach a consensus. This characteristic allows political leaders to recognize setbacks and criticism, to learn from them and move forward. And this is the strength of the ambassador. To prove his case, of recent, the Vice President has been engaged with all sectors of society, individuals and even his foes. He has all along being very flexible in his quest to make Liberia a unifying force.

•           A man who recognizes the fact that real development can ONLY COME FROM WITHIN a given society and group and NOT FROM THE OUTSIDE.

•           A constitutionalist, that is, one who endorses legal methodologies in his workings and applications.

His Strategies In Building Liberia: Bottom Top Approach.
Today, 2017, Liberia finds herself in the same position to that of the United States in 1933 when Franklin D. Roosevelt ascended to power.

As Adam Cohen described the Great Depression Period of the United States, “March 4, 1933, was perhaps the Great Depression's darkest hour. The stock market had lurched 85% from its high in 1929, and nearly one-fourth of the workforce was unemployed. In the cities, jobless men were lining up for soup and bread. In rural areas, farmers whose lands were being foreclosed were talking openly of revolution. The crowd that gathered in front of the Capitol that day to watch Franklin D. Roosevelt's Inauguration had all but given up on America. They were, a reporter observed, "as silent as a group of mourners around a grave."

And he went further in describing Roosevelt’s speech as, “a pitch-perfect combination of optimism ("The only thing we have to fear is fear itself"), consolation (the nation's problems "concern, thank God, only material things") and resolve ("This nation asks for action, and action now"). The speech won rave reviews. Even the rock-ribbed Republican Chicago Tribune lauded its "dominant note of courageous confidence." F.D.R. had buoyed the spirits of the American people — and nearly 500,000 of them wrote to him at the White House in the following week to tell him so.”

And yesterday (September, 16-2017) at the launch of his campaign, Vice President Joseph Nyumah Boakai finds himself resounding the events of the United States to that of Liberia. Today, there are millions of Liberians that have lost hope in the very country that gave birth to them. Thousands of the workforce can no longer be call parents of dignity, farmers are no longer call farmers but slaves on their own farms, youth of student age sees no reason why education must be taken any serious, the sick are afraid to go to any hospital because it will be the beginning of their journey to their creator, the youth have taken unto drugs and immoral as the ultimate means of relieving their stress, and the list goes on.

As Ambassador Boakai mounted the stage to deliver his campaign speech, all he saw were the faces of desperation, anger, poverty, felt betrayed and the bodies of hopeless men and women who wanted nothing but a leader that could give them that hope of once again being call, Liberians. And this, the Ambassador did not betray his people. He delivered one of the greatest speeches given in any campaign in our history.

True to his attributes, he started by admitting the fact, “Yes! The task of governing a war-torn state is an enormous one. Not only challenges related to broken roads, bridges, schools, hydro, and other essential infrastructure, but most importantly, the human dimension that left our citizens across shallow lines and our people traumatized.” And unlike the many praises the sycophants give to the administration for the peace we enjoy today, Mr. Boakai gave all praises to the people when he said, “Liberia is peaceful because Liberians have said no to war. Liberia is stronger because of your strength. And Liberia will get much better because we are all in this together.” This is an admission of a true leader, giving praises to his citizens instead of himself or administration.

The Vice President Boakai also warned us with this message, “What happened in the civil war has taught us significant lessons, which we just do not need to learn, but must apply to how we govern. We must see ourselves as one people and keep from repeating the hate that fueled the war.” This is the beginning of true reconciliation for all Liberians.

But this was the greatest part of his speech that drew many of us attentions. This part of the speech became the decisive factor of our future in terms of developments and the improvement of our citizens. He said, “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. As a school boy, to pay my school fees, I worked as a janitor at CWA, the school that I attended, and waiter at the Rivoli Cinema Restaurant. Before I attended CWA, I dropped out of school multiple of times because I did not have tuition. But I remained resilient and strong and eventually made it through high school and college.” This is the spirit of hope, sacrifice, dedication, hard work and commitment to one own self, and this is what is expected of us as a nation under a Boakai administration. Ambassador Boakai speech of hard work set a new developmental paradigm, not the path our governments in Liberia and Africans are familiar with.  

In addressing his priorities to the nation, the Vice President NEVER MENTIONED SEEKING ASSISTANCE AND SUPPORT FROM THE OUTSIDE. Rather, the search for the country’s development was found right inside of Liberia, HARD WORK, COMMITMENT, DEDICATION AND LOVE FOR COUNTRY. These are the defining principles for any development of a country. The Ambassador said, “As the Vice President, I learned what worked well and what did not work so well; which steps took us forward and which ones kept us from moving forward. It is clear that I will not have a learning curve about how to govern a failed state. I will have an execution, and implementation curve. I will deliver results. I will actually be walking the talk and not just be talking from textbook or experience that is not rooted in practical Liberian reality.” This statement clearly tells us that he knows our problems and what led us to this mess for over 12 and more years: WAITING UPON FOREIGN ASSISTANCE, CORRUPTION AND LAZINESS. So to those who think that Nyumah Boakai is a sleeping man, start re-thinking positive and completely get rid of your corrupt habits.

Also during the 1932 presidential election between President Hoover and candidate Roosevelt, both men had two philosophical approaches to government; Hoover believed in small government and letting the free market operate. The Federal Government that Hoover presided over was stunningly limited in scope. Its entire budget was under $4 billion.

Roosevelt, by contrast, insisted that when people could not help themselves, government had to step in, "not as a matter of charity but as a matter of social duty." During the campaign, he vowed to respond to the Depression with "bold, persistent experimentation." He was open to any ideas that might work.

