Why, If I could Vote, I Would Vote Joseph N. Boakai

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia
November 4, 2017


Vice President Boakai

It is unfortunate that Liberians in the Diaspora cannot vote for leaders of their beloved country. This is unfortunate especially when one notes that, during the last few decades, Liberia experienced the most turbulent periods of its existence—a military coupe and subsequent military rule, a brutal civil war, and a devastating Ebola pandemic. With these horrific experiences, it is important, indeed uncompromisingly compelling, that the future of Liberia be entrusted in capable hands; otherwise, the nation will be plunged backward for decades, if not another century. Thus, it would have helped for Liberians in the Diaspora to vote for their leaders. Since this is not the case, I hereby declare that, if I could vote, I would vote VP Boakai.

I would vote VP Boakai because I wrote his biography and in the process, got to know and respect the man immeasurably. Drawing on that biography, other sources and experiences, and my knowledge of Liberian history and politics, I would vote VP Boakai for the following reasons, and these select reasons do not exhaust the list by any means.

His Vast Experience: It is a trite but true statement that “experience is the best teacher.” VP Boakai has been in the service of the Liberian government for forty-five years (spanning back to 1972). During those years, he accumulated enormous experience. To ignore such a wealth of experience is no less tragic than throwing away diamond and gold.

Proven Record of Success: VP Boakai has not only accumulated enormous valuable experience but that experience has always translated into humongous success. This was the case from his high school days at CWA to his present position. At CWA, he admirably supervised the boys’ dorm while working in the business office. As station manager of LPMC in Voinjama, he increased the wages of workers and modernized the corporation’s compound such that the late Thomas Brima, then superintendent of Lofa County said Boakai built a small America. Moreover, he improved the quality of rice and coffee from Voinjama such that the late President Tolbert requested rice from LPMC for the OAU conference which was to be held in Monrovia. Also, under his watch as station manager, Lofa produced forty percent of coffee and cocoa exported by LPMC.

Because of his proven leadership ability, Joseph Boakai was promoted to the position of Managing Director of LPMC. In that position, VP Boakai increased the productivity of LPMC. He increased the price of high grade coffee chips which garnered millions of dollars for the Liberian government. In addition, he increased the efficiency and productivity of LPMC by moving rice processing plants to Gbarnga and Voinjama.
Joseph Boakai’s leadership ability led him to another promotion; he was appointed Minister of Agriculture in 1983. In that position, Joseph Boakai was named twice as Minister of the Year. This was partly because he effectively and efficiently administered the PL-480 Rice Project. This was a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) project.

In addition, although he faced a number of difficult situations at the Ministry of Agriculture, VP Boakai worked effectively with various agricultural support sectors, including Agricultural Bank. Furthermore, he chaired the boards of twenty agricultural support entities which highly appreciated his leadership, technical advice, and resource support.

Under VP Boakai’s watch as Minister of Agriculture, seventy percent of rice on the Liberian market was locally produced; in other words, only 30% was imported. Furthermore, VP Boakai, as Minister, endeavored to ensure that the country was self-sufficient in poultry production.

It needs to be made clear that Joseph Boakai was not removed from the Ministry of Agriculture because of corruption, ineptitude, or anything he did or did not do at the ministry. Quite the contrary, his ability to run the ministry effectively was not in doubt when he was released. One might ask, why then was he released?

The records exist to show that Joseph Boakai was released from his ministerial position at Agriculture allegedly because he gave rice away on credit when he was the Managing Director of LPMC. The VP denies this allegation vehemently. He draws attention to his record which shows that, in fact, he opposed the crediting of rice. Thus, when he assumed the position of Managing Director, for the first time in the history of the Ministry of Agriculture, he hired Richard McFarland as an in-house lawyer to collect all debts. Mr. McFarland was succeeded in that position by CLLR Michael Wilkins Wright.

Underlining the allegation that Joseph Boakai, as Managing Director of LPMC gave away rice on credit, was the fact that rumors reached the ears of the Head-of-State that during Boakai’s tenure as Minister of Agriculture, 1983-1985, he refused to be a member of NDPL which became a ruling party. In addition, it was alleged that Joe Boakai thought he was more educated than members of the People’s Redemption Council, PRC and later the NDPL. In other words, these allegations were mere excuses for the dismissal of Minister Joseph Boakai from Agriculture. Incidentally, he only heard his dismissal on radio in Nimba while attending the first agricultural seminar which was financed by the United States Agency for International Development, USAID.

VP Boakai also was Managing Director of the Liberia Petroleum Refinery Corporation, LPRC, from 1992 – 1993. Again, VP Boakai’s leadership, administrative, and managerial abilities shone through during his tenure at LPRC. For instance, before he took over, the corporation was doing nothing other than charging Lebanese for storage. It was not possible for the corporation to survive on storage fees of $1.50 per gallon. Owing to VP Boakai’s participatory managerial leadership, “The corporation ‘went from nowhere to somewhere; it was transformed’. The corporation established a regional office in Gardnersville and instituted a repayment system to reimburse people the corporation owed. Moreover, before the VP took over as manager, workers at LPRC were not paid; when he took over, he made sure employees received their salaries on time.”

