Opinion

Of ‘Responsible Political Leaders’ and Fools: Analysing ex-Vice President Boakai’s Press Release

By Sayma Syrenius Cephus

Recently, the former constitutional Vice President and eminent citizen, Joseph Nyumah Boakai in a press release, highlighted the seemingly unavoidable and acute economic situation facing the country, with specific emphasis on two groups of aggrieved Liberians, namely, (1) teachers, doctors, nurses and other professionals and (2) the Council of Patriots (COP), whom he said are suffering the brunt of the economic malady.

 The press statement, as it is with most Liberian politicians and professed statesmen, only amplified the continuous delays in the payments of the salaries of teachers, doctors, nurses, and other professional groups, but woefully failed to provide any suggestion on how to address such a problem.

But in the case of the COP, the former Vice President vociferously defended their alleged constitutional right to stage a protest or demonstrate, and in this regard, called on the government to allow the COP to protest on December 30, 2019, and to provide them security, irrespective of the public order ACT of 1975 that gives the Ministry of Justice the exclusive and unfettered power and authority to grant permits to would-be protesters of demonstrators before exercising such a right.

It is no doubt that former Vice President Boakai is an honorable man, an eminent citizen and a Political Leader of the former ruling Unity Party(UP), and to aptly put, perhaps one of the few of his generation to whom every Liberian should look for direction and guidance when it comes to discussing critical national issues.

  However, it’s doubtless sickening that the Honourable Vice President grossly ignored the fact that apart from the COP whose alleged constitutional right to protest he recognizes, there are millions of other Liberians scattered throughout the country and around the world who do not support the COP; who do not believe in their street protests and who believe that the surest way to solve the current economic crisis facing the country today is to sit together and develop a strategic agenda on the way forward.

Moreover, it is all too clear from the public pronouncements both on radio stations, newspaper columns and on the social media that the true intent or the objective of the COP planned demonstrations or street protests is to overthrow or remove from power unconstitutionally the government of President George Manneh Weah, come  December 30, 2019, or thereabouts.

With such cold-hearted and infamy campaign against a duly elected government, it is difficult, if not painful to imagine that someone like Vice President Boakai to whom much is given in terms of respect and honor and to whom much is expected in terms of leadership direction and guidance, has ignominiously joined the chorus of the “Weah Step Down Campaign” to unseat a duly elected constitutional government outside of the normal electoral process.

  It is all too obvious that the press release is not a mere expression of opinion by the former Vice President; instead, it lays out exactly what the COP wants and how such message should be tailored to the Liberian people to justify its illegal pursuit of state power outside the normal constitutional process. The former Vice president added his voice to prove that the COP is not alone in its nefarious campaign to undemocratically unseat the duly elected government of President George Manneh Weah.

Again, and pathetically too, Liberians are witnessing an agonizing retreat from sound leadership, or responsible statesmanship by the atrocious conduct of a former Vice President in drumming up support for the COP, a handful of individuals that are using undemocratic and unconstitutional means to unseat a duly elected constituted government.

This behavior by the former Vice President is no doubt an aching reminder of a shared lack of vision and wisdom; it further demonstrates that lawlessness or political insanity is raging everywhere and is forming rivers of envies in the souls of our leaders so much that they are emotionally driven by greed for state power to the extent that they have lost their minds and their bearings in desperately supporting any group that will undermine the peace and security of state.

That Liberia is still there with all of these multiple heinous plots geared at plunging the entire country into chaos by the likes of Joseph Nyumah Boakai, and thereby reduce us to beggars, or return us to refugee life or displaced camps, God forbids, is something that we should celebrate as a nation and a people.

 For Oldman Boakai’s age, person, and image, and perhaps years of experience in public service, spanning over a period of four decades, we had thought that he is or should be above mindless political agitation or street politics, and by wisdom and supposedly sound reasoning, use persuasion or would assume the role of a true statesman to call a halt to any undemocratic pursuit of state power so that every Liberian can look him for guidance and thereby build his/her own life.

 It is shameful that Oldman Joe Boakai has reduced himself to a parochial agenda that is intended to undermine the security of the state by drumming up support for the COP. Truly, Oldman Boakai has become a ‘Palava Hut politician,’ and this is what his press release shows– we are yet to see the legal or moral basis of his support for those who want to force a duly elected government out of office by means of illegal street demonstrations or public protests.

Vice President Boakai must demonstrate or must elevate himself if he truly has the political nerves and bearings,   above gossips and activisms and must prove to all Liberians that he is a leader not just for a bunch of small-minded noisemakers in the Unity Party (UP) crying for jobs; must redeem himself out of the clutches of those belly-driven and myopic gang of blackmailers and extortionists in the COP who want to use street protests and demonstration to overthrow a duly elected government.

Be that as it may, we cannot and should not blame the former Vice President for everything.  The reason is, what he has said is exactly what he has been planning and doing behind the scene. Lest we forget, the battle line is drawn—the former Vice President has not forgotten and will never forgive President Weah for defeating him at the 2017 Presidential polls.  Oldman Boakai’s naked quest for state power has again driven the nation on edge, and we are again faced with the same perennial problem of  a devilish campaign of clamoring prematurely for “regime change” which    is  exactly the crude  nature of our politics—every regime must be brought down or removed for us to install an ‘angel government.’ Regrettably, over 40 years have come and gone since April 14, 1979, and yet, there is still “no angel government” in sight!

 The Vice President’s opposition to the leadership of President Weah did not start or end with the 2017 presidential contest. No, it goes far beyond that.  Perhaps what normally stirs up Vice President Boakai is President Weah’s appearance, his physique, image, or success, and maybe his tribe, too, could be one of the reasons.   This is the actual picture of Liberian politics, and this is what is seen and read in Vice President Boakai’s press release—the real debate is not on the pressing economic crisis facing the nation. Instead, it is centered on who should have been elected in 2017 as President of Liberia –it’s nothing but a   mere personality contest—who is the most educated, smart, who went the to the best school or who is or has been Americo-Liberian ‘assimilado’, bla, bla, blaa.

Unfortunately, Vice President Boakai has not come to terms that he, no matter how much and how hard he clamors, is, after all, not electable—he may never become President of Liberia. The reason is simple. With age not on his side, ailing, and fickle, how sad it is that Oldman Boakai refuses to recognize his own personal frailties, and near senile dementia, is something that is mindboggling.

After being parked for “12 years” when millions were being siphoned out of the national treasury, by Ellen and her cronies, we had thought that given his role as former constitutional Vice President, Oldman Boakai would divest himself of street politics that include name-calling, invectives, and harassment and engage the current leadership on critical national issues with the view of finding a solution. That is what we expect of Vice President Boakai and our leaders and not to join a bunch of fools using noise to blackmail people.

All cynicism aside, we believe that President Weah will never refuse to receive in the audience or meet Vice President Boakai if he (Boakai) stands at the gate or stands at the office door of the President to hold discussions and provide suggestions on how to steer the affairs of the state.

As a former Vice President, much is expected of those who once served our dear country and retired honorably, and we expect them to use their expertise and wisdom to guide our leaders and not through foolish and irresponsible criticisms and supports for undemocratic elements.

About the Author:

Counsellor Sayma Syrenius Cephus

Counsellor Sayma Syrenius Cephus is a Liberian lawyer and senior Justice Ministry official of the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) coalition government in Liberia.

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