When it comes to philosophical approach to running of government in Liberia, President Sirleaf believed and practiced open and loose government, compromising many work ethical policies and the policies of crawling onto the feet of donors and international partners for assistance.

Candidate Boakai on the other hand, believes in a government that will stand tall and become partner with other countries and international partners, believes that it is the government responsibility to help its people when they are in desperate situations, totally against officials becoming rich through the exploitation of state resources and strictly against begging.
With this analysis, lets now deal with the substance and how the president in waiting is expected to solve this nightmare we find ourselves in.

  • Agriculture: No more brushing farms with cutlasses. UNDER NO CONDITION CAN LIBERIA FEED HERSELF IF SHE MUST CONTINUE WITH CUTLASS AND HOLE FARMING. The Ambassador over the years has experience and come out with the conclusion that, Mechanized farming is the best option and WILL BE applied. In order for Liberia to eat some of the cakes of globalization, the government will insist on every official of government to own a farm. Ambassador Boakai believes that security of Liberia must be seen from the holistic binoculars. Therefore, in order to secure lasting security, the government of Liberia will partnership with farm industries around the world and attract them in the country and work with our local farmers in making Liberia A FOOD SECURED STATE.

Also, loans in form of subsidize will be given to farmers through the Agriculture Development Bank in order to assist them in their initial plantings. For each county, agriculture machines will be given for the use on farmlands, and farmers will pay based upon the proceeds from their farms. These harvested produce will be bought by government for students, patience and convicted prisoners. With this strategy, we expect our farmers to graduate from being call poor farmers to heavily successful farmers. 

2.         Tourism: This aspect of generating income will be high on the agenda of President Boakai. The world over, one of the fast moving industries for development and industrialization is tourism. Under a Boakai administration, a tourism commission/ministry will be set up with the aim of attracting tourists’ groupings and experts in setting up the industry. The president is now thinking out of the box by attracting other economic sectors into the country. The encouragement of chains of hotels, development of beaches and natural resort centers will be placed high on the agenda of government. The President believes that this industry will attract more employment and revenue generation for government and country. And the first area of attraction of tourists into the country is our Airports. A TOTAL REBUILDING OF the Roberts International Airport, and ensure counties airports are operational will be of target.

3.         Education: Under no condition will Liberia attract the best type of voters and elected officials if education does not become a priority of our country. Strengthen the education system: insisting that all schools be properly vetted and certificated. The VP will collectively work with stakeholders in the educational system in improving all government educational institutions. Like Rwanda who has so advanced her public schools thus making them envy of private institution, so schools in Liberia under a Boakai administration will become. Today as we speak, private educational institutions in Rwanda are being closed and all students are running to government schools. How did that happen, is no magic, but dedication and love for country.   

a.         Recertify all teachers, train & develop teachers.
b.         Inspect all educational facilities by ensuring that they are clean, structurally sound and fully furnished.
c.         Establish and strengthen existing vocational schools.
d.         Establish relationships with schools around the world requesting teacher exchange program.
e.         Reach out to Liberian educators around the world requesting their input.
4.         Health:
a.         Recertify all medical personnel, train and develop the medical field.
b.         Inspect all medical facilities to ensure they are clean, sound and properly furnished.
c.         Establish a medical board, which all medical practitioners must pass an exam on a regular basic to be allowed membership and be allowed to practice in Liberia.
D.  All government officials including the president and vice president will be treated in the country throughout their stay in office.
5.         Electricity:
a.         Expand the West African Electricity Pool and privatize the local distribution and collection service.
6.         Corruption:
a.         Support GAC and require annual audits of Government agencies.
b.         Enforce punitive measures with zero tolerance for corruption, no exceptions.
c.         Design and implement an electronic system for revenue collection and available for public perusal.

7.         ROAD CONTRUCTION: Like what Vice President said during the presidential debate, ROAD, ROAD, AND ROAD. We believe that as more roads are created in the country, so also will employment sprang up and so also the economy will grow. With this in mind, the president first six years in office will focus on linking the southeast and north of Liberia with concrete or paved roads. No loans will be borrowed, but each mining/extractive company doing business in any of these regions will work with government in building these roads.

  • Also, the government will encourage boat or ship transportation in the country.
  • Develop all other seaports in the country for transshipment of goods and people to and out of Liberia.

8.         Labor:
a.         Inspect all commercial businesses requesting the Work Permit of non-Liberians employed. The inspection will determine if there is NO QUALIFIED LIBERIAN FOR SAID JOB.
b.         Reduce the number of positions held by non-Liberians and insist that Liberians be employed (in accordance with the law). But the government in its first five years will create more vocational training institutions in the country. This will definitely create more jobs outside of government.

9.         Economy:
a.         Liberians should come first in all economic, social and political ventures. If capacity is not available, the Government should assist with building a capacity to make it possible. It is important to nnote that in every society and nation, there will be citizens that are weak or challenged. Therefore, it is the mandate of the government to improve the quality of its people. Also, salary disparity between the higher income earners and the lower income earners will be a major focus point of President Boakai’s administration. President Boakai’s salary structure will be distributed based upon the economy of the country and the level of poverty among its citizens and employees.

And lastly, to those in government and are of the opinion that a Liberia under Boakai will continue with the same old style of stealing government monies and citizens resources for their children and girlfriends, make no mistake. Please do not be the first person that the President in waiting will set an example on.  

About the Author: Phillip Saa Tali, Jr. is a political scientist, a writer, blogger, researcher and a lecturer at the University of Liberia. Over the years Mr. Tali has committed himself in making the world a better place by constantly contributing knowledge in writing on issues affecting Liberia, Africa and the world.


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