GovernanceNews

Liberia’s Vice President Boakai Draws Clear Distinction With President Sirleaf

New York, NY – The vice president of Liberia, Ambassador Joseph Nyumah Boakai says he is very different from Liberia’s president, Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. The Vice President made the remarks in terms of governance, morals and temperament, and not gender.

“I want to believe that she and I understand that whatever we have done in this administration, we all have different ways of implementing whatever obligation we have. “

“And I believe, like I told her, her style of implementation is different from my style of implementation.”

“I have been an administrator in many capacities with success, so I want to prove to Liberians that I have my own line of doing things that are proven successful and I am committed to that,” Vice President Joseph Boakai said.

President Sirleaf (left) and VP Boakai (right)
President Sirleaf (left) and VP Boakai (right)

“We want a peaceful election [October in 2017], we want a peaceful country and we need to continue to be united.  Let me admit that Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has done what she supposed to do and she has done her best, all human beings have different gifts, different backgrounds, and can do things differently,” he noted.

Political analysts and commentators in the west as well as in a number of African countries consider this rebuke as an absolute distinction and clarity between what the Vice President stands for and have done, or may have been requesting done as a government to better the country and its people than what his boss President Sirleaf stands for and have done as head of the government that has been repeatedly accused by Liberians and some in the international community as unsatisfactory and regrettable.

Liberia had a 14-year civil war that dealt a devastating impact on the nation’s citizens and residents, its infrastructure, economy and even governance system.  To date, thousands of Liberians are still living in refugee camps in West Africa and thousands more around the world.

President Sirleaf (right) and VP Boakai (right)
President Sirleaf (right) and VP Boakai (right)

A unitary political and democratic system, the war briefly uttered aspects of the country’s democratization process by ushering in numerous transitional administrations that included an interim president and at one point, several collective presidencies of five individuals with various warlords.

However, the Liberian war ended in 2003 and the country moved on a democratic track with the elections of 2005 in which Liberians mustered the will and made history by electing Africa’s first women president, Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf with Ambassador Joseph Nyumah Boakai as her running-mate and vice president.

Both President Sirleaf and Vice President Boakai have led the Unity Party government since 2006, and the international community has supported Liberia with millions of dollars in aid and direct foreign investment totaling around US$10 billion dollars or more.

The government has also collected revenue from Liberians and businesses operating in the country in the millions. Yet, the country and its people remain poorer than ever; unemployment is indescribably high, poverty is excruciating and extremely high, teen prostitution and sex trafficking are beyond compared to any African nation, drugs trafficking and money laundry are normal business, and access to health care is far from reach.

VP Boakai will build better roads than increasing salaries for officials, friends and families
Typical Highway in Liberia – VP Boakai will build better roads than increasing salaries for officials, friends and families

In addition, the country lacks far behind in social services, infrastructure development and maintenance; its educational system, to put it in the words of President Sirleaf is, ‘a mess.”

Corruption, nepotism, power greed and abuse as well as political, social, economic and moral insensitivities have become a common mantra and way of life in the country, especially among its officials.

Hundreds of women and children died from preventable diseases, and the country has no emergency medical system and a functional fire department.

The Liberian vice president has been pushing for the notion that all Liberians, especially its leaders, to “Think Liberia, Build Liberia and Love Liberia.” This political and social thinking, many believe, implies patriotism – something that is lacking in the current Unity Party’s leadership, according to critics.

“A top United Nations’ official and an American diplomat with interest in Liberia said, “The Vice President has clearly made his case that he is not a part of the shameful failure in Liberia since 2006.”

“The U.S. and international partners have done more for this administration and Liberia in general. There is absolutely no excuse for such a colossal and shameful failure in that country after 12 years of consistent international support,” she concluded.

The Liberian vice president has a long history of successful governance in Liberia, having worked as managing director of the Liberia Produce Marketing Corporation, minister of agriculture in the 1970s and 1980s in addition to serving as board chairman of the Liberia Wood Management Corporation and the Liberia Petroleum Refining Company.

As Liberia’s agriculture minister, he chaired the 15-nation West African Rice Development Association (WARDA) when former United Nation’s Food and Agricultural Organization’s former executive director, Dr Jacque Diouf was head of WARDA.

During the Liberian conflict, he served as a consultant to the World Bank in Washington, DC and also founded a firm that dealt in agricultural equipment and consultancy.

VP Boakai with U.S. President Obama and First Lady Michele Obama at the White House in DC
VP Boakai with U.S. President Obama and First Lady Michele Obama at the White House in DC during a highly planned diplomatic visit.

A Washington, DC political analyst said, “The Vice President seems to be a nice leader and good man caught up in a very bad administration of thieves and criminals, and he unfortunately, could not do anything considering the structures of African presidencies and African governments.”

“I have a proven record of performance in many ways. Whatever I had undertaken under God’s guidance, I have been a success. I am honest with my commitment to this country,” said Vice President Boakai.

“I am honest in my dealings with Liberians and I have proven that I can work with almost all Liberians. For me, I believe in one Liberia, I believe in a united country and I believe that this country can make much more progress which I am committed to. And Liberians can count on me for that,” he said.

Meanwhile, while a number of Liberians embraced the vice president’s frankness and openness about the differences between he and his boss, President Sirleaf, they believe he should have drawn these clear lines years ago instead of waiting after 12 years of absolute failure by the Unity Party’s administration before speaking out at last. Others say better late than never! So, at least, the vice president did well to clear the air that he is no party to the ruin of the country.

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