Once more, VP Boakai was not fired from LPRC for corruption or ineptitude. When interim President Dr. Amos Sawyer assigned Boakai to LPRC, the latter’s mandate was to take over the corporation, “straighten it up,” and after that, Dr. Sawyer would find him something to do. As such, when VP Boakai accomplished this goal, “Dr. Sawyer wrote Boakai (copy of letter is available) reiterating Boakai’s established mandate; that is, Boakai was sent to LPRC to straighten it up. Sawyer stated that since that goal was accomplished and that Sawyer had found someone to take over the corporation, Boakai was to turn over to that person. Eventually, Boakai’s deputy, one Mr. Neah was appointed director.”

As Vice President, Joseph N. Boakai has served with distinction. He has been incredibly loyal to his president, magnanimous in service, and rigidly devoted to this nation. From many circles, these claims are verifiable. 

While VP Boakai contributes to his nation, he has never forgotten the people of Foya District in general and in particular, the people of Worsonga, his hometown. He built a beautiful house for his mother in Worsonga in addition to a high school and a clinic in the town. He constructed a road from Foya to Worsonga.  

In Foya District, among many others, Joe Boakai established an oil palm farm from which the district benefits to this day. He built a huge warehouse and constructed the palm mill on the Mendicorma highway. His contribution to the district was so extensive that the late Paramount Chief Tamba Taylor often asked if Joe Boakai went to a different school than others who hailed from the district.

His Unblemished Record: VP Boakai has an untarnished record from his high school days to the present. No one has ever accused VP Boakai, at least not justifiably, of corruption, mismanagement, nepotism, or any other social vices inimical to the functioning of the government or wellbeing of the nation. This is indeed an enviable record, one that even people who do not support VP Boakai will find difficult to refute. Confident that this fact is irrefutable, VP Boakai has challenged anyone to come forth and pinpoint any corruption on his part. Howe many government officials and people in the private sector can throw out such a challenge with confidence?

His Unsurpassed Patriotism: There are signs to show that many, if not most Liberians dearly love their nation. However, one will be hard pressed to find anyone who loves Liberia more than VP Boakai. Among many examples, he has served his country faithfully for nearly forty-five years although, because of his vast experience and advanced certificates from Ghana and Kansas State University, he could have landed lucrative jobs outside Liberia. In addition, except for brief stays in Sierra Leone and later Ghana, VP Boakai stayed in Liberia throughout the civil war. Furthermore, VP Boakai is so bent on building Liberia that he has vowed never to save a penny of his money outside Liberia. He justifies this insistence on ground that it does not make sense to take money outside Liberia or parts of Africa and thereafter call attention to the under-development of the continent. How many ministers, let alone vice presidents can make such a claim justifiably?

VP Boakai dearly loves his people. His greatest satisfaction is to see others progress. He is there when his people fall or rise. Hence, during the Ebola crisis, against his doctors’ advice, he travelled to Lofa to identify with his people. In addition, he acquired food items, protective equipment, and pharmaceuticals from abroad to fight the pandemic throughout the nation.

His Enviable Personality Traits: VP Boakai possesses many enviable personality traits which, no doubt, have been the bases for his success in his personal and public lives; they will enable him to be a successful president. For instance, VP Boakai has a high academic ability and intellectual aptitude. This trait, along with his vast experience enable him to form a vision for Liberia and will guide him in turning the nation into a positive direction.

VP Boakai is even-tempered. Soft spoken and very modest, VP Boakai examines each small or big problem carefully and analytically. He is not one who jumps to conclusion nor is he ever moved by outward shows, another very positive trait for the presidency.

VP Boakai is incredibly honest. He will not take a penny more than his official salary nor will he deprive anyone of what the person truly deserves. In addition, he treats everyone with respect. In other words, his interpersonal skill is outstanding and no leader can be successful without such a skill.

Above all, VP Boakai strongly believes in God. He ensures that his words and actions reflect his fear of his Creator. This amazing trait is what undergirds his sense of justice and fairness. History and the beauty of literature show that leaders who lack this trait not only fail but destroy their nations.

In light of the foregoing, and again, these do not exhaust the list of my reasons, I would vote Boakai if I could vote. Since I regrettably cannot, I urge all who can to think of the future of Liberia and vote Boakai. I say so not because VP Boakai and I are from Lofa County or because he is my traditional uncle. I make this call out of sincere love for my country and its future. Long live Liberia and peace to my beloved country.

Dr. Sakui Malakpa

About the Author: Dr. Malakpa is a professor of education at the University of Toledo in Ohio. He can be reached at smalakpa@hotmail.com.